Scott Nehring Presenting at GATE 3 Conference

On Saturday, February 2nd I will be speaking to Hollywood professionals at the GATE3 Conference in Beverly Hills, California, on changing the tone of Hollywood films

GATE (Global Alliance of Transformational Entertainment) is a non-profit organization founded by actor Jim Carrey and spiritualist Eckhart Tolle to bring together creative minds from across the entertainment industry to work on bringing positive and uplifting content to films, television and other media. I was invited by GATE to discuss story structure during the Transformational Story Conference portion of the event. I will speak to a crowd of professional screenwriters, producers and directors. Here is the kicker, to my knowledge, I will be the only representative of Christianity at the event.

Gate 3 Conference
Why would I present at an event that seemingly promotes New Age beliefs?

I’m a firm believer that one of the biggest problems in our society is that we have cut off those we disagree with. I am certainly guilty of this - particularly in the comment section when people aren't polite. Instead of shunning each other, we need to keep talking and find common ground. I believe we can work with those in the New Age movement on things like producing films with less violence, or having fewer demeaning productions. We may be rivals on some significant issues, but we don’t need to be enemies.

I find it interesting that some Christians think that going to an event like this is the same as supporting all of their beliefs.  Moreover, that I shouldn't go at all.  I don't get that, since when are Christians NOT supposed to engage and inspire?

I appreciate any prayers of support.

- Scott Nehring

A Snowy Night on "Catskill Park"

By Wayne Johnson

Over one year ago I started a VFX company with the usual suspects.  We did a test composite for a science fiction 3D film on the moon. In three days we did three complex shots and impressed our new clients. The last year has been so busy I have not had the time to spin any yarns about our exploits on that film.

Over one year later I find myself on location in New Hampshire supervising the VFX shots on the new film Catskill Park. I feel very privileged to be working with a very experienced crew, most who have rubbed shoulders with the heavies in the industry and worked with some of the current top talent.

We are currently being buried under about a half-foot of snow or more as the production preps for tomorrow. I find it very strange and somewhat lonely, this being the very first production I have worked on where I am not the director or the producer.

At this time I can’t asses what I have learned only that I’m sure as I reflect in the following weeks I’ll have gained a tidbit of information. I’m trying to build connections and make new friends, but as some of you know, I have been so busy for the last 5 or 6 years I barley have time for the friends that I do have. Making new ones is not a skill I have cultivated.

Tonight, as the crew decides the best course of action for the remainder of the production, I work on compositing a sign that the art department could not prep. They hired a local kid to paint the sign and after taking $25 for brushes and paint he ditched out and left the sign unfinished and unfixable.

So, they turned to me and we shot it with tracking markers. However, the Long GOP (group of pictures) format the Sony F3 shoots on is terrible for tracking and compositing. Long GOP is a joke, and not a real solution for a VFX film.

The cool part is I have been able to do test color grades for the director and DP and also work virtually with Adam Natrop. It is an interesting time for filmmaking, we have the power to change the way the whole industry thinks about making a movie.

One last little note, I find it strange that no one on the crew has any real experience or understanding how to make a VFX movie. I figured everyone on the East Cost would get it, but they are very new to the concept, good for me and my team I guess.

Wayne's commentaries can also be found on his site New Discourses On Art.

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Artists Who Are Conservative Over Conservative Artists

The Daily Caller's Matthew K. Lewis discusses cultural conservatives and offers some good insight on the future of the movement. As with my arguments for Christians to be artists who are Christian instead of branding themselves "Christian Artists", Lewis points out that the key to cultural change is not done by forcing agendas.

The good news for cultural conservatives is that a new generation, aided by new technology, might finally conspire to change things. Young conservatives like R.J. Moeller — the man who brought comedian Adam Carolla and Dennis Prager together — are dedicating their lives to ideas and culture, not overt partisanship.
As technology lowers the barriers of entry, removing power from the gatekeepers, it is entirely possible that artists who happen to be conservative (as opposed to “conservative artists”) will have an easier time breaking into the culture. It might be hard, for example, to sell a record label on signing you, but what if record labels become irrelevant? — what if talent and the ability to produce and sell electronic music render them moot?

Come back when you're done.

It is up to you to change the cultureScott Nehring Good News Film Reviews
You Are What You See:
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Business Plan, Just Another Story

By Wayne Johnson

Over the last 11 months I have embarked on a journey through the world of Entertainment Business. It is not a very strange world but it is a very complex one. There are many areas of the business side that are the same for every business, but then there is the entertainment sides where some major differences come to play.

However, one of the major constants that I have learned is that in the end, what ever it is you are doing you are dealing with people, people who are interested in different aspects of the project.

Business people are primarily interested in doing good business. They are interested in ROI. They are interested on cost projections, marketing plans and the core competencies of the business owners. They want to make a profit and not throw away their money.

Like a good script, the business plan is the road map of how you plan to achieve this for the people investing in your business. You need to write it with a good “Hook” to sell the idea, then the first act of the plan must lay out all of the characters and where they have been and where they want to go. Then as we move to act two you need to give them some meat. Show them the ups and the downs of the business. Introduce the bad guys and the allies and show where the conflict will come from.

Finally in act three you must build to the climax and show them the numbers. Let them see how much it will cost to start up, market and sell the product or service and then immediately after the climax! Show them that if all of these things are done the way you have planned and the money is spent in the right places, they can make their money back with profit!

And like all good stories wrap up the resolution quickly and let them think about all you have said by reminding them of why you told the story in the first place.

So all you creative types out there, get off your duff and start working out how you will make a living with your craft, how you can excite others to join in your quest by offering them a chance to succeed with you. And the business plan, well that is nothing but another story, well told.

Wayne's commentaries can also be found on his site New Discourses On Art.

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Tolkien's Son Despises The Hobbit

This is a fascinating read.  We rarely think of the torment that comes with success, fame and fortune.  I think we also don't appreciate the heavy filtering that happens when rich literary works are adapted to the screen.
"The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has overwhelmed me. The commercialization has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing. There is only one solution for me: to turn my head away."

The link heads to Worldcrunch where I found the story, but the original interview belongs to Le Monde.

It is up to you to change the cultureScott Nehring Good News Film Reviews
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Better Late Than Never Liam

Liam Neeson has made an admission to the Catholic Herald which is rare for an A (A-) List actor - all of this sexual content in entertainment and in culture has drained the act itself less special, less meaningful.

Speaking to the Catholic Herald, Neeson, who has two teenage sons, Micheal, 17, and Daniel, 16, explained: "I'd hate to be a kid now, because we're all inundated with so much information about sexuality, coming at us from everywhere – the media, the advertising billboards, just everywhere – and it must be so confusing for them." 
 "There's a problem that, if you become over-familiar with something, it moves from the sacred to almost the profane," he said.  
"The act is very, very special. It's full of mystery and wonder, and I'd hate us all to get to the stage where we just treat it lightly, because it deserves more than that."
Last year he thoughtfully pondered to the UK Press Association "It’s a really interesting part and I get to go to bed with Olivia Wilde!" when explaining the intricacies of his new role in The Third Person.

Forgiving that unfortunate statement, I would think the Catholic Herald journalist followed up by asking if Neeson would suggest people ignore his film Kinsey or other moments in his career.

 "There's a problem that, if you become over-familiar with something, it moves from the sacred to almost the profane," he said.
Liam Neeson

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

The Hobbit movie posterShould I see it?
An unenthusiastic yes.

Director: Peter Jackson
Writers: Fran Walsh, PhilippaBoyens, Peter Jackson and Guilermo del Toro
Actors: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Andy Serkis, Ian Holm, James Nesbit, Ken Stott and Graham McTavish

Rated PG-13 for violence, and frightening images

Peter Jackson is starting to wade into the George Lucas end of the pool. On the heels of arguably the best, or at least satisfying, cinematic trilogy ever produced, Jackson couldn't leave well enough alone. Like Lucas dragging out his prized gift horse Star Wars out for an unbearable jaunt, Jackson has chosen to risk his fortune on another Tolkien adaptation.

To get right to the point, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is not a bad film. In many ways it is a remarkable adaptation. The trouble is that Jackson is very indulgent and doesn't seem to see a need to restrain his vision for the sake of time or story. Jackson delivers a bloated, wandering tale that resembles The Hobbit, but never quite catches the nature or charm of the original work.

His film isn't an adaptation of The Hobbit, rather it is a long-toothed prequel the The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Given the technical brilliance of the trilogy, this is a hard trap for Jackson to avoid. Steering clear of looking like he is simply knocking off his previous works should be goal one as the film opens. Jackson instead doubles down on making this film feel like little more than a perfunctory sequel/prequel to a previous success. He unnecessarily drags in Frodo (Elijah Wood) and has Bilbo (Martin Freeman and Ian Holm) spend far too much time in his hovel instead of on the road exploring areas of Middle Earth the audience has never seen.

Jackson made the choice to split/stretch the tale into a full trilogy. This opening film boasts a run time of over 2 1/2 hours. Say what you will, The Hobbit is not a story that takes nearly eight hours to tell on screen, which is how long the full trilogy will last if this first film is any indication - and that's not counting in the obligatory Director's Cut content! All of this time is spent on things not in the original book and culled from other Tolkien sources. This is one of the main reasons the film feels more like a Jackson movie than a Tolkien adaptation.

The Hobbit Gandalf
If you're wondering who that guy is on the right, get used to it. 
You'll be asking questions like that for the entire run of the film.

As with The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, the design work in this film is nearly flawless; the sets, the lighting, the costumes, almost everything is well thought out, and patiently and purposely displayed. After seeing the film, a friend of mine mentioned something that had stuck in his craw. It is now firmly wedged in mine as well. For some reason Jackson decided that only some of the dwarves would look like dwarves. He clearly established their appearance in the trilogy which mimicked traditional perceptions of the fictional race. In this production, Jackson obviously felt that dwarves couldn't look young or like leaders if they retained the usual dwarvish look. Instead of being squat, bulky, puffy-faced miners, the younger dwarves Kili (William Kircher), Fili (Dean O'Gorman) and Bofur (James Nesbitt) look more like miniature elves. Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) seems to be a vertically-challenged human more than a king of the dwarves. I noticed it when watching the film for the first time and it struck me as odd. Afterward, it has been a point of irritation because it is so inauthentic in what is otherwise a praise-worthy production in regards to design.

The Hobbit dwarves

The film shines in one particular scene, the classic riddle exchange between Bilbo and Gollum (Andy Serkis). Bilbo finds The One True Ring accidentally in a dark, dank cave. The cave's resident Gollum, the Ring's owner, finds Bilbo. The two decide on a simple game where they will tell each other riddles. If Bilbo wins, Gollum will lead him out of the cave. If Gollum wins, he eats Bilbo. This is the only portion of the film which captures the reason why Tolkien's overly episodic and disjointed tale attracts an audience. Tolkien had a clear love and respect not only for Bilbo but also for his language and general attitude. Bilbo is ultimately a classic upright Briton - plenty of custom and easily disturbed by embarrassment and awkwardness. Contrasted against Gollum's slithering, pond-beast demeanor, Bilbo couldn't be more out of his element. It is at this point where the reader, and now the audience get to see the true heroic side of Bilbo. His previous minor victories were accidental. Here, he is challenged to use his wits. Jackson clearly spent a good deal of time designing and executing this scene and does so beautifully. If there was an Oscar for Best Scene (and why isn't there?), this would win by a mile.

The film as a whole is a loud ramble that distracts from its original source. Fans of the original The Lord of the Rings Trilogy who aren't terribly discerning, will find this to be a fun outing. Expect for ponderous and overdrawn moments of Jackson appreciating his own filmmaking skills. I do not think it is possible to watch this without checking your watch at least once.

The bottom line is this: I saw this film in the theater to experience the 48 fps (frames per second) version to see it in action (I won't go into 48fps here, you can get a good idea of what it is all about following this link). When the film was done I wasn't hearing any excited expectation from the folks I saw the film from random strangers nearby. There was quiet discussion about if the film was as awful as some thought. For those who liked the film, there was the question of how in the heck Jackson could possibly stretch this into three full films. When people leave a huge, technical production like this and they are left almost dreading the idea of what the filmmaker is up to - that is a bad sign.

Scott Nehring Christian Movie Reviews

Scott Nehring Christian Movie Reviews

Jedis are top alternative religion in England - time to close down the Kingdom

GumbyI used to be concerned that England had turned into a police state.  Considering what has become of its people's think, perhaps this is best for everyone.
The new figures reveal that the light saber-wielding disciples are only behind Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism and Buddhism in the popularity stakes, excluding non-religious people and people who did not answer.

Following a nationwide campaign, Jedi made it onto the 2001 census, with 390,127 people identifying themselves a decade ago as followers of the fictional Star Wars creed.

Although the number of Jedis has dropped by more than 50 per cent over the past 10 years, they are still the most selected "alternative" faith on the Census, and constitute 0.31% of all people's stated religious affiliation in England and Wales.
Don't bothering with "but America is [insert random negative pseudo-fact here].  We can be adults and look at the pathetic state of England all by itself.

Those lacking the truth (or who can't handle it) will gravitate to whatever feels best, even if they know it is fake.  This can be pretending Jedism (is this the proper term?) is acceptable or any nebulous New Age belief which fails to offer any real solution to theological concerns.

The larger point here is the direct influence films have on our philosophy and theology.  Films are a means of communication and even seemingly benign works can mislead the weak of mind/spirit.

It is up to you to change the cultureScott Nehring Good News Film Reviews
You Are What You See:
Watching Movies Through a Christian Lens

Video Find: How Motion Pictures Became the Movies 1908-1920

David Bordwell has an interesting video worth checking out called How Motion Pictures Became the Movies 1908-1920.  It is solid film geekery stuff but presented so regular human beings can understand and enjoy as well.

You can find similar stuff on Observations on Film Art.  The site design is lousy but they have incredible content - and it's content that counts.

It is up to you to change the cultureScott Nehring Good News Film Reviews
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A Movie You Might Have Missed: About a Boy (2002)

Reviewer: Scott Nehring

About a Boy Movie PosterShort Review: A rare creation: a Hugh Grant movie that doesn’t make me have reflux issues.

Buy or Rent This Movie Here

Like any red-blooded American male, I have a natural distaste for  Hugh Grant. There is something about that quivering, underweight Brit which makes me search for the remote. Perhaps it is the mumbling line deliveries. Maybe it is his tenancy towards tepid, meaningless puff productions. You know you have a hollow resume when your dalliance with a whore is your most memorable career moment.

In a surprise move, when he wasn’t rutting with a prostitute, Grant managed to make a remarkable movie. About A Boy is shockingly good considering that this slab of vanilla is in the lead. To be honest, Grant does an outstanding job in this film and avoids many of his trademark irritating traits throughout the production. His lines are delivered in a clear, normal manner and he even ekes out  some actual emoting.

Will (Grant) is not a man as much as he is a complete waste of space. He has literally nothing to show for his life and is proud of the fact. Will is a clever bit of writing. Peter Hedges’ script does a fantastic job of establishing Will as a human vacuum.  His empty lifestyle is supported by his reaping the royalties of a insipid Christmas song he didn't write. Will’s life changes when he gets involved with a boy named Marcus. Marcus’ life is in turmoil due to his suicidal mother Fiona's (Toni Collette) depression. Marcus turns to Will for guidance. Will, Marcus and Fiona develop a strange but fascinating trio of dysfunction.

The cast is stellar in this film. Collette stands out as the ridiculously depressed Fiona. Keeping pace with her is Nicholas Hoult as Marcus. They, along with the hooker maven Hugh Grant, mix well with the deep characters they explore - what a delight to see.  Their success can be attributed to Peter Hedges’ insightful script. Hedges firmly defines his characters and allows them space to interact as themselves. This may not sound like much but it is rather rare.  Often writers establish basic perimeters for the characters and then play to those limits.  Hedges pushes his characters through their interactions and contrasting personalities.  This leads to the huge change Will makes towards the end of the movie not feeling forced (as it would in most films). Given the attention to character detail, Will's admittedly obvious transformation comes across as organic and meaningful.

The word meaningful is a good word for this film. The audience walks away from this movie having learned  a moral lesson. One does not live for him or herself. We only truly experience life when we live for others. A film that teaches a moral lesson without postmodern whimpering is extremely rare these days. I cannot recommend this film highly enough.

As far as Hugh Grant goes, he drifted back into his usual crud after this production. The last I had heard, he’s washing cars at the Playboy Mansion.

Related Reviews:
Toni Collette movies
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
Mary and Max (2009)

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Screenshot: 300

A Movie You Might Have Missed: Los Cronocrímenes "Timecrimes" (2007)

Reviewer: Scott Nehring

Los Cronoscrimene Christian  Movie ReviewBuy or Watch Online Here

Anyone who is into time travel movies will absolutely love this film. Most films dealing with time travel hint at the complications that will logically occur. Back to the Future plays with the cause and effect of actions of the time traveler, while Primer copes with the more personal complications. This film by Spanish writer/director Nacho Vigalondo dives right into the meaty elements of time travel. Vigalondo sets his main character Héctor (Karra Elejalde) into a web of intersecting timelines and a descending parade of motivations from various parties all of which just happen to be the same man. What Vigalondo manages here is a very complicated string of events but he handles them in a digestible way.  He does this while providing his audience a fun and thought-provoking film.

If you have ever watched a time travel film and wanted to get deeper into the logical twists, this is a perfect film for you. While Vigalondo is forced to push some choices that don’t pass the smell test in order to keep his plot moving, overall this is an enjoyable film I am always ready to recommend.

Cautions: There is full female nudity and mild violence - all of which is contextual.

Related Reviews:
Time travel movies
12 Monkeys (1995)
Premonition (2007)

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Anonymous (2011)

Reviewer: Scott Nehring

Anonymous Movie PosterShould I see it?

Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Written by: John Orloff
Starring: Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave and David Thewlis

Rated PG-13 for mild violence and sexual content.

Rent or Buy This Movie Here

Roland Emmerich, the wildly successful director and producer of such masterworks as Eight Legged Freaks, Independence Day, Universal Solider and 2012 takes time out from being a über-liberal version of Michael Bay to showcase a thin conspiracy tale that Shakespeare is not the author of his own works. 

The anti-Shakespeare argument is known as the Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship. A watered down version of the argument is presented by Derek Jacobi at the opening of the film. My version of his version of the argument is this: William Shakespeare was far too uneducated and unsophisticated to create the works assigned to his name. Billy S. was a commoner and such genius would have to come from the mind of an elite like Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford. 

So says the elites.

Hey, isn't Emmerich the same guy who gave us Stargate; a film that essentially promotes the notion that aliens created the pyramids and Egyptian culture (because those dumb Africans were too simple to come up with all of that on their own)?

The theory isn't nonsensical but this film certainly doesn't do anything to produce any evidence or thought other than the snobbish conjecture that someone of low means isn’t capable of genius. 

The film is a well-written and acted dramatization of the Oxdordian theory.  Edward De Vere, (Rhys Ifans) due to his station and the political and religious restrictions on his life, secretly hires playwright Ben Johnson (Sebastian Armesto) to put his name to De Vere’s plays. Johnson, a real life and influential playwright in his own right, dislikes the idea of subordinating his own work to another man's plays. This leads him to permit Globe Theater actor William Shakespeare take credit for the plays. Although Shakespeare is a belligerent and notably stupid man, everyone blindly accepts his claim of authorship. By the time the genius of De Vere’s work is apparent it is too late for Johnson to regain the credit he hastily gave away. 

De Vere uses the stage to undermine his political enemies and influence matters of state. While he applies cultural pressure through the stage, he also fights political battles in Queen Elizabeth’s court. If all of this wasn't enough, De Vere beds the queen, a union from which they sire a bastard son. Yes, the Duke is busy bedding the queen, working through the issues of state and of his station but yet has time and inclination to pen the masterworks of Western Civilization. This makes more sense in the eyes of the filmmakers than believing in the silly notion that an actor, with all the time in the world, who was living and breathing theater in an age of explosive culture and art would be able to write brilliantly. 

As long as you can ignore the film undermining the very theory it proposes, you may find the real treats of the film are screenwriter John Orloff’s rich dialog and Emmerich’s loving presentation of the Globe performances of Shakespeare’s work. Emmerich has risen to become one of the most profitable film directors in history for a reason. He has a talent for glossing over broken logic to present idiocy as feasible.  His face-palm inducing global-warming screed The Day After Tomorrow is a tribute to this specific talent. Despite this part of his track record, Anonymous is engaging and often smartly presented. While he fails at providing a film which will change many minds, he does give us an interesting alternative-fiction look at the workings of the Elizabethan Court and the Globe Theater.


One exchange of dialog I found to be particularly compelling.  While pressuring Johnson to accept credit for his work, De Vere points out something every audience member should have at the forefront of their minds at all times:

De Vere
…All art is political, Jonson, 
otherwise it would just be decoration. 
And all artists have something to say, 
otherwise they'd make shoes. 
And you are not a cobbler, 
are you Jonson?

What is interesting about this quote is that it comes in the middle of a film proposing a conspiracy which serves to undermine common thinking.  A film created by Emmerich, an aggressive global warming advocate who has made films specifically to advance his agendas.  It is rare for a movie to acknowledge the conspiracy of influence the film industry knowingly conducts on its patrons.

Click on fake Shake to view the trailer
Rafe Spall Shakespeare Anonymous

Scott Nehring Christian Movie Reviews

Scott Nehring Christian Movie Reviews
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