Monday, September 26, 2011

The Bible as a Screenplay - 4


The actual shoot is a complex and pressured environment, but if done well can be an excellent example of a team working together to see a dream of come to fruition.

A good shoot assumes that a whole host of things have come together - mostly initiated by the director.

(There's a lot more to directing a film than what I first thought. My impression of the director just being the one who sat down on set and told everyone else what to do has pretty much been blown out of the water.)

Without the vision of the director, there is no film. The quality of how this story is told is dependent on the director's dream for the project, and there is a specific progression of events that take place for that dream to be realized. Here is some of that progression:

1. PRE-PRODUCTION ... Script selection - it is the director's responsibility to firstly identify a script that is going to work - there is much to be lost if the script that is chosen is a dog... Script wash - once a good script has been chosen, the director then needs to read, read, read it until it becomes a part of who they are, they understand the characters and what motivates them, how the flow of the story will work, and how it can be broken down into a story board, then shot lists in conjunction with the cinematographer. Alongside of this comes things like story boarding and shot listing, casting, location selection, wardrobe, music, etc. ... and all of this is pre-production

2. PRODUCTION ... Here the director needs to ensure that the story is told well, the right shots are taken to tell it, and to coach the actors according to how the story needs to be told as he's envisioned it. The shoot is where all the elements of pre-production should align, and all the elements for the next part of this process are gathered... That being:

3. POST-PRODUCTION... We'll get to this in the next post :)

In the meantime, consider the story of all creation, and how the One who has written the screenplay is not only the main character in this story, but is the director as well - He's done all the pre-production, ensuring that all the elements align for "the shoot"- the production. God's story comes to life as the players deliver their parts on set, trusting themselves to the Director's vision for how this story will look.

Sure, it might be argued that the characters in the Bible, and indeed the characters in this story today (us!), aren't just actors in front of a camera, but real people living real lives ... But nevertheless, the picture of God as our producer/writer/director is a helpful one.

So, where do we fit in this analogy? Could it be that we are the editors?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Bible as a Screenplay - 3


My perception of a screenplay is that it isn't worth much, unless it's really good ... And even then the final film may not look like anything like the original script once the director, actors and editor have all gotten to it.

I'm no movie producer, but I imagine the average producer's desk will have a high level of screenplay traffic. Everyone thinks they're an awesome writer, and that their idea is what will change the world, or make lots of cash at the box office. And so the producer faces the unenviable task of finding the one masterpiece amidst the drivel, or at least one that a great director can work from.

That's my stereotypical perception of a screenplay - it's usually not worth much.

This changes, of course, if the producer is an outstanding writer/director. Then the screenplay takes on a whole different priority. In this scenario, the one who writes the story brings the creative genius to visualize and direct it, and the capacity to see the project to completion.

So, when I think of the Bible as a screenplay, I don't so much see it as one of the many offerings that floats across a producer's desk hoping to be noticed - only to fall into the hands of a director who shows no concern for the original intent of the author, and a producer who is more than willing to sacrifice artistry on the altar of marketability and consumerism. No, this is THE screenplay that all of the industry longs to be a part of.

Written by the writer of all writers, who knows how this story should look, how it can be told ... and He has the capacity to see the project through to it's ultimate completion.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Bible as a Screenplay - 2


Recently I went to a 10 day film school - and to be honest I was out of my league with some of the folks there, but I learned heaps.

I came away feeling better equipped in the opportunity of making short films for a ministry context, but better than that, the time gave me an insight into the art of film-making and how it can serve as an excellent paradigm for spiritual formation.

The first thing to realize is that there are so many levels to this art - writing, producing, directing, cinematography, acting, audio, editing ... not to mention the myriad of roles on a film crew and then the response of the audience.

This multiple-faceted nature of film-making alone attracts me to the notion of seeing the Bible as "the screenplay of God's story", but the three key levels of this process are what's most helpful.

1. Level one - the screenplay - this answers the question, "what is the story?"

2. Level two - the shoot - this answers the question, "what can this story look like?"

3. Level three - the edit - this answers the question, "how do we best tell this story?"

There are some immediate objections that arise in my mind if the metaphor of film-making is used for the story of God, especially around our understanding of screenplay and editing. Keep reading this series and help me deal with some of these objections.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Bible as a Screenplay - 1


Bent down over the evaporative air conditioner on our rooftop, I had an epiphany. After playing with the control panel and circuit breakers for half an hour, then pretending like I knew what I was doing in taking some of the unit apart, it became so clear - I should probably look at the manual.

The manual could tell me of the air conditioner's design, the potential problems I might encounter, and the best way to efficiently keep my family cool. It is full of helpful information that any air conditioning technician will get excited about, and it was, admittedly, the one thing that brought resolve to my hot weather woes.

However, as good as the manual is, I reckon I've looked at it three times in the 5 years I've had it. Once, when it was installed so I could set up the controller right, and the other two times was when something went wrong.

You might be able to see where I'm going with this. If this is the way I treat a manual, and then I use that same picture in describing the Bible to my students, then how can I expect them to be motivated to read it outside of their "set-up" and "troubleshooting" phases?

I'm becoming increasingly convinced that if our only understanding of the Bible is that it's "the manual for life" then this might not only be unhelpful, but culturally repulsive.

So, I wonder whether a more helpful way for us to think about the Bible is as "the screenplay for God's story". I'm going to explain what I mean over the next 6 posts, and as I do, I invite you to consider whether this is a helpful way to communicate the role of the Bible to an emerging generation, and also if this is a helpful way for us to interact with the Bible ourselves.