Reflections from Sundance & the SAG Awards

I'm currently in LA, sitting in a Cafe off of Hollywood Blvd. I'm spending my last few hours of submersion into filmmaking, movie watching, and the entertainment industry. It's truly been an inspiring time where I can actually say I've "grown." I've changed a bit. I saw about twelve films last week, cried, laughed, discussed and argued over storytelling, good acting, thematic elements on about five-six hours sleep a night. Which is less than I usually get at home with three kids, five and under), yet, of course, it was filled with so many encouraging conversations that leave me overwhelmingly inspired creatively. I'm ready to see some things happen!

Here are some thoughts arranged in no particular order:

1-First, I missed my family. I have to give my wife a HUGE shout out (as well as the village of the extended family and friends) who made this week possible for me to be away. It's been one week, one hundred and sixty eight hours since I've left. Even though I got less sleep then when we had an infant, I am more energized and refreshed than I have been since my summer sabbatical. Probably because I could be "tired" and not have to change diapers, feed anyone but myself, and not have to speak if I didn't want to. This was an option my wife didn't have this week, so I am so thankful for her partnership. She deserves her week away, now, or least many nights off from putting the kids to bed! (Which I fully intend to give her when I return).

2-A strange and sometimes uncomfortable thing that I often took advantage of this week was: FREE STUFF! It seemed everywhere I went there was free food, free lattes (yes, I had two a day), and free make-up (of which my wife will benefit). This is called SWAG. Free stuff ,usually for people who can afford to pay for it, anyway. Weird, but yes, I enjoyed it. Funny enough--the one day I was enjoying a free Morning Star Vege Burger, (of which I ate daily at Sundance),  I was also reading a book that had a section entitled, "No Free Food." I had to disagree with his thoughts at that moment as I enjoyed my pro-bono lunch.

 (The menu at the counter).

 But it was quite a sobering thought. Why is it that we give hundreds, thousands of dollars away to the riches people on the planet? I wrestled with this a lot this week. It is so easy to get sucked into the glitter of Hollywood, and I really wanted to temper my experience with being mindful to remember, I always am living in God's kingdom, and I want to be living his values. Which I was so grateful to have opportunities daily to pray with people, listen to their hurts and stories, and point people to the way, the truth, and the life. Which is really all of our calls in life, no matter what kind of passion/job we spend our time doing. We can live compassionately and generously.

3-They say, whoever "they are," that so much of the entertainment industry is "who you know." And there is a LOT of truth in that. I got invited to a table read of a screenplay entitled, "The Scoundrels Club." What a fun experience. Jeff York, was the winner of a contest that flew him out to Park City, UT, to have his script read by professional actors (which I fooled them into thinking I was). I thank my buddy, Christian Anderson, who let me ride his coattails. It pays to make good friendships in this industry. 

 I also got to be a part of the 19th Annual SAG Awards in LA. I was basically a do-anything production gopher who did things like prepare paint sharpies for Celebs and shuttle the actual actor trophies across the auditorium and red carpet. It was quite fun and surreal seeing all the people I normally see on the big and small screens. Yes, like Hugh Jackman, and the casts of the Office, Downtown Abbey, and Glee. All because of a family connection.

4-"Celebrities are real people just like us." I know some grocery story magazine (People, maybe?) has a page highlighting famous people pumping gas, getting tickets, and eating bran muffins to show the world that even though they are filthy rich, they still have to pick up dog poop (most of the times) but see #2 and don't feel to sorry for them because they still have a lot of perks. The red carpet glitz and glam of Hollywood life can be a bit ridiculous. All the hype and money spent  on such events can be downright shameful when across the seas there are people starving and dying of preventable diseases. Wow, this was always on my mind. I really had to ground myself in this reality as I participated in these fancy events.  One of the things I took away, (nothing new), is that fame is fleeting. No matter who you are: the high school valedictorian,  the college football quarterback, Miss America,  the top selling software guy, the new mom, the award winning actor--every season comes to and end. Those feelings, the spotlight, the "whatever," will end. And someday we'll all be taking our last breath and reflecting for a split second if we truly lived a worthwhile life, which I'm determined to do. Although I love this entertainment and filmmaking industry, they must always be a means to something bigger: like enjoying healthy relationships, creating meaningful stories to impact our hearts,  and discussing real issues with others that propel us to be good humans who make a difference.

5-This leads me to my next thought. I spend a lot of my time preparing and planning for something that happens within a building regularly during the week. I teach, craft, brainstorm, and plan ways to help others experience truth, life, and love--(much like I said above: includes trying to encourage healthy relationships, good management of life's resources, and impacting the world for good and justice). That being said, we can learn a lot from movies and how they impact culture.  Thankful to the Windrider Film Forum for helping to shape this for many of us at Sundance last week. Maybe now, more than ever, I see this medium of story-telling through film and media as one of the greatest ways to reach people and move people's hearts to action. I have to continue to chew on this, but as I looked at how interactive the filmmaking events were,  (and so well organized) and how many great conversations were had, I can  safelysay that everyone who participated in these events was moved in some way.  I hope to see some of this impacting what I do in Redwood City. (Below filmmakers from one of my week's favorite films, "Toy's House.").

6-We are created to have relationships. We are created to engage with others. Full theatres of film loving people resulted in lots of new friendships and inspired dreams.This is a simple truth of humanity. When you make time to do the things you love with others who share that love, you can't help but experience beauty, connect, grow close, share life, etc.(Below a crowd gives a standing ovation to the winning film, "Fruitvale," and a sign reflecting a space where workshops and panel discussions were held.).

7-Finally, I'm affirmed, once again, that I cannot escape my soul's purpose, what I believe God put within me. I have been created to create. Making films, collaborating on team, a film crew, and acting brings me life and I know it brings life to others. I must give my time to this, or a part of my will die. And so I will be making more time to do so, and glad that my role within PCC is moving into that direction. I am praying for more clarity on that and a healthy transition for for all involved.

So, overall I am excited to return and share my experiences, but especially to be with my family. In closing,  It was

This video below encapsulates the good, the crazy, and the downright superficial nature of this industry, this beast that I love. This beast that I am called to fight with, conquer, tame, and speak into my life and the lives of those around me. I love navigating through it and I love that I get to be a part of it because it both challenges me to grow and allows me to be used in the lives others.

So, althought it's easy to forget, I will be intentional.  I will not seek fame, nor fortune, but find my fortune in the ONE who is already famous, and who's name will be lifted up among the nations.

And that's a wrap.

Windrider Film Fest

For the third year in a row I'm involved with the Bay Area Windrider Film Fest!

Three nights of watching films and discussing them with their makers!

Loved talking w/ T.C. Johnstone, who directed an amazing documentary on the first ever Rwanda cycling team! Which, one of the cylclists will be competing in the Olympics this summer in London watch for him! Go Team Rwanda!

Last night was a great film of the underdog become hero through the real life of Matt "The Hammer" Hamill. A UFC champ who just happens to be deaf, defeating the odds stacked against him. Powerful.

And tonight is the last night! We'll watch RED DOG starring Josh Lucas, and interact with him and the screenwriter, after the film!

and of course I get to have a little fun backstage!

Check it out here:

New shots

These shots are from my buddy Israel Soler, who is starting his photography business. I love them because they are overlooking the city, the city I love!

Let the filmmaking begin!

Today was a preproduction day of scouting locations, meeting with hair and make-up people, discussing costumes, and rehearsing (in my living room). Our team was all over the city getting things ready for our shoot that starts Thursday! They were together twelve plus hours today!

I'm most impressed with people passionate about the arts that they would be willing to give their time for free to not only make a good story, but simply to work together---(knowing that something supernatural happens in the community of filmmaking)!

Here's some light testing going on in the FOX theatre in which we get to shoot! We are so excited! We also were given the gift of using this space and it just happened to be the perfect time for us to use it for the film fest shooting requirements!

FUN FACT: One of our special crew members is a long time Bay Area, filmmaking native: Ned Kopp (below). He's been working in films since the 1970's. He's worked with Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas,  Bill Cosby, Robin Williams, and now us. And why is he working with us? When I asked him he said, "Why not?!" He just loves making movies! He's giving his time totally free because he loves filmmaking! He knows what he's doing and it's great to listen to all his stories. What a humble guy! And below is Tammy Calderon. This will be her second film she's worked hair and make-up. It's awesome to watch her light up and give her input. She'll also be bringing some of her students from her cosmetology program to help! Thanks everyone!
Here is our director below, Kerwin Kuniyoshi, sharing his vision for the film! Within two writes of the script he nailed what he was looking for, and is taking a risk trying a different approach, but one that is very creative and worth it!
If you'd like to support the film financially to cover our gear and expenses--please go here:

If you'd like to donate food for the cast/crew email
cases of 24 bottles of water (need about 6 cases)
2-12 packs of assorted soda
2 Large Salads
2 Big Safeway Deli Hero Sandwiches
4 loves of bread ( 2 wheat, 2 white)
2 jars of Jelly
2 jars of peanut butters
3 cases of cup of noodles
2 bags of apples
2 bunches of bananas
2 bags of grapes
2 boxes of SPOONS, Forks, Knives-plasticware
1-package of napkins
1 large bag of trail mix
2 boxes of granola bars
1 bucket of licorice and other assorted candy
1-First aid kit

Enemy of Mine

One great way to get a film produced is to have a DEADLINE. So many films never get completed and end up staying in post-production limbo but.. when you enter a contest you have some incentive. We had 48hrs to complete a short film and I'm glad to say we did and it turned out awesome. It was for the so as soon as the judging happens I'll post a link on Vimeo! Here's a couple shots from the set!

My friend Tammy came to do hair! Theresa, getting her hair done, has been a long time friend on numerous sets and so fun to work together!

 Director -Kerwin Kuniyoshi & Director of Photography-Jerry Yoon storyboarding.
 Set designers-post-apocolyptic space.
 Sun beat and dirty-me

Hotel Triton

Shooting a spot for the very creative and artisitc HOTEL TRITON (a Kimpton Hotel).

Working with reknown photographer CRIS MOLINA.
This guy has been all over the world and worked with Elle Magazine (USA, and Turkey), Hilton Hotels, Marriott Hotels, Kimpton and Hyatt Hotels, Coca-Cola Company (Europe, Asia, and USA), Time Warner Music, HBO, Fox Networks, Neiman Marcus, Armani, Donna Karan and, Oscar De La Renta to name a few. 

I signed a contract saying I wouldn't post any pics from the shoot or blog about what we are doing/wearing. So I will honor that.

All I can say is that I really like this hotel and I am glad I get to represent them!

Knife Fight

This week I had a "featured role" in Knife Fight, a filmed directed by Bill Guttentag (who happens to be a professor at Stanford).

A featured Role basically means I'm in a scene interacting with a principal character but no lines and most likely no credit. But hey I was glad to do it as there a lots of great actors in this flick like Rob Lowe, Carrie-Ann Moss, and Julie Bowen--the mom on MODERN FAMILY.

The film deals with the dark side of political operatives.

I got to play a liberal political blogger.
Here I am with actress Jamie Chung. I had never heard of her but she's been in a lot of films, (just in the Hangover part 2 as the main guy Ed Helms' Fiancee). Basically in the scene her character talks to me, a blogger, and I just get to nod my head.

That is Bill the director in the pic above.
The scene was filmed in the Honey Honey (Crepe) cafe in San Francisco.