Sunday, November 11, 2012

This Film Idea

My wife and I read through my screenplay "The Laws of Men" this evening.  She had never read it, and I think she now understands why I have so much enthusiasm and confidence in its potential.  This isn't about the money-making potential (which I think is likely to be modest although profitable if it gets distribution) as about its ability to slowly nudge the culture back towards the right side of the political spectrum. 

It is about a remarkable incident in American history in which a small group of religious fanatics (as the federal judge called them) decided that the laws of God took precedence over the laws of men -- that regardless of the Constitutional rights that one group enjoyed, they were going to break the law, defy federal law enforcement, and rescue (the formal legal term for taking a prisoner away from the legal authorities) John Price, allegedly a runaway slave.

It has guns.  Lots of guns.  It has action.  It has a thrilling sequence as the runaways cross the frozen Ohio River on horseback.  It has courtroom drama.  It has powerful and stirring speeches by among other interesting characters, Charles Langston -- the son of a white Virginian and a slave, given his freedom by his father and sent to college.  It has sneaky legal maneuvering, as the Lorain County, Ohio District Attorney indicts a federal deputy marshal and two private slavecatchers for kidnapping -- and tries to arrest them in the federal court in the middle of a trial.

It is the sort of movie that will bring in a remarkably diverse crowd, I think: gun rights sorts who will have a chance to see firearms used in a way that was both unlawful and praiseworthy; courageous, morally centered sorts resisting a great evil by a corrupt, Democratic Party dominated judiciary and executive branch; blacks interested in this relatively unknown but important piece of black history where blacks and whites worked together; liberals out to see the good guys go up against the bad guys -- and they will be discomfited by what they learn; pro-lifers who will be encouraged by the moral convictions of those who refuse to allow federal law to get in the way of doing the right thing.

My problem is that I have never made a movie.  Nor do I know anyone who has ever made a movie, at least the level that does not make you think of the idiot who made the crime against filmmaking that became Obama's excuse for Benghazi.  My son and I will be working on a budget (since he is just finishing his degree in video production), but I know that to do this right is a several million dollar effort.  Kickstarter has funded some pretty significant projects, but this would be, I think, a record for them.

What are the alternatives?  I could make a documentary.  This would cost a few thousands of dollars, and Kickstarter would be the perfect place to raise that kind of money.  It would take almost no time to do this.  But documentaries are for people that want to be educated.  Low information voters want to be entertained -- and this last election is a reminder that those of us on the right have been spending far too much time educating people that actually care about bigger issues.  Remember the famous remark attributed to Adlai Stevenson when a supporter gushed that all the intelligent people were going to vote for him, "Madam, I need a majority."  We are not going to win election until the low information voters -- the ones who have not a clue where Benghazi is, or what Solyndra is, who could not tell you if the national debt is $16,000,000 or $16,000,000,000,000 -- start to see more than the one point of view that the popular culture promotes.


  1. That's a film I would like to see.

    I would suggest contacting Alex or Steven Kendrick at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia.

    They are behind the series of Christian films, including Courageous. The quality has gone from truly awful to not bad at all.

    Although your script may not be gospel-centered enough to interest them in doing it, they could probably point you ion the right direction.

  2. I have tried to contact them before, with no response. Now I see that Sherwood Pictures takes pretty much the same position that Christian book publishers do:

    "Q: Can I send Sherwood my script or synopsis?

    "A: Sherwood does not accept any ideas, scripts, books, or screenplays, even for review."

  3. A documentary might be a good lead-in and marketing tool for a dramatization. It could be a good way to get the facts about the story and drive interest in it.

  4. What about Declaration Entertainment, that Bill Whittle of PJM is associated with?

  5. You might seek advice from Roger L Simon, who publishes some of your columns.

  6. Hollywood spends Millions on movies because the purpose is to spend that kind of money in making a movie. Try asking Roger L Simon a fellow blogger for contacts,

  7. I have emailed Bill Whittle, but I have not heard back.

    I am attempting to reach Roger Simon.

  8. What do you think the running time of the movie would be?

    I know nothing about making movies either, but I do know there is a small group of independent film makers in Boise. I've seen them covered in the ID Statesman and on KTVB Channel 7. Probably a long shot but still might be worth looking into.

    Did you ever see the program on Idaho Public Television (channel 4) about the assassination of Frank Steunenberg and the subsequent trial? Looks like they are showing it again on 11/19. See for info.

    That is all BSU and public television people involved but who knows maybe you can learn something talking to them about doing something like this.

    In any case checkout the program if you haven't seen it as I think it has something of the production values you might be looking for. I wonder what their budget was. They used the old Ada County courthouse for the trial scenes.


  9. I did not see it, but I had forgotten about the old courthouse. My son is a BSU film student; he has some connections. But the big issue is going to be budget.

    I would think this is going to be about 90-110 minutes.

  10. This historical story was mostly in Ohio right? I wonder if there is any interest there in doing a movie about this history.


  11. You should watch it next Monday night. I'm sure you can also get the DVD through the public library to watch at your convenience.


  12. BTW, the funders of the Trial of the Century was both Simplot and many unions. Talk about strange bedfellows! The corporate proponent of "right to work" in Idaho and the opposition. It does show enemies can work together.


  13. All I know is that Blu-Ray authoring is expensive and not conducive to low budget film-making (or documentaries). Many such creators still use DVD or distribute online for HD movies/films.

    (This may apply only to really small distribution runs, though. I don't know if this would apply to a documentary whose goal is to reach as many people as possible.)

  14. Walt, yes just about entirely in Ohio.

  15. I have an idea for the History Channel: "Hydraulic Pumps of the Third Reich."

    Based on period industrial training films, recently uncovered and uncovered by copyright, and intercut with the standard images of Tiger tanks and Luftwaffe, the 10 part series goes into detail.

    I plan to use unpaid film school and history PhD interns for the entire effort.

    Should come in at $10,000 per hour or less, the gold standard of airtime filler.

    The followup is "German Ladder Safety, Key to World Domination".


  16. Clayton,

    Contact and see if they can put you in touch with Douglas Wilson and his son Nate.

    Douglas collaborated in a release of his series of debates with the late Christopher Hitchens, and is a strong proponent of cultural impact.

  17. Clayton,

    You should look at the resources that Act One ( has available.

    Their focus is getting Christians to produce work that will stand outside of the Christian film ghetto. The masterminds behind it are working Hollywood professionals.


  18. Stevenson had a point, of sorts.

    Everyone - not just the "smart people" - has a vote, which is right.

    And the problem isn't "non-smart" people, it's that most voters are "low-information". They are "rationally ignorant" about political affairs, because it takes lots of time to stay fully informed, and the probable benefit of being fully informed to an individual is small. They rely on brands (party and ideology labels), "test" issues, and what they read/hear/see in the general mass media.

    And the general media is completely dominated by the left. This domination is at multiple levels.

    For instance, newspaper writers and reporters, j-school teachers, history and social science scholars. (See the hierarchy?) And school teachers, ed school teachers, social science again.

    Charles Murray found that while most Americans have moved from centrist to slightly conservative in the last 40 years, the "Intellectual Upper Class" segment moved from centrist to the far left.


    The left thus occupies the "high ground" of our culture, and despite the Internet is still gatekeeper for most people's knowledge.