The Better Story

Brad here. I'm going to attempt to connect a few dots bouncing around my head so bear with me. 

Last weekend my cousin (Kaity) got married (to Matt) here in Cincinnati. Our babysitter was booked so my sister-in-law (Stephanie) drove down from Columbus to watch our toddler (Henry).

On the left is a snap of the wedding favor courtesy of Matt. He's a brewmaster and worked his magic, handcrafting two original beers for everyone to take home. On the right is Hank. I included him solely because I like his face.

We got home pretty late from the wedding and reception so Stephanie was already asleep. As my wife (Leah) and I got ready to do the same, I opened the bathroom closet to find that Stephanie worked her magic and COMPLETELY reorganized the entire thing.

Fast forward to to this week. I finally watched Life of Pi. The basic plot (spoiler alert): A teenager named Pi survives a shipwreck despite sharing a lifeboat with a ferocious tiger named Richard Parker. Most of the movie tells that amazing story. At the very end, while recovering in the hospital, Pi tells his outrageous story to the investigators who obviously don't believe him. They ask for the truth. So he tells them a completely different story. One where all the outrageous moments have more plausible explanations.

As an adult, Pi is asked by a new friend which story is true. Pi replied, "Well, you can't prove either of them. So which story is better?" The friend said the story with the tiger.

Pi replied, "And so it goes with God."

maxresdefault.jpg
 

After the movie I was up in the bathroom trying to find my razor in the newly organized closet. I marveled at Stephanie's handiwork. Everything had new place in the closet, it all made perfect sense how she divided things and turned chaos into order. It was a work of art. And I thought about how amazing it is that God makes all of us so different with such unique skills. 

But immediately following that thought I wondered, "Is that true?" 

Much like David in A Strange Brand of Happy, I questioned if God really had anything to do with Stephanie's bent towards organization. Maybe it's just a lifetime of nature and nurture that made her that way. How can you prove that God hardwired her this particular way?

I thought about Pi and realized that I can't prove it. But which is a better story? 

My answer would be the story about God making each of us very uniquely because he has an outrageously complex, yet strangely simple plan to make this world better.

Perhaps he made Matt (the newlywed brewmaster) a deeply curious lad knowing that he'll find creative ways to serve his friends. Like pursuing a degree in brewing and building a brewery in his basement. And perhaps God gave Stephanie a brain that sees order amongst chaos. So when she's not secretly fixing people's messy cabinets she's working her magic in the neonatal intensive care unit bringing new life into this crazy world. 

I can't prove God has anything to do with anything. This life is as much poetry as science. But it's a better story that he does have something to do with how we're wired. And so I choose the better story.  

He made you and he was happy. You make the Lord happy.  Choose that story and see where he takes you.

 

 

Update & Answers on ASBOH Tix, etc.

If you have 3 min, please watch this. (Thanks for the flattering screen grab, YouTube.)

Cliff’s notes below. (Make sure to read the first bullet point below if you have a GIFT CARD from us for the movie.)

  • (Not in Video) If you got a GIFT CARD from us we just got the info we need to process them. Make sure you have registered following the instructions on the back and graciously give us some time to get them out. We’re working hard on it.
  • If you reserved tickets on Seatzy you should have received an email from them Monday night with your ticket code. If you didn’t get it, check the email connected to your Amazon account and your spam folders. If you can’t find it, email support@seatzy.com. You can cc us if want at info@rebelpilgrim.com.
  • The 43 theaters nationwide are all listed at www.strangehappymovie.com. They all screen the movie for 7 days starting Friday multiple times everyday. So just show up and get a ticket like any other movie.
  • The theaters decide if we will run a second week on Tuesday Sept 17, so if you are going throughout the week try to go Monday Sept 16 if you can.

Thanks! Especially for your patience if you’ve had any snags through this process. Let us know how we can help. We aren’t sleeping this week anyway.

-Joe

 

Seatzy is Working! Theaters are booking! What’s Next?

Our 3-month Seatzy campaign for A Strange Brand of Happy will end at 11:00 pm EST tomorrow Saturday, August 31.

It’s been quite a journey of discovery as we were the very first movie to ever use this program. The folks at Seatzy had to fix some things on the fly. Things worked mostly as we thought they would, but there are always challenges along the way. There still may be a few to come, but overall…

The important thing I want to communicate today is that Seatzy is working!

We will be announcing our list of officially booked theaters Monday morning, but here’s what we know so far:

-All the cites we’ve reserved over 500 tickets to date will play for a full run (at least 30 screenings) in those markets.

-The overwhelming response in Cincinnati created huge benefits for us not accorded to most small indie films including:

      -The theater in West Chester has scheduled 35 screenings instead of the normal 30.

     -They’ve given us a larger auditorium than normal.

     -Other theaters in the region are contacting us to run the movie.

-Some theaters who were not planning on carrying our movie have decided to book the movie apart from the Seatzy program.

-We were able to book a full run of 30 screenings in Los Angeles at the Regency Van Nuys. It’s hard to play in LA and this allows us to have an LA premiere. It also makes us eligible to receive reviews for the LA Times and other national influencers.

So here’s what you need to know now:

-You can still reserve tickets until Saturday at 11:00 pm EST on Seatzy. That still benefits us in several ways if you do so. Here’s that link.

-You can still donate tickets at this link that will be given to churches around the country to use as an outreach. Donations on Seatzy also shut down Saturday night.

-If you have reserved on Seatzy you will be receiving an email next week letting you know if your campaign was successful and how to claim your e-tickets.

-Beginning Sunday, you will still be able to reserve tickets for the screenings in most every market via Fandango and the theater websites. We will post all the info at www.strangehappymovie.com.

-Every screen we book will play for 7 days. We only reserved for opening weekend on Seatzy, but you can still go and bring friends all weekend and Monday-Thursday in every city.

-Like any other movie, people can walk up and get tickets at the box office. Reserving your tickets early on Seatzy is a massive show of support, but people can still go to the movie by just showing up.

-The movie is eligible to be “carried over” for a second week in every city. It is completely dependent on the box office performance per theater.

-If you have any problems, questions or promotional ideas please contact us directly at info@rebelpilgrim.com.  The biggest question we are being asked now is “When will I get my tickets?” We will email you that info as soon as we have sometime between Sept 1-10.

As always, your support and kindness blows me away. There’s no way we get here without you.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Tiffin, my hometown.

I wanted to post a video for my people in northwest Ohio about not getting Tiffin booked like we all hoped. I'm disappointed. But there is a silver lining... I'm giving you a fantastic excuse to road trip to Flag City, USA where we did get booked. All it takes a quick email to transfer your tickets to Findlay. So on the weekend of September 13, I hope there are rowdy caravans travelling from Tiffin, Fremont, New Reigel, and beyond to go see A Strange Brand of Happy in Findlay. Thanks for all your support, guys!   -Brad

Stop. Drink. Refresh.

I've oft compared our filmmaking journey to a cross-country road trip. I've done the literal trip a handful of times and the metaphorical journey countless times. In my experience, there are a number of similarities between the literal journey and starting, producing, finishing and promoting a creative endeavor.

This week I'm trudging through Kansas. We're long past the virgin rush of departure and now all I see are fields. Flat, endless plains. The promise of reaching an ocean feels impossible.

Have you been there? Does this metaphor connect? If so, it might be time to pull over. Get out of your cramped car and stretch. Find a gas station and get something cool to drink. Refresh. Refill your tank.

That's what I've done this week.

I rode up an elevator for some fresh air.

 

Screen Shot 2013-08-16 at 8.38.35 AM.png

I watched a couple documentaries that came highly recommended (and rightfully so). 

I'm taking bike rides at lunch.

Screen Shot 2013-08-16 at 8.43.30 AM.png

I can feel my tanks filling back up. For me, new perspectives are like fuel. But sometimes I forget I need refuel while road-tripping. It doesn't just magically happen. Periodically you have to stop to move forward.

So if you're feeling stuck in Kansas and uncertain about your destination, stop the car. Have yourself a Big Gulp. Refresh.

-Brad

Strange Happy Surprise Party for Skeptics

I'm noticing a trend with people who have reviewed or screened A Strange Brand of Happy. Everyone is nervous it's going to be real bad. Multiple folks have said the combo of quirky + romantic comedy + faith-friendly is going to = disaster. They use that exact word. DISASTER. But, nearly every time so far, said skeptics are surprised when it actually works and they genuinely enjoy it. 

Our summer intern, John Ross from tOSU, was one of these skeptics. This morning I had him tell Joe what he told me last week. 

 

John actually told me that he was nervous the entire summer was going to suck because he'd have to help promote a turd of a movie. (He may not have used such strong language. I may be taking artistic license.) But, this summer didn't suck for John. He's been the one who's created most of the videos we've posted online and turned into quite an advocate for what we're trying to do- mash up things we love; quirky comedy + subtle faith + hope and have it = a good time. 

If you're skeptical about our movie I don't blame you. I would be too. But give us a chance and I think we'll surprise you. So far, that's what keeps happening.

Follow us on Twitter: @StrangeHappy

Find us on Facebook.com/astrangebrandofhappymovie.com

Click the share button below to post on FB, Twitter, etc. 

And if you haven't yet, reserve your tickets today here

 

Ch Ch Ch Changes

We boxed up 4.5 years of work and sent the final cut of the movie to Dolby Labs this week. They'll create a Digital Cinema Package and distribute that to the theaters for us. It was surprisingly satisfying sending it off.  

tumblr_mqgeowryZL1qfej2bo1_500.jpg

We also stumbled upon some old storyboards this week and were shocked that not a single scene ended up in the final cut. 

storyboard.JPG

In fact, I think the only scene that was in the first draft of the script that ended up in the movie you'll see in theaters is Dale eating a six-foot party sub. Pretty wild to look back on the past and realize how much has changed. It evokes a strange mix of nostalgia, healthy embarrassment and pride. 

Dale sandwich 4.jpg

Follow us on Twitter: @StrangeHappy

Find us on Facebook.com/astrangebrandofhappymovie.com

Click the share button below to post on FB, Twitter, etc. 

And if you haven't yet, reserve your tickets today here

 

Meet the Actor: Bekka Prewitt

When I first started writing ASBOH I had three specific actors in mind as I wrote. Joe Boyd, Ben Keller and Bekka Prewitt. Today I'd like to talk about my friend Bekka.

Her role, Terry, was a part of every single one of the drafts. She's the landlord who is in love with her tenant, David. Like every aspect of the story, Terry has changed and evolved. I think in one of the first drafts she had a pet cat that she wheeled around in a wagon. But from day one I knew I wanted Bekka to play her.

On screen Bekka has a magnetism that makes it nearly impossible to take your eyes off her. And now, after spending countless hours in the edit bay, I think I know why.

It's her eyes. 

Bekka has unbelievable control over what emotions she communicates with her eyes and as a result she's a show stealer in this movie. 

This comes in part from her natural talent and beauty, obviously. But I believe it mostly came from how hard she worked developing on her character. Bekka took the scripts in all their iterations to her acting classes in LA. She developed a backstory that informed every line of every scene. She brought suggestions and ideas to set about little things that made a huge impact. So her eyes are magnetic because behind them is a well of passion, determination and trust. 

It's incredibly fulfilling to write a part for someone and then watch them make it way better than you imagined. I can't tell you how many times I told Isaac in the edit bay how proud I am of Bekka. I'm thrilled for you to see her performance in theaters this September.

Watch Bekka talk with her cast mates about why you should see the movie.

Follow us on Twitter: @StrangeHappy

Find us on Facebook.com/astrangebrandofhappymovie.com

Click the share button below to post on FB, Twitter, etc. 

And if you haven't yet, reserve your tickets today here

Strange Happy Interview #2: Jonathan Maurer

Jamey Carroll infielder for the Minnesota Twin

Jamey Carroll infielder for the Minnesota Twin

The second installment of the Strange Happy Interview series is with professional sports agent, Jonathan Maurer (msmsports.net). Joe, Isaac and I once drove to St. Louis with Jonathan to watch one of his longtime clients, Jamey Carroll play a day game at Busch Stadium. 

I got to see firsthand why Jonathan is such a beloved agent. Actually, there should be a different name for Jonathan's role. To his players (his "kids" he calls them) he is their advocate, biggest fan and family member. He fights hard for the people he cares about. Which, feels like everyone he meets. He has a huge heart. He loves his wife and kids with reckless abandon. He knows no other way.

Here's one segment of our interview. The link for the entire interview is below.

I did some research (aka googling) about his buffalo claims. Legend goes they were shipped over for the 1924 silent film, The Vanishing Americans. 

via Wall St. Journal

via Wall St. Journal

Transient

To see the other interviews and videos check out our YouTube page.

A Fine Fine Day: May 28

Two very important people on the Strange Happy team share a birthday today. Actually, I don't think I'd be overstating things when I say they're two of the MOST important. My beautiful wife, Leah. And the man of many hats, Mr. Isaac Stambaugh (Unit Prod. Manager and 1st Assistant Director, Producer, Editor). 

leahphoto.JPG
313154_277432215601223_255594621118316_1190790_1052569957_n.jpg

I could go on and on and on about these two. But the thing I want to call out (in this context) is why they are such crucial partners.

1. They're honest. They both have the grace and moxie to tell the truth.

2. They're multi-tasking multipliers. Hand them one fish and they'll find ways to give you fifty. All while doing five other things. 

3. They're funny.  Don't underestimate the power of laughter in partnerships.

4. They're trustworthy. They will not let you down. In both the big and small things.

I'm a lucky man to call them both partners. This little movie of ours would seriously not be coming to theaters this fall without these two.

Cheers to a fine fine day: May 28!

Music Monday: Sneaky Sneaky

"The marriage of the moving image and music is perhaps the most powerful visual communication we have. You can take almost any edited visual film sequence and change the emotion and feelings engendered by the use of music.” 

Norman Jewison (The Thomas Crown Affair, Moonstruck)

I could write 5,000 words on the working relationship I have with Jim Zartman (composer for A Strange Brand of Happy). Simply put, he's a genius. I don't toss that word around lightly. His brain just works differently than most brains. The time we spent together in the studio on this project was incredibly rewarding on multiple levels. 

So today I wanted to share one of the instrumental tracks he wrote for A Strange Brand of Happy. I can't tell you anything about the scene because it would spoil the plot. But, the track's title will make perfect sense when you see the movie...

Have you heard it opens September 13?

e53e2eceb25c11e2965422000a9f18cc_7.jpg

Build a Dream with Us.

from Joe Boyd:

Here’s a quick update that went out to our A Strange Brand of Happy weekly email blast. I won’t likely be re-posting many here, so if you want to get them make sure to sign up for it at this link.

“The word community has many connotations, some positive, some negative. Community can make us think of a safe togetherness, shared meals, common goals, and joyful celebrations. It also can call forth images of sectarian exclusivity, in-group language, self-satisfied isolation, and romantic naiveté. However, community is first of all a quality of the heart. It grows from the spiritual knowledge that we are alive not for ourselves but for one another. Community is the fruit of our capacity to make the interests of others more important than our own (see Philippians 2:4). The question, therefore, is not “How can we make community?” but “How can we develop and nurture giving hearts?’” 

-Henri Nouwen

A Strange Brand of Happy isn’t just a movie. It’s the intentional by-product of a community of friends. Nothing about making a movie is individualistic – from writing to producing to acting to distributing to experiencing the final product. This film comes from a group of friends who genuinely love each other. We wanted to make a movie that felt more like a movement than just a piece of entertainment. We wanted to invite the world into our friendships and into our vision of seeing people move from boredom and despair to hope and life.

I sincerely want you to feel invited into that.

I hope by the time this movie hits the big screens all across the country on September 13, you can authentically say that “our movie” is in theaters. There’s still time to join the team and become part of our “our.”

By my rough count, about 300 people have combined to get ASBOH to where it is today. We need hundreds more who will join us to help us finish the race we started. There are no shortcuts on this one…no millions of dollars in advertising, no huge celebrity endorsements, no major studio partnerships. It’s just you and me and a few hundred of our friends heaven-bent on the world being a better place – desperate for people to find their strange brand of happy…and in doing so, ignite sparks of hope in some lonely and lost hearts along the way.

Won’t you join this community? Invite others in as you do. Help us finish what we started.

Right now all we have is a movie.

With your support, we can have a movement.

Sincerely,

Joe

treehouse_1.jpg
Here's what we really need this week: 1. If you haven't, please reserve your tickets now. This is the ONLY way we can add new theaters.
2. Email Harmony Hensley now if you can join the team and help us promote the film in your city.
Here are a few outtakes from A Strange Brand of Happy featuring one of my friends, Mike Betette. He's a great example of someone I love like a brother...and love working with. I've got a pretty good gig.

Music Monday: The Seedy Seeds

Last summer we asked Twitter to help us find music for the movie. Our friends Cindy Tucker and Emily Kimball introduced us to The Seedy Seeds. They're a Cincinnati band with that perfect indie movie sound. We used their song Losing Light for the meet cute scene where David and Joyce first run into each other. It has that fun, awkward tone to it that worked perfectly for David using this line.

Impression.jpg

I had no idea how important Cindy's introduction would be. Through The Seedy Seeds we met their record label sonaBLAST! who opened up their entire catalog to us. Game changer. Check out the soundtrack. Most of the songs are from sonaBLAST! 

We're in process of putting the soundtrack on iTunes. Stay tuned. Right now we're working on the album art. Click the pic below to see a little Vine video showing the rough concept sketch.

Follow us on Twitter: @StrangeHappy

Like us on Facebook.

Subscribe to the blog below via email. Every Monday we talk music and on Tuesdays we'll introduce you to an actor or two.

Use the share buttons below as well to share this post on your various networks. 

Meet the Actor: Marty Ingels

I'm sitting on the plane right now returning to Cincinnati from Dallas and I have no idea where to begin talking about Marty Ingels. He is a wonderfully complex man with a storied career. A comedic genius formed on the streets of Brooklyn as a kid and alongside the Hollywood legends as an adult, Marty shared stories from these formational periods whenever the cameras weren't rolling. 

marty3.jpg

As you saw in the trailer there is something magnetic to Marty when the camera turns on. He steals nearly every scene he's in. Part of that I think is just his natural magic. He has "It." But there's a very detailed method to his madness. He would show up on set every day with a notepad full of insane-looking scribbles. They were his notes for every little thing he wanted to do. His magnetism is both nature and nurture. 

But I would be lying if I said it was all gumdrops and candy canes with Marty. We had our wrastlin' matches. One of them changed the course of the shoot for me and perhaps my future career. After our most ambitious day of shooting when everyone was celebrating I was receiving a very blunt lesson. See below.

marty2.jpg

He explained how I wasn't doing a very good job being an "actor's director." From his perspective I wasn't connecting the actors to the scene as well as I could've been. I could've argued with him on this but I chose not to. I listened. He explained how the relationship forged between actor and director can be a beautiful thing that translates on and off camera. And I was blowing it from his vantage point.

I looked him in the eye. It was a moment I could've pointed out that we just shot more pages in one day than an extremely optimistic person would've thought possible. The cast and crew were connected on and off screen that day for 13+ hours straight. We were rock stars and I should've been popping champagne celebrating. Instead, I was receiving some hard truth. And that was a choice I made. To receive. He's forgotten more about the business than I have yet to experience. So I told him he was right and that I would do better.

And he was right. For the rest of the shoot I forged some beautiful relationships with the actors, particularly with him. I've long said your best friends are the ones you've boxed. (Ask my college roommate, Tyler.) Marty and I went 12 rounds together while he was in Cincinnati and I have the scars, smiles and stories to show for it.

This April, Isaac and I visited Marty and Shirley in their home in Encino, CA (1.5 years after we last saw each other). After hugging Shirley outside in the driveway, I walked inside and saw Marty. We both grinned and shook hands.

I'm proud of Marty's performance on screen, but it's the wonderfully complex relationship we have off screen that I'm really proud of. 

Follow us on Twitter: @StrangeHappy

Click the share button below to post on FB, Twitter, etc.

And if you haven't yet, reserve your tickets today here.