Wednesday, March 26, 2008

It's my party, and I'll post if I want to

So I'm 25 today. I know I said I wasn't going to post until April, but this is a fluff post anyhow. It's my special goddamn day, I'll post if I want to.

And how special IS it?


Here's a list of some famous people who share my birthday:

Kiera Knightley -- Right on
Amy Smart -- She's fun too
Martin Short -- Don't hold it against me
James Caan -- He's pretty cool, what I've seen
Alan Arkin -- Same
Leonard Nimoy -- I win
Duncan Hines -- Yep, the cake guy
Tennessee Williams -- I got a couple awards doing a monologue from Glass Menagerie my Senior year
Richard Dawkins -- SHIT YEAH BITCHES



Also on this day in history, the Heaven's Gate cult killed themselves (1997), James Dobson founded the anti-gay organization Focus on the Family (1977), and Auschwitz received its first female prisoners (1942). And Beethoven died (1827).

At the same time, Jonas Salk publically announced his successful creation of the polio vaccine (1953), the U.S. secured Iwo Jima (1945), the hippies did some shit in NYC (1967), and, oh yeah, I WAS BORN (1983), so I think it tips the scales of the day from "balanced out" to "fucking awesome".

And if that's not enough, I got Dawkins AND Campbell. Go ahead and TRY to beat that.

Whadda YOU got, December 5? Frankie Muniz and Ray Comfort? Fuck off. Also, you killed Mozart.

...Fuck. You've also got Fritz Lang and Walt Disney.


...uh... about July 28?

Yeah. Yeah. That's more like it. Best you got is Jim Davis and Lori Loughlin, TV's "Rebecca" on Full House. And Britain got its first potato. Whoopdee-do. We also have you to blame for Soulja Boy.

December 18? Sure, you've got Spielberg and Brad Pitt. You've also got Stalin and Katie Holmes.

That's right. Katie Holmes. You monsters.

And you killed Chris Farley.

...but really, I'm sure they're all great birthdays. It's just mine is the BEST. I brought cake, Spock, and the Hero's Journey. Stick THAT up your first potato, Britain.

Think your birthday rules? Check it out on Wikipedia, and make your case.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Busy Month, Back in April

Okay, so I've been meaning to blog a whole bunch lately -- I saw a bunch of movies this weekend that I wanted to talk about (short version: Funny Games was eh, Horton Hears a Who was way funnier than I expected and worth seeing, Monster -- the low-budget direct-to-DVD Cloverfield ripoff, not the Charlize Theron Oscar winner -- was horrific in a bad way, and Murder Party was fun B-movie schlock, especially if you pretend it was made in the 80s) and just generally have wanted to keep up.

BUT, I've got a lot of work to do on Sandrima, and I also need to be writing the Descendants script because we need to be ready to shoot when Ray's off G.I. Joe. Between that and my birthday coming up next week, and some folks coming in from out of town, I'm not going to have a lot of time to write the helpful and informative posts you've all come to know and skim.

Instead of checking my blog every day until you conclude I will never update again and you might as well stop checking, I wanted you to know that I will be taking a blog sabbatical until April. So come on back on April 1. I will post something, at least brief, to let you know that I made it through and will be back to blogness-as-usual.

And don't worry, I don't do April Fool's jokes.

Friday, March 14, 2008

WTF is the BFD about the RED?

Over the last few years, there's been a lot of talk about the RED camera. But what is it, and why is it so buzz-worthy?

For almost ten years now, digital technology has been heralded as making art possible on a low budget. Not only filmmaking, but also music, animation, and even photography and still art. The term is the "digital revolution", and it's the technology that makes it possible to make a feature film without having millions of dollars.

But the digital technology has had its limitations.

Standard feature films are shot on 35mm film stock. In the digital age, film is usually scanned into a computer for editing and visual effects work, but the film itself is an analog medium. Its resolution is technically infinite, as you can magnify it more and more and always discover more detail; the limitation becomes the size of the "grain" on the image. Film is usually scanned at 2K resolution, which is just slightly larger than the largest standard high definition resolution of 1920x1080, although visual-effects-heavy films will often scan at 4K, and in rare instances even 8K. But the finishing and final output that is "printed" back to film is usually 2K.

Film has a wide "dynamic range", or "latitude", meaning that it can record detail in both the dark and the light areas of the image across a wide range of brightness. I've heard between 14-17 stops of dynamic range can be captured on film; I don't know for sure, but it's high.

Video, on the other hand, even newer digital video, is not quite so hot. Until the recent creation of HD camcorders, most camcorders have been standard-definition -- 720x480 in NTSC countries, like the USA, and 720x576 in PAL countries, like much of Europe. For the non-numerically inclined, if the resolution of a typical film scan is the size of a postcard, standard definition video is the size of the stamp.

High definition recording has improved the issue of visual resolution, more or less, but many of the problems inherent to video persist.

Whatever the resolution of the image, the dynamic range is very limited in video. To film's ~15 stops of latitude, video offers about 3. That means that it cannot record a wide range of brightness across an image and you must make a choice as to what is more important.

If you want to keep detail in the brighter areas of an image, you need to "stop down" the exposure so that the details are not lost. But that means that the less-bright areas of the image will become extremely dark, and details in the dark parts may all simply be lost and become black. Digital cameras can also be "noisy", meaning they will have random color/brightness fluctuations at a per-pixel level, that is more visible in dark areas and becomes extremely visible if those areas are artificially brightened.

If you expose to keep the shadow detail, then the bright parts of the image will "blow out" and become a mass of pure, flat white. So what you often must do when shooting video is light everything very bright, so even the shadows aren't too dark, expose for the bright areas of frame, and then enhance the tonal range of the image in editing.

Consumer-level video also has reduced color sampling. I could get caught up writing LOOOOONG posts on different color schemes that could make your head spin, but suffice it to say that in video, every pixel has its own unique brightness value, but may not have its own color value recorded, and instead will be interpolated or averaged together from surrounding pixels.1 Film does not have this reduced color sampling; every pixel gets its own brightness AND color value (in technical terms this is referred to as 4:4:4 color).

Another, larger disconnect between a digital camera and a film camera is the size of the imaging plane. As mentioned above, most high-budget "Hollywood" films these days shoot on 35mm film, which is 35mm measured diagonally across each frame.

Instead of a film frame, a digital camera has a digital sensor. Your standard home video camcorder -- even an HD one -- has a sensor 1/3" in size. Converting between measurement standards, that's about 8.4mm. Even the high-end super-professional Sony F-950 camera, on which they shot the last two Star Wars films, only has a 2/3" (16.8mm) sensor, and only records HD resolution.

If you've ever taking a photography course, you may be familiar with the pinhole camera. Simply (and probably somewhat incorrectly) put, the smaller the area that light has to pass through and strike, the fewer light rays you have to deal with, and the easier it is to focus the image sharply.

So you know how film has that cool look where some parts of the image are in focus and the background will be out of focus? And how video seems to have everything in focus pretty much all the time? That's why: video is recording onto a smaller imaging surface than film, getting less of the scene in frame and having a deeper depth of field ("field" referring to "the space in front of the camera within which an object will appear to be in focus").

So video loses to film -- and loses hard -- in terms of resolution, dynamic range, color sampling, and imaging plane.

Enter RED.

The RED camera records a 4K image (four times the size of the largest HD standard resolution2) with 11.7 measured stops of dynamic range (and they're working with the camera/sensor firmware to improve it) with pixel-to-pixel color accuracy, with an imaging plane the same size as 35mm film (technically Super35). It uses standard 35mm lenses like you'd find at any motion picture rental supplier, and it's a fully-digital system.

Now, the RED isn't QUITE the only system out there with these capabilities. Panavision created the Genesis, on which such films as Superman Returns, Apocalypto, Superbad, and The Other Boleyn Girl were shot. The Genesis also has a Super35 sensor and can also use standard cinema lenses, and records a 1920x1080 HD image.

Arri, another film camera supplier, came out with the D20, a 2K camera with a 35mm sensor and lens use, and ~10 stops of latitude.

The Dalsa Origin is also a 4K camera, also with a 35mm sensor and 35mm standard lens use, with supposedly more than 12 stops of latitude.

So given that it's not the only fish in the sea, what's the big fuckin' deal when it comes to RED?

In a word, accessibility.

The three cameras listed above are rental-only cameras, all renting for around $3000/day, not including lenses. The Dalsa's "base package" is $5000. They are relatively inaccessible to most low-budget filmmakers, who can buy a Panasonic HVX-200 for the same price as a two-day rental of the Genesis.

RED, on the other hand, is available for purchase direct from the manufacturer. The base rate, the price for the body of a RED camera, is $17,500.

That may still sound like a lot, but it's less than a week's rental of the Dalsa camera.

The comparison is somewhat unfair, given that that price is JUST for the RED body -- no accessories, no batteries, nothing -- but it still remains that you can get a fully decked-out RED system for $50,000 out the door, which is less than you'd spend renting any of the other systems for just one month. The RED is modular and upgradeable, meaning that the investment in the purchase does not depreciate as quickly, and is certainly much more worthwhile for the serious filmmaker than renting cameras for every project.

It's also a much cheaper rental, as a result. If you decide that buying isn't for you, current market rate for a RED system -- body, batteries, accessories, recording media, and usually even a heavy-duty tripod -- is just under $1000/day. That's a third of the cost of any of the competitors.

Speaking of recording media, the other cameras have their own proprietary recording devices -- either massive RAIDs to which the camera must remain tethered, or expensive portable units that you can rent extra.

And while the RED does offer a large-capacity RED Drive, it can be attached to the camera for portable operation. More than that, the camera is capable of recording to high-transfer CompactFlash cards. The same kind you can buy at a photography store. A non-proprietary format.3

So whereas a roll of film would normally be several hundred dollars, plus processing, and only useful once, you can buy a CF card, or even the drive, and use it again and again with a pure digital stream.

Another thing to consider: 4K resolution data is a lot of data. It's difficult to deal with a 4K stream (something like a data rate of 400 Mbps) without having a really high-end, custom configured system. But RED uses a very clever wavelet technology, REDCODE, to fit all that data into a stream of 27 MB/s. That's pretty much the same as HD, which means most off-the-shelf computers today, particularly Apple, can work with it natively.

I reserved a RED about 18 months ago and was just recently informed that my number is up for purchase. It may take me a while to get it, but I'm working on figuring out some loan options here, and once I do get it I may be posting/gushing about it a great deal more, so it was important to talk about why this camera is SO AWESOME.

For more information on RED, check out the official site, the official discussion forums (fora?), and the tech blogs HDforIndies, Indie4K and ProLost.

  1. This is why, if you've ever tried to pull a greenscreen key off of DV, it looks like stairsteppy dogshit. The edges are not strongly-defined in the color channel, but are instead a gradient between the green and whatever color your foreground is. The keyer is actually doing a good job of separating the image via color, it's just that your color information isn't good. The edges look good because the brightness information is all there, and the way the eye processes images fools it into reading it as a sharp-edged color image. On DV, keying on the brightness, aka luminance, info is the way to go. If you care to learn more about the what and wherefores of color sampling, you can read up here.

  2. The RED utilizes a Bayer pattern sensor, which requires complex algorithms to interpret the available color data. Some have said that this limits the actual resolution of the camera, and indeed shooting some resolution charts has shown that the camera can't QUITE resolve a 4K level of detail. But it's close-enough-for-government-work to call it a 4K camera.

  3. Red does sell their own branded CF cards and doesn't "guarantee" cards that you buy yourself, but as long as your cards match the proper specs, you can technically buy generic media for a high-end system. And that's a big deal.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Be not afraid

Last week I spent three posts describing the origins of my disbelief in the existence of a God, and the reasons that the idea of a God, and especially the Christian God, are completely unsatisfactory in the face of any rational consideration.

One thing that no one said but a few people hinted at was along the lines of "Look, it may not make sense. It may not be even true. But it helps people live better lives, so why not just let them have it?"

And my answer is: because it doesn't. What religion does is make people live in fear.

In many cases, it's fear of Hell. People live their lives stifling perfectly natural and healthy impulses and desires because they've been taught that they are engaging in "sin". They flagellate themselves -- sometimes literally -- with guilt when they commit some act that they have been taught is sinful or immoral for no good reason. They deprive themselves of joy in this life on the promise of another life after this, yet still always have the gnawing fear that they may have done something wrong or aren't quite good ENOUGH to curry God's favor so they won't be cast into the flames. This is not the way to live a better life.

It manifests in fear of others. Other people whose customs present a threat to your belief system and your sense of morality. If people were killing each other over whether Mother Goose or the Brothers Grimm were the true authority on morality, it would be madness. But when it's "real" religion, suddenly it's more serious and deserves more respect than that. Nothing that leads to fear and hatred deserves respect. That is not the way to live a better life.

It becomes a fear of new ideas. Every truth that you discover about the world, the universe, the nature of reality itself is almost certainly in contradiction to something that you are supposed to believe -- you should believe that the sun revolves around the Earth, that insects have four legs, that all animals were created and lived simultaneously up until the flood. People are dying because of religious opposition to stem cell research. A potential human has, in some cases, more rights than an actual human.

Any idea that contradicts the "perfect Word of God" cannot be accepted and must be rejected out of hand, lest "Satan" take hold of one's mind and draw someone away from the fold.

And ultimately, this boils down to fear of being insignificant. Fear that this is all there is. Fear that we are not worth anything unless someone else tells us so.

I have a friend, who I will not name, who once admitted to me that she knows that she is dependent on other people for her own sense of self-worth, that she is nothing without validation from people who care about her.

On another occasion, we were discussing religion (she's a believer), and she said "Even if there was all the evidence that there was no God, and I knew logically that there wasn't, I would still believe in God. And I'm not sure why."

A loving presence that , despite being tasked with keeping the whole Universe running at once, cares about you individually and tells you that you matter in the grand scheme of things. The God-as-Santa that many people today "believe in". And it seems obvious why it's so important to her that God exist.

Put back-to-back like that, it seems obvious; but these conversations were weeks apart, and unless she reads this blog she may not make the connection at all.

When pressed, anyone who calls him or herself a believer cannot come up with logical reasons or evidence for believing as they do, they just believe it. When pressed further, the revealing word that starts to show up is "want".

"I wouldn't want to think that the people I love who die are gone forever."

"I don't want to feel like we're alone in the universe."

"I want to believe that there's a higher power with a plan for all this stuff."

Well, I'm sorry to say this but here's a truth in life, truer than anything else: What you want, has no bearing on what is.

Read that again and make sure you understand it.

The fact that it dismays you to think that this is all there is doesn't change the fact, if it is fact, that this is indeed all there is. And frankly, that shouldn't dismay you. It should be a source of freedom.

If this is all there is then it's idiotic to live one's life trying to build credit for the next one. It's here, and now, that's important.

Religion takes away from the beauty and wonder of life by turning it into something manufactured, planned, understood even if not by us. If God created us, then we're not really that special all-in-all; we're a toy in his sandbox.

But if nothing created us, if we just came to be, then, to paraphrase Richard Dawkins, the fact that we have come to exist, and to exist at such a level as to question our own existence, when all the odds are stacked against us, is such a profound, moving realization, and one to instill such a deep appreciation and meaning into every precious moment of our fleeting time on Earth.

One of the most egregious faults of religion is taking credit away from humanity. People who suffer through illness, and credit God for their recovery are selling themselves short, selling all of humanity short when it is science, it is the beautiful brilliance that is human knowledge, that saved them.

People who throw off the shackles of an addiction and credit it to God are demeaning themselves. If there is no God interested and involved in human affairs -- and there is no reason to believe that there is -- then THEY broke the spell of their addiction. THEY had the strength and the will and the power to do it. When people give all the power to God they fail to recognize the power in themselves. It holds them back as individuals, and it holds us back as a species.

I went off on a long and very specific rant about the problem of amputees, and how if God existed he would answer the prayers of amputees, even if only occasionally, and we would have cases of people spontaneously re-growing limbs. But they don't, because humans aren't salamanders.

But then there's this:

Humans DO have the capacity, in our genetic code, to regenerate limbs. We can do it when we're young and if we were funding stem cell research -- which the RELIGIOUS people are blocking funding to, remember -- we could have that capacity. And it's only a matter of time before the science gets there, U.S. government funding or not.

God didn't do it. We did. To give up the praise for God, or to decide that you WILL pray for your arm to grow back now that Alan Russell has figured it out -- but it won't work without God's intervention -- is total bullshit. It's a travesty of logic, and it completely misses the real miracle: WE did this. WE are figuring this out. WE are learning to understand, and may even learn to control, the very forces of the universe itself.

And if WE don't learn to master our fear, and let go of the idea that someone smarter and more powerful than us will swoop in at the nick of time, show us how to do it right, and save us from ourselves, we will destroy ourselves.

Even on the off chance that God exists, we are coming to an age of power and technology where the true morality will be found only if we assume that he does not.

There are people who are unwilling to help stop global warming -- not because they don't believe it's happening, but they believe that God put us in dominion over the Earth, that God wouldn't let it get to the point that we wouldn't survive because he promised us he wouldn't, or that God will bring the Judgement Day before we get to that point.

We cannot live under the assumption that God will fix it, that God is in control. We must accept that nothing and no one is in control, and do our part to take control and make things work.

I picked global warming for my example but you see it time, after time, after time. There is too much at stake and the world is changing too fast to let first century mythologies inform twenty-first century humanity. Think of all the things we know today that we didn't know even two years ago. And we're supposed to believe that people TWO THOUSAND years ago knew jack-shit about the universe?

I'm begging you, WAKE UP.

Listen, I have no problem with people taking a philosophical stance on religion. If the Christ you were taught in Sunday school is an example you want to live up to, more power to you. That Christ isn't Biblical -- Christ was a mean, petty, misogynistic guy if you actually read the Gospels -- but he's a great role model. So is Luke Skywalker. Or maybe Frodo Baggins is your thing.

I understand the power and the value of mythology and fiction and storytelling. It helps us understand our own experience by watching someone else's, even if they're fictitious. I'm devoting my life to creating and wrestling with and understanding it.

But there is a reality, too. It's easy to say "Well, Jesus was God, so of course he was good. No mere human could get there." But we've had Martin Luther King, we've had Gandhi, we've had hundreds of people who could be true heroes and role models, and the idea that they are human and their strength comes from them -- and the same strength lives in you -- should lift you up beyond the fear and weakness of submitting yourself to the will of a fickle God.

You are beautiful. Life is beautiful. And you don't need anything else but this life, right here and now, to have meaning.

A friend of mine who stopped believing in God recently, after a whole life of faith, confided in me that he is now afraid of death. This seems genuinely incomprehensible to me. If death is the end, then it is nothing to fear. It can't harm you, it can't bring you pain. As Mark Twain said, "I do not fear death, as I was dead for millions of years before I was born and have not suffered the slightest inconvenience for it."

Death is nothing to fear; if there is anything to fear, it is not living life the to the happiest and fullest extent. Do not postpone joy. Happiness is a choice, and I urge you to make it right now, and for the rest of your life.

All of this has been a primer towards the subject of living free of the self-oppression that is religious thought and devotion. Other, smarter men have gone a lot farther into it than I, and I have used their arguments among my own. It is not my intention to plagiarize anything and I apologize if I have said anything that I have not properly credited, but my intention is more to get the ideas out there than to claim them as my own.

One of the reasons I did this myself was to get a broad overview, and potentially interest some people reading the blog to read further about a point I have made. It's also to introduce the ideas outside of a context which might appear hostile -- for example, you can find an expansion of some of my points in Dawkins' The God Delusion, but the title may be offputting, and without an interest in the subject matter may never be read.

Some other resources to continue this "path to truth" for yourself:

Read the Bible: The Skeptic's Annotated Bible is the full text of the KJV Bible, annotated and correlated to note all of the points that don't make sense on their own, contradict other parts of the Bible, or are just plain abhorrent to common-sense morality, destroying the claim the morality comes from God/the Bible. I guarantee that the quickest path to apostasy is actually reading the "Good News". You can also find some strong anti-apologetics, using the Bible as an indictment of religion, at Evil

Check out some other blogs: The guy who compiled the SAB also runs a blog, Dwindling in Unbelief, highlighting particularly interesting (read: disturbing or absurd) Bible verses that most people don't know because they've never actually read the Bible. There's also The Godless Bastard, who is a lot less respectful than I've been (which should tell you something) but makes a lot of good points, at much greater length and detail than I have in this handful of posts on the subject.

And then, of course, there's always the straightforward proofs at God Is Imaginary.

Please feel free to comment or e-mail me with other points of view, critiques of my argument, or good ol' fashioned debate points. As for the blog, it'll be going back to the "lighter" fare for a while.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Didn't mean to leave you hanging...

Hey people-who-read-this. Last week I did a multi-post primer of the reasons I don't believe in God and you probably shouldn't either. I left off at a turning point in my argument -- I address the problems with theistic belief, but I have failed to address why those problems should be a concern, and why I truly feel the alternative is better. It's all well and good to say "You shouldn't believe this", and yank away the security blanket, but then to leave you in the lurch about the alternative...well, following-through on helping to acclimate people to that new way of thinking is the reason I went into this discussion in the first place.

So I want to say that the remaining part of my argument is THE most important part, the rest was just the set-up. So if you're still reading, and found my most recent posts distressing, insulting, or spiritually unacceptable, please keep an eye out for my next and final-for-now post on the subject. It's taking a while to write up because it's important it be clear.

After I get it out there we'll return to our irregularly scheduled program on other subjects. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

You already know it isn't true

For the sake of argument, when discussing religious faith in this post, I will be referring to the Christian faith most specifically. Simply because it is the one with which I am most familiar, and the one that any readers I may have are most likely to subscribe to. I am not familiar enough with Islam to really delve into it, I will have to read the Quran before I even attempt to do so.

I'm not going to get into the absurdities of the Bible itself too much -- there are plenty of other sites that do so, and I'll link them either in this post or my next one -- but I do need to address the issue of faith in God.

Simply put: you don't have any.

"The audacity!" you cry. "You dare presume to know my heart?!" Well, no, that's not what I said. I'm sure that in your heart you're a good person and you tell yourself that you believe in God and that helps you through the rough spots. But if you're a Christian, you are not following God's word.

The very fact that you can read this shockingly audacious post is proof that you are not following God's word. If you were following God's word, you would not have the internet, a computer, or even the roof over your head.

To illustrate the point further, I give you a video from, to spare you from some reading, and me from some writing:

The video neglects to mention Matthew 6:24, Matthew 19:28-29, Luke 9:23-25, Hebrews 13:5, and Acts 2:44-45, which all repeat some form of "give up everything" in a very literal, material sense.

Still here? Of course you are. You didn't run out immediately and sell everything you've got because in YOUR version of the faith, all you have to do is be a good person and say Jesus' name every once in a while. In your version, John 3:16 is all there is. But that is not what the Bible says. And if you don't accept what the Bible says as true, on what basis ARE you basing the notion that Jesus and God exist, and that Jesus is the son of God (and also God himself1)?

The only evidence of God/Jesus is the Bible. If the Bible is an unreliable source, then there is NO reliable evidence of God/Jesus.

If you're my age or older, your choice of a job will involve the medical insurance benefits offered. If you really had faith in God, you wouldn't have insurance. You wouldn't have a doctor. You wouldn't carry a first-aid kit. You wouldn't even have Advil in your medicine cabinet. You would pray your headaches away.

The next time you get hurt, say a deep wound that's losing a lot of blood, are you going to PRAY that it stops? Maybe, but that's sure as hell not ALL you're going to do. You're going to call 911, you're going to try to stop the bleeding yourself, you're going to wrap it in bandages.

And THEN, when you've done all that YOU could possibly do, and all that's left is to wait and see, you'll start mumbling "Please God, please God."

If you really had faith, that would be the first and only thing that you did. But you are not stupid. You know, on some level, that just praying will get you jack shit.

Unless, of course, you're a member of the Church of Christian Science. They DO believe in prayer-only. They DON'T go to the doctors or take medicine. Their mortality rate is pretty high. And if you're not one of them -- even if you identify yourself as a Christian -- you have no trouble agreeing with me that they are irrational and foolish in their sole reliance on prayer.

Consciously you may really think you believe, but some part of you knows that it's nonsense, and not something you can rely on solely.

Still don't buy the part where I said you don't really have faith in God? Let's talk about amputees.

You may have noticed at the end of the video that it linked to two sites. There was and

It sounds like a silly question, but it's actually significant.

Some of my following argument is borrowed from parts of both of those sites. I am essentially summarizing their argument and encourage you to read both sites thoroughly.

If you're a Christian, you presumably pray to God for things.2 All things, big and small. You'll pray that you pass a test, you'll pray that your car will not spin out of control if your car skids on a wet road, and if you get sick, you pray for your illness (AFTER making all possible medicinal assurances, as mentioned above). Especially if it's a dire illness, like cancer.

If you or someone close to you gets cancer, durn tootin' you'll be praying for them. And if the cancer goes into remission: hallelujah, it's a miracle! And if it doesn't, well, it was all part of God's plan (which deserves a post of its own).

You would pray for cancer. You would pray for a tumor. You might pray for a broken arm, although most people recognize that since fixing a broken arm is standard procedure, you don't really NEED to put that in God's hands.

But if you LOST your arm, or your child lost his arm, it would never occur to you to pray that God re-grow the arm. You would never pray for someone to re-grow any lost appendage. Would you?

If you would, then my argument fails to address your truly prodigious level of faith, and you can pretty much skip the rest of this post.

But if not, why? You'll pray for anything else, but why not that?

Because you KNOW that the prayer won't work. The prayer won't work because it is currently impossible for a human being to grow back a limb, and your faith in prayer only works as long as the efficacy of prayer is ambiguous. You pray to God to help you with your test. If you pass, it was his doing, regardless of the amount of studying and hard work you put in. If you didn't, it wasn't his plan. You pray to God to cure your cancer. If the cancer goes into remission, it was his doing, regardless of the rigorous chemotherapy and other brutal treatments that beat the cancer back; if not, it is usually MEDICINE's fault for being imperfect or not doing "enough".

You pray for things because it might work out, and you'll be able to hold on to your faith and give it up for the big man if it does.

Except for a lost limb. Because you know, deep down that there is a 0% chance of it working and you see no reason to waste your time trying. But if you REALLY had faith, you would pray to re-grow that limb.

Jesus said of prayer:

For truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. (Matthew 17:20)

There's no need of interpretation here, it's very direct and literal. Nothing will be impossible to you if you have faith "as a grain of mustard seed". In case you're wondering, mustard seeds are really small.

I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. (Matthew 21:21)3

Again, totally direct, totally literal. You will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. Mountains into the sea, for fucks sake! Surely a missing limb is nothing.

Mark 11:24, John 14:12-14, Matthew 18:19, James 5:15-16, Mark 9:23, Luke 1:37. God says, unequivocally: I WILL answer your prayers. Not I might if I feel like it, not there's a 50-50 chance it'll fit in his plan. He WILL answer.

And does he?

No. And you know it. You won't pray for any amputee you know because you know that prayer won't do any good. Cancer might go into recession, but humans do not regenerate lost limbs. The limb is gone. And all the mustard-sized faith in the world isn't going to get it back.

Even if God does exist, you have no faith in him to be true to his word -- and rightly so, because he is NOT true to his word. The atrocities of the Bible aside (see for a list of God's Greatest Hits in that regard), the efficacy of prayer is statistically zero, whereas an unselfish prayer should always be answered according to God himself. A God who does not fulfill his promises is as unworthy of faith/trust as any human being who has failed, time and time again, to fulfill his promises.

That is, if you believed in the God/Jesus that's in the Bible. Which you don't, not really. You have material goods and you take medicine for your ills and you don't bother praying for things that can't be helped, even though supposedly God can help ANYTHING. You don't believe in that God/Jesus because you have clear evidence that that God/Jesus doesn't exist, and if he does, is wholly unworthy of your faith and worship, because he is a liar and a sociopath.

So that begs the question: What God/Jesus DO you believe in, exactly?

  1. This makes no fucking sense to anyone, by the way. Even theologians call it the "Mystery of the Trinity", as though its truth were a foregone conclusion, and it was just beyond our comprehension. Maybe it doesn't make any sense because it isn't true.

    Seriously, if I made a movie with a gaping plot hole, and called it the "mystery" of that film, I'd be laughed out of whatever place I happened to say such an inane thing.

  2. If you don't, we can skip this step of the argument entirely, because you already have so little actual faith in God that you know better than to expect anything from prayer at all.

  3. FYI, "what was done to the fig tree" is this: Jesus comes upon a fig tree and is hungry, but the tree has no figs. So Jesus curses the tree on the spot and it dies. This story shows up in TWO of the four Gospels: Matthew 21:19, and Mark 11:13-14, 20. In the Matthew account, the tree dies instantly; in the Mark account, the tree is dead the following day. Also worth noting, the Mark account states that "the time of figs was not yet."

    In other words, the tree had no figs because it was OUT OF SEASON, and Jesus STILL condemned it to death. And then BRAGGED to the onlookers about how anyone could also lash out irrationally with the power of God, if they had just the smallest bit of faith. Gives WWJD a whole new twist, don't it?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Faith: You're Using It Wrong

A frequent response/criticism when religious belief is questioned goes something like this:

"If you have faith, you don't need evidence." And while does list faith as "belief that is not based on proof", there is a very important difference between "not based on proof" and "not based on evidence". It is true that belief based on proof cannot be called faith, because we have another word for that: knowledge.

We could easily get derailed here by philosophically discussing the nature of proof, truth, knowledge, and the subjectivity of human experience. Although I am an Atheist, I am also agnostic -- and incidentally, you're using that wrong, too.

Agnostic comes from the Greek agnosis. Agnosis means "without certain knowledge" and is the antonym of gnosis, "with certain knowledge". I will be the first to concede that there is no absolute way to be certain of anything. Descartes believed that one could only be certain of one's own existence, and all else could be a highly detailed hallucination or delusion of the mind, but Eastern philosophy takes it further and posits that individuality, the "self", is also a delusion, and that all matter is essentially the same.1

But agnostic doesn't mean "I don't know the answer and by necessity sit on the fence". It is an acknowledgement that we CANNOT know anything with 100% certainty. 99% maybe, 99.9999...99% even, but there is always that 0.0000...01% possibility that none of this actually exists at all. Calling oneself "agnostic" reveals your philosophy with regard to knowledge, but it doesn't preclude you from making a judgement based on the evidence before you.

I am agnostic. There is no way of knowing anything with 100% certainty, and that absolutely includes knowing that God does not exist.2 But man cannot live on philosophy alone, and taking agnosticism to the extreme would paralyze humanity with uncertainty. At a certain point, whether we can be absolutely sure or not, we start to act in accordance with those things of which we are mostly sure.

With the acknowledgment that absolute knowledge is impossible, there must also be an acknowledgment that there is such a thing we colloquially refer to as "knowledge", and it is that thing which we believe because it is demonstrated by evidence, and what we refer to as "evidence" is, typically, that which two or more people have observed, and which is observable and test-able objectively by others.

While there is no way of knowing that the sky is blue (or that it even exists), most people AGREE on the observation that the sky is a particular color, that the color is what we refer to as "blue", a spectral analysis of the sky reveals that it reflects light of the same wavelength as other objects that we identify as "blue", and so we say that we "know" the sky is blue, and often use the blue sky as I have done here, as an example of a generally-accepted fact.3

So, if I speak of me, or you, or science, or theologists "knowing" something, it is in this manner that I use the term.

Given that, the notion that taking something on faith means to believe something either without evidence, or worse still in the face of contradictory evidence -- and that this is to be considered a virtue -- is, to put it plainly, total horseshit.

If you were to go bungee jumping, you would more than likely research the place where you decided to do your jump. Find out if they've had an inordinate number of injuries or deaths, maybe you'd research the statistics of bungee jumping in general to make yourself feel better about it. Maybe it even takes a friend who has been bungee jumping, WITH the place you're going to jump at, to convince you.

But all of that research, and all those statistics, aren't proof that the cord won't snap when you take the plunge. Therefore when you make the leap, in the firm belief that the cord will hold, you are literally making a leap of faith.

But even though you made the leap without proof that the cord would not snap, you did not do it without compelling evidence that the cord was unlikely to snap.

Even if you didn't do a lot of research, you were convinced by the professional attitude of the bungee cord folks, by their clear attention to safety regulations and their meticulous upkeep of their equipment. And you CERTAINLY wouldn't make that leap in the face of evidence that the cord was likely to snap, such as frayed cord, rusted connectors, or the reek of alcohol on the guy who was supposed to secure the cord to the bridge.

Although it is impossible to have proof that something will happen, we make decisions constantly, every hour of every day, based on the evidence that something is likely to happen. Every action, large and small, is an act of faith based on evidence but lacking proof.

I have faith that when I put food in my microwave, and use the microwave as the manufacturer intended, the food will come out hot. I have no proof that it will do so, but I do know from experience that it has happened that way on all other occasions in the past. I have evidence informing my faith. And maybe the microwave will be broken and will not do what I expect. If that happens, I will not continue to attempt to use my microwave, insisting that I "have faith" it will work the way it is supposed to. I will call a repairman.

I have faith that when the light turns green and the WALK sign is on for my crosswalk, the cars at the intersection will obey the lights and I will be safe to cross. I have no proof that this will happen -- for all I know a drunken idiot with my name on his grille is bearing right for me at 80 MPH in a residential zone -- but my faith is informed by evidence, by the knowledge that that is what the lights are for, and that those are the laws that we agree to live by in order to have a society that is most beneficial to the most people. But if I see evidence that contradicts my faith -- if I SEE the drunken idiot swerving away down the street with no sign of slowing -- then there's no way I'm going to step into that crosswalk, and neither would you.

Every action, big and small, is an act of faith, and every act of faith is informed and, when appropriate, halted by contradictory evidence.

Yet when it comes to otherwise rational people, religious faith gets a pass. Religious faith says that you don't need any evidence at all. Religious faith says you should ignore contradictory evidence and act as though your expectations will be met.

When my microwave fails to act in a manner that agrees with my faith-based expectation, and in opposition to all available evidence to how it should behave, my microwave is at fault.

Yet when God fails to act in a manner that agrees with faith, faith is at fault. It's part of God's inconceivable plan.

Even if the causes of whatever event are perfectly conceivable and possibly even predictable on a scientific, rational level, and go against everything you are taught to expect from God, you are admonished -- or you admonish yourself -- to have faith. That everything happens for a reason.

Religious faith isn't faith at all.

With all due respect to my religious readers -- and I know that they do deserve respect and are no doubt highly intelligent to a one -- I must speak plainly: Religious faith is self-delusion.

If you must believe something without any evidence, in the face of ever-mounting contradictory evidence, then you are in a state of denial, and you are deluding yourself. Just as I would be deluding myself to insist that my microwave was fine, I just wasn't believing hard enough. Just as I would be deluding myself to believe it was safe to cross the street, even as a drunken maniac visibly bore down on the intersection.

What religious faith should be is not belief that God exists despite the lack of available evidence. Properly applied, faith should be knowing God exists (based on evidence), and trusting that he is who he says he is, and will do what he says he will do. It's not being uncertain or without evidence that he exists at all. Faith is taking a proven God at his word, and following the path and the rules he laid out for you.

But God is not proven, and you already live your life, in almost all cases, under the assumption that he does not exist at all, much less is good to his word.

This is a pretty long post already, defining knowledge and faith took a bit more space than I intended, so I'll stop for today. I'll pick up from here next time. Comments welcome as always.

  1. Given our understanding of matter as being composed of the same basic building blocks (protons, neutrons, and electrons), and even more radical developments like string theory, science is coming more and more to support this philosophy with experimental verification.

  2. Technically, if the God espoused by the major Western religions DID exist, as an omnipotent being his/her/its existence would be the SINGLE thing in the universe that could be absolutely proven with 100% certainty. An all-powerful God could, if it wanted to, shatter human philosophy with the undeniable, irrefutable knowledge of its existence.

  3. This is of course assuming that it isn't raining, overcast, or the sunrise/sunset time of day that will make the sky pink, orange, yellow, green, or purple. But we all "know" what I mean when I refer to those alternate possibilities.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Whence Atheism?

On a few occasions here and there, I've mentioned the fact that I am an Atheist, who used to be a Christian. I said when I started this blog that I did not expect to get up on a soapbox about it, but I'm starting to feel like maybe that will change. I think Atheist rationality needs to be professed, and the unbelievers need to be louder and prouder in their unbelief, because with technology and the global community moving forward exponentially, these comforting fairy tales can have disastrous results. Our world is maturing, and it's time we all matured with it.

There have been people I know that have left their professed faith in God, possibly due in part to my own apostasy. I feel I owe those people something, to help them get acclimated to a worldview that is perhaps frightening on first glance.

So this week I'll be talking about "Whence Atheism"; where it comes from, why it makes sense, and what it means to a person living a life with no God.

I've had people ask me about my reasons for converting to Atheism; if I am to discuss what I have come to believe about religion and theism, that has caused me to reject both of them, I think it is important to understand why.

What a Christian will often assume when I say that I am an Atheist who was formerly a Christian, is that I do in fact believe in God, but I'm angry with him. Some kind of horrible event happened to be that put my faith to the test, and my faith failed. That I am hurt, and broken, and if I would only open my heart to God I could be healed and filled with the Holy Spirit.

A popular theory, if the person happens to know that I am gay, is that I'm angry at God with regard to my sexuality. But I needn't be, they explain; depending on the side of the aisle they stand on, they either tell me that renouncing my urges is GOOD for me, and God can help and make me whole again, or that God himself never actually said anything anti-homosexual -- at least not in the RELEVANT parts of the Bible -- and I shouldn't be angry at God for the actions of man.

I can't blame people for making those assumptions. They are the assumptions/arguments I myself would have made as a Christian. But that doesn't make them correct (as I suppose I'm going to argue, that's part of what makes them incorrect).

I'm going to try to keep this short but I can't make any guarantees. I want to make sure it's all very clear. We'll start with how I became a Christian.

I was born in America. My parents took me to Sunday school, I was baptized when I was five, I went to a Lutheran grade school from 5th-8th grade, and a Catholic high school. The story of Jesus was as much a part of my life, and the view of history that I accepted, as the story of Washington and the cherry tree. It wasn't a matter of fundamentalism where I INSISTED that the story was fact against all contradictory evidence. Until I was in high school, it never occurred to me to even question it.

Come high school I started suffering from some heavy-duty depression. Some things were really bad, some things just seemed bad, and everything was hard to deal with. It was genuinely a clinical depression I was suffering with. It would come and go with no particular cause, and when I was depressed life just crushed me.

One particularly bad night I was crying in my bed, as I did with unfortunate frequency. I thought of what I had been taught my whole life about God, and Christ, and how all you needed to do was open your heart and they would be there. Even though I was a "Christian" all growing up, I had always believed in the truth of Jesus' existence and how he loved us all, I had never actually called out to God in time of need. But I did so that night. And my tone was accusatory.

"I was taught that you would be there for me!" I said -- and yes, I did say all of this aloud. "But I've never felt you! Please help me! I need you, why haven't you been with me?"

And suddenly, I felt God. I was suddenly comforted, I felt warm and unafraid, like someone strong and kind had taken me in their arms and was holding me. And I sensed an answer to my question; it wasn't a voice, and it wasn't words, but somehow I still understood: "You've never asked me before."

Well, that was it. God was real and was revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ. I was in it for the long haul.

Anyone who knows me knows that I was fully devout in my beliefs. I TOTALLY believed in Christianity. I COMPLETELY accepted the existence of God and Jesus Christ -- not only accepted, but felt I had a deep and profoundly moving personal relationship with him/them/however it works.

I was never a fundamentalist, though, and I never accepted things on blind faith. God didn't give us the capacity for logic to ignore it. So if something didn't make sense, I had to find an answer. I wasn't afraid that the answer would make me lose my faith -- for one thing, I knew that the truth was what it was, and so there was no way anything else was going to derail that. And if it turned out to NOT be the truth, well, it would be good to find that out. I was not afraid to question. And in most cases, I had an answer.

To make a brief example, I believed, and had strong arguments for the case, that the Bible was NOT anti-gay. I read the Bible, researched the three verses that address it, did the whole nine. I could tell you, logically, with proof, that the Bible's condemnation of homosexuality was introduced by human translators. Not that proof and logic mattered to the people who really wanted to believe that the Bible gave them free rein to hate.

I DEBATED for the side of Christianity, with some serious dyed-in-the-wool Atheists. I could come back and respond to anything they said, and God help me (pardon the expression), my arguments made sense to me at the time.

I loved God so much, and felt his love for me so powerfully, that worship services regularly moved me to tears.

So. What the hell happened?

Whatever else I may believe in, I believe in Joseph Campbell and the Monomyth. I believe that an understanding of mythology, as a storyteller, is essential if I am ever going to have anything of value to say. So in the midst of my holy rolling, I read up; some mythology books but mostly his analyses. There's "The Hero With a Thousand Faces", of course, but there's also the lesser-known (a pity, since it's his magnum opus) "The Masks of God", a four-volume discussion of the evolution of religion/mythology. 

At one point in one of his books -- I forget which one -- Campbell mentions an anecdote about C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein. I don't remember the specifics -- which is sad, since it turned out to be momentous for me personally -- but essentially they had a conversation about how so many religions shared the same basic structures, values, and intentions, and what made Christianity so special? Tolkein responded with, paraphrased, "It just is."1

But I had to think about that. Having read so much, put so eloquently and lovingly by Campbell (who believed in none of the religions but was a joyful disciple to all of them), I had to ask myself: is there anything about Christianity that makes it, objectively and intrinsically, more valid than any other religion? 

Never one to shy away from a question like that, I put it to the test. I looked at the criteria by which I had dismissed -- out of hand, for the most part -- all the other religions and mythologies of the world. I no more believed in Allah or the savior-less Yahweh of the Torah than I did Thor or Zeus. Fairly put to the same criteria by which I had rejected the other faiths, did Christianity rise above and prove itself as distinct, and obviously true? 

Intellectual honesty forced me to admit: the answer was no. 

This turns out to be a quote by one Stephen Roberts, a very famous one and a conclusion I reached independently, but would have stated less eloquently:

“I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

But, I had FELT God's presence! He had come to me and comforted me! How could that have not been true?

I realized: I had attributed that response to the Christian God only because that was the God I had culturally been raised in. If I had been raised a Muslim, I would surely have been certain Allah had spoken to me. Etc. Because it wasn't a moment of faith, just an encompassing feeling of well-being. I chose to assign its source; no such source was revealed to me. 

Around the same time as I was wrestling with this stuff, I had been reading up on Scientology and discovered that one of the reasons they are successful in brainwashing people into what is CLEARLY an insane cult is that their "auditing" process can successfully trigger that kind of profound, so-called "religious" experience. Buddhist monks are capable of triggering it through deep meditation. 

Surely such an experience could not be intented to validate the faith of the person experiencing it -- because people who held totally contradictory (and in some cases, clearly fabricated) beliefs were all prone to experience it. So what did it mean? 

Well, it meant it was something inside us that did it, it was us transcending ourselves and getting a glimpse of something more. I don't really know what that "something more" could be, but when I had that thought, I had another religious experience. I had basically managed to bring one on willingly. So one led me in, and the other led me out.2 

I'm willing to be convinced. I was able to be convinced, albeit indirectly, that my faith was misplaced, and I am perfectly open to being convinced that there is, in fact, a God. But to date I have neither found nor been given any compelling evidence to suggest that this is the case. 

All the seams seem clear to me when the story seemed airtight before. It's interesting to me to enter conversations on this subject from "the other side" now, and see the same arguments that I know I used to use, and see so clearly the flaws that I never saw before. I take it as a challenge to see if I can get that person to see them too. 

That's the challenge I will be undertaking in my next few posts.

I hope that this has been clear and interesting. If anyone has any questions, or rebuttals, please don't hesitate to e-mail me or post them in the comments.

  1. I may be mistaken, but I believe it was this exchange that inspired C.S. Lewis to go into his career of apologetics. If you have any information on this exchange or if it was related to Lewis' ministry, let me know.

  2. As it turns out, some neurologists have even been able to find and stimulate the part of the brain that regulates these religious experiences. Their "God Helmet" has created a very real and moving experience in their experimental subjects. This doesn't disprove the existence of God, but like the rest, it destroys any notion of certainty or necessity.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

One Year of RvD2, Five Years of RvD

One year ago, on March 1, 2007, Ryan and I released RvD2: Ryan vs. Dorkman 2 on YouTube. As of this writing YouTube counts 2,618,867 views of the film, and new people continue to find and comment on it on a daily basis.

Five years ago, March 1 2003, Ryan and I released the original Ryan vs Dorkman, having no idea what it would get us, besides bragging rights on a message board. From its sudden YouTube popularity in March/April 2006, we got industry contacts -- including my manager -- worldwide attention, and the kick in the pants we needed to go make RvD2, which set off a brand new round of fun and attention.

So, with the anniversary of both films -- a year of RvD2, and a full half-decade of RvD -- I thought it was a good opportunity to chat about what we've been up to this year.


Immediately after the release of the film we started taking pre-orders for the Behind-the-Scenes DVDs. We had been running a camera pretty much the whole time we were working on RvD2, and we planned to cut it together, with a few additional features, for fans and others who were interested in what went into producing the film.

What we didn't realize was that the DVDs were going to be a much more difficult project than the film itself. It seems like an obvious thing, really -- we were looking at a good 2 hours of content (it wound up being 5 hours) compared to a 10-minute film. But for some reason the DVD seemed like the "easy part". As such we gave ourselves an unrealistic deadline/shipping date, and wound up completing the project 6 months later than we thought we would. It's only in looking back that I realize that the film was the "easy part", and the DVDs were the "Real Project".

But after many sleepless nights and hair-pulling, the project IS done; we have shipped to our purchasers and are fulfilling our promise to our donors to get them all copies; the demand has exceeded our expectations and we ran out of stock, but we have a huge order coming in from the replicators that will probably carry us through until the world loses interest completely.

So if you're thinking of grabbing one for yourself or a friend, you can get them through the site.


Sandrima Rising

Since starting this blog, and in a few other places I frequent around the web, I've mentioned a fan film that I shot over last summer. I was hired initially as a fight choreographer, but ultimately was choreographer, director of photography, actor, visual effects supervisor, visual effects artist, and editor on the project. And probably other stuff I don't remember.

The project's full title is The Renaissance Chronicles: Sandrima Rising; it's generally referred to by the people involved as Sandrima Rising, or simply Sandrima. Originally the gig was going to be for myself and Ryan both, but Ryan couldn't afford to take the time off of work, so I wound up flying solo.

I'm not going to go too much into it in this post, it's best saved for sometime in the future, but suffice it to say that Sandrima is what really made me realize that making a movie is like fighting a war. And I'll definitely make a post about THAT sometime down the line.

It was a very difficult, trying shoot. But it had its upsides. For one thing, it actually paid, which fan films don't usually do. So well, in fact, that I've been able to get out of the debt I've been in since my failed attempt to shoot my own fan film.

Much like fighting a war, I wound up bonding with some members of my "platoon". Robert, who I mentioned yesterday as the guy who introduced me to the Garfield is Dead meme, was one of the lead actors and we have become very close. They also flew out Travis, cameraman for RvD2 and cohost of (the one episode of) Shooting the Bull, and sharing the experience of shooting Sandrima brought us closer together as well.

Heck, I still get random calls from some of the other actors, and even one of the grips on the film. It really is like veterans who have been through some kind of hell together, and want to stick together because "nobody else understands".

Sandrima Rising also represents my retirement from fan films. I calculated the lightsaber work I've done through my 8-year "career" in the subculture and I'm pretty sure that I have done more lightsaber-related effects work than any other individual in the world, and that includes ILM artists.

I'm not sure because I haven't done a minute-to-minute comparison, but I may have worked on more lightsabers, screen-time-wise, than even the actual films.

So, I'm done with them until a) we do RvD3, or b) Lucasfilm hires me to work on the TV series. And in the case of b), it would still depend on how well they were paying.

Currently, I'm working on the visual effects for Sandrima. With fingers crossed, it will be done on schedule at the end of July; with fingers continuing to be crossed, it will be just in time for...

The Descendants

I'll need to write up a whole post about this, which I'll do when it's a "go picture". But RvD2 led to contact with Dark Horse Entertainment, which looks like it will probably lead to my directing a for-real feature film by year's end. Like I said, this is a topic for its own post and really a series of posts more likely.

My expectation that Descendants was going to get up and running soon was one of the reasons I decided to start this blog in the first place. So hopefully, this will get back on track a bit in that sense fairly soon.


Before I finish up here, Ryan also won an Emmy. That's not directly related to the release of RvD2 but it does bear mentioning as a major career-related event in the last year.

I suppose it also bears mentioning that my friendship with Ryan is as strong as its ever been. It's not just professionally that the RvD films have had a huge positive impact on my life.

So all in all, a busy and productive year. My father thought that 2007 was going to be "my year", but it seems like it was more of a prelude, setting the stage. I'm working full-time on film projects now -- I quit my job to work on Sandrima -- and with any luck, I'll never have to go back.

Over the years a lot of people have contacted us to let us know how much they enjoyed the RvD films. I know I speak for both myself and Ryan when I say it means a lot. We're both very proud of what they are, and what they've done for us. And we can't wait to show you how much more we can do.