Monday, April 24

Romans from Remar

This past week was why I am in Spain. We shot a parable of Jesus in the Remar TV facilities. A handful of missionaries, all of our video/audio equipment, and the strong-hearted outcasts at Remar conspired to create a weapon of mass instruction that will be broadcast in many languages in many lands, including all of North Africa, The Gulf States, Turkey, and Mongolia of all places.

Remar is like a Teen Challenge facility but bigger and messier. Their huge facility out near the town of Daganzo serves as a halfway house for the addicted, dispossesed, ignored and outcast people who happen to find themselves in Spain. Think Good Will dropped onto a dusty rock quarry. It is a dystopian, post-modern Christian sanctuary - a refuge for old criminals and reformed gamblers, young girls involved in destructive life-styles etc... Not all are Spaniards.

There are many Croats, Portuguese, Morrocans and just about every color and stripe among them. They put their hearts into playing soldiers, servants and senators because it would help spread the Gospel. We now have an excellent working relationship with the reclusive Pentecostals of Remar.

Hardly anyone spoke the same language on the shoot. We used hand-signals, adjusted each other's costumes, took turns yelling "Silencio" when we needed quiet on the set, and even laughed at each other's funny faces between scenes. It was a long, hard day. Film crews earn their money. Remar took no pay, just the rights to broadcast the Parables series over their Christian TV channel that reaches all across Spain.

The IMM crew ran into problems with head-room during camera shots because my chicken farm-made palace sets where just a bit short due to transportation requirements (We used an old white VW diesel van) but most of us were short so we did not have to use "force perspective" like LOTR.

The Remar studio is big and well-used. Residents there who have chosen to turn their lives in another direction run a 24-hour a day broadcast operation, by contrast, another Christian studio we considered renting two hours away is clean and pristine. Not much work goes on at the there. They require a $1,000 a day "offering" to use it.

Denise applied make-up and even played an extra in the shoot. She is the Parables director's favorite Producer's Assistant, kind of like the Managing Editor of a newspaper. I had a chance to put on all the sandals of the Roman soldier extras when not otherwise occupied. Roman sandals are leathery spaghetti like things that are difficult to lace-up, especially on big Portuguese guys wearing little red tunics. But after the week was over, everyone was worn-out but we had all crossed many language barriers for the Kingdom!

This week its back to the Chicken Farm for me. I have to repaint the entire Herodian set to look like a Roman political Forum for the next shoot scheduled for the middle of May. I'm tired - but this time it's a "good" tired. It's what I'm here for.

Wednesday, April 19

Easter Past

I went to one of the Easter Procesiones. Parade is too strong a word. Each church has "imagenes" - yes that's images. The penitents carry the images on great gold platforms through the streets. Some of them wear no shoes, others have on slippers. The platforms sometimes weigh in the tons. The penitents walk maybe 200 yards, then rest. Other people who are also pentitents wear pointy hats with faces covered and proceed before and behind the imagenes with candles (yes, think KKK type get ups). A couple of church "bands" go along with each imagene and play a tune. The one I saw was mournful music for Jesus. Slightly more upbeat for the procesion of Mary.

The 7pm procesion didn't actually arrive in the Plaza Mayor until 10pm. Me and a few thousand of my closest Spanish friends had been lined up creating an aisle through the plaza since 8:30. My legs hurt from standing still so long. A sudden vacuum occured around 9 or 9:30 creating an open space in front of me. Suddenly all these thousands of people rushed forward to reposition to the new aisle. It was a scary moment.

Other than that moment it was an orderly crowd in general. Lots of families. One woman waiting by herself was very nice and answered my questions. She decided I should have her spot so I could see better because she had seen the imagenes before, so she shoe horned me into a nonexistent space between her ample tummy and the man in front of her. You can see from the photos I didn't have a great view.

Four older ladies settled in behind me and narrated the event for me. They were very impressed with the decoration on the, for lack of a better word, floats. The Mary float did a little dance. It was much lighter so the guys carrying it could move backwards and forwards to the music. There was a delighted ahhh from the crowd. Applause errupted for those carrying the imagene or the imagene itself when it arrived in front of people. It was a reverent or maybe awe struck moment which I found a little freaky. An odd plaster Jesus manikan and a ornate pile of gold, candles and flowers. Just stuff and symbols, not the substance of relationship. Very interesting.

my view of the pointy hats

Jesus enters to a gasp from the crowd. The odd thing about people carrying the float on their shoulder is that it looks as if the statue is walking at a distance.

If you look close you can see the faces of the pentitents carrying the float.

That's a lot of gold and silver.

That's the back of Jesus and he had long hair. (Plaza Mayor)

Mary & pointy hat penitents

Saturday I ran across a float being removed from a CITY building. It was funny watching the guy holding onto the imagene in a tight embrace to keep it from falling. Though it was covered with a cloth so it wasn't irreverent, I suppose.

Monday, April 10

Industrial Light and Magic Chicken Farm

I've been away from the digital world for the past week. We are producing a new series about the parables of Jesus. Our facilities in the next town over are small, so any construction of sets has to be done at the "Nave" (nah-vay). Oddly enough, every storage area in Spain is called a nave. This particular space we use is located on a huge chicken farm that fell out of use long ago.

The place is a huge compound of buildings that can only be reached by passing through the green gate with the holy saint of agriculture on one of the tiled posts. The saint is wearing a brown robe and has a bald spot on top of his head and looks very sad that many chickens died here. Or maybe he is mournfully happy that many Spaniards ate their fill of poultry.

Immediatly on the left is the home of the compound's caretaker. Sometimes he shouts happy things at me when I drive by. I don't understand everything he says. As well as the tiny dog that you can see in the dirt, he has alot of animals, including sheep with big bells that wander around the whole place. Sheep like to stare.

After driving about half a kilometer around the plowed fields and many whitewashed structures you pass the guard dog nearest our building. He is always tied-up. I think he gets off the leash at night and has the run of the place with the other 15 dogs. I make kissy sounds at him when I drive by and I don't think he believes that Volkswagens should be able to make kissy sounds so he dismisses me.

This is the front of our nave. The green door is the only door and it is nearly impossible to open the bolts because they are made of rusty iron and have been repainted too many times. I always bust a knuckle trying to lean and pull on the thing while turning the iron ring that serves as a handle. The floor of the nave is tiled and there are many vents in back. We think this was a chicken-processing area.

This is my work space when I'm constructing sets "old style" with hammers and paint. I've had to paint pillars and columns to look heavy, wall "flats" to look worthy of a palace and wooden boxes to give the illusion of marble slabs. These slabs are the base-pieces for the throne that one of Herod's next-of-kin uses to give orders to his servants. This Parables of Jesus program deserves more than a chicken-farm and me with a bucket of paint. The first series is already being broadcast in at least 11 countries and beamed into Muslim areas via satellite. However, I am very grateful for the quiet times I've had at the chicken farm this week. Imagining and creating marbled patterns, resting a short bit while the first coats of paint dry, eating room-temperature spaghetti out of my plastic dish and listening to the birds exclaim that the green door is open!