Saturday, August 23, 2003

Writing An Independent Study Paper and Theme Editorial: Finding an appreciation of nature through spirituality and crows. (May 2000) 

In this independent study I wanted to develop a paper that would explore Christian spirituality and the importance of the environment through my personal story where I learned to appreciate nature as a healing, friend in God's creation.

I will be submitting my article to Duke University's Symposium Magazine for their review for publication. This magazine is a forum for college students and university educators to discuss their personal stories in the search for spirituality and meaning. The magazine readers are mostly college students or university educators that are interested in personal stories that address life questions, instead of academic theoretical works.

My article discusses my experience at a time in my life a few years ago when I worked long hours with little personal happiness. As I was looking for spiritual answers I felt led to enjoy the natural coastlands in my area. I also became interested in watching the crows outside of my building. These times of enjoying of nature became very healing and relaxing in a time of extreme stress.

I have found that I appreciate more the link between God, man and our brothers in creation. I feel or sense that I am closest spiritually to the way it was meant to be when I care for the "community" of creation. Therefore, we should base our decisions of how we develop natural settings on whether it harms the land, animal, and plant life--our decisions should not only be based on economic outcomes.

Here is my story:

Finding spirituality through crows.

By Ken Harley

As a child I learned to appreciate nature, the land, animals and people. I was taught to respect God and love all in his creation. As an adult I forgot the simple lessons of my childhood. Religion in my life became a man-centered occupation based on rules, power, money, and war. However, God intervened in my life to show me that he loves all the people, plants, animals, oceans, and land that he created in this world. I have learned that everyone is part of the landscape of our earth and that we should care for our brother sparrow, tree, and reef in peace.

I started to think about the value of God's creation when I would go to the beach in Southern California to relax from pressures at work. I found that when I would experience nature that I felt a sense of peace from my inner turmoil. Then I started to watch a group of crows near my office. I was a busy data analyst for a Callcenter of over eight hundred workers. My days turned quickly into nights as reports were always behind during that time. Watching the crows helped me to get through the day. Through taking little breaks with nature I began to see a love developing in me for the living things around me. It was like God gave me a hint that to commune would help to balance the distress in my life.

Aldo Leopold in his classic environmental work, "A Sand County Almanac" also saw nature as place of relaxation and wonder. His vision helped me to clarify what I was feeling inside myself about nature. He saw a vision of a "land ethic" where my community is enlarged to where "the boundaries of the community include soils, waters, plants, animals, and man. Leopold saw in his work that man should have a respect and make decisions on how the whole environmental community is affected by our actions. Therefore, I discerned that I had a responsibility from God to take care of the local environment. One way I did this was to support legislation for protecting tracts of land in my community so that wildlife would be able to enjoy minimally "touched" land.

God gave me nature for enjoyment and as a way to heal some of my emotional wounding. As long as I was a good steward of my environment, then I would find peace within me needed for inner healing and stress relief. Nature and animals would help me relax from my stress and anxieties--around the sea and sand, I thought about possibilities instead of bleakness. I usually went for walks and drives to commune with nature.

For land was therapeutic for my ills. It seemed that when I looked at a tree or went to the beach I was looking for a lost innocence. The tree or beach seemed to be there for me in my search. I seemed to be looking for a happier time in my life of when I was a child.

Where was the little Kenny that everyone loved? Where was he? I was looking for the little boy that walked and played with uncles, aunts and grandparents in a park on a pleasant afternoon. But as I grew up many of my older relatives died of old age and I lost a certain innocence that I once had as a child. For the child had been shattered during my early teenage years as my stepfather adopted me into his private war to "be a man" through discipline, strength and anger.

Looking backward, I never felt good about my stepfather beating dogs, or killing rabbits with a metal pipe. I heard stories about St. Francis of Assisi calling the animals his brothers and sisters in all of God's creation. As my stepfather was a minister, I never felt good about him wanting to make me a destroyer of God's innocent animals for sport just "to make a man of me." He questioned my manhood because I didn't want to be violent. I knew there was a better way to live. He saw the world with different glasses.

One time I was ordered by him to kill a rabbit. I couldn't do it--he did the act! After killing of the rabbit, my stepfather showed me how to skin the rabbit so that we could have dinner. I felt awful as he made me cut apart the fur of the rabbit to make chicken-like pieces of my little friend, which fried my soul.

These inner issues needed to be worked out as I dealt with additional stress and pressure at my work. I had to learn to take time off my job and relax and allow the sunshine and innocence of nature to bring a sense of healing to my heart.

The California beaches and sunshine were the only places of refuge that I had from the pain, loneliness, and bitterness that gripped my young adult insides. I was a wreck waiting to burst hiding behind the façade of a corporate efficiency and efficacy analyst.

I worked to pay my bills and pay the rent. But I hurt deeply that I didn't have a father or a family that would watch out for me if I fell down. So I worked and smiled from the invisible mask on my face until nothing much was left inside--or out. The years of stress and fear wore me down. Only my times spent with nature seemed to help the dullness in my soul.

I would take long rides along the Southern California coast and feel the air on the back of my neck. With one hand on the wheel and my other hand sticking out of the window into the wind, I would feel the strokes of the air on my arm and shoulder like I was flying.

The drive took me away from a "too many hours working" stupor. While travelling, I would see people enjoying the sandy beaches and surfing--this relaxed me a little. The trip took my mind away from the computer terminal at my office where I worked.

There was nothing more pleasant than driving on the Coast highway while watching the surfers 'catch a wave. From Huntington Beach down to San Clemente the beaches were filled with surfers and their boards. From my car or when I stopped to walk on the beach, I watched the surfers dance on their boards to the music of the waves, which pushed them back and forth on the salty plane of the Pacific Ocean.

One day I started watching the crows outside of my window at work. They were victims of mankind that had lost their home and family. I felt close to them and their struggle, as I struggled for my survival and peace. They struggled for the necessary eleven ounces of food that they need per day amidst the trash and leftovers of man.

The town where I worked had been a farming community less than twenty-years ago. Now very few fields were left--mostly corporate towers and office buildings covered the land. The crows also lost their homes, food, and natural predators--the owls that would feed on them. Only man seemed to be their enemy in this new developing town--and he provided lots of trash for the flocks of crows to eat.

One rainy day I was sitting in my office staring at the radiation-lit computer screen, burning my eyes for a fist full of dollars. Then I looked out of my window and saw crows--black ribbons flying in the wind. I started watching the ribbons flying up and down by the grass.

The ribbons made me think of Edgar Allan Poe's raven of sorrow. I was sorrowful and solitary. However, I found these crows were alive and looking for lunch. They worked and ate--they didn’t have time to be a ghoul in my cloud of depression.

I watched these crows and relaxed a little. They were in a flock of twenty or so birds that seemed to linger by my work, as it was their home from when the property had once been a strawberry field. The crows went about their business. They were picking long, shiny worms out of the wet, green grass. They ate and looked for more worms.

Their foraging for food stirred me. I watched these crows flying down onto the grass--yet, they did not give up. They walked around sticking their beaks into the turf looking for raw worms. I watched for a while and felt a renewal of hope inside me, like I could keep working, as I was valuable like these crows. These crows reminded of a story that I heard as a child that Jesus told his friends and followers:

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than these birds (Matt. 6:26)?"

I was reminded that my needs were going to be taken care of by God as I helped my brothers of the land. The crows reminded me to appreciate the transcendent dream that they were somehow my brothers in the journey under God's care.

I thought of my own needs. All along God had taken care of me. He brought me through the sad, difficult times of growing up. He never stopped caring in my stress-filled days of a young adult looking for meaning.

God sent me the crows and I kept watching. Seeing these black brethren throughout the day became a habit of mine that I needed for peace. They were much more innocent than the corporate skeletons I worked with in my office. The crows freed me from the bondage of someone controlling me for a paycheck.

The crows and the beaches brought a healing distraction to me as I dealt with my past hurts. Relaxing to the beauty of the land caused the pressure to flow out of my body. Every day I try to take some time with the land--a gift from God to us so that we can protect it and love it.

We live, we go to parties, and we embrace each other to protect and love deeply. As we go through the steps of our days, there is some mysterious, ineffable way that God chooses to speak to us. His language is so beautiful and powerful. It is language of our unity and brotherhood with nature.

My crows are my brothers--and the Mysterious Being beyond the horizon--takes care of us all.

A Love Affair with the Producer: Managing the production of an Independent Film. (2001)  


Millions of Americans would like to work in the film industry. They dream of being actors or directors and having fame and large amounts of money. However, most people only dream--few ever try to work in the Hollywood film industry or produce an independent film.

Robert Rodriguez (1998) suggests that people should follow their dreams and make films. Rodriguez did just that in 1991 with his low-budget, independent production of the movie “El Mariachi.”

An independent film is a less costly way to tell a story that may not interest the major studios executives. Writers and director of this type of film can make their film with more control over the content of the film; rather, than having a studio leader design the film according to commercial styles or other whims. However, even with self-producing an independent film there may not be complete artistic freedom as investors and other contributors to the film may want to adjust the original vision of the story.

Focus of the Research Paper.
This paper will look at what steps are necessary to develop and produce and independent film. It will look at the role that a producer plays in developing the economic foundation and creative team for a production, the management of a film in production, and the post-production marketing and distribution of the finished film property. Although some technical/equipment issues will be touched upon in this paper, in general, technical aspects of film production will not be addressed in the following research.

How do you get started to produce an independent film?
According to Wiese (1990), you and a group of friends, family, or others have an idea or an issue that you want people to see in a film. Rodriguez (1998) suggests that you take that idea for a film and put together a team of people to make the idea into a reality on film.

Rodriguez (1998) feels that young or new filmmakers should learn their craft and get experience by practicing the use of cameras and other film related equipment. Experience will allow the aspiring filmmaker to get further than a film school graduate with book knowledge, but little technical experience.

The next step in developing an independent film is to write a script. According to Rodriguez (1998), the filmmaker should write the script their way. He says that an original idea without formulaic script conventions makes a story more interesting and unique. When writing a script, a beginning filmmaker should also use local shots or local surroundings to reduce overall costs to the film. However, the producer will assist in the planning stage of the film to re-write a script for cost saving shots, such as having less costly local location, or cutaways from high cost special effect-type scenes.

Once a script has been developed, the filmmaker can begin to develop storyboards that plan how the shots will occur in the film, etc. With storyboards, the script is refined to focus on what the director and creative team wants to be seen and experienced by the audience. Scriptwriting defines what happens in preproduction, production, and postproduction. The scriptwriter must think visually and write a script that is concrete and clear so that it can be staged and filmed within an allotted budget (Kindem, et al, 1997).

The next step will be to hire a producer, or business manager for the production of the film. The producer manages the film through the three stages of the producing of the film. In our process to make an independent film, the team is now at the stage to plan and budget for production. While the creative team is re-writing the script to fit into the projected costs of a film, the producer with creative team plans the film schedule and a working budget for the film. Then the producer is ready to seek financing from investors and other sources.

Before looking at the job of the producer, let’s take a look at the three stages of producing a film and what the producer does during these three stages. Before starting a film, it is necessary to prepare and plan for the costs and requirements for the whole film before work can be started on a film. This first stage is called the preproduction stage.

Three Stages of Producing an Independent Film

There are three stages of developing and producing an independent film. It is important for the producer and other team members to plan their film in these stages to analyze the anticipated costs needed and then put them into a budget format. The terms used for planning these production stages are called preproduction, production, and postproduction (Mount, 2000).

The preproduction phase of a production is the initial time when writers and the management team, which includes the producer, director and other staff persons, develop a film plan. In this phase, the script is written and re-written to fit in with the constraints of budget, rights are secured for development of material that will be used in the film, and initial financing is secured (Mount, 2000). During this period, the producer also hires cast members, production staff, and a cinematographer to work with writers to prepare for the final script and other production issues (Mount, 2000).

At this point in the preproduction, the producer needs to finalize the planning for the production and postproduction phases of the film shoot. He/she needs to resolve union issues and legal issues, such as rights to locations, music rights and other contractual obligations (Mount, 2000). Finally, the producer must approve of a film schedule, the budget for the film and shooting script for the film (Mount, 2000)..

During production of the film, the producer allows professional crew and cast members to do their jobs according to budget guidelines and costs. The producer and staff monitor costs on a daily basis and the status of a variety of activities that occur daily on a production site (Mount, 2000). Some of these activities include on-set activities, filming set-ups, checking dailies (film updates), the preparation of stage sets, and costume cost efficiencies. The production team also monitors potential cost overruns on locations and rentals, props, wardrobe, make-up, and rehearsal time.

Once the actual filming of the production has been completed, the producer and other staff members work to make the film ready for distribution in the postproduction phase of the project. The producer oversees the creative team in editing, re-shooting scenes, re-recording, and then the placement of the soundtrack, titles and other visual opticals (Mount, 2000).

After this postproduction work is finished, the producer approves a final cut of the film. Once the film is completed and, if necessary, blown up to 35mm film so that it can be readied for theatrical release, the producer and staff needs to work with a talent agent to develop distribution, marketing and publicity campaigns for the film. Once the film has been distributed, the producer also looks for other markets to exploit the film and pays any profits to shareholders and investors in the film (Mount, 2000).

Now let's look at a listing of the responsibilities of a producer for managing the completion of a film process.

Responsibilities of a Producer
A producer is responsible in an independent film to plan the budget so that a bottom line cost used for securing finances or cash to be able to make the film. Therefore, the producer throughout the film production manages the cash so that the film will not go over-budget and be in danger of not completing the film.

As you can see in the following chart, the producer must manage the whole process of a film and have accounting oriented assistants to check for cost overruns on a daily basis. Of course, in many independent films some producers wear a couple hats in the production, such as director, or a principle member of the cast. These dual roles make the financial management of the film difficult, but not impossible. Some film productions also have several producers that work together to make sure the film gets completed with efficiency and quality.

Look at the following table for a list of what the producer must oversee to guarantee a successful completion of the production of a film:

Conceives of the underlying concept upon which the production is based
Selects the material upon which the production is based
Selects the writer(s)
Secures necessary rights for development and production of the material
Supervises and oversees the development process (i.e. overall process of how the
concept was developed into the screenplay)
Secures the initial financing (e.g. studio or independent funding, license fees, loans, etc.)
Serves as the primary point of contact for the financing entity
Selects the unit production manager
Supervises the preparation of the preliminary budget
Selects the director
Selects the principal cast
Selects the production designer
Selects the cinematographer
Selects the editor
Approves final shooting schedule
Approves and signs the final budget
Approves and signs the final shooting script

PRODUCTION (Mount, 2000)
Oversees and approves deals for the principal components of the production
Supervises the unit production manager
Provides in-person consultation with the director
Provides in-person consultation with the principal cast
Provides in-person consultation with the production designer
Selects the composer
Provides in-person consultation on the set design, set dressings, locations and props
Provides in-person consultation on visual and mechanical effects (if applicable)
Provides in-person consultation on wardrobe, make-up and hair
Manages and approves the weekly cost report
Supervises "on-set" and on a regular basis the day-to-day operation of the shooting
company and of all talents and crafts
Supervises "on location" the operations of the location shoot and of talent and crafts
Views the "dailies" and provides in-person consultation with the director and editor

After the film-shoot has been completed, the producer then must work with the creative team of the film in postproduction to ensure the quality of the end product and/or the commercial viability of the film when it is released. The producer has to work and sometimes argue with the creative team over these issues, as the film must be profitable so that producer and other players can continue in the film industry and share profits with investors.

After the end product film is finished, most independent films are marketed to various distribution companies and put up for sale or a share of the distribution profits. The producer is heavily involved in this process as the producer needs to make money on the deal for investors and ensure that the distribution plan will have excellent and publicity campaigns so that the film will be seen domestically and in international markets by the largest audiences possible. Look at the following chart that shows the responsibilities for the producer during this postproduction phase of producing a film.

Provides in-person consultation with the editor
Views and appraises the director's cut
Participates in-person in the attainment and approval of the final cut
Provides in-person consultation with the composer
Supervises the music recording sessions
Supervises the re-recording sessions
Supervises the titles and opticals process
Provides in-person consultation on the answer print or edited master
Provides in-person consultation on marketing plan and materials
Provides in-person consultation on the plan of distribution/exploitation
Participates in-person in the publicity process
Participates in-person in the exploitation of the production in ancillary markets

So far we have described the main parts of how a film is produced and made by its creative team. We have also looked at the producer's responsibilities during production. Now, let us examine Robert Rodriguez's El Mariachi, as a classic example of a successful independent film that was made with an ultra-low budget.

Robert Rodriguez’s Dream Film, El Mariachi:

The Plan:

Robert Rodriguez with family & friends decided to make an action film for $8000 and sell it for $20,000 to a Spanish Video Distributor. His initial budget was $9,000, which was raised by his personal savings, selling of a friend's property and taking part in lab experiment for a month (Broderick, 1992).

The film is about a traveling Mariachi that comes to a town to get a job playing music. While in the town, he is confused with a local drug lord that carries a guitar full of weapons. Eventually, the Mariachi falls in love with another gangster's girlfriend and finds her dead at the hideout. El Mariachi kills the gangster and leaves the town on a motorcycle with guitar case filled with guns. The film has a simple, compelling story that looks like a "B" movie film but was very cheap to make.

If you look at Figure 1, you will see Rodriguez's limited budget for the film, El Mariachi. To save costs, Rodriguez used what he had or what friends and families shared with him to make his film. Yet, he also spent over half of his budget on 16mm film, development and processing. It is true that he only allowed one take per shot to save on film costs; otherwise, his budget would have almost doubled if he allowed two shots per take. These cost savings allowed him to complete his film for a $7,225 of the budget.

Most films don't have the luxury of using cheap or free locations and belongings for a film to reduce costs. Rodriguez shot El Mariachi using a loaner 16mm-film camera. He used no sound in the film to reduce takes and then recorded sound after a take with a Marantz tape recorder and Radio Shack microphone.

Rodriguez had the luxury of using two family-owned bars in Mexico just across the border and friends that were actors and part of his crew. The film was shot in less than a week and then edited in 2 1/2 weeks. He made a cheap film by getting done efficiently and quickly.

Eventually, the film was marketed to big distributors in Hollywood and bought by Columbia Pictures. They signed Rodriguez to a contract for future movies and spent approximately 300,000 to get the film copies blown up to 35mm for theatrical release. The truth about microbudget films is more money is needed to make it to theatrical film screens (Merrit, 2000). After the postproduction work was completed, the film was celebrated at the Sundance Film festival and went on to earn two million dollars domestically.

Planning a Budget

DV or 16mm film

One key decision that needs to be made before the producer and creative team can begin to develop a budget is to decide whether the film will be shot with video or film. This issue has to be worked out by creative team members, such as the director and the cinematographer, and also with commercial considerations that inputted by the producer.

There are two major cameras now that are competing for use by independent filmmakers. There is the traditional 16mm film format (which is what has been used mostly in independent films) and the new Digital Video (DV) cameras with high resolution. Filmmakers have to decide the quality of production that they want for their film and the cost they are willing to pay for film and processing. According to Boyl (1999), 16mm film has slight advantage over the look and quality of the film; however, DV is less costly to use for a filming.

Boyl (1999) suggests that a DV camera can be purchased for under $5,000 and used and re-used for many productions. He further suggests that with a $20,000 budget a complete film can be shot and ready for presentation. A 16mm camera has a somewhat better look to the film, but is more costly. The rental of the 16mm camera can cost $200 a day and the film and processing for a 1-hour movie would cost approximately $12,000. Transferring the film to video for editing would average another $8,000.

The bottom line with 16mm film is that the cost of the film, processing and transfer to video is a large part of the overall operating budget of the production. Boyl suggests that the cost for DV and 16mm to be "blown up" and readied for theatrical release is around $100,000; therefore, unless there is a specific need to go with film, DV is cheaper, easier to edit and good for beginning filmmakers to practice more to become better filmmakers.

Constructing a Budget for Production
According to Rodriguez (1998), the budget and finances available will guide the technical equipment that is used to film and how the story is filmed. Similar to the issues that guided how El Mariachi was filmed, the amount of cash on hand dictates the location, use of special effects, and determines all cinematography and scene design for the film. Therefore, an itemized budget needs to be developed in the planning phase of preproduction that will estimate what amount of finances needs to be secured from investors.

Refer to Appendix 1 to look at the Independent Film Budget Generator. This tool helps prospective filmmakers to think through and plan their budgets for a successful completion of a film and to determine amounts that are needed for financing. The sample budget reminds producers to budget for costs of film, processing, cast, crew, and management staff, production costs (art design, wardrobe, makeup, etc.), editing and postproduction costs, legal costs, and miscellaneous overruns.

When creating a budget for a film it is necessary to have shrewd accountants and lawyers to analyze what legal costs and other expenses need to be included in the budget. Some of these issues are taxes (Desmond, 2000), union contracts, production insurance, copyrighting of film (Wiese, 1990), copyright laws (Field, 1999), music, (Wiese, 1990), and rights/contracts of creative staff (Wiese, 1990). However, other savings in cost can be done partly by using common sense. Wiese (1990) suggests that a producer and a production staff can save money in a budget if they question every price, shop around, collect information costs, and have extra time before they need to purchase.

Lindenmuth (1998) reminds producers that extra budget must be set for emergencies or unforeseen situations. It always necessary to expect something to go wrong and there has to be budget available to avoid running out of money. Other ways to keep the budget down would be to limit the time an actor is in a scene and try to schedule actors to shoot all of their scenes at once (Lindenmuth, 1998). Brunton (1994) suggests children and animals should not be used in a low budget film, as they will increase the cost of the budget because of need for re-takes.

Union membership costs and Production Insurance
Two factors that should be clearly in the budget would be production insurance and union costs. There are many different unions that will require certain payment rates, dues, and other benefits (such as a food truck) during a production. It is important for the producer's staff to frontload in the budget estimates costs of these union costs. Here is a list of all the unions that will impact the cost of a production (Spectrocom, 2000):

1. Screen Actors Guild
2. Producer's Guild.
3. Director's Guild.
4. Writer's Guild.
5. Costume Designer Guild.
6. Teamster's Union.
7. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
8. International Brotherhood of Painters and Allied Trades.
9. Society of Art Directors.
10. The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada, AFL-CIO, CLC. American Federation of Musicians.

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) has five different cost plans for independent and student filmmakers (SAG, 2000). The legal staff should check contracts and recommendations should be inserted into the budget before final approval.

Novice filmmakers often overlook production insurance. Make sure coverage is adequate (Federman, 2000). Depending on what goes in the production several types of insurance may be needed from general liability to auto insurance, Worker's Comp and others named on the insurance. According to Federman (2000), there should line items in the budget for insurance to avoid missing coverage and getting into legal troubles later.

How to Acquire Financing for A Film

We are now at the step when the producer and his staff works on convincing potential investors to loan money to the production so that the film can be made. Rodriguez (1998) suggests that the filmmakers should use their own money or have friends or family invest first. Wiese (1990) suggests that Federal or State grants and/or corporate underwriting.

There are three steps necessary when approaching potential investors to ask for funding for a film. The first step is to find prospective investors (Weise, 1990). Investors can be found in independent film websites and other film trade magazines. However, investors can also be found through networking with friends and co-workers. Some of these investors that are "film players" may have more money to invest they don't get thousands of request per day for funding. Once you have a list of potential investors, a prospectus business plan for making the film should be sent to the investor. This plan should include financial projections, story, a management plan, and tentative schedule. An entertainment lawyer should develop the prospectus and a Limited Partnership Agreement as there are specific and complex laws governing investor-relations (Anonymous, 1999).

The next step in acquiring is to present your budget and plan for your film production in some sort of meeting with potential investors (Wiese, 1990). The presentation must be given with precision and polish of professional speaker. The presentation must be given in a comfortable setting for all parties. Investors want to hear about the story of how the film was developed and they to see the presenter confident of the success of the project. Here is a list of questions that the investor will want answered in the presentation:

1. Investors.
2. What they want to know
3. Will it return my investment?
4. Will it make money?
5. How much of a tax loss can I claim?
6. What are the markets for the film?
7. What are the social, emotional or spiritual values of the film? Who is the audience?
8. Does the filmmaker have integrity? Will you be able to complete the film?
9. How can the investor participate in the project?

If these questions are answered during the presentation, the investor will be able to determine his/her involvement in the project.

Once an investor decides to invest, lawyers will need to negotiate and have the major parties sign a Limited Partnership Agreement as there are specific and complex laws governing investor-relations. It is important to make sure that the investors understand what rights they have to the film and what profit expectations and distributions of money can be expected. Once money has been raised, the production can begin to plan for the production stage of the film.

Marketing and Distribution.

After film production has concluded and the postproduction stage is in process, the producer should start shopping around for the best distribution deal for the movie (Wiese, 1990). Of course, the producer may have already sold distribution rights for the film to an investor. However, if these rights still need to be sold, the agent and the producer should send a videotape copy film to distribution companies and look for the best deal. Also remember when you are considering a deal to have your legal team make sure that you have rights to the film to sell and to analyze the distribution to make sure that is a win-win for your investors and creative team (Wiese, 1990).

There are several types of distribution deals that can be made with distribution companies. Large distribution companies may buy the film and distribute/market it (Lindenmuth, 1998) for non-theatrical or theatrical release, cable TV and/or satellite release (Kindem, et al, 1997). Once a property is acquired and readied for theatrical release or for an other type of broadcast/video release, the distribution company will develop a marketing plan and have the staff and cast be available for publicity opportunities (Lindenmuth, 1998) to sell the film. It is important to remember that most of these distributors will not buy unless they think they can sell, at least, 100 copies to recoup what they spend to market (Wiese, 1990) and paid for the property.

Another way to market and distribute the finished film is through self-production. This is where the producer and his staff develops video box designs and puts the film on video or DVD to sell to the general public, or sells directly to a TV outlet or satellite network. Self-produced videos can be bought by subdistributors that have relationships with video chain stores (Lindenmuth, 1998). These videos can also be advertised in Video and DVD catalogs (Lindenmuth, 1998). Self-produced films can also be sold to Public Broadcasting or other non-film corporate entities for in-house showings or other types of non-traditional distribution methods.

Once the producer has received offers from a company, it is important to look at the distribution deal and see if that company has values and target audience that matches the film. According to Wiese (1990), there are certain questions that should be asked about how profits will come back to the producer, creative team and investors and how well does the distribution fit with the type of film that has been made. Here are some questions Weise recommends should be asked by the producer's staff before they go ahead with a distribution deal:

1. Do they have films similar to mine? How many prints have they sold? How many have they rented?
2. Where will they market the film?
3. Will they mail a separate flyer for my film? Will my film be in their next catalog?
4. Will they enter the film in film festivals? Which ones?
5. How many preview prints will they order?
6. How many rental prints will they have on hand?
7. What are the purchase and rental prices? In 16mm film? In Videotape or DVD formats?
8. What percentage of their total gross income are sales? Are rentals? Are in Videotape or DVD?
9. How many film prints do they think they can sell in the first year? In the second year? In five years? Rental income in the first year?
10. Will they give me an advance? How much?
11. What percentage of the gross will I receive? Can we negotiate a sliding scale with my percentage going up with total gross income?
12. Talk with other producers to see what their experience was with a specific distribution company.

These questions will help the producer and legal team will determine that monies will come from the distribution company and that the markets that the distribution company will market to would be ones that would be interested in the movie that your production team has made. Shrewd negotiations can make money for a producer and investments; rather, than lose money. This is why a film production team always has to work with lawyers to avoid getting caught in a legal issue that will decrease profit made from the film.

Summary Conclusion:

To make a film, it requires planning, creative development, and a producer to manage the budget of the film and the process acquiring investors and a good distribution deal that includes effective marketing and a publicity campaign for the creative team and cast.

There also needs to be further research on the causality between the Hollywood system and the rising costs and complexities of a independent films sponsored by the big studios. Independent films can be managed effectively and still be creative. The most successful productions that captivate audiences are managed by producers and, usually, kept within budget--and make a profit. The producer helps to guide a film to completion through planning, gaining funds, managing the cost of production, marketing to a distributor, and distributing the profits to investors. The producer is necessary to success of creative film independent enterprises for the profitability of everyone involved in this type of venture.


1. Anonymous. (1999). How do I prepare a prospectus and/or investor memorandum for my film? Internet Filmmakers FAQ. http://www.filmmaking.net/frameset.html

2. Boyl, B. (1999). Moving Making Cost Breakdowns Between 16mm and DV. You Are Now In Unhollywood. At http://www.unhollywood.com/appendix.html

3. Broderick, P. (1992). Peter Broderick goes below the line with today's Guerilla filmakers. Filmmaker Magazine Winter 1992. http://nextwavefilms.com/ulbp/abc.html

4. Brunton, C. (1994). Tip Sheet for Low-Budget Film Scripts. Canadian Film Centre. At http://www.communicator.com/script.html.

5. Chapman, C. (1997). Cyberspace Script and Screen Online Budget Tool. At. http://www.chapmanfilm.com/budget.htm

6. Desmond, P. (2000). Going Out On Your Own: Take Care of Your Tax Obligation. Issue 8/28/2000. At: http://www.increnet.org/a-details.cfm?releaseno=15

7. Federman, M. (2000). Producer's Handbook: Production Insurance Essentials. From Resource Roundtable with Mark Federman. Independent Feature Project Website. At: www.ifp.org/docs.cfm/ProdHandbook/Archive/Prod_Insurance.html

8. Field, T. (1999). Copyright in Visual Arts. Franklin Pierce Law Center web site. At http://wwwfplc.edu/tfield/CopyVis.html

9. Kindem, G. & Musburger, R. (1997). Introduction to Media Production: From Analog to Digital. Focal Press. Boston.

10. Lindenmuth, K. (1998). Making Movies On Your Own. McFarland & Company, Inc. Jefferson, North Carolina.

11. Merritt, G. (2000). Celluloid Mavericks: A History of American Film. Thunder's Mouth Press. New York.

12. Mount, T. (2000). What Producers Do. From Producers Guild of America Website. At


13. Rodriguez, R. (1998). Robert Rodriguez's 10 Minute Film School. At http://www.exposure.co.uk/makers/minute.html

14. Screen Actors Guild. (2000). Film Contract Digest. From SAG Website. At: http://www.sag.org/lowbudget.html

15. Spectrocom. (2000). Introducing the Spectrocom Producers Masterguide. Spectrocom Website.


16. Wiese, M. (1990). The Independent Film & Videomakers Guide. Michael Wiese Productions. Studio City, CA.

May 9, 2000 Communicating Religion to Generation X: Finding Meaningful Symbols, Substance, and Style that brings the beginnings of Reconciliation of G 

Church involvement and the importance of religion are decreasing in America. According to George Barna, most Americans trust in their self-initiative in tough times; rather, than a spiritual deity. There is also a decrease in religious experience, Barna said, "by the year 2000 less than half of our adult population will say that religion is very important in their daily lives. (1990.). Therefore, it is important for religious leaders to define and develop effective ways to communicate the value of religion with those less interested in Christian practice and ritual.

This study will survey those born between 1961 and 1980--nicknamed Generation X--which celebrate a similar experience and heritage of American popular culture. The study will not focus on minority groups with strong independent cultural traits that are strictly adhered to by families and individuals. However, many individuals of diverse cultural backgrounds share, at least, some common cultural denominators with the mainstream majority, such as, "pop culture" experiences, economic, and demographic realities going into the next millenium that relate, in part, to this study.

The research methodology will use Engle's Model of the Spiritual Decision Process (1979) along with Berger and Calabrese's Uncertainty Reduction Theory (1975) as a basis for developing a survey research process. The goal of this research will be to discover effective communication expectations and themes that will increase the palatability of the Christian religion in communication to Generation X. This research will also discuss some of the popular cultural factors and definitions that greatly influence this generation through mass media outlets.

There is a need for better religious communication to Generation X as seventy percent do not believe in absolute truth and (Barna, 1994) only sixty-four percent do believe that God is an all powerful ruler that created the world (Barna, 1994). Even though a majority of Gen X Americans are interested in spiritual things and believe in God, the old ways of attending the local church and following clergy is a thing of the past. According to Barna, "the deeper one digs into the religious beliefs of [X'ers] the more apparent it becomes that although millions attended religious services, classes and events during their formative years, they simply have not embraced much of what they heard, saw, or experienced (1994)." To evaluate the message that will be relevant to X'ers, it is necessary to examine a definition of Generation X.

Gen X Definition

Generation X is a term used to describe the approximate 93 million Americans born between the years 1961 and 1980 (Ritchie, 1995) after the baby boom period. According to Howe and Strauss (1993), this group of people is made up of, at least, two different demographic subgroups:

1) Post baby boomers--Born from 1961 to 1964--they do not have a different type of social attitudes as baby boomers.

2) Baby Busters--Born from 1964 to 1980. Both groups are associated with not being as advanced as previous generations, especially Boomers.

Howe and Strauss (1993) also suggested that these two groupings of people have similar values and challenges that would make it credible for them to be considered one generation.

Why use the label Generation X? Generation X is one of several terms used for this post-boom generation and is the label mostly used by mainstream media and the advertising community (Ritchie, 1995). Other labels that have been used for this generation include Baby Busters (Barna, 1994), Nowhere, Boomerang, Caretaker, New Lost, MTV, and Thirteeners, or the Thirteenth Generation (Howe & Strauss, 1993). The term Generation X was originally the title of a book in the 1960's that talked about sex, drugs and rock music in the London Mod scene (Ritchie, 1995). Some suggest that this term came from the 1980's Billy Idol rock band, Generation X; which, borrowed the title from the 1960's book. However, most agree that the 1991 book by Douglas Coupland, Generation X: Tales of an accelerated culture captured the attention of the public and media with his use of the term (Watters, 1997).

Coupland's book, "about three strangers who decided to pull back from society and move to the fringe of Palm Springs, California, where they work at dreary jobs at the bottom of the food chain (Watters, 1997),"examined young adults' search for meaning and love in the early 1990's." The descriptions of the characters in this book highlighted the upcoming generation's disgust with previous generation's wastes and excesses and a rejection of consumerism as a value (Watters, 1997).

In Coupland's (1991) book X'ers are shown to have needs beyond consumerism as they look for love and meaning. Coupland ends his book with a story of where the character, Andy, is scratched by an egret during a rare chance encounter with the bird. Andy then proceeds to talk of love being shared with him by a group of young mentally retarded teenagers and how that love is a new positive experience for him:

"I stood up and was considering this drop of blood when a pair of small fat arms grabbed around my waste, fat arms bearing fat dirty hands with cracked fingernails. I bowed down on my knees again before her while she inspected my talon cut, hitting it gently with an optimistic and healing staccato caress--it was the faith healing gesture of a child consoling a doll that has been dropped.

Then from behind me I felt another pair of hands as one of her friends joined in. Then another pair. Suddenly I was dog-piled by an instant family, in their adoring, healing, uncritical embrace, each member wanting to show their affection more than the other…this crush of love was unlike anything I had ever known.

I can't remember whether I said thank you. (Coupland, 1991.)"

Andy was affected by the unconditional love that embraced him. He commented the shocking statement that he had never felt that kind of love before given to him. It seemed that Coupland (1991) showed a word-picture of a generation looking for meaning and a deeper vision of love than had been experienced by most of them in their lives.

With the powerful prose of Coupland and other generational statements at the time, the media embraced "Generation X" label as it fit with the metaphors of "slacker" and the "grunge" type of fashion and musical style. Watters (1997) explained that in 1991 three separate media events seemed to highlight to the public that a new uncertain generation was coming into adulthood. He suggested that the movie "Slacker," the rise of grunge music and fashion, and the book by Douglas Coupland "were seized by forecasters as the emerging identity of a new generation." This led, according to Ritchie (1995), to the term being used in the 1990's as a target market tag by advertisers to tap the younger market for sales.

In order to determine strategies to communicate to Generation X about religion, the identity and characteristics of this generation also need to be examined to see what values are shared by this generation.

Gen X Development of Identity
What events helped to define the identity of Generation X? Howe and Strauss (1993) suggested that problem issues in American society defined the new generation's sense of identity from 1961 to the early 1990's, especially relating to the family unit. Beginning with the introduction of "the pill" in 1961, an oral contraceptive, X'ers began to realize that their parents may not have wanted them. Then came a flow of other devitalizing events that took away from their self-worth--from divorce increasing around 1967's Summer of Love to the legalization of abortion in 1973. This trend of American social decline continued as X'ers in 1974 watched Nixon and the Watergate scandal, the loss at Vietnam, the decrease of individual family income, large inflation, energy crises, and early X'ers low SAT scores of the late 1970's (Howe & Strauss, 1993). In the early 1980's, came more social failures, such as, that X'ers "had to come of age having safe sex and being forced to deal with a full-blown AIDS epidemic (Nelson, 1994) without strong parental support for guidance."

X'ers in the 1980's had to deal with continued problems from the previous decade as family time together and economic abundance continued to decline in America. Child poverty increased as increasing divorce affected incomes of families in the country, while many parents viewed themselves as more important than their children (Howe & Strauss, 1993). Family deconstruction continued as more latchkey children were home alone (Holtz, 1995). According to Holtz, while parents were working or playing, home-alone latchkey children in 1982 were made up of one in four children from six to twelve years old that had to supervise themselves. This led, according to Holtz, to a forty- percent decrease by the 1980's in the time of contact that parents would spend with their kids during a week. Boomers averaged 30 hours per week of contact with their parents while 1980's children only averaged 17 hours per week of contact (Holtz, 1995). Parents would incorrectly justify that less time spent with their children was more "quality time." Children would find other ways to spend their time, including Television watching.

X'ers are faced with a multitude of other serious challenges to their future as they take a leadership role in American society and the world. These challenges have added to the sobriety of X'ers' identities as they look at their future. Here is a brief list of some of the harshest challenges that X'ers face in the near future (Nelson, 1994):

1) Since the first members of our generation were born (1961), America has experienced a 560 percent increase in violent crime, a 400 percent increase in births to unwed mothers, a tripling in teenage suicide, and a drop of almost 80 points in SAT scores. (Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, William Bennett).

2) Air pollution costs the US as much as $40 billion annually in health care and lost economic productivity. (Worldwatch State of the World Report).

3) Each year U.S. factories spew 3 million tons of toxic chemicals into the air, land, and water. That compounds the over one-half billion tons of solid hazardous wastes for our generation to one day clean up. (The Gale Environmental Scorecard)

4) Since the mid-1970s, poverty among young adults (18 to 34) has gone up by 50 percent - while the median income of under-30 parents fell by a third. The median wage for an 18- to 24-year-old man dropped nearly 20 percent during the 1980s and it continues to decline.(Vanishing Dreams).

5) Every day, over 2500 American children witness the divorce or separation of their parents. Every day, 90 kids are taken from their parents' custody and committed to foster homes. Every day, 13 Americans aged 15 to 24 commit suicide, and another 16 are murdered. (Thirteenth Generation).

6) A 30-year-old man in the early 1970s earned 15 percent more than his father did at that age. Today's 30-year-old can expect to bring in 25 percent less than his dad did. (Forbes).

7) Twenty-five percent of full-time workers do not earn enough to rise out of poverty. (U.S. Census Bureau).

8) Contrast the very different television experiences of a typical boomer born in the late 1940s with a typical 13er born two decades later. By age five, the boomer had seen little or no television; the 13er had seen 5,000 hours' worth, thanks to a parent who probably used TV as a baby-sitter (Thirteenth Generation).

9) Each year through the 1980s, 5,000 youths between the ages of 15 and 25 killed themselves. Surveys show that 10 percent of adolescent boys and 18 percent of adolescent girls are willing to admit that they have attempted suicide. "What can one say about a generation--1,000,000 of whom have tried (or will try) to kill themselves before age 30 - and 100,000 of whom have succeeded (or will succeed) in their final effort (Thirteenth Generation)?"

10) In his book Powernomics: Economics and Strategy After the Cold War, former U.S. trade negotiator Clyde Prestowitz stated, "On a national basis, about 25 percent of our students drop out of high school, consigned to a social and economic scrap heap before they even begin their adult lives. The U.S. is the only major nation of the world that tolerates such human waste."

As family and society have declined, this has reflected on the identity of X'ers and the development of values and characteristics of this generation that are different from previous generations. It is necessary to look at these characteristics to develop effective communication bridges with X'ers.

Gen X "Term" Revised by Douglas Coupland
Douglas Coupland suggested in a 1995 article that his meaning of Generation X would be those individuals "who wanted to hop off the merry-go-round of status, money, and social climbing that frames modern existence." Gen X seemed to be a state of mind in individuals that wanted to leave beyond consumerism. However, Gen X became a marketing tool to look for niche markets in the younger generation. Coupland suggested that "the meaning of Generation X is dead as politicians, advertisers and journalists label a certain age group as a target market named 'X' (1995)."

In his 1998 book, Girlfriend in a Coma, Coupland (1998) paints a picture of how X'ers can stop being lost in their own pain and doubt. He acknowledges that most X'ers have had opportunities that most people in this earth could only dream about; yet, have wasted so much time and money on consumerist trends:

"We were all so lucky living when and where we did. There was no Vietnam. Childhood dragged on forever. Gasoline, cars, and potato chips were cheap and plenty. If we wanted to hop a jet to fly anywhere on the earth, we could we could believe in anything we wanted…and we all went to school. And we weren't in jail (1998)."

Some of Coupland's other exhortations in Girlfriend in a Coma include phrases, such as, "Kill the past--if it hinders truth. Most of the past can only hold back what needs to be done (1998)." Then Coupland reaffirms that X'ers have had "nothing to live for: now they do." He suggested that one of his characters to stop pretending to be a child trapped inside an aging body and X'ers should leave behind their consumerist, depression-oriented tendencies to become truth-seekers looking for meaning. Overall, in the book Coupland encouraged his readers to not accept marketers' visions of their generation; rather, he demands that X'ers take responsibility for our world and do something valuable:

"You'll soon be seeing us walking down your street, our backs held proud, our eyes dilated with truth and power. We might look like you, but you should know better. We'll draw our line in the sand and force the world to cross our line. Every cell in our body explodes with the truth. We will be kneeling in front of the Safeway, atop out-of-date textbooks whose pages we have chewed out. We'll be begging each passerby to see the need to question and question and question and never stop questioning until the world stops spinning. We'll be adults who smash the tired, exhausted system. We'll crawl and chew and dig our way into a new and radical world. We will change minds and souls from stone and plastic into linen and gold--that's what I believe. That's what I know (Coupland, 1998)."

Coupland encourages X'ers to change their world--to take control of their lives. He wants X'ers to no longer be slackers as they have the energy to reclaim our world and tear down things that are based on greed and hypocrisy in order to develop a new society (1998).

Characteristics of Gen X Identity
The members of Generation X are the most racially and socially diverse group of Americans of all thirteen generations in this country's history (Nelson, 1994); however, there are many similar characteristics of the group. Listed below are some of the characteristics that many X'ers claim as part of their group identity:

Survivors-- This generation has survived "a lot of adult mistakes," according to Howe and Strauss (1993). "Never before has one generation…been less healthy, less cared for, or less prepared for life than their parents were at the same age (Howe & Strauss, 1993). However, according to Ritchie, this generation is probably the toughest since the G.I Generation [Birth years of 1901-1924] as they have survived difficult societal changes during their years of growth (Ritchie, 1995).

Pragmatists--X'ers are practical towards issues and challenges that they face personally, or as a group. They don't see the previous generations making decisive leadership decisions for the benefit of society (Ritchie, 1995). According to Nelson, X'ers will take this pragmatism and use it to solve the challenges that are faced in society (1994).

Open to Alternative Families--X'ers have replaced traditional family members, such as aunts, uncles, and grandparents with friends of similar tastes and goals. Group dating and social activities are natural to this group. X'ers are very protective of friends in their group as direction and decisions are many times decided with friends (Ritchie, 1995).

Media Savvy-- X'ers have spent a large amount of their time in front of Television learning about the manipulation of media by advertisers. "X'ers take from the media what they need and what they found entertaining, but they would never accept information from the media at face value (Ritchie, 1995).

Cynicism--X'ers trust in themselves and money (Howe & Strauss, 1993). They also are suspicious of institutions, including government, business, family and religious institutions. According to Holtz (1995), X'ers "have absorbed the ever-growing fatalistic attitude of society, in general." However, being cynical of institutions does not have to be a bad thing. X'ers use can use their cynicism to develop solutions for some of the failings of our institutions (Nelson, 1994). Even when it comes to religious institutions, X'ers try to look beyond the administration of a church to find that the institution is a "means to God," not an end in itself (Beaudoin, 1999).

Religious communicators may tailor their message to what the audience can relate to from their perspective. Understanding some of the characteristics of X'ers will help to avoid " a real and growing inability to communicate" this generation (Ritchie, 1995), as well as understanding X'ers sense of irreverence to organized religion.

Gen X Irreverence towards Religion
Beaudoin (1998) suggested that X'ers have a relationship with popular culture through the usage of media that eventually leads to a need for spiritual and religious meaning in their lives. Although religious leaders have questioned the irreverent use of religious metaphors in pop-culture, Beaudoin suggested that X'ers use of religious metaphors signifies a search for spiritual answers. "In this world, God might be working through pop culture or through other people from foreign religious traditions. In such a world, religious meaning can be expressed and drawn from popular culture (Beaudoin, 1998)." Irreverence from X'ers, however, does lead to a strong distrust of the institutional model of church or religion.

To explain his point of view, Beaudoin used examples of religious irreverence in music videos that use a religious metaphor, or sacramental, to describe a character's a need for a spiritual meaning. "A sacramental is a miniature, personal sign of God's grace in the world that emphasize the personal dimension of faith (Beaudoin, 1998)," such as a crucifix, rosary but with a different meaning that the institutional church may have for the item. In the following three videos Beaudoin examined how pop-musicians use videos to relate an irreverence to traditional faith. Religious communicators may be able to use themes found in pop culture videos to relate meaningful Christian themes to X'ers:

1. REM's "Losing My Religion"--the video begins with an image of spilled milk as the singer, Michael Stipe, vocalized his questions about seemingly losing his religion. The spilled milk signifies whether or not there should be crying over the loss of religion. The video continues with shots of absent crucifixes signifying a loss of religion. The end of the video shows the singer feeling hesitant and ambiguous about his loss of religion (Beaudoin, 1998). Beaudoin suggested through this video, Stipe, like many X'ers, "stands outside the institution, outside 'formal religion,' feeling both hidden and exposed in his loss" of religion (1998).

2. Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box"--According to Beaudoin (1998), this video is a direct attack on the Catholic institution. In the video, Jesus is portrayed as a dying Santa Claus type figure, naked and weak in a hospital bed. The video portrays this Jesus as a fraud, a childhood hoax, deserving a death sentence (Beaudoin, 1998). Beaudoin suggested that this Jesus "had been presented institutionally to many X'ers in their childhood and young adult years…[and] has been domesticated of any spiritual energy." At the end of the video, after other shocking scenes of female body parts, one band member is bathed in white light in a cruciform body pose. Beaudoin suggested that the video may have concluded with a hopeful moment that shows that there may be something beyond the weak metaphor of Christ (1998).

3. Madonna's "Like A Prayer"--The video uses sacramentals, such as a kiss, a small church, and a crucifix to show God's grace in the world and in the video. Madonna and the actor that portrays St. Martin de Porres have an interracial romance as a sign of Madonna's devotion to the saint. This relationship is supposed to represent a desire by Madonna to overcome racial divisions through her relationship with Porres. The video ends with Madonna donning the Stigmata and going out into the world and providing Justice for oppressed as a representative of the Church (Beaudoin, 1998). By making a video that uses traditional sacramentals, Beaudoin (1998) suggested that Madonna "reinforces and undercuts Catholic authority…and unhinges sacramentals from their exclusive relationship to Catholicism."

Beaudoin suggested that religious communicators evaluate X'ers critical analysis of the institution and develop a "lived theology" to relate to X'ers in an effective way (1998). He further suggested that religious communicators should also realize that X'ers have a suspicion of institutions and teachers. That suspicion leads them to being more interested in hearing personal experiences of faith and how to deal with suffering in their ambiguous lives; rather, than dogma and theology. Let us now look further into the power of a Postmodern culture that influenced X'ers in their development and characteristics.

Gen X Culture and Postmodernism
X'ers grew up in the 1970's to early 1990's at a time when definitions of truth and the discovery of knowledge was changing from modern to a Postmodern perspective in the arts, philosophy, religion and "the broader cultural phenomenon (Grenz, 1996, 3)." Postmodernism rejected the idea that rational thought would lead to an objective knowledge that would be used for the benefit of mankind. Instead, postmodern philosophers sought to describe the world as having no objective center, truth or reality (Grenz, 1996). X'ers, according to Howe and Strauss, experienced a "silent-style postmodernism [that] pushed America from institutional cohesion toward the kind of atomization and fragmentation in which all the pieces keep getting smaller and smaller, going faster, losing direction (1993)." Mueller (1998) expressed that "today's youth culture is paradoxical, confusing and nearly devoid of absolutes. It's a world where personal feelings and preferences have replaced universally held standards of right and wrong." Therefore, this led X'ers to evaluate that truth was more relativistic to their situation and experience; rather, than absolute and unchanging.

What X'ers experienced in culture and in their own families led X'ers to believe less in the idea of absolute truth and an absolute set of religious precepts. Barna (1993) reported that seventy-percent of X'ers do not believe in an absolute form of truth; rather, that truth is relativistic and personal. According to Barna, X'ers have a belief that decisions are made by discussion and negotiation for the benefit of the community as there are no absolutes (1993, 69). Grenz suggested that Postmodern thought does lead to an appreciation of community that allows for compromises to be found for the purpose of well being in the community--rather, than a standard of truth. However, these ideas seem to limit the possibility for the Christian religion to be taught to Xer's as an absolute set of principles. What options are available to religious teachers to communicate with X'ers the faith?

One example of a postmodern evaluation of an old religious story is the recent film called The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc. This French film starring Milla Jovovich and directed by Luc Besson (1999) focuses on the legitimacy and results of Joan of Arc's visions from God. Besson developed a ghostlike character that questions Joan's motivations for her visions that supposedly proclaim that God wants her to lead the armies to defeat the English invaders of France. Through the questions of the ghostlike messenger, Joan comes to realize that she interpreted her visions contrary to the will of God. Joan saw that she willed to kill the English instead of follow a life of compassion and love for all. She repents to the apparition portrayed by Dustin Hoffman. He puts her hand on her head and forgives her for her realized sins. She later is burned at the stake. The Church leaders murdered her due to treachery. However, according to the film, God forgives Joan despite her possible misinterpretation of visions.

Although the film humanizes Joan's visions into some type of mental state of ecstasy, this postmodern view looks for its God to be less concerned with political mappings and more concerned with mercy and dignity of human life. There seems to be a degree of truth found in this movie--therefore, postmodern criticism of religion may have some validity.

Grenz (1996) suggested that Christian communication must evaluate postmodern thought and bring authentic truth into a world that is influenced by that idea that absolute truth is invalid. Postmodern philosophers gave up on the search for universal absolute truth and felt that all attempts at finding truth beyond themselves are invalid (Grenz, 1996). However, it is necessary according to Grenz (1996) for Christian educators to evaluate postmodernism and use Christian theology in that worldview to affect people as necessary.

Postmodernism have some positive and negative sides for Christian scholars as they want to give the message to X'ers. First, Grenz (1993) suggested that Christians must believe that Jesus Christ is the result of a story throughout human history (Meta narrative) to provide salvation for man. Postmodernists disagreed with the absolutism of Christianity and see of it no more than as a local relativistic myth. However, on another point, Grenz (1996) agreed with postmodernism's assessment on knowledge--he pointed out that not all reason and discovery in modern times has led to the benefit of mankind or the validation of Christianity, such as the discovery of the atom bomb, or Darwin's theory of Evolution. Rather, Christian educators should develop perspectives that will make sense to a postmodern audience. Here are some of Grenz (1996) suggestions:

1. The message of Christ should relate to community as X'ers look for betterment in their interactions with each other.
2. The message of Christ should be more than rational arguments and include the transformation experience of a person.
3. The message of Christ should include the "whole person" as he/she relates to friends and family.
4. The message of Christ leads people to live wise lives of quality; rather, than just goal driven lives for material wealth and social status.

X'ers are looking for a wise way to live. Christian communicators have answers to what X'ers need in their lives--meaning and truth beyond themselves. The following scripture verse from the book of Job highlights that God is the first step towards finding the ability to live a wise life.

"Where then is wisdom? It is hidden from human eyes and even the birds. Death and destruction have merely heard rumors about where it is found. God is the only one who knows the way to wisdom, because he sees everything beneath the heavens. When God divided out the wind and the water, and when he decided the path for rain and lightning, he also determined the truth and defined wisdom. God told us, 'Wisdom means that you respect me, the Lord, and turn from sin.'"--Job 28:20-28 (CEV)

Psychological Perspective of Religious Development in Gen X
Despite the differences in the characteristics of Generation X from previous generations due to sociological and cultural phenomenon, there are similar psychological traits that they share in their human development and need for spirituality. These traits may help to explain why X'ers react negatively to traditional forms of religious communication.

Hoover (1998) suggested that young people as a part of their development process lose religious traditions experienced as a child for a period of time as they look for adult spirituality and meaning. Groeschel (1983) suggested that this occurs as a natural part of the developmental process of the child growing up. The religion taught to the child is one of emotion where the child feels that through prayer and good works God will be pleased. However, Groeschel suggested that as the child matures into adolescence, there is an abstraction of thought that questions of what was learned as a child. Barna (1994) suggested that the adolescent avoidance of organized religion is not so much a rejection of God; rather, a "flexing of their independence from older generations and their prevailing models of structure, authority, and order." This adolescence stage is where the young person will search for answers until an awakening occurs in adulthood (1983).

Developmental psychologists, such as Hall, see the development of religion of an individual as a natural product of the child development process (Wulff, 1997). Hall suggested that religious education "must be carefully designed in the light of research in child development to coordinate itself with child's growing interests and capabilities (Wiley, 1997). He also explained that in religious development, an adult might be given too much information too early that would retard the growth of deep spiritual maturity. Therefore, an adult may have a religious conceptualization that is superficial or over-dogmatic and not a fully developed depth of internal faith. It is necessary, according to Hall, to not begin full instruction with expectations of deep religious experience until the time of adolescence to the early twenties in a person.

Hall suggested the necessity for providing religious communication to the individual according to the proper development stage to build a rich representation of faith. Below listed are his recommendations for religious instruction (Wulff, 1997):

1. Childhood--The instructor should emphasize the love of nature and stories that give the child a practical morality.
2. Preadolescence--An emphasis on the Old Testament stories of Bible heroes should be examined with a desire to look at law, justice and reverence.
3. Adolescence to Early Twenties--Hall suggests that during these years of sexual maturation, the instructor should try to through religion raise the natural impulses to the highest level to help the individual to guide through this time period. Love and how it is shown through the New Testament, according to Hall should be taught to lead the individual to the depths of a rich belief in faith and the resulting actions.
4. Later Young Adult Years--The instructor, according to Hall, should teach the advanced Pauline Epistles in the New Testament and Church history and religious traditions without emphasizing dogma or the opposition of science to religion.

However, it is important to note that instructors should teach youths and young adults by questions, hints, and inspiration to allow deeper growth by the seeking of the person (Wulff, 1997).

What type of spiritual awakening does a young adult look for in adulthood? Hoover (1998) emphasized that young people seek a God that is relevant to their needs for community. Wimber (1991) explained that spiritual growth is a process over time that happens in stages. Some of these spiritual stages may include personal growth, relationship, a "big-picture" meaning and the reality of God working in the natural life of the person (Hoover, 1998). Hoover explained that young people can "edit" God into their everyday life and issues to get help and direction in the actions we do and decisions with God's practical help (1998).

The young person must find a spirituality that relates to them beyond their immediate self (Hoover, 1998). Psychologist, Rudolph Otto (1965) developed the word numinous to reflect on the place "objective and outside the self" where a person is somehow feeling "holy" of God or toward "a spiritual" without being in a moral decision-making action phase. A numinous phase seems to be where a person has an ineffable type of experience oriented to the divine or other spirituals. Otto (1965) suggested that this non-rational, numinous, phase leads to the deepening of rational interaction or faith-lifestyle in the individual's developmental state. This experience beyond the self-rational helps in the development process to point toward a belief in some sort of spirituality. However, media reliance by X'ers may slow development of a religious experience in X'ers. Natural development of the religious aspect in the psychological stages may not fully develop with only the media as a guide.

Gen X and Media Savvy
Ritchie (1995) suggested that X'ers "have recognized from their childhood the economic interests of the media and its close relationship to advertisers." This led X'ers to learn to take from the media what was entertaining or useful but avoid hype as television was considered "untrustworthy (Ritchie, 1995)." X'ers, according, to Howe and Strauss, have grown up as the first "Mcluhanesque generation that can separate media form with the message (1993)."

According to McLuhan, "the medium is the message." A medium introduces a new scale, pace or pattern for how humans act in personal and social engagement with others (1964). McLuhan used the terms hot and cold media to clarify between high and low audience participation within a medium. Hot media (radio and the internet) require low participation by the audience as large information is given to them by the medium, while television would be considered a cool medium as the audience receives a low amount of information from the television (McLuhan, 1964) set. McLuhan suggested that the medium versus how society reacts to a medium is the message (1964). McLuhan goes a step further and suggested that all media massages society and people in decisions they make and what they may believe, as media is an extension of man:

"All media work us over completely. They are so pervasive in their personal, political, economic, aesthetic, psychological, moral, ethical, and social consequences that they leave no part of us untouched, unaffected, unaltered. Any understanding of social and cultural change is impossible without a knowledge of the way media work as environments. All media are extensions of some human faculty--psychic or physical (McLuhan & Fiore, 1996)."

Therefore, X'ers have learned from media interactions how to react or live in society.

Schultze, et al (1991), suggested the new electronic mediums needed to be influenced by local communities, families, and clergy to avoid broadcast messages that were contrary to community values, and/or beliefs. However, the media financed by advertisers, selected messages in their programs that influenced media audiences with new values that would promote consumerism (Schultze, et al, 1991). Therefore, X'ers learned from the media values that were empty and only led, similar to rock music, to "an experience of emotional immediacy" and an artificial sense of "intimacy and identity (Schultze, et al, 1991)."

To X'ers image is everything and only what can be seen is trusted (Howe & Strauss, 1993). The X'er has learned from media to take what is immediately necessary for meeting a personal or group need. Therefore, religious communicators must realize that using the media may not always interest the X'er audience other than for entertainment purposes. Howe and Strauss (1993) explained that media is used by an X'er to meet a need and may not lead the person to believe a certain ideology or belief system associated with a program. The following statement discusses how X'ers use media for their own purposes for immediacy:

"The purpose of virtual reality is not to persuade you to trust appearances, but rather to teach you to distrust any interpretation of reality that is not vitally, immediately necessary (Howe & Strauss, 1993)."

It is necessary for religious communicators when using media to reach its audience by meeting expectations that X'ers look for in their lives that will relate the message to the person. To understand the impact of communication and how it can be used to reach X'ers it is necessary to look at some basic principles of religious communication.

Gen X and Religious Communication
Is their validity to use mass media to get across the message of the Christian religion? Dulles (1971) suggested the Church is communication; therefore, by using an example of Christ in McLuhan terms, Jesus used "cool" media, to teach about the kingdom of God using stories and parables. According to Dulles (1971), "Christianity might prove more attractive if the Church could convey its message more by stories, by parables, and by dramatic actions." The electronic media is not hostile to the gospel--but church communicators may use the media effectively for those that are looking for meaning (Dulles, 1971).
Greeley (1991) suggested that Catholic tradition has a rich tradition of stories, metaphors and symbols to define their faith. He encouraged leaders to promote a richness of Catholic imagination to be developed in students and parishioners. This may lead to a deepening of faith through experiences or a practical use of this "imagination" in the arts (Greeley, 1991). This type of imagination may lead media savvy X'ers and others to explain the faith through an imaginative use of the rich heritage of Catholic metaphors and stories.
The preacher as he is preparing homilies with symbolism and imagination should be aware that X'ers and the others have been influenced by media through advertisements to bring salvation to a person's life by a product. Waznak (1989) suggested the advertiser employ slogans and imagery that show a product as a path to personal salvation and freedom. The preacher should try to develop sermons that keep the attention of their audiences while using relevant terms and time amounts for short attention spans; yet, still adequately present the message of the Gospel in "a fresh new way for looking at our lives in terms of God (Waznak, 1989)."
How about the impersonal side of television and other mass media outlets to bringing a personal God to X'ers? Leavitt (1996) suggested that "essential features of sacramental religion--like silence and community--don't play well on TV. Expressing the value of community on television seems to be like an audience, similar to another show. Although X'ers may know how to use television for their own gain, TV may only be a shadow of the power of real faith and relationship in a religious community. X'ers also have a need for groups friendships and a value of a positive community (Long, et al., 1995) that helps to develop them in faith. Mass media may only be a part of getting across the message to X'ers as a generation. Mann (1996) suggested that there should be a return to Catholic values of living that are represented by symbols, models, images, and words that are accessible to this culture and understood by it. These symbols may relate to the X'ers need for meaningful symbols of faith and love as X'ers are welcomed into a warm community of believers.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
For a community of believers to respond to the needs of Xer's, it is necessary to briefly explore Maslow's Motivation Theory (1954) hierarchy of needs to evaluate the receptivity of a Christian message to an X'er or any other person. This model can be used to determine the affect a message has on an audience in small community settings, interpersonal communication, or through the use of mass media. Aldrich (1993) suggested that Maslow's hierarchy of needs is helpful in determining at what level a person is struggling to satisfy a need or their readiness to respond to religious teaching. Here is a graphic of the hierarchy of needs:
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (1970)
· Self-Actualization Needs--Great human being (GHB)
· Esteem Needs--Am I ok?
· Belonging Needs--Love
· Safety Needs--Preservation
· Physiological Needs--Food, Shelter

According to Aldrich (1993), religious communicators can re-tool their message to speak to people through actions and/or words based on what a person needs in their immediate moment. Aldrich modified Maslow's model to show how reaching people where they are at, from a need standpoint can be effective in bringing them to a faith experience. Here is an example of Aldrich's model (1993):

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (1970)/Aldrich's God Solution Model (1993)
Man's Needs Christian Action God's Solutions
· Self-Actualization Needs-- Preaching Self Actualization Fulfilled
· Esteem Needs--Am I ok? Fellowship/Community Forgiveness, Confidence
· Belonging Needs--Love Fellowship/Community Companionship, Intimacy
· Safety Needs--Preservation Service Safety, Peace Of Mind
· Physiological Needs--Food, Shelter Service Food, Drink, Strength, Rest

This model can be used to develop programs of communication that will meet the expectations or needs of a group or individual to enhance the relevance of a minister that is communicating the gospel. The following communication models help to define what process a person is in as they are hearing a message about Christianity.
Christian Communication Models
Engle (1979) suggested that communication scholars agree that communication takes place when a message has been transmitted and is received by another. Both interpersonal communication and mass media do not differ in this basic premise. Therefore, as the research process is pursued, the following research question must be asked:
Research Question: What religious themes or messages meet the expectation of X'ers and what type of communication, such as, interpersonal, mass media is more effective in gaining trust and credibility for providing positive religious communication to X'ers?

Engle (1979) used the example of the Apostle Paul to describe merging of Christian communication techniques that use mass media to plant the seeds of the Gospel in a group or individual, and then interpersonal communication to personally influence the growth of faith in an individual. However, Thorn (1996) suggested that a simplistic communication model would not fully recognize or reach cultural differences in various primary groups of people, in which some communication would be ineffective. There is a need to take into account cultural indicators of X'ers, along with generational characteristics and traits. These factors also would influence as the type of messages that are given X'ers by mass media or on an interpersonal basis.

Once communication is given to an audience or through an interpersonal communication situation, is there any type of model that can gauge how the message was received? Engle (1979) developed a Spiritual Decision Process Model that shows where a person is on a scale of belief/unbelief and readiness to the Christian faith. Religious communicators use this model to try to define where an individual may be on the scale to craft a message that is not overwhelming to the person. Here is an example of the model:

God's Role Communicators Role Scale Number Man's Response

Pre-Christian Proclamation -8 Awareness of Supreme Being
Pre-Christian Proclamation -7 Some knowledge of Gospel
Pre-Christian Proclamation -6 Knowledge of fundamentals of Gospel
Pre-Christian Proclamation -5 Grasp of Personal Implications to Gospel
Pre-Christian Proclamation -4 Positive towards Becoming A Christian
Pre-Christian Call for Decision -3 Problem Recognition and Intention to Act
Pre-Christian Call for Decision -2 Decision to Act
Pre-Christian Call for Decision -1 Go through steps to Salvation

Salvation 0 New Creature

Spirit Growth Follow Up +1 Post Decision Evaluation
Spirit Growth Follow Up +2 Incorporation into Church
Spirit Growth Cultivation +3 Conceptual and Behavioral Growth

Aldrich (1993) suggested that the proclamation mentioned in the above model is not only just preaching or mass media; but also, includes the presence of being around in people's everyday life representing the message of faith by individual good actions. Watson (1978) suggested that "if God's is once more to be seen in his church [to relate positively to pre-Christians] , old patterns of living and thinking may have to die. Our whole lifestyle may have to undergo a radical change. Attitudes, values, prejudices, ambitions--all these, and many more may have to go through an exceedingly painful process of crucifixion. " The Christian communicator can begin to gauge the effectiveness of the message according to where an individual fits in this model.

Using the Spiritual Decision Process Model and Berger and Calabrese's (1975) Uncertainty Reduction Theory, research may be done by survey to determine what an audience or individual X'er may expect from religious communication to meet their respective needs. Clergy would also be surveyed to see what their perceptions would be of they types of message X'ers would relate to from a religious teacher, etc. This information would help to develop messages and themes that would be more relevant to X'ers.

Berger and Calabrese's (1975) Uncertainty Reduction Theory (URT) explained that there are three relational phases in the development of interpersonal communication from stranger to intimate. Early URT Theory focused on the 'entry' phase that describes the initial interaction between two strangers. Berger and Calabrese (1975) explained that the initial communication between two people is determined by a set of norms that are learned or inferred from social role models. They then suggest that to reduce uncertainty each participant will predict the outcome of the conversation with the other person. Uncertainty decreases in a conversation the more that one or both parties meet the prior expectations of the interactants.

In order to understand how to increase the certainty of two strangers in an interaction, an abstract definition of uncertainty must be defined. Godykunst and Ting-Toomey (1990) defined uncertainty as an individual's inability to understand theirs or the other's beliefs, attitudes and behaviors in a given interaction. Berger and Bradac (1982) further defined uncertainty by suggesting that cognitive and behavioral assumptions are seen in an interaction between two people. Cognitive assumptions, such as beliefs and attitudes, will lead to an increase in uncertainty depending on whether the expectations of the interactants are met. Behavior assumptions that are pre-thought out by interactants will decrease uncertainty as the behavior in the conversation goes as planned. As the customer and employee begin to have a mutual understanding of behavior and cognition assumptions in communication, uncertainty will decrease. Therefore it is necessary for processes to be developed for increasing appropriate communication between customers and contact employees to decrease uncertainty.

Initial methodology
An initial survey will be developed that ask questions on the values of certain themes in religious communication, and will incorporate Engle's Spiritual Decision Process Model. The survey will be released to an agreed upon number of X'ers and clergy to increase data validity and reliability of the research to gather data for evaluation. After data is gathered, results should be tabulated to show what themes have a greater importance according to where a person is at in their relationship with God.

A recent cd released by the band, U2, has the singer vocalizing the words, "Wake up Dead Man," as he calls out for Jesus to help him (Bono, 1997) in a troubled world. X'ers are looking for meaning and love in this world. They have trouble understanding that they are calling out to what Jesus can give them in their lives. The religious communicator through research may be able to better meet the needs of X'ers by understanding how they would relate to certain messages or styles of religious communication. Recently, another band--the Violent Burning--released a cd that seemed to summarize the frustration of X'ers that are searching for something beyond their problems and struggles. The cd released is called "Plaste and Elaste (Pritzl, 1998)." The meaning of these words is that X'ers put on a front of "plaste" to show a mask over their struggles. The band wanted to get across that it is better to be "elaste" in looking for answers beyond one's self. X'ers need a little help from their religious friends. This research will hope to provide some practical themes and clarify X'er expectations to enhance religious communication.


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