sexta-feira, 23 de novembro de 2007

Jim Henson on Character Development

One of the most difficult and yet most rewarding parts of setting up a puppet program is the development of the characters. In the case of our Cidade Feliz project, we are currently designing and building our puppets from scratch after having given them personalities and character traits.

Many church programs rely on mass produced puppets purchased from any number of companies. Even so, the development of a puppet's personality is key to the success of a program--key to how well the message is transmitted.

Here is a video of Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Michael Frith, and Kermit the Frog talking about character development.

By the way, I got this from an outstanding collection of puppet videos put together by Andrew from Puppet Vision. If you are at all interested in working with puppets, you need to check out these videos, and be a regular reader of the Puppet Vision blog.

quarta-feira, 21 de novembro de 2007

Facing the (Media) Giants

Christian Movies. The very name congers up images of the cheesy flicks I watched at youth rallies where everybody wore bell bottoms and had 70's hairdos. They were made mostly to be played in church, and quality was obviously not the number-one priority.

Christians have a lot of catching-up to do in the movie department. Perhaps it is because for so long going to a movie theater was considered a sin. Perhaps it is because we were suspicious of any method of communicating the gospel other than preaching, Sunday School lessons, and door-to-door evangelism.

Without knocking the afore-mentioned methods (and those who know me will attest that I am particularly insistent on passionate expository preaching), I must say that insignificant attention has been made in Christian circles to the power of story-telling. This is odd, because our Savior communicated to masses of people by telling them story, not to mention the fact that God has revealed His will to us through the Scriptures, which are--for the most part--a collection of stories.

How then has this art been lost on us? There are of course some fine examples of Christian storytelling--the works of John Bunyan and C.S. Lewis come to mind. But how is it that up until recently, while the medium of film began to tell stories as never before, the best Christians could do was the flannel graph?

I say "up until recently" because some encouraging trends are starting to emerge. I believe it started with Veggietales. I don't know where Phil Vischer got the idea to communicate a Christian worldview using talking legumes, but it worked. For those of you who would contest otherwise, please read this.

Now along comes "Facing the Giants". It's a movie about a football coach. It was produced by a local church. It uses non-professional actors. It has the formula for being everything that I hated about the Christian movies of my youth, minus the bell bottoms and enormous sideburns.

But it works! It had me emotionally involved in the story. It made me re-evaluate priorities in my life. Most importantly (and I do mean most importantly), I jumped out of my seat and cheered when the final, game-winning, fifty-one yard field goal attempt went through the uprights.

Why do I say most importantly? Because this shows that, at least for me, the story did not get lost in the message--which is one of Christian film making's biggest drawbacks. We cannot seem to tell a story without preaching. Of course those who have watched FTG will know that the Gospel and the Christian worldview are presented numerous times throughout the film in no uncertain terms. And yet, the story WORKS!

My hat is off to the people of Sherwood Baptist Church, and especially to their philosophy of being able to change the world from Albany, Georgia. If they can do it from the state where the Devil goes looking for souls to steal (not to mention the fact that there are a lot of rainy days, midnight trains, and blackouts*) then perhaps I can do it from here in Northeastern Brazil.

You can be sure I am going to try. We are starting our puppet project out small--live presentations in churches, a TV program on a local channel. We believe, however, that if it will glorify God, and if He is in it, the sky is the limit.

*Oblique references to Rainy Day in Georgia, Midnight Train to Georgia, and The Day the Lights Went Out In Georgia.

sexta-feira, 16 de novembro de 2007

Obligatory Introductory Post


My name is Andrew, and I am a missionary in Brazil. I have worked with puppets since I was 15 (the picture to the left is VERY old), and today puppets play a big part of my ministry. As director of ministry internships for a Baptist seminary here, I direct a puppet team made up of students that travels the region doing presentations in churches, schools, and public parks.

I am also at work on a filming project for a TV program that our area churches broadcast on a local TV station.

My aim with this blog is to contribute that which I have learned (and am learning) with the Christian puppetry community.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by. If you like, you can check out our ministry blog, as well as an outstanding blog in Portuguese run by a fantastic couple that work with me.