Thursday, July 3, 2014

4th of July Weekend Sale on "The Promise, or the Pros and Cons of Talking with God."


This weekend from July 4th through July 6th, you will receive a 25% discount when you pre-order my coming of age memoir "The Promise, or the Pros and Cons of Talking with God."  It is my inspirational true story of first faith and first love and how the two became almost fatally intertwined.  It is a perfect story people who have loved and lost or wandered in the gray area between God's sovereignty and man's free will.

The book can be ordered here:  TouchPoint Press Bookstore.

You won't be disappointed.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

"Game of Pawns: The Glenn Duffie Shriver Story" wins two Emmys!



I am happy to report that my controversial film "Game of Pawns:  The Glenn Duffie Shriver Story," won two Capital Emmys.   It won in the Director-Post Production and the Informational/Instructional-Program/Special Category.  The film is currently playing on the Pentagon Channel.  You also see it in its entirety on Youtube.

Congratulations to everyone involved.



Saturday, June 7, 2014

Writer Tip #9: Nobody Wants To See Your Crappy Little Movie....


I have to be one of the most accessible filmmakers around.  I am very active on social media.   If you catch me when I'm not busy, I am usually happy to talk about the industry.  I have made a nice living working freelance in the film business for over twenty years.  I have written fourteen produced features.  I've had real agents.  I've signed real contracts.  And what I haven't learned on my own, I have gleaned from the experiences of other people who are further down the road than me.

I feel I have valuable advice to offer.  Sadly, most people who seek me out ignore it or say that I'm wrong.  Why?  Because I've been around too long to be starry-eyed about the dream anymore.  This business chews up dreamers and spits them out.  I have become a realist, and realism is the last thing dreamers want to encounter.

At least once a month I am approached by someone who has just written a great screenplay.  Or so they say.  Usually I refrain from reading the screenplays unless the request comes from a real friend, or I deem the writer to be sufficiently serious.  How am I able to tell if they're serious?  Easy.  If they tell me the script is soooo good that they're going to run out an shoot it for pocket change with a couple of their friends, I know they aren't serious about their craft.

I'm different than a lot of filmmakers.  I tend to put the well-being of the project ahead of my ego needs.  That's why, although I am certain I'd be a better director than some of the directors I have worked with, I never submit a script with the caveat that I must direct it.  Why?  Because I have also worked with directors who are much better than me, and, if I put the success of the project first, I want the best possible director working on it.  I also want the best production values, as well as a strong, bankable cast.  If I really believed in my script, why would settle for any less?  (Unless, deep down, I don't really believe in my script and I'm afraid to compete with the pros.)

Other people feel differently.  It comes down to your goals.  I always ask filmmakers two questions:  What are your goals?  Where do you expect this script to take you?

If your goal is to become a professional screenwriter, shooting the film yourself with a couple of pals will do less to forward your goal than having Paramount produce the film for seventy-million dollars with George Clooney in the leading role.  If your goal is to simply say "Hey, look, I made a movie," then go out and shoot it with your friends.  Sadly, your friends will probably be the only ones who end up seeing it.  Trust me, no one in Hollywood wants to, or will, spent ninety-seven minutes watching your crappy little movie.  They will never be dazzled by your witty dialogue or awed by your plot twist.  They will never see it.  Career-wise, it will be like it never existed.  Unless you get a serious distribution deal -- which is highly unlikely.

The odds have always been against the independent filmmaker, and they are getting much worse rather than better.  Back when movies were shot on film, it was expensive to make a movie and, as a result, demand actually exceeded supply.  The situation has become reversed.  Since the advent of the video/HD revolution, supply far exceeds demand.  Distributors, from the majors down to the bottom feeders, can afford to be very picky.  And, because filmmakers are so desperate to get their films out, they don't see the need to pay fair advances anymore.  Especially if you don't have any names in it. 

Think about it.  People make thousands of films a year.  More people apply to the Sundance Film Festival than to Harvard Law School -- and a lot of films that Sundance selects will never get real distribution.  So imagine the odds against the films that aren't good enough for Sundance. I wouldn't say that it is impossible, but I would honesty put the odds that you can make a film that will forward your career on a microbudget at about 2000 to 1.  And, frankly, that's being generous.

Your writing career could be better served by sending your script out to Hollywood, where it will probably be rejected, than making the film yourself.  The people with the power are much more willing to read an interesting script than watch an amateurish execution.  Scripts are vehicles of promise.  If someone gets caught up in your script, they will envision it unlimited by budget and featuring the most charismatic possible cast imaginable.  When they watch your micro-budgeted film, you will not be evaluated by your promise, but rather by the limitations of your production.  It's unavoidable.  Sorry.

That's not to say there aren't success stories.  I can point to my colleague Mike Flanagan.  He made a number of intriguing micro-budgeted films before he found someone willing to give him a real budget.  The result:  The hit horror film "Oculus" that has so far netted more than twenty-five million dollars at the domestic box office.  I also see myself as a success story, albeit on a more modest level.  My career certainly benefited from my little indie film "21 Eyes."  While we did not get a big name for the DVD box, we did spend money to hire some well-known character actors, and our delightful discovery Rebecca Mader become a regular on the TV series "Lost" right after the release of the film.  The festival success of the film, and the positive reviews, definitely enhanced my credibility.  However, I don't think I would have gotten half the mileage from the film had I not already paid my dues by getting an agent and getting good reads.  That's what really got me into "the club" -- not my indie movie.

Directors need to shoot something as a calling card to prove they can direct.  Actors need film as a calling card to prove they can act.  Writers don't.  Your script is your calling card.  You don't need a finished production to prove you can write.  If your script itself doesn't prove you can write -- no movie version of it is going to help you!

People often think I am being negative when I advise them not to make their films.  The reverse is true.  I am appealing to their self-confidence.  I am encouraging them to reach for the brass ring.  It is a lot easier on the fragile ego to make your own film in a safe, little echo chamber where all of your friends pat you on the back and say you're a genius.  Forget that.  Get out and take a real chance.  Be willing to compete with William Goldman, Shane Black, Tony Kushner, Mark Boal and Terence Winter.  That's what takes guts.

In all honesty, I think it is more beneficial for your career to get your script read, and declined, by the right thirty people in Hollywood than going for the immediate ego-satisfaction of making it into a movie that no one who can further your career will ever see.  Those rejections could lead to an assignment.  Plus, if your script truly is worth making, someone will eventually recognize its value.  I believe that.  Hollywood is always looking for the next great story.   Talent will out -- if you give it a chance.  Too many people don't.  They often feel like time is slipping away and they have to do something NOW. 

They do.  They have to keep writing.

And keep pitching, too.

That's what I do.

Other Tips:

PRE-ORDER NOW


My upcoming memoir, "The Promise, or the Pros and Cons of Talking with God," about the heady and nearly fatal mix of first love and first faith, is now available for pre-order on the TouchPoint Press bookstore.   Here is the link:  TouchPoint Press Bookstore.

The book will be available on July 28th.  Print copies sell for $17.99 and ebook sells for $6.99.  I plan to buy quite a few.  How about you?

Thanks for your support!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Artwork Released: The Promise, or the Pros and Cons of Talking with God



I just received the cover artwork for my upcoming book, "The Promise, or the Pros and Cons of Talking with God."  The editorial process has been completed -- with thanks to my editor Tamara Trudeau.  The book will be released on July 28th.  It will soon be available for pre-orders.

Here's the press release from Touchpoint Press:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT:  Media/Publicity, TouchPoint Press, Fax:  662-510-0302
Email:  media@touchpointpress.com

http://touchpointpress.com

TOUCHPOINT PRESS INKS MEMOIR DEAL WITH FEATURE FILM PRODUCER AND AWARD-WINNING SCREENWRITER, SEAN PAUL MURPHY

"A story of first faith and first love and how the two became almost fatally intertwined."

KOSCIUSKO, MS, Mar. 20, 2014--TouchPoint Press announced its recent acquisition of Sean Paul Murphy's memoir, which promises to be both an entertaining read and inspirational tool for readers around the globe.

The Promise, or the Pros and Cons of Talking with God is Sean's inspirational, coming-of-age tale of first faith and first love and how the two became almost fatally intertwined in his life.  It is a poignant and insightful meditation on surviving in the gray area between God's sovereignty and our individual free will.

"Unless you're a big name celebrity or other well-known personality, selling your memoir is more than just difficult; it's often impossible.  After all, everyone has a story to tell, don't they?  When we received Sean's pitch, we weren't certain it would be one we'd pursue--even with his clear accomplishments in the film/movie industry.  But a few pages in and I was hooked."  Publisher, Sheri Williams adds, "Sean's author voice is crisp and inviting.  It's like having a conversation with a close friend and sharing the struggles and revelations he's encountered.  And, best of all, he's down-right entertaining."

While Sean wrote this book with the Christian reader in mind, the audience for the book is definitely not limited to born-again Christians.  It was written in a casual, easy-to-understand, non-theological style to make it accessible to spiritual seekers of all varieties.  Human beings naturally seek to find the transcendent and eternal.  This books reveals it is possible.

The Promise, or the Pros and Cons of Talking with God will be released in July 2014 in paperback and ebook formats.  Pre-orders will be available via TouchPoint's website.

Sean Paul Murphy is an award-winning screenwriter with fourteen produced feature films credits including the faith-based favorites "Hidden Secrets," "Sarah's Choice," and "The Encounter."  Sean lives in Baltimore, Maryland.  He is happily married with three step-daughters, and he can be found every Sunday morning playing guitar at his church.

For media appearances, interviews, or to schedule signings contact
info@touchpointpress.com

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Memorial Day Tribute: George Farber



I have had many relatives that have served the military with distinction, but I would like to pay tribute to my 2nd great-granduncle J. George Farber, who reputedly fired the last shots of the Civil War.  A number of members of my family fought in that bloody conflict.  Two of George's brothers, Louis and Charles, fought.  Their father Joseph Farber led the way.  He volunteered to fight for the Union cause at 42 years of age.

Obituary from The Scranton Tribune, September 6, 1900, Morning, Page 5:

Hon. George Farber Dead
----------
Petersburg's Leading Citizen Dies
After a Brief Illness -- Fired
the Last Shot of the Civil War
----------

     The man who fired the last shot in the civil war, Hon. J. George Farber, died last evening at 5.15 o'clock, at his home in Petersburg, after a three months' illness of dropsy.
     The deceased was born in Allebach, Prussia, May 28, 1840, and was brought to this city by his parents in 1845.  Since 1851 he lived in the Petersburg portion of the city.  He worked in the mines until the breaking out of the civil war, when he and his brother Louis enlisted in Company B, Ninth Pennsylvania cavalry.  His father had previously gone out with the One Hundred and Seventh Pennsylvania Infantry.  The deceased was discharged in July, 1865, after four years of the most active service.
     The incident by which he won the distinction mentioned in the opening paragraph occurred at Edwardsburg, N.C., just previous to Johnson's surrender.  Mr. Farber and George Burkee, who still lives on Phelps street, were detached from their company of cavalry and assigned to artillery work.  They were operating a large gun in a wooded place some distance from the main body and in this way continued firing after hostilities had been called off, they not knowing of the surrender.  Mr. Burkee and George Schultz, Sr., brother-in-law of the deceased Mr. Farber, are the only survivors of the seventeen sturdy lads who went out from Petersburg with the Ninth Cavalry.
     Mr. Farber was a commissioner and then a member of the select council from the Tenth ward from 1872 to 1878.  In 1879 he was elected the first register of wills of Lackawanna county, but the supreme court declared the election illegal.  In the following year, however, he was re-elected for the three years and served his term.
     For twenty years he served on the Republican county committee and for a good part of that time on the city committee also, having once been its chairman.
     He was a member of the Union lodge, Free and Accepted Masons, the Knights of Pythias, and Colonel Monies post 319, Grand Army of the Republic.
     The deceased is survived by his wife and the following brothers and sisters:  Frederick Farber, L.J. Farber, Mrs. Jacob Stark, and Mrs. Alonzo Price, all of this city.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Yours Truly interviewed on BBC Arabic

Here I am talking about my FBI film "Game of Pawns" on BBC Arabic.  This was my first international television interview, and I think I like my Arabic accent better than my traditional Baltimore one.  If only I knew what I was saying....