In Pursuit of Happiness – A critic about the film “The Secret”

“Faith is being sure of what we hope for

And certain of what we do not see.” – Hebrews 11:1

 

 

The film The Secret tells about the law of attraction or how to achieve success in life through the management of feelings. Even though it is a very controversial film with structural problems, it is an important message that needs to be spread continuously. It is a self-help, full-length documentary that seduces the audience with the idea that everything is possible if positive thinking and positive attitude is the focus. This message is important to society, because it contradicts what mass media message of today’s world preaches.

 

People in today’s society are told how and what to feel. The reason for that is to keep the status quo. To begin with, let’s take a look around and analyze what messages and philosophies of life are being offered through mass media, such as billboards, posters, movies, TV, fashion, and commercials. Every second, every moment, something is being suggested. “Eat this, do that, buy this, look at me, envy that,…”. I his essay Information as power, the United States Army Colonel John R. Robinson explains that “Persuasive Media Message provides or changes meanings, and meanings give direction to action.”

 

Whether we like it or not, we all listen to the vibrations of our environment. We walk through life every single second using our five senses. We want to see amazing images, taste good flavors, feel good, smell nice fragrances, and talk about attractive subjects. Everybody wants to satisfy bodily pleasures. Businesses today have the power of utilizing this need of satisfaction in their favor, so we would only feel complete if we have their products. When people are unhappy with what they have, they feel the necessity of acquiring happiness by buying products. They need to have the newest computer, that particular perfume, the perfect lifestyle, the newest car, the icombo (ipod, ipad, iphone, imac, icrap…), and every little thing that would make them feel better about themselves. However if they are honest with themselves and able to crawl out of their material bodily consciousness, they will realize that the real happiness is not coming from outside. Nothing really satisfies as much as the real truth about things around us. The real truth that is never changing, no matter what year, what nation, what technology. Happiness is found within. The Film The Secret reinforces this notion that we are responsible for our happiness and nothing and no one can change our destiny besides us. This movie points into a direction of thinking that strengthens the philosophy that thoughts create things. As Mahatma Ghandi says “A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.”

 

The Secret is often confused with religion due to its psychological fundamental theory. Because of that, the film generated controversy among the viewers. There was an overwhelming press over the release of the film and book, and the over media coverage created polemical discussions to the subject of The Secret. The good part of this discussion is that it raised arguments that would make the film or book better if the author had knowledge of them prior to release The Secret.

 

Although on the surface this movie is a bit excessive and over-simplifying, there is an important point to consider in the roots of the main idea. The word “roots” is used here because the way the documentary is represented is rather foolish: here it is a “secret” that is being revealed, something like a magic key that is handed over to the viewer during the viewing. The same tools used by the mass media to make someone slave are used in this film to get the point across. The use of famous people’s quotes for example is misleading. It gives the idea that there is a secret society where everyone who is successful is part of and knows how things work in their favor. The secret is not about getting stuff. It is about developing a sense of true identity and being unafraid to go after feelings in life and being open to many possible ways of achieving it. The documentary it gets to a point of being one note. The beginning of the film presents the story of an older woman telling about her life being a total mess after a divorce, a death in family, and broken home. The film sets up for a question that is never answered because the woman is never mentioned again. It was a creative decision that should not be done, therefore showing that the director of the film did not have enough experience making movies. It is plain and simple documentary about positive thinking. The message is not as secret as the film tries to portrait. This concept is around for a long time. It is a different perspective, using commercially filmmaking to express old ideas. If we look at every quote that is in the film we realize that these people understood the positive thinking theory, but they did it because of natural and personal reasons, and not because at a certain point in their life they got across with a book that contained the secret. Dr. Fred Alan Wolf, one of the people interviewed in the film, had even declared in his personal website that “The Law of Attraction seems to imply that merely thinking such thoughts will attract the object of those thoughts to you. I don’t think the universe works this way. There is no magic field ‘out there’ or magic genii ‘out there’ that will answer those thoughts by granting your wishes as the film seems to imply.”

 

The Secret is an important message that has to be told, but it is not the complete way to find happiness. The Secret focuses our hope self ward. It is all about self-empowerment, self-fulfillment, and getting whatever we want. But what does it matter profit, if a man loses his soul? Life is meant to be abundant, but money is only a part of wealth. If we want to be completely satisfied we have to find balance in life, exercise our positive thinking towards our body, mind and soul, and take actions to get what we want.

 

 

AFM

American film market is one of the biggest film markets in the world.

It is a good place to meet people from all over the place and make especially business connections.

My first impression of the AFM was like this:

It takes place in a beach front 5 star hotel reserved for production companies to sell their films. Each room is a company that has different titles. If some one has a green badge means that this person is a buyer. Purple badge means production company, Red/orange means industry professional and no badge means loser.

If you have a purple you want to talk to green badges and eventually red/orange badges. You don’t want to spend a second with purple and definitively no badges. People with no badges can be annoying. We learned not to trust a buyer that doesn’t have a badge, because badges are expensive. A minimum of $500for a buyers badge.

There is also a distinct status according to the floor that a production company is located. If the company is bellow the 5th floor, their status is not as good as someone who is in the 5th up. The 2nd and 3rd floor are called The Dungeon. They are cheaper and usually the production companies that are there are lower budget. There are a lot of Asian companies in the dungeon, but the quality of their posters and the content of their actions films are not as bad as expected from companies that are in theses floors. The 4th floor is where the lobby and the no badges are. It’s a chaos to stay there. Buyers don’t usually talk to people over there because they suffer a lot of hassle. It’s a waste of time to try to network at the lobby. There are companies in the lobby too, but their budgets are not very high as the ones on the 5th floor up.

 

The 5th floor is a better floor, even with part of it opened to the public where you can find no-badges there as well. The 6th floor is the beginning of the respect. That’s where I was working on. It costs a lot of money to rent a room in the 6th floor. The company that I worked for spent about 30k.

 

The 7th floor is way better and the 8th floor is where the big boys are. Lionsgate, Weisntein, and other are located in the 8th floor. They don’t even look at your face if you are not a buyer. They have the presidential suites and they treat a production company like a filthy dog. “There is no leftover for you here. Go away!”

 

Overall it is a place where business is made. Even with those notions of social separation, AFM is nothing more than an open fair. When I was younger, I used to go with my father to the open market to buy groceries. The simple elements of the open market on the Brazilian streets I saw at the AFM. The banana vendor needed to make noise, scream sometimes, and loudly reinforce that he had a better deal with a better product then his fellow, and sometimes quieter, next-door seller.

Kevin Costner

This month of October I did an interview with Kevin Costner. It was amazing!

I was having breakfast with my wife and we were talking about destiny and positive thinking. My phone rang and it was a production coordinator from Globo (a major TV network in Brazil). She asked me if I could do an interview in 2 days from that time with Kevin Costner. WOW! Totally random. I agreed with the terms and prepared for the big event.

Kevin is going to Brazil with his band to do a concert in Bauru, a city in Sao Paulo. This TV network is promoting the show and they sent a reporter to ask some questions. Her name is Luciana Martins and she is very talented and special professional.

Kevin received us in his new house in Santa Barbara. He is a very humble and nice person. He got very excited about us and he even showed us his property. I really enjoyed the time we spent there.

The interview was amazing! I used the sun as my back light and to get more exposure in their faces I used a 750W ctb balanced hard light pointing to them. It gave me at least 2 stops more in their faces, enough to balance the back sunlight.

My wife went there with me and she helped me with the set up. Kevin also liked her. Well who doesn’t???


Taty and Kevin


The interview with Luciana Martins


Me Working

 

Killer Priest

After shooting Feed Me, I was hired to shoot another feature. This time was with the director Damian Chapa for Amadeus pictures.

We worked together in Brando and we both knew what to expect from each other. I fixed the schedule for him and helped him with the production. This time the crew was way smaller than usual.

Killer Priest is a conspiracy film about mind control victims of religious groups. A hitman is hired by the church to kill powerful people. He discovers that he is a mind control puppet of high ranking Illuminati. He goes after everyone that stands on his way to find the truth. In the midst of this, he falls in love to another mind control victim.

Comic Con with HBO

This Summer I did amazing projects and one of them was working with HBO at the Comic Con. I graduated with Fernanda Leite and since the school time she was working for HBO. Today she is a big time producer that call the shots and (knowing that I was living in LA) she invited me to work for them at the Comic Con in San Diego.

The convention is the city biggest event. People from all over the world go there and the small city of San Diego gets very crowded. Comic Con is not about comic books only. It’s a convention that now incorporates movie releases, video games, fashion, rpg games, celebrities, panels about all kinds of different subjects, costume competition, and much more.

My work there was to register everything possible and show the essence of the convention to the Latin American market. I was working with Albert Vinicius who was the directors of photography. He was guiding me through what we needed as far as visuals and feeling. There was Fernanda Leite e Eduardo Zaca who were the producers and reporters of HBO. I did an exclusive with Wesley Snipes and I had the pleasure to meet the artist who draws Spy vs Spy and the artist who draws Conan. I even bought from him a specific picture of Conan as a gift to my brother.

To make the 5 days of work even better, my wife came to San Diego and we spent 3 days together. We had dinner at very good restaurants and she went one day to the Convention with a badge that I got from a guy who worked with me on another gig.

BRANDO UNAUTHORIZED – San Clemente

I am here at the backyard of a beautiful house in San Clemente, Orange County. Tonight is the last day shooting at this location. This place has breath taking views. The people are warm and everybody seems to like us.

I will give a back story to this production. It was a low budget film, shot with no permits and literally on spot decisions every single day. I had to manage a crew of 35 people average and come up with decisions that would keep us motivated, on schedule, and under budget.

We faced all sort of troubles during this second week of production. Starting with the sudden change of location on Tuesday. We were shooting in Burbank and the idea was to shoot there for at least 3 days with the possibility of shooting 5 days total. Well, the very first day we had the cops getting there all the time. Instead of telling the truth and get over with it, some production people lied to the cops saying that we were doing a party and not a film. Cops by nature are dogs searching for lies. They knew that something was up. We had no permits and on top of that, the neighbors were calling the police all the time.

We ended up shooting one day and a half. The cops, neighbors, vibe, nothing was working. The solution was to move some where else. That’s when we decided to go to San Clemente at Rusty’s House. His wife Debbie opened the house for us and let us use the place for 5 days. We not only used her house but we shot at her neighbor’s house. Her name is Alice.  We were also fortunate to shoot in a multi million mansion overlooking the ocean, which in my opinion was one of the best locations we got.

I had the pleasure to work with a guy that randomly appeared one day on set as an extra and I hired him to be my personal helper. His name was Steve and he had no experience whatsoever in the film business. The very first day of work he managed to help me find the multi million dollar location. He got a hold of a guy called Berry who is one of the most generous person that I had the pleasure to meet lately. He is a very known person by everyone in San Clemente and also a real gentleman and a good friend of Rusty. By the fact that he is so well connected, he managed to get us the place in less than one day. I believe that God provides if one keeps a strong heart on everything that one does. Berry told me so many good things that I will keep for the rest of my life. That day was magical.

Right now we are wrapping the last scene of the day. Today I had to do the 1st AD job because the 1st AD had personal problems. Well, I am here typing on the computer because my actors for the last scene are doing the make up. I felt like writing this post because I think this moment is a very special moment in my life. I will get married in a couple of weeks from now, I am finishing my 2nd feature in less than one year, and I will graduate on my 2nd university this semester. The most important is that I feel God closer to me everyday. He is my best friend, and everything is possible because of Him. Thank You.

 

BRANDO UNAUTHORIZED – The month of June

This was one of the craziest yet amazing months of my life.
I started the month completely broke. Instead of freaking out, I put myself together and started working my own projects: 2 scripts and a new demo reel. I had faith that I would pay my bills.

During this time I got to know some people that worked on a new TV station called REDE ITV. This is a Brazilian network based in LA with open programming for the whole southern California and I believe with concession for other US states. I went there for an interview with the owner Josias and his wife Sandra. I was surprised when I discovered that Josias knew my father from the time they were young and used to work together in the same group of actors and directors of stage plays back in the days. The interview went great and after that I did at least 4 freelancer jobs that saved my financial situation.

But the best was about to come. I have a friend called Joe Camacho with whom I had classes together. He mention to me about a production company that needed 1st and 2nd AD for an upcoming low budget film. He thought that it could be a good idea if we worked together there. We went on a meeting and in 4 hours I left the place with a contract in hands. The money was enough to save my finances, but I really didn’t care about that. The best part of this project was the project itself. It’s a film about one of the greatest actors that ever lived: Marlon Brando. What makes this project even more special is the group of people that are involved with it.

Starting with the director Damian Chapa who is definitely a creative person. His passion for filmmaking and his love for the art is visible on every time he smiles on set. He is a grown up man with the power to keep a young soul. We had major obstacles during the process of making this film and, like a warrior, he never let the production down and he kept fighting. This project is a challenge from day one and, in order to make it, one needs a good production team. That’s where Annette Young, Pete Allman, Ryan Torres, and Manny Lopez come to make the dream alive. They are the responsible for everything. They are on top of every issue. All the time they are talking to investors, actors, publicists, and celebrities. If wasn’t for them, there will be no film.

MYC Agnew is the head of everything. He is the voice to be heard and respected. He calls to himself this responsibility and he takes every matter as part of his day by day duties. Everything goes through him. Madla Hruza is the production and costumer designer and she is the artistic eye on every set and costume. She oversees the great work that Amor Sanchez and Parlav Chaudhary do. She is a true artist. Making a film like this needs a very accurate make up department and the head of this department is Keith Beck who is not only very talented but also a very real and nice person. He works with Jason Becker who is the hair stylist, Brittany Hall who is the make up fashion, and Gage Hubbard who is the special effects make up. They are fast and they know what they are doing. They help me more than I help them.

Of course that every film needs actors and this film has an incredible cast. Windy Myers is the casting director that takes care of more than 50 principal actors and 300 extras that we need to make this film come to life. I introduced to her the wonderful and personal friend Lakrishi Kindred who is now helping her with extras.

The camera and sound departments are the best department in this film. Pierre Chemaly is the DP and one of the best that I had the pleasure to work with. Nothing would be possible if he didn’t have a marvelous crew to work with. The Gaffer is Elton James, the grip is Ray Klas, Luigi Ventura is the 1st AC, and the 2nd AC is Abu Baker Siddiq. All of them are fast and understand the nuts and bolts of their profession. Of course that nothing would be possible if the sound department wasn’t good enough to keep up with the camera department. Kirk Dwye is the sound mixer and James O Connor is the boom operator. Together they make the crew complete to deliver one of the most beautiful and controversial indie film of all times. We also have help of a number of PAs who come every other day. Those that I can remember are Joe Hang, Travis Thomas, Parris, Brittani Turner, Jermeil Squnders, and Will Hoover.

There are people who helped but off set. The writer is James Quinn and the editor is Nathaniel Nose. He participated in one scene at the Military base in San Pedro. There is also the still photographer Naoe.

Well this is what I can remember. There are so many people helping on this film that I can not even remember of every one. There are people helping with locations, with cars, with props, with wardrobe, you name it.

I wish I could have more time to talk about each one of them. But at this moment right now, I have to work on the schedule and send call sheets so everybody could be on time at the new location tomorrow. It’s a lot of work, but a great pleasure.

Yesterday we had barbecue on set. We did a late party and everybody loved. I was pleased to see everyone happy. My roommate Peter Roca who helped me to cook for everybody.

 

Fist of Gold

I put together a video for a non profit organization based in Pomona California.
They provide kids with boxing classes and support for competition. Their work is amazing and the Head Coach/Director Jorge Castaneda and his right hand man Jerry are really cool and down to earth guys.

We shot one of the scene of the film Last Act in their gym and they helped us not only with the space but also with a lot of extras. The day we shot in their facility was definitely one of the best days of the production. The person in the production who helped us to get all this done, was the fantastic Coco Cook.

Please take a look at the video below.

Thank you

MY FIRST HACKINTOSH

I finally got a perfect working version of my HACKINTOSH system. It took me a couple of months but I could get my PC to run a Mac OS with a working Final cut 7, plus Color 1.5.

The way that I did was first getting the right components. The motherboard that I bought was the Gigabyte UD5, processor Intel i7, and Gskill 6gb memory. The next step was to set up my bios, and download the correct software that does the installation. In my case I used the Kakewalk 2.2. It’s really easy to install. I used the USB method. It took me a couple of trials but at the end I could get everything working.

I did all that because I wanted to have the final cut, which is the industry standard for editing, without having to pay outrageous money for a new hardware. I am a PC guy and in order to buy an used Mac I would have to literally sell all my pcs and a couple of other things that I own and still get some money from someone else. Well, now I can say that I am a PC/MAC guy.

My suggestion for someone that wants to build a Hackinstosh is don’t do it. It’s not easy and it’s definitely not user friendly process. I know a lot about computers and I had a really hard time. If you have money to buy a Mac, go ahead and buy it. It’s worth every single penny. I wish I could have a Mac. A Mac computer is made to last more than any equivalent Frankenstein PC. But if for some reason you want to try, you can follow this simple steps.

I will write a summary of the steps.

1 – Hardware: Gigabyte ex58-UD5 , Intel quad core i7 920, Gskill F3-12800cl7t-6gbpi, Nvidia GeForce 9800 GTX+
2 – OS: Kakewalk 2.2 install, Snow Leopard 10.6 retail
3 – Software: Final cut 7, Color 1.5

4 – Make the USB using a working mac. follow instructions from kakewalk.
5 – Set the bios: Set HD to AHCI, Set boot from USB, set Hpet (following kakewalk instructions)
6 – Install osx
7 – Enjoy and when you have money buy the original, you won’t regret.

LABRFF and Positive

Well, that was my first film festival. I was very anxious and nervous. I did not know what to expect. Showing a film to an audience is like driving your son for the first day at school (I don’t have a kid, but I can imagine). You know that from that point on, he will be susceptible for everything that the world has to offer. Love, doubts, passion, criticism, encouragement, fear, laughter, jealousy… Like a human being, your film is now part of the world. Now your son will have a life of his own. If you devote yourself as a good father, don’t worry, your son will be a great man.

The festival was a hundred times better this year than the previous editions. The line up of films, the amount of professionals and networking, the food, the party, the friends… Everything had a taste of pleasure that was remarkably better.

I was kind of sad because my film was shown on a different aspect ratio than the original version, and also the bad encoding of the film, made the image looks terribly overexposed. That threw me off a little bit. I could not enjoy as much as I could. But even with these problems, the audience reaction was good. They laughed at the right moments, and payed attention at the right moments too.

A film critic said that “the film was genius, because of the concept use of what is positive.” That made my day. I had a producer friend of mine impressed with the acting and wanted to know how I could manage to get the actors at that level of commitment.

Because of this film, I got a lot of other jobs, I made amazing contacts, and I could establish good relationships.

Thank you
Mario Amadeu