Director's Notes

Hello! I am the director of one of the films featured in this Website, inside the Theater, entitled JAMES. The film has a run time of around six minutes. James was completed on a budget of roughly 1,500 USD (conservative estimate). The lead actor who played "James" is a talented individual named Rick Gunn. He had the guts and sensitivity to portray this complicated character. His ability was evident to me first, during audition and our first meeting. He can be found on http://www.imdb.com professionally. He gave a fine performance for my student film. Also talented, supporting actress, Kathy C. did fine work. Although she is not listed in the database, both actors were very dedicated for the four day shoot, very trusting, and I am pleased with their then understanding of the characters, their dedication to subtlety, and their ease in working with my crew.

The crew consisted of talented fellow thesis members and UCLA lifelong friends: Justin Bradshaw, Jennifer Harrington, Dean Carlson, and me.

I made this film among other projects, for my Bachelor of Fine Arts thesis, to graduate with my film making degree. My industry employment then and after school, is listed on imdb.com, and you can find it by conducting a names search there (also to current date at: "www.linkedin.com" professional network).Chris Jay Fonseca.

While in the school for theater, film, television and new media, I completed a variety of projects of various genre. Despite the "dark" elemental theme of James, I find it to be my most complicated personal work. Theater 3 hosts a film with which the budget was less than that of the student film, actually incomplete according to scripting, completed in a few days from start to finish, and was actually a humorous excercise for which all involved had fun without strict rule adherence. I did receive awards for other projects with lighter thematics as well, while a student. Fuji corp. at that time, granted me an award in categorie comedic short narrative, in music video format as one example.

One of my most prized projects, a photo slide show with industrial sound effects and music, was unfortunately lost by a teaching assistant. I am sorry that I cannot include the video in my Webite, which was video taped during my student performance thereof. Yet another celluloid film, experimental, that I shot, is currently ommitted from this site, for formatting reasons. One project earned me the Motion Picture Association of America award as a student also. It is James that I share with you in particular, as a director, and I am evidently proud of this work that was shot on 16mm celluloid film, with UCLA equipment.

The other featured director Matheus Z., a lifelong friend as well, produced a fine film entitled Jornada del Meurto. It is in Theater 1. on the theater page of this site, and it was also completed for the 1999 UCLA film school annual film showcase of thesis work on the UCLA campus. He produced this in the Masters in Fine Arts program, a program which cross fertilized with the Bachelors program, under the same school umbrella. I was pleased to help him, also in minor capacity as an actor and a grip, on his film. Between the masters and the Bachelors program, I was pleased to partake in a multitude of projects of my own, as well as those of others at the program. It was a fine time to be a student.

A sampling of multi camera television direction, location shoot television production, photography and cinematography, theory, sound recording, digital editing, analysis, Stanislovsky acting principles, screenwriting, and really even more than that, fused together in a mind spinning fundamentals, for which most of us there at that time were greatly impacted for our industry preparations.And the depth at which this sampling was achieved, is something of an academic marvel.

 
dawn of 2000's

 

This film James is about a struggle. Any relationship that is worth having, will have conflict and struggle. Hopefully not excessively so of course. Nothing but conflict leaves much to be desired. In negotiating these relationships, we 'negotiate' with God, begin to discover the errors of our ways, and repent to reform. It is in the struggle of life, that we can find just how much He will offer us and reveal, allowing us to learn and to grow ever deeper in his loving grace.

Although at the time of making this film I was not conscious of my religious faith as a motivating factor for this film, it clearly was central to its message in retrospect.

That is why I wish to share with you my most valued interpretation.

JAMES-a spiritual journey. Original copy of text dated 9.14.2006. Minor word edit has been made thereafter, to enhance clarity.

 

To lead a Christian life, it is my belief that one must understand the limitations of oneself and those of others; also, the great capacity for which God our creator has "hardwired" us. Seven years after creating my undergraduate thesis film at UCLAs film school for directors, writers, and more, the true meaning of my film has become clearer to me. You may ask yourself, "Why would it take seven years for a man to understand a film he himself showcased?" "Why wasn't the meaning clear to him from the "birth" of the story?" Well, first, these talking points must be fleshed out: Aren't many individuals involved in creating narrative? Isn't a film maker a conduit for the collective narrative that find expression through resources? And don't the people involved in producing anything, add dimension to simple ideas or concept? Is it not possible that a film maker not even know why at first he must make a film, but feel that he must nonetheless? And, further explanation that one not grasp a text entirely at conception, I ask you this: "How many times have you made a mistake, told yourself you wouldn't make the same mistake again, then did, and felt really foolish for repeating the mistake over again? Wisdom. That which teaches us as human beings to learn, to improve, to understand, to accept, to teach others to strive for perfection wihtout being a perfectionist, can take years to acquire right? This is what we need to try to do each day. And understanding a film, or oneself, can as well be a daily struggle. Interpretive films such as James, was seen much more simple at it's production by me, than I see it now. If you are a Christian, then you know that life's purpose is not always crystal clear. I believe mostly in love. God sends the faithful on missions. We are often used for ambitions other than our own; and, if we listen, we must act as conduits, for a larger purpose, setting our own desires aside at times. The collective process proves most powerful and despite the power and necessity of individuality, personal responsibility and individual expression, we must also always set ourselves aside for Christ's plan, go into "auto pilot" at times, or maybe resist auto mode, and exercise that sometimes elusive necessary act of patience, until it is clear what we are supposed to be doing with our life. God told us, through his only begotten son, that we will face challenges, that the Christian life is not always easy. And so, how can it be any wonder, that when an artist paints, speaks poetry, writes prose, creates whatever it is that each of us do in "daily performance", that we are not always clear about what we have created, at onset? What its full meaning is, can take years of self analysis. A therapist, psychoanalyst, or psychologist should exercise the same prudence in helping a patient to learn about his or her life. Certainly ones priest, ones rabbi, ones Imam, ones academic teachers should strive to meet this human need as well. Were we channeling the energy of our spirit, of those involved in our lives, of the Holy Spirit? If you have ever done something that won the admiration of another, or even yourself, then you might ask yourself: "Did I do that?" "Was this a fluke, or did I in fact accomplish what I set out to?" For me, this story had been roaming around in my sub-conscious for years I think and I did not even know it until it was made for viewing? It took encouragement of professors, the intellect of fellow students, the financial resources, labor, organization, timing, and more, to put this idea into form. Do I fully understand what story I've told? Is it a new story? An old one? Does anyone even care to know it? Does anyone understand it? These are questions I had about my own. Without assessing the quality of its portrayal, let me simply say, I believe that this story can be read, as easily as it could be found mysterious. As all things in nature which God created, the complexity or simplicity of anything can be left to the eye of the beholder. And I believe that it can now serve as a mirror for anyone who can relate.

 

Because I authored this film, I would like to share with you the interpretation that I have come to understand and embrace. While many emotions, life circumstances, experiences and life perceptions were the seed for this synthesized art, it is the time that has passed that lend to an insightful meaning which I value most. I'd also like you to think about where love fits in with this story. There's a saying in the film community and among those who produce film which embody lifelike attribute- when sound and picture fit together in time perfectly. We call it "In Sync". This film helped me to find sync in my life. And the picture and sound run alongside each other, together. Making James was the begining of creating "sync". Probably the most important and personal movie I ever have made and might ever make. So here is the story of James.

 

“James”, a biblical name, and also the title of my film, is exactly what it says it is... a biblically rooted story. As in case of the Bible, authors, theologians, and more have suggested that the most read book use a form of encryption, or code. This is a vibrant way of helping us to understand, to remember, and to inquire. Unlike some codes like those that are used by countries in times of war designed to block enemies from deciphering needed secrets, my film is at no risk of revealing any sensitive information. For those who inquire, they will find meaning in places that are not spoon fed. I model this after the Bible, also for inquiring minds. "What does God ask of me?" Now my film is not the Bible, nor do I attempt to equate my film with it; however, my film uses symbols that I have come to understand, symbols that I would like to translate to you who have or will have seen my film. It is in these symbols that the narrative holds weight and relevance to this interpretation.

 

The first code is this: Let me define home for you. Home is where the heart is, and that is the most important, but these difinitions pertain to House as a structure. Home 1.- a physical structure where we are raised by parent(s) or stand in parent(s). Home 2.- a physical structure where we as an adult elect or do not elect to live with a relative, spouse, room mate, friend, pet, stranger. Home 3.- a place where we feel a sense of belonging for the self, usually associated with protection from the elements, like rubber or plastic housing protects a conductive copper wire. "For copper to conduct, a proper housing must exist." If James, "James", an adult, grown up, socially stagnant, was the occupant of a home with kitchen, a bedroom, a bathroom. It is where he lives with the supporting character. In the film, other characters are either deceased or not present. This can be incidental, as many families in the world are without a father, mother, wife, or child. For sake of the film, James must define and discover "home" aside from a male figure. I also like to think of the one ultimate Father, GOD, as ever present in the home(s), without being seen. The second home is James' body. All souls, if you believe in the soul, are housed by our physical body. Our bodies are proper homes which allow the soul to conduct and connect, to love, and to live. For many, like James, the body is challenged, but not defeated. It can be a rather unhappy prison. In "James'" case, this is so, in so far as to say that he is a living, breathing, human. Some of us have come to accept our bodies rather well and some of us not so well. We all age, we all make changes, we all cope with our bodies the best we can. Some of us have pain, affliction, poor health, morbidly obese bodies, bodies which are undesirable to Western ideals, are paralyzed, partially or whole. Whatever the case may be, whatever the disease, we each have one body, and it carries us to our eventual death. We may be impaired or not, be able to evade afflictions or may not. The point is, that this body is a house. One we may not like living in, but one that serves our needs and deserves our vigilant protection. The third home in James, is the home of great focus. It is a representation. Although we have the fortune of looking at it and knowing that it is real; in this movie, it actually serves a greater purpose. It is the one, which “James” may value most.

 

For those of you familiar with the biblical story of prodigal son. I ask you to apply this story to yourself. What I mean is, look at your self as the father and the son, in one body. Have you been unfair to yourself? Have you been prodigious with yourself? Have you deprived yourself, disrespected yourself, neglected yourself? Have you not allowed yourself to love yourself? To love another? I believe that this is an affliction which perhaps challenges many, if not all. And that is why I hope that you identify with this film. Sometimes we feel "ontop of our game"; and, other times "desperate and down". Loving one self is as important as being loved, and so we develop coping mechanisms to "stay even". In James' case, the third house, which we see, represents (initially unknown to him), his physical and spiritual relationship to God. Without nurturing that, and without loving himself, he could not love another and could not feel as though he were ever "home". And because of the gravity of this situation, the third house is the focal point of my film. It is a house which is a canvas where reckless though cathartic behavior occurs and lives.And I'll have you know, that in my life, there have been similar "awakenings" which have called me to even higher purpose which transcend purposes greater tahn even ones allegiance to country.

 

There are other symbols which now should be defined to you without keeping any mystery. One is water. Water in the Catholic faith, can be blessed by a Priest. It is then considered holy, with the power to heal, to bless, and to Baptize. Without seeking this water, without "thirsting for it" one cannot receive it with any real meaning. You may have to walk to it, go to church to get it, or go on a pilgrimage to receive it. Secondly, water, from a multi-faith perspective, is life. It is not simply a representation. All human beings, scientists whether faithful or otherwise, agree, that without it, we would die. To sustain our physical and spiritual life here on Earth, to protect and sustain ourselves, we must drink it. When available to us, we use it for a variety of life sustaining reasons. In James,“James” he must turn the faucet on to release a flow of water. Like a fool, initially, he is barred from it and powerful life sustaining properties. Why? Because with great frustration, he fixated upon his poor relationship with his body and with God. It was however constructive time and destruction of false foundations which allowed for GOD to flow the water in great abundance. It was nearly too late. It is in his struggle with self and with God, that he could open the gate for spiritual redemption. God granted him in His infinite forgiveness, James' needs, and the redemptive power of water and life. James was so desperately in need. But only once "James" had actuated his necessary course of struggle, could this occur. Have you ever gone without eating a meal or two because you were too engrossed with whatever seemed more important to you at the time than what really was.. food? This is foolish. Did you skip meals because you were too poor to eat? This is reprehensible of society- no one should go hungry. My point is, find what you need. Don't look for what you don't. I'm not saying that no one starves through no fault of their own, rather, I'm saying that no one should hunger so long as our collective priorities are correct. Like James, I urge you to find your needs, not your wants. And to be generous with those who have needs. So, what changed "James'" life? Time. Journey. Trial. God. And, action. We are not all destined to the earthly fate of Jesus Christ, I dare say, though many have replicated in similarity. But, He has already saved us from our sins and if we act to seek forgiveness, we must believe we will find mercy without taking advantage of such mercy. In James' case, he was healed. It was his journey, that revealed the Truth to him. That water was the key to life. In a race against time, he and God redefined the terms of their relationship to one another. Of course on God's terms, but important to note, on James' will. Many years ago, Jesus Christ asked God why he had been forsaken, like many of the most noble men would nailed to a cross, but it was God who allowed us to be redeemed through His unduplicable resurrection. In "James'" case, his destructive behavior gave way to a spiritual awakening, and though not nailed to the cross, through trial and seeking, God answered his call.

 

Let me ask you. What kinds of symbols of destruction, in our physical life, can you think of? There are so many, I know. We live in destructive times. Not all destruction is harmful however. When you're the creator of artwork, you can create and destroy as you please. You get to choose among many symbols as well. One symbol I used in James, with great destructive power, was a sledgehammer. To me, a sledgehammer is an extremely powerful tool with which to break down walls for instance. Being a witness to recent history, one of such physical barrier was the Berlin Wall. It divided two geographies, ideologies, and people. It was both representational as it was also physically real. I believe that walls are not inherently bad- don't we also have oceans which surround our planet? Dividing groups of people? Boandaries around various cultures and governments? Land masses and separate lands divided by mountains etc.? What is bad however, is the act of never traversing these boundaries. What I am saying, is that it takes physical and spiritual power to take down a wall. That was done when the Berlin Wall fell with will of oppressed people and charity of others. Compassion to amend walls in the same way that James learned to love himself and GOD. The house in Jameswas a representation of something that needed work. (And, work involves destroying and fixing) until it is just right.

 

Now, "Why would "James" want to hammer away at the walls of himself or his relationship with God? Did he feel forsaken? Well he could have felt that way, because of his confinement to a wheel chair, or because of his social stagnation, or any other host of reasons which one can relate to. But, in this story, he prevailed. The war with hiself really, was finally won. "James" had to destroy a part of himself, a part of his relationship to his creator, in order to discover God's redemptive nature. I reiterate "James" is not Christ. He is a foolish, self destructive, sinner, who finds answers from God. I think that many of us are like him. What makes Jesus Christ, to believers, the most noble redeemer and prophet there ever was, is Christ's uncompromised trust in his Father and love for Man. Yes, according to documented teachings He asked God why He had been forsaken, but this can be a reminder to us, that we are designed to doubt and then discover, repeatedly. One can only hope that we doubt less and less. Forgive me if I take too much creative license in my interpretational stance regarding Christ's sacrifice.

 

Even some of the most noble of man today, would not volunteer to be killed in the manner Christ was. And "James" too would not volunteer to do so. He acted in defiance; began to destroy the house in anger. He struck the walls with a hammer until he began to feel his humanity, his capacity for destructive force. He did not harm another, he harmed God. He harmed himself. Others may have pittied him, though he bore the responsibility to self. Fortunately, in my story, he persevered. This is a story of heroes. It is a story about overcoming struggle. It is in surviving pain and releasing that pain, that one can be rescued, and stay alive in the truest sense of the word. By eliminating that which is unimportant, by respecting boundaries, and by re-working ones life purpose and prioroties, one can win. And there is time. Arguments that I make in this film are: 1. James, a cripple, but like anyone, can do damage to self and potentially others, if armed with dangerous intent. 2. Self loathing is a cancer. It is defiance toward God, which must be extinguished by placing less importance on the things that are ours, that have proven to not hold critical meaning. 3. One can love one self and God "again" by seeing God's redemptive nature; and learning to further protect our physical and spiritual selves against those who wish to harm us.

 

Thank you. I hope that this film is meaningful to you. I hope that it helps you to seek a peek inside your faith. And ultimately, I hope that you seek God's love if you haven't yet. And may water continue to cleanse and to give you the strength that you need, to one day meet your creator. God bless you and thanks. Sincerely, Chris Jay Fonseca. You are end-user. Copy and/or redistribution is not permitted.

 

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Dear friends, if you've taken the time to read this much, I thank you for your patience. As we are all on this earth, beings, growing and learning, I want to share with you that I have learned something tonight of great significance; for if ignored, my message is scant. Words from on high, spoken through the words of a pastor friend, inspired me to add this paragraph. We should not fixate on degrees of sin, rather on the fact that we CAN transcend it by receiving grace. This was one of the messages I heard tonight. We must choose to turn to our only savior, Jesus Christ. This is a message concerning grace, and I support this message. I therefore repeat this message, here, this day.

The Trinity Broadcast Network is not officially endorsed, but by this logo, I encourage you to tune to this programming and others like it. All of the content in their programs are subject to the same secular legislation as other programs. You do not have to agree with all views therein. I present its logo to you as a suggestion of positive media through which your life can be positively influenced. In turn you can be a pillar for another. This programming contains testimony to awakenings. For those of you who aren't familiar with the network, the network is validated by a very wide world audience which reaches many of our world's nations- many among the poorest of people in those nations. Being of a Christian Nation with tolerance for freedoms of religious practices, I within such nation am not a bigot, rather an artist who respects secular rule in so far that it uphold freedom of religious belief. I am also an advocate of awareness of my global audience, choosing to work as so wilfully required, in artistic mediums that have global reach. I present this logo to encourage people to watch, in an effort to increase public good and to promote religious understanding, tolerance, growth, increased insight, and victory for us all.

 

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