Thursday, October 15, 2009

Structure and Creativity

"Colors are orange by the wayside fluttle bluff."

The above sentence represents a good number of scripts that people have submitted to me. It's interesting… but it makes no sense! Being different does not necessarily mean you're being creative. I believe we are most creative when we are forced to work with constraints.

Let me explain: When we decide to write a story, or screenplay we've got to start somewhere. And more importantly, we gotta' go somewhere! Characters, themes, plot points, dialogue, settings, etc. I look at all of these elements like a painter would see an endless amount of paints, brushes, and canvasses. Overwhelming! As a writer you have the freedom to choose whatever elements you want. Unfortunately freedom does not always nurture creativity. Often times it kills it.

Now some painters jump right in. They don't sketch, or prepare, they just start making it happen. Some writers can do that too. That's great! But it doesn't mean it'll work for all of us. Personally, I need something to hang my thoughts on without getting lost. No matter what you use… a three act structure, the hero's journey or the six stage plot structure, it's important to not loose your way while you're being creative. Outlining a path actually gives you more freedom to focus on other elements in your story.

I recommend deciding where your story ends first. Then decide where you want it to begin. This allows you to put your efforts into an entertaining scene. Rather than stopping at each crossroad because you don't know where you're going.

I have no doubt that one could get hindered by rigidity. But please… give your story a beginning, middle and end!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thoughts on the Biz - Breaking In

Quite often people approach me with concepts, ideas and scripts. Of course each and every one of these individuals feel as though their idea is the next BIG thing. The funny thing is, they're submitting their ideas to someone who is still trying to break in! I'd like to take a moment and share my thoughts on how I think the feature film world works.

First of all, talents, skills and abilities are not door openers. These are traits that people are passionate about and producers in the industry can buy cheap! I know what you're thinking… "How can he say that?! Our skills are God given talents, how dare you belittle them!" I'm not describing my belief system, I'm just describing how I think the machine works.

"It's not WHAT you know, it's WHO you know." - So very true!

Many years ago, when I heard this, I thought "wow! How shallow is that?" Before we discount it, let's examine it. I don't believe the above statement is meant to convey that what you know isn't important. It just means that you need to be trusted by the right people to get through some doors. Think about it. If you had a leaky pipe in the basement, who would you hire to fix it first? A handyman that specializes in pluming that is recommended by someone in your life that lives by high-standards and appreciates quality? Or the plumber with the biggest ad in the Yellow Pages? Personally I've had much better results by listening to the people around me that are where I would like to be. When you take quality advice from trusted individuals, you're stacking the odds of success in your favor.

To become the trusted individual that people would recommend and vouch for, is not an easy task. It requires time and dedication. Most people don't seem interested in investing their time in that manner. It seems the common mentality is the lottery method. Just keep sending out creative material and eventually something will hit! I'm not saying that it can't work. It's just that the odds aren't in your favor when you go about it that way.

So the "WHO" is more important than the "WHAT". It's even backed by scripture…

Philippians 2:3-4
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Galatians 5:14
The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

Most importantly we need to ask ourselves why we do what we do. If you died today, would you be glad that you were spending time doing what you are doing? This post is a way for me to share with others and to think through (and refine) my thoughts and beliefs. If you have any challenges, disagreements or critiques, please post them. I love to engage in intelligent communication and learn from others.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Bit More History

Hello and thank you for visiting my blog! I'm going to write the rest of this post in third person... otherwise it’ll just sound arrogant.

Chad Kapper was born and raised in Massillon, OH. He barely made it through high school and never attended college...but his mom claims it was because he wasn't challenged and he gets bored easily. Really, Chad just wanted to get out... do BIG things. He actually tried to escape twice, once by joining the Marine Corps and again by moving to Los Angeles. Both were very formative experiences, but extremely poor escape attempts since he ended up back in the Massillon area.

While it always seemed like Northeast Ohio would be a dead end for this ambitious young man, he discovered that Massillon actually offered a few things that no other place could...such as a beautiful young woman named Julee who would become Chad's wife in '93. Massillon can also be credited as the place where Chad and Julee had their first and only son, Christian Stone Kapper, in 1998. Oh yea...and it was also where Chad started the now successful StoneKap Productions (wonder where the name came from). So Massillon turned out not to be that bad after all.

Having taught himself the tools of the visual arts trade, Chad used his experience, and notoriety as a leading 3D animator in Northeast Ohio, to build his company, which he founded in 1998. StoneKap Productions grew over the next 10 years, wowing the pants off of corporate clients. All the while, Chad continued to develop a passion that he'd always had for movies as he worked his way into the feature film world.

While Chad had managed most of his garnered accomplishments in the advertising field, he has lent a big hand in helping develop numerous feature length scripts. Having a strong comprehension for story, structure and character development, Chad always says that it's important to "start simple and build in layers. You need a strong foundation so you can achieve creative freedom without losing your way."

In 2007 Pure Flix Entertainment (Los Angeles) quickly gained interest in Chad's ability to work with child actors while achieving strong, believable performances. After his test drive they offered him a real feature film!

In January of 2009 Chad walked on the set of "Sarah's Choice" as a full fledged feature film director. Even though it was challenging, Chad says it was one of the most comfortable and fluid jobs he has ever had in his life. The compliments Chad received about the way he operated on set and how successful the performances were, fueled his passion for his craft.

Chad would describe his cinematic style as “polished realism with a dash of surreality.” He believes in high quality across the board. "A visual presentation has to look confident to be taken seriously. The best performances on earth will be lost if the audience is hung up on technical flaws." Chad says confidently.

Currently Chad is in development of multiple feature scripts and eager to see the results of his first feature release.

Chad enjoys traveling with his family, exploring his faith and creating emotionally-impactful, visual presentations. Oh… and Legos too. And coffee.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Hello all!
I realize many of you have no idea why John and I just went to Cambodia. Here is the story that lead up to the adventure...

July 7th, 2008 I was driving back to my office after a meeting. I was trying my best to talk and listen to God. I had been craving a closer relationship with Him and I felt very stagnate for quite a while. I just wanted Him to talk to me. I was craving the closeness I knew existed, yet I wasn't experiencing. Suddenly I had a very strong feeling come over me, and I felt as though I had to contact Ben Anderson, the Director of Things to Come Mission in Indiana. This was a very strong feeling that for some reason brought me to tears! Ben was my wife's uncle whom I had met only a couple of times. We've made donations to TCM but I hadn't spoken to Ben in years. I immediately found his number and called. Ben told me that the TCM board was just talking about me and my company StoneKap Productions. Ben explained that for them to keep up with changing times, they were discussing more contemporary methods of building support for their missionaries in the field. Specifically, TCM is gearing up to launch a new model of “Mini-Missions” for summer of 2009. Without hesitation, I offered whatever support I could. Looking back, I appreciate Ben's understanding of what I was going through. He didn't quickly accept, and ask for donations. He recommended that we both take it to prayer and try to better understand what should be done.

The next few months, aside from prayer, I had discussions with Ben, friends and relatives to try and define what ways to give. It was determined that the best approach would be to make a documentary showcasing the cause. Ben trusted me to make the decisions on how to best develop the video marketing materials. I spoke to John Pope (StoneKap's Cinematographer) about the possibility of going on a Mini-Mission with me to create the documentary. Although he didn't commit before praying and sleeping on it, he was pretty stoked about working on a project to serve God. Around September, we started to notice a decline in business volume and by January 2009 it was very noticeable. Being business minded, I tried to design ways of helping TCM while helping StoneKap. I went down many idea paths. What seemed to make the most logical sense was to create a documentary that promotes TCM, yet was marketable enough to get underwritten or sold for profit. This money would then be divided between TCM and StoneKap. The way I saw it was, TCM would have a documentary that promotes their cause, while creating additional cash flow that could be used to support their missionaries while StoneKap could make back the money invested to create the documentary. It's a win-win plan!

WRONG! It became very clear that God was giving us the opportunity to give back. And we needed to do it without reservation or contingency. As work got slower, and the finances got tighter, it made no logical sense to take away two key people in the company for two weeks, plus the financial contribution, plus the post production time, plus accept no profits or donations to compensate. Wow! That's hard to swallow. Nevertheless, I know it's what John and I have been asked to do. I'm sure it's an exercise of faith. After much prayer and discussions with loved ones, the parameters have been defined as such....

Chad Kapper, and John Pope are going on a two week mission trip with TCM to Cambodia from May 27th – June 9th, 2009. The goal is to expand our world and spiritual perspectives, while using our talents and skills to create a video documentary of the trip. This documentary will be used to educate, viewers and potential gift givers of TCM and their missionaries. Ultimately we're all doing this to spread the word of God and to serve Him.

John and I had an amazing time on the trip and we are very eager to share our experiences with others! We want our faith to be known. It's a huge part of who we are. Following God's word is always challenging no matter how much faith one has. Even though this letter is probably most therapeutic to me, I hope that it is inspirational to any who may be struggling with their faith.