Mr. Director and Madam Screenwriter Go to Washington

Madam Screenwriter at the Capitol

That’s a Doodle Knits scarf made by my sister Abigail that I’m wearing, by the way. It was quite the hit in National Harbor and Washington as we filmed interviews for Tea Party News Network at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference and an interview for an independent documentary film about the Benghazi debacle.

Filming Vandon Gene's interview with Dr. Milton Wolf, U.S. Senate candidate from Kansas.

Filming Vandon Gene’s interview with Dr. Milton Wolf, U.S. Senate candidate from Kansas.

Robert Stacy McCain, surprised to run into me at CPAC, noted that I came out of my “usual reclusive state” to join the fray and enjoyed introducing me to all the Twitter personalities in person. Eric Golub realized that his Hebrew marriage proposal complete with sheep and goats would be in vain because I still believe Jesus is the Messiah and furthermore, I already have “a fella” (yes, Eric is a clever comedian).

Photo bombed by Thomas Jefferson

Photo bombed by Thomas Jefferson!

We worked for Tea Party News Network – along with the lovely Southern Belle/Amazon Scottie Nell Hughes and talented-beyond-his-years journalist Vandon Gene. Joel Frewa was pretty cool shooting on-the-fly interviews hand-held, and sweet Jennifer Burke kept up good interviews.

Jessica Levai, Michael Golden (who plays Andrew Romans in Romans XIII), Scottie Nell Hughes, Mr. Director, Madam Screenwriter, Vandon Gene.

Michael Golden (who plays Andrew Romans in Romans XIII), Scottie Nell Hughes, Mr. Director, Madam Screenwriter, Vandon Gene.

Washington, D.C. Crew at Krispy Kreme

Breakfast in Atlanta with the crew before the Washington, D.C. trip! Michael Golden (who plays Andrew Romans in Romans XIII), Madam Screenwriter, Mr. Director, and Mikey Golden.

Oh, and a little something inspired a column…

Julia Tourianski interviewing our George Washington reenacting friend James Manship about anarchy.

Julia Tourianski interviewing our George Washington reenactor friend James Manship about anarchy.

CPAC 2014: Why anarchy fails

Madam Screenwriter & White House

Especially enjoyable was our visit to the Perdie family residence and restaurant in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.

Looking Glass sign

Definitely check out Through the Looking Glass if you head that way. The menu is delectable and Dorie and Steve are wonderful people!

Striking, Sound, Speed, And…Action!

That’s what we’ve heard a lot of around here as of late. It is an incredible moment as a writer to see the characters one has dreamed up and created come to life. There they are!

Virtus Coolidge (Kaiser Johnson) and Sincerity Newton (Stacey Bradshaw)

Virtus Coolidge (Kaiser Johnson) and Sincerity Newton (Stacey Bradshaw)

Part of the cast and crew: Samuel Thrasher, Nate Jacobson, Leona Worcester, Kaiser Johnson, Madam Screenwriter/Assistant Director Amanda Read, Ted M.W. Rich, Bryant Grizzell, and Mr. Director Matthew Perdie.

Part of the cast and crew: Samuel Thrasher, Nate Jacobson, Leona Worcester, Kaiser Johnson, Madam Screenwriter/Assistant Director Amanda Read, Ted M.W. Rich, Bryant Grizzell, and Mr. Director Matthew Perdie.

View more photographs on our Facebook page, and check out the cast and crew run down on our IMDb page. I am overwhelmed by the talent and gems of this production that I can’t wait to share. I’ll have to release these things over time in bite-sized increments to keep from freezing up your computer screens!

Stacey, Nate, Matthew, Amanda

Stacey Bradshaw, Nate Jacobson, Matthew Perdie and Amanda Read. Stacey plays the role of Sincerity Newton in Romans XIII, and Nate plays the role of Jason Fillmore. Stacey is also acting in co-star Nate Jacobson’s upcoming film, Wanted.

Matthew and I have been dubbed on set “Mr. Director” and “Madam Assistant Director” (although I’m more often called Madam Screenwriter). Like my sister Rachel (our “Madam Composer”) observed, everybody involved in a production like this becomes part of a big family – in our case, one that is an exciting blend of old and new friends and talent of varying experience. This project has been absolutely, hilariously, bittersweetly, and Providentially glorious. Despite being attacked with every measure of difficulty (including bad weather and illness among cast and crew), we are prevailing by the grace of God. Some things have worked out more beautifully than I could have planned.

Matthew and I will also be working a film gig at CPAC early next month.

As far as column writing is concerned, I was recently invited to become a contributor to Brenner Brief News. Follow my writing there, and you’ll likely find a lot about this (yet another productive filming project thanks to my skillful Mr. Director)…

Film School 101

About that whole interested-in-filmmaking talk I’ve been rambling on for the past half a decade…Well, it’s finally being realized. Matthew Perdie moved to Alabama, and has temporarily taken up residence in the Fair Hills Farm Guest House as a live-in tutor in filmmaking for the Read family. Having our minds crammed with months and years worth of film school in a few weeks hasn’t been the smoothest and most peaceful process. But we’re learning a lot, and the prospects of future productions are exciting!

The lessons have involved film analysis…

More "Notorious".

Analyzing Hitchcock’s “Notorious” has been thrilling and amusing.

Rachel filmed a clip of the scene in which Devlin "finds out Alicia is assigned a spy job which requires her getting lovey dove with another man."

DEVLIN’S “CONSTERNATION”: Rachel filmed a clip of the scene in which Devlin “finds out Alicia is assigned a spy job which requires her getting lovey dove with another man.”

More Hitchcock...this time, "Rear Window".

More Hitchcock…this time, “Rear Window”.

Now for some good ol' historical drama...John Adams (2008).

Now for some good ol’ historical drama…John Adams (2008).

…as well as producing our own short films.

Amanda's Epic Fail

My first attempt at actress/director. You can see the result in my face: This just bombed.

Oh, the complexities of editing a movie!

Oh, the complexities of editing a movie!

THE LIST Screen Test (Lesson 5, 360p)

Amanda Read and Matthew Perdie experiment with a scene from one of their project scripts. The bonus blooper reel demonstrates improvised ways of staging the same scene, which is actually written to take place at a café bar. “Fred and Ginger’s” was a café name invented by Rachel Read while playing around on the chalk board during staging.

Playing Chess (Lesson 2, 360p)


How is Ben to keep his big sister Beth from beating him in chess? Little sister Becca comes in handy…This short film was made on day three of our film school with Matthew Perdie. Our roles were assigned to us at random upon drawing our names out of a basket. We added an amusing blooper at the end, which gives a glimpse of the challenge behind directing small children (and having a young boy hold the boom mic for so long).

Closet Doors (Lesson 1, 360p)


A little boy attempts to sneak past his brother to get a board game out of the closet on a stormy day when he gets more than he bargained for. (This is the result of our first film lesson with Matthew Perdie. He gave us the assignment of shooting a short film in five hours with no advice or help with equipment we had never learned how to use before. Amanda had a more elaborate, lighthearted plot idea, but when we started running out of time, the plot took a dark turn – no pun intended, but we misjudged the lighting too on that stormy day.)

Look at that! The green screen at Longleaf Studios!

Look at that! The green screen at Longleaf Studios!

We’ve also done a little location scouting for the web series. Until next time…

Get ready for the adventure!

Get ready for the adventure!

 

Acton University 2013 in a Michigan Summer

Fiyinfoluwa Elegbede, Amanda Achtman, Amanda Read, and Stephen Herreid form the letters to spell "ACTON".

Fiyinfoluwa Elegbede, Amanda Achtman, Amanda Read, and Stephen Herreid form the letters to spell “ACTON”.

Just over a month ago (already?!) I attended this year’s edition of Acton University. The evening before flying out of Birmingham, Grandmomma and I attended a Fixed Point Foundation event at the Red Cat on “Making Sense of Old Testament Violence,” which was an excellent study of history and ethics by Larry Taunton.

Amanda and Grandmomma

The next day, I got some screenwriting done a few thousand feet in the air, thanks to an Celtx app for iPhone (on parchment setting for the vintage typewriter feel, of course)…

Screenwriting

At the airport in Detroit, I encountered Matthew Raketti, who was also on his way to Acton. While reading some Röpke on board the plane…

Plane Reading

A gentleman from Dallas sitting next to me said, “You wouldn’t happen to be going to Acton University, would you? …I figured someone flying to Grand Rapids and reading that kind of book must be going to Acton.” He was on his way there too!

Gerald R. Ford International Airport

At the Gerald Ford International Airport (I’m telling you, some man standing there eating an apple looked exactly like President Ford…) I met up with Matthew Raketti and Geoman George. We chatted about intellectual things over coffee while waiting on the Acton shuttle to arrive. I got so caught up in talking about Luke, Thucydides, and the like that I almost left behind my luggage. “If I’m this bad at the airport, how am I going to get through Acton University?” I asked aloud. For a moment I couldn’t find my (reluctantly acquired) iPhone, and then realized that I’d simply placed it in my book bag instead of my purse. “It wasn’t lost,” I told Matthew Raketti, “I only misplaced it.” “It’s a good thing you noted the distinction between misplaced and lost. It’s one of the first things they teach us in property law,” he replied. Such is the way of Acton scholars…mundane conversation becomes enlightening!

Amanda Read, Ian O'Hagan, Taylor Chartier, Sarah Beth Vosburg, Amanda Achtman, and Matthew Raketti.

Amanda Read, Ian O’Hagan, Taylor Chartier, Sarah Beth Vosburg, Amanda Achtman, and Matthew Raketti.

Upon arriving at the Holiday Inn, I met up with Ian O’Hagan, with whom I had a great conversation on the way to course registration and dinner at the DeVos Place. Then I finally reunited with the bright and lovely Amanda Achtman (who got to be my Acton roommate!).

Amanda Achtman in Conservative Blue and Amanda Read in Republican Red, coincidentally enough.

Roommates! Amanda Achtman in Conservative Blue and Amanda Read in Republican Red, coincidentally enough.

Ray Nothstine ran into me at around the same time. About half of the wit and pithiness in my Twitter feed consists of sharing things he has written and quoted, if you haven’t noticed (“So you’re the infamous Twitter girl,” remarked David Lohmeyer, who was doing some photographing at ActonU).

Keegan McCorry drove some of us students to class in a golf cart occasionally. When he interviewed me one evening about the event and asked what books I might recommend, I awkwardly forgot the title of a particular book momentarily as I sipped on a beer (hehe). The book was Lyle W. Dorsett’s And God Came In: The Extraordinary Story of Joy Davidman, Her Life and Marriage to C.S. Lewis if you’re curious (see my blog sidebar).

Every time that I’m asked to name my highlight of the event, I can’t narrow it down to one specific thing. It occurred to me that this is because the beauty of Acton University is the way in which all the disciplines and subjects covered are interwoven into a whole rather than segregated like conventional academics. Eighty-five countries were represented, and by the time I moved from room to room I had met so many people from so many different places and discussed so many deep subjects that upon meeting up with good friends, it was easy to forget a lot of what I had planned to talk about before the trip!

I also met the fascinating Reverend Elijah Hill, who had wonderful discussions with me and Amanda A. about the Bible and government (I’m sure you will hear from me about his new book in due time).

Stephen Herreid and I talked filmmaking, which was refreshing. I just know the connections I made at ActonU will be valuable!

Fiyinfoluwa Elegbede of Nigeria was patient with us having difficulty remembering how to pronounce his long name at first, saying that since Fiyinfoluwa means “Praise God,” we could just call him “Praise” for short (love it!).

I could write more, but this post is about to get long enough already. Here is a sampling of deep and entertaining things I was told at Acton University (sometimes I took notes…):

“Natural Law makes it evident that some things are intrinsically evil. The state is bound to the same moral law as individuals.” (Michael Matheson Miller lecture)

“Have you been to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner? Don’t compromise your ethics to go. It’s not worth it.” (Wise words from Gordon Riddle Pennington)

“Our authoritative structures are dominated by people who do not believe in God.” (Economist Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse’s observation)

“Just tell human stories, and it will connect. People will get it.” (Marina Nemat’s advice to me after she signed my books)

“You have the prettiest dresses at Acton University.” (Sarah Beth Vosburg, who has lovely dresses herself!)

“In the West, when God is removed, all we are left with is bureaucracy.” (G. Weigel)

“If Acton University had a style contest, you would win it.”

“Tolkien wrote most of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ before World War II, but he did in his letters compare Stalin to Sauron.” (Dr. Jonathan Witt lecture)

“Fantasy defamiliarizes topics that have become so familiar we no longer see them.” (Dr. Jonathan Witt lecture)

“The family is a pre-political unit, the fundamental unit of society.” (Michael Matheson Miller lecture)

“It is a totalitarian act to redefine the family.” (Michael Matheson Miller lecture)

“Modern sexual freedom defines liberty as being unencumbered by human relationships.” (Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse lecture)

“Love can’t be divorced from truth, and truth can’t be divorced from reality.” (Dr. Charles Self lecture)

“Naturalism, not science, excludes all but what we can see and observe.” (Alvin Plantinga)

“All human activity is moral, so to make things morally neutral is to dehumanize.” (Dr. Greg Forster lecture)

“I just wanted to tell you how much I have admired your style.” (Bruce Walker was so kind as to say that, and Mrs. Kirk compliment my dress too. Do you think it’s that great? Well, the ModCloth ad is on my sidebar. :) )

“Spiritual gifts are to model the supernatural for those who only know the natural. Good works are not enough.” (Rev. Svetlana Papazov)

“Your eyes are both blue and brown. They’re amazing!”

“Religious liberty says civil order does not have the answer to all truths.” (Dr. Greg Forster lecture)

“If the family doesn’t do what only the family can do, we cannot have a free society.” (Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse lecture)

“Family = system of voluntary cooperation bound by love.” (Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse lecture)

“Hobbes created the state of nature narrative as an alternative to Genesis.” (Michael Matheson Miller lecture)

“The tyrant does not care if you love him or not, as long as you do not love one another.” – Alexis De Tocqueville (Michael Matheson Miller lecture)

“Marx has rigorous logical arguments, but horrible assumptions.” (Dr. Ross Emmett lecture)

“Money is not a neutral thing.” (Austrian Economics, Dr. Ross Emmett lecture)

“False gods = separation of morality and spirituality” (Dr. Charles Self lecture)

“What is prominent in the market reflects the soul.” (Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse lecture)

“We’re in a culture that hates and loves itself so much.” (Dr. Charles Self)

“When there is no such thing as resolution, everything is a zero sum game.” (John Stonestreet lecture)

“Political economy is more than mathematics – remember that Adam Smith was a moral philosopher, and is called a founder of modern economics.” (Dr. Jonathan Witt lecture)

“Our laws are restless, our sexuality is restless, until they find rest in something that holds them together.” (John Stonestreet lecture)

“There is a propensity toward dhimmitude around the globe.” (Dr. Charles Self lecture)

“The Church is called to prophetically speak to the cultures where it lives.” (Rev. Svetlana Papazov)

“You have made us for Yourself, oh God, and our hearts are restless, until they find their rest in You.” – St. Augustine (John Stonestreet lecture)

A surprise visit from Mrs. Annette Kirk and her granddaughter Isabel! Bruce Walker joined us for the photo.

A surprise visit from Mrs. Annette Kirk and her granddaughter Isabel! Bruce Walker joined us for the photo.

View more photographs from Acton here.

The adventure didn’t end there for me, thanks to Jim and Mary Nothstine’s hospitality.

The cozy room in which I lodged in the Nothstines' loft.

The cozy room in which I lodged in the Nothstines’ loft.

Kody watches while Ray and I go tubing. The water on Big Twin Lake was so sparkling clear.

Kody watches while Ray and I go tubing. The water on Big Twin Lake was so sparkling clear.

Jim teaches me how to shoot a gun (I'm way behind, I know).

Jim teaches me how to shoot a gun (I’m way behind, I know).

Mackinac carriage horses!

Mackinac carriage horses!

Mary, her sister Jeanne, and I rode in the very back of this carriage!

Mary, her sister Jeanne, and I rode in the very back of this carriage!

Being lighthearted on Mackninac Island.

Being lighthearted on Mackninac Island.

Where have I been since then? Working on planning a magazine with these ladies…

Lindy Abbott, Chris Read, Rachel Read, and Amanda Read planning Thinking Woman Magazine at Rick's Crossroads Grille.

Lindy Abbott, Chris Read, Rachel Read, and Amanda Read planning Thinking Woman Magazine at Rick’s Crossroads Grille.

…and going through film school, thanks to the patience and generosity of Matthew Perdie. You shall see!

A New Season

Nearly to my surprise, the time has finally arrived. I’m now, as I lightheartedly define it, a Magna Cum Laude History Bachelorette of Science.

Diploma 1

 “Troy University – This certifies that The Board of Trustees of Troy University upon Recommendation of the Faculty Has Conferred on Amanda Christine Read the degree of Bachelor of Science – History – Magna Cum Laude – with all Rights, Privileges and Honors thereunto appertaining. In Witness Whereof the seal of the University and the signatures of its duly authorized officers are hereto affixed. Granted this month of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen. – Robert Bentley, Governor of Alabama and President of the Board – Jack Hawkins, Jr., PhD., Chancellor of Troy University.” (Photography by Abigail Read)

Diploma 2

Diploma 3

What are my plans now, you ask? Well, essentially, I want to do what I’ve been doing – only do it with more devotion and excellence. Column writing and screenwriting will take up most of my time, to be joyfully accompanied by art and farming. Our ex-Hollywood friends are building a house on our street, and Matthew Perdie is moving to Alabama, so this filmmaking business is about to get intense.

Meanwhile, it’s coming up on the third year anniversary of my column at the Communities at The Washington Times, “Not Your Average Read,” which is now housed in the Global section to allow for topical expansion…

Not Your Average Read

…ModCloth’s vintage dresses are a dream…

Mary (birthday girl), Amanda (recent graduate) , and Grandmomma go out.

Mary (birthday girl), Amanda (recent graduate) , and Grandmomma go out.

…Rachel, Dad, and I enjoyed Gary Sinise’s spectacular Lt. Dan Band benefit concert for Sgt. Ben Tomlinson…

Amanda & Rachel at Lt. Dan Band 2

Amanda & Rachel at Lt. Dan Band

…The fascinating life of Sir Isaac Newton provided a resounding finish to my senior seminar in history. Dean Karayanis made this meme in honor of my historical crush…

Hey Girl It's Isaac Newton

 …My oral presentation was delightfully interrupted by three-year-old Rebecca about four minutes in (the video quality is terrible because of the college software we were required to use)…

…Oh, and on June 18th, I’ll go to Michigan for a week to attend Acton University and visit with friends. It shall be splendid!

Behind the Scenes, Spring Break Style

Matthew Perdie & Amanda Read at work

On March 9th, my Term III 2013 at Troy ended and Matthew Perdie arrived for a brainstorming visit. After helping us set up our new green screen and lights…

Abigail masters the Director's Viewfinder.

Abigail masters the Director’s Viewfinder.

…Matthew and I got to work planning our first web series…

Such a creative day at Fair Hills Farm!

We’re not telling much about the plot yet, but you can catch a few hints here and there in this video…

After that, Matthew headed off to CPAC while I did some writing for ViralRead, worked on screenwriting, helped clear land by hand, and enjoyed cooking new recipes.

Clearing land the old fashioned way…

Also, here’s a snapshot of my sister Rachel and me dressed up for a very insightful Ratio Christi JSU event – “Sincerely: An Honest Response to Honest Questions.” I will reference it in future posts, I’m sure!

Amanda & Rachel go out

I’m now down to my final term and final class in college, and I have lots to write about!

The Power of Narrative

Our languishing culture is made up of individuals, not a collective mass audience. Most of them are blasé, complacent individuals. To simply confront them with holier-than-thou accusations or rah-rah chants is fruitless. Moral outrage doesn’t make sense to them anymore, and misplaced skepticism is profuse. How do you cure a patient who refuses to believe they are ill?

This is an age-old problem with an age-old solution. Do not merely inform them. Show them.

Imagine the thoughts that must have gone through the prophet’s mind as he walked to the residence of the King of Israel. Nathan was approaching David, the legendary musician and warrior who was – as God Himself said – a man after God’s own heart.

But David had just committed adultery with Bathsheba, and after learning she was pregnant by him he deliberately had her husband put on the front line of the fiercest battle so that he would be killed. After Bathsheba mourned her husband’s death, David took her as his wife. David had disgraced himself in front of YAHWEH, but he had grown so full of himself that he hadn’t even realized it.

How did the prophet break the news to the complacent king? With a parable.

Despite its subtlety, the story was powerful enough that David empathized with the story’s protagonist who was done wrong. He was so outraged by its heartless antagonist, in fact, that he said, “As the LORD lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die” (II Samuel 12:5).

Then Nathan exclaimed, “YOU are the man!”

The realization brought David to his knees. He felt conviction because he had witnessed his own actions analogized in a story he had never heard before – a story from which he was otherwise personally detached. He was thus caught vulnerable, with no witty excuse prepared in order to plead his innocence. David was truly guilty.

The American people need to be told stories about themselves that they haven’t heard before – stories that suddenly reveal that the sort of character we despised is what we ourselves have become.

That’s why Matthew Perdie and I (likely to be joined by my siblings and some friends) are planning a venture into narrative film. He’s doing all the groundwork in New York City while I’m doing the screenwriting out here in Ohatchee, Alabama. I experimented with screenwriting a few years ago, and as I have just three classes left before graduating from college, I look forward to trying my hand at it again. Historical drama and epic are my passion, but modern themes will likely be explored first.

Our goal will be to use narrative film to awaken people’s consciences to seek the truth.

2012 Finale

Over New Year’s, Matthew Perdie, the Abbotts, Rachel’s boyfriend Adamson Easterly, and David Abbott‘s girlfriend Jessica Urffer visited Fair Hills Farm. The visit was a rousing success, complete with movies, fireworks, s’mores, a game of Catch Phrase, and Matthew’s film classes (a fascinating scene-by-scene analysis of National Treasure in the school room). It’s so fitting that the Abbotts were here, considering our creative tradition.

Here’s a glimpse of the festivities (I’ll add more photos and maybe some videos as they come about):

Rachel snapped this photo of Matthew, Ms. Lindy, and me hanging out in the schoolroom.

Playing "Catch Phrase" in the sunroom.

The menfolk setting up the bonfire.

Little David fires the Roman Candle while Adam and Andrew prepare fireworks and Matthew films (see camera lens on the right edge of the photo. I held the film light to illuminate these shots).

Andrew sets up a firework while Rex prepares to attack it (he loved snarling at those things!).

What a beauty!

Adamson and David play chess on the chessboard Rachel gave Adamson for Christmas, while Andrew plays "Risk" on his mother's pink iPad.

Abigail experimented with one of Matthew's camera lenses for this shot of Joseph and me.

Matthew held his film light while Adam and David reenacted some shadowy creepers that Rachel and Jessica thought they saw on the trail.

These lovely ladies (mothers, Mrs. Lindy Abbott and Mrs. Chris Read) are working on publishing a magazine with me. To give you a hint . . . it's a magazine for thinking women!

A New Conservative Activist Weapon

Finally, an organization for conservatives that actually utilizes our limited-government, individualist philosophy in its own design. Behold my latest project with Matthew Perdie:

IndiRes.com

@IndiResolve on Twitter

To empower individual efforts for the purpose of abolishing statism by means of connecting patriots who share the same resolve.

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