|Posted by Tony Lankford on October 28, 2013 at 1:55 PM||comments (7)|
Revelation Blue – With Director/Producer Tony Lankford
Tony Lankford is director and an executive producer of REVELATION BLUE. The tv series follows ex-preacher Devon Blue now Philadelphia homicide detective.
How did you get the idea for Revelation Blue?
One day I was sitting in front of my computer thinking about my next film project after completing ONYX, which was the story of a rogue police detective searching for his soul salvation. I wanted to bring more to the forefront the Word of God and present a stronger spiritual presence to the next film.
Being that Revelation is my favorite scripture in the Holy Bible, and obviously being a fan of TV police and detective shows, thus was born REVELATION BLUE, the journey of ex-pastor Devon Blue who struggles with the choice of living by man’s laws or living by God’s law.
Drawing from many scriptures in the Holy Bible, REVELATION BLUE reflects the Word of God and the spiritual inspiration it provides for us and the struggles many of us have accepting and understanding it. Having also affection for police crime dramas on TV, I thought what better way to present the Word of God in the exciting genre of a police detective TV show/film. Keeping the spiritual aspect intact, REVELATION BLUE allows the Message to be clear along with an entertaining storyline.
I called my wife Nanette at her office and told her that I had come up with a concept called REVELATION BLUE, and she totally ‘got it’ and she became my executive producer. We worked together to develop the details, plotlines, stories, scripts, and characters that received accolades nationally and internationally and an extraordinary concept that represents God in a positive way.
When did you begin work on it?
The winter of 2011. With the first installment of REVELATION BLUE, I sought to enlist a writer to develop the pilot story based on my character design, originally setting out to make it a movie length feature. But later on I thought to have it be a TV series or web series that called for the original feature length version to be broken up into half hour segments. After obtaining the script from a very talented gentleman who answered an ad on our local film office website, I then proceeded to add my own feelings and thoughts to the work.
I felt as though if this was going to reflect the characters I created then I must interject my feelings as well. So after doing that, I shared the corrections with the writer and my wife and we all came to amiable agreement on the characters and story developments.
How did you select your cast and crew?
Next came finding a DP and camera person to justly do the job of shooting and guiding me thru the way of creating a look based on my vision of what REVELATION BLUE should be. We had many meetings and discussions on the feel and mood of this film and achieved a spectacular looking and strong spiritually motivated film. I choose two DP’s, Jeffrey Kubach for part one and Andre Johnson for part two, in addition to Hakim Woods for sound/boom operator. Many filmmakers will attest to the fact that a story without meaning is meaningless. I agree with that. I wanted REVELATION BLUE not only to look great, but share a word to as many people as it could possibly reach without being pigeonholed into being a ‘Christian Film’. all at the same time keeping the spiritual aspect intact. REVELATION BLUE allows the Message to be clear along with an entertaining storyline. I studied many movies and TV shows for style and picked the ones that I liked and developed a style of my own. I love close-ups, long lenses, sunflares, glares, and tracking shots. I don’t care too much for over the shoulder shots or that annoying circling camera move when there is more than one person talking in a circle. Makes me dizzy. But my wife likes it. I guess I make her dizzy!
So, shooting REVELATION BLUE the first time took forever. It took us almost a year to film and another 6 months to edit and another year to get our distribution deal. We only worked on Saturday mornings in respect for the cast and crew working regular jobs during the week. Not bad really if you think about it, but I was getting impatient and my wife would always say ‘be patient’. And I listened.
The budget rounded out to a mere $5,000.00 for props, craft services on shoots, transportation costs, stock music cameraman fee, some set rentals and etc.
After completing the pilot, we were very well received in many film festivals both nationally and internationally.
Then It was time to take a rest…because it is a toll to make an independent film/TV show with your own pocket money…getting up 6am on a Saturday morning to go to the set, work with strangers, buy the doughnuts, type the scripts, be the boss, be the grip, and all the other hats you have to wear…BUT NOT FOR LONG!
A year later I said to my wife, “let’s do it again!” She looked at me and sort of shrugged a bit and wanted to think about it. I wasn’t going to do it unless she wanted to do it with me. It took her a few weeks to think on it and she came around and said yes! This time, however, the output cost factor was considerably lower because all the props and costumes were already purchased and were saved from the last time we shot! So all we had to do was re-cast and develop scripts.
We approached REVELATION BLUE: THE LIVING WATERS in a manner whereas a feature would be written and shot in its entirety and later broken up into four separate half hour episodes allowing versatility in marketing and distribution. The first time with REVELATION BLUE around we used a Canon 5D and an Apple editing system. Simple and clean. On the Mac we used imovie editing because we only used simple cuts and no fancy transitions. The Canon is a clean camera that achieved a film quality that I was looking for. We had a bit of audio problems at first but managed to clean up SOME audio in post….a lesson I will always remember with audio…the cleaner it is in the beginning, the cleaner it will be at the end.
For REVELATION BLUE: THE LIVING WATERS we shot with a Canon 60D and used the same Apple imovie editing system. Simple and clean once again.
What has been the greatest challenge you’ve faced with the project?
Many, many times our production was blessed with beautiful weather that allowed us to shoot exterior scenes that in inclement weather would have caused us to shut down and upset our shooting schedule. God made it so that we had lovely summer days for shooting and we thanked Him for that!
Our production ran so smoothly with cast and crew that it was only God’s favor that allowed it to be. God’s grace allowed us to find sets to shoot on for no charge, kindhearted people that allowed us to enter their establishments to shoot at no charge and no time limit, free parking facilitated by The Philadelphia Police Department and The Greater Philadelphia Film Office, finding actors that believed in REVELATION BLUE and God’s Word and were truly talented AND dedicated, the ability to adjust and adapt to the shooting environment on set without seeing the set prior to shooting! God gave us this talent and ability to do this! God has given us favor to work together in harmony and enjoyment using creativity and experience to keep the workflow flowing! It was a fun project to work on!
What has been the response to Revelation Blue?
The response has been very, very positive in a way that it has influenced many lives, including those in our cast and crew.
Tell us about some of your awards the project has received.
“Winner 2nd Place Best Narrative Film” – Holywood International Christian Film Festival, 2012 Brooklyn, NY
“Diploma of Excellence” – DetectiveFest International Film Festival, Detective Films and TV Programs, 2012 Moscow Russia,
“Official Selection” – Next TV Pilot Competition, Semi-Finalist 2012
“Winner – Silver Award Best Narrative” – PhilaFilm Philadelphia International Film Festival 2012
What are your future plans for Revelation Blue?
We have been picked up nationally by a distribution company that is in the works of distributing REVELATION BLUE in multi-platforms that include over the air broadcasting, Internet and Roku Cable digital boxes. We are currently in production for future shows and in pre-production for the next episode!
Do this for God, not yourself. Do it for Him and things will work! A lot of times we as filmmakers will say to ourselves, ‘I’m going to make a great film’ or ‘I’m going to win a lot of awards’ or ‘I’m going to make a lot of money’. These are selfish reasons…Selfishness is wrong.
Psalm 37: 4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you your hearts desire”. Stay focused on that! Stay true to your message and vision. Keep the respect for the scriptures. Pray about everything – crew, script, camera, film, everything. Be strong, confident, clear, thankful, professional and punctual. Do not let ego into your production, always be open to suggestions, this is a collaboration. Listen to God and be current as far as presentation and technical aspects are concerned, you’re representing God! Finally, not everyone is going to ‘get’ what you’re doing, especially the secular world. Your mission is to stand your ground and spread the Word in a medium you love and a medium that can reach a lot of people who need to hear the Word.
Nanette Lankford, together with her husband Tony, produce Revelation Blue, a Philadelphia-based tv series about a preacher turned homicide detective.
Did you have any idea when you married Tony that you would be making movies together?
No, I didn’t but it has truly been a blessing to have taken the journey. Tony has introduced me to a whole new world where filmmaking is concerned. I have gained a greater understanding for television and filmmaking that has taken me to an entirely different level.
What was your first response when he told you about his idea for Revelation Blue?
I thought it was a great idea. It’s the best way to convey to people, even though they may be faced with problems or internal struggles, there is a loving God who loves and cares about what they are going through.. But most importantly if they would learn to depend on Him, He would make a way out of no way.
What responsibilities do you have with the filmmaking?
I make a lot of major decisions to ensure everything runs smoothly and in a timely matter. I also make sure that Tony has the best person for the part and the right materials for each scene. I encourage the cast and crew so they will do a great job with their gift that God has blessed them with, and I sit down side by side with Tony and help him come up with thoughts, ideas and suggestions for each scene.
What aspect of filmmaking do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy every aspect of it. For it is one of the best ways to teach people not just about a loving God, but it’s the most creative way to display to people what you feel in your soul.
What is the greatest challenge of working together as a husband/wife team?
I don’t consider it to be a challenge but a blessing as a wife – a convent partner, having the opportunity to work side by side with my husband which is the greatest reward ever, as we honor God by building his kingdom through filmmaking.
What are you most proud of about Revelation Blue?
I am proud about everything! A lot of labor and love has gone into this film so after people have viewed Revelation Blue, they can see they’re not alone. There are people who may have or maybe currently experiencing the same thing others are going through. Revelation Blue can help them see God has not forgotten about them and he is there through it all to teach them there is a better way to get through it by his mercy and his loving grace.
What are your filmmaking plans for the future?
Whatever God lays on my heart I will convey it in detail to Tony, and we will pray in the Holy Spirit and allow it to lead and direct us …and I will continue to spread God’s word through filmmaking.
As an ambassador for the Lord, I believe by the power of the Holy Spirit… our job is to continue to build God’s Kingdom.
Psalm Chapter 34:1 says: I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. Amen.
Composer Ben Beiny Interview
Ben Beiny is a composer who lives and works in London, writing music for film and documentary. At age 4 he took his first violin lesson, before going on to study piano, percussion and guitar. He even admits to the odd bit of choir-boy singing.
Now 24, and influenced by modern composers like Cliff Martinez and Craig Armstrong, he produces an atmospheric mix of instrumentals, making use of subtle rhythms and the delicate vocals of his collaborators.
Before The City Wakes’ EP is his first release with Artificial Bliss:
So Ben tell us a little about the man behind the artist?
Hahaha! No one particularly interesting. I was born and raised in London. I have a degree in physics believe it or not. When people ask me what I like doing, I never know quite how to answer… I like making music, writing music to films, writing films, making obscure sounds which have a musical quality…these are the things I spend most of my time doing.
Was there musical influences growing up that have helped you on your journey as a musician?
Many…classical music and instruments when I was a little kid, a bit of cheesy pop after that, then when I was 15 I discovered DJ Shadow. After that, labels like Ninja Tune, Tru Thoughts etc – I went through their entire catalogues. And film composers too: Cliff Martinez, Craig Armstrong, Hans Zimmer, Mark Isham, Gustavo Santaolalla. I have to mention my favourite track at the moment: ‘Escent’ by Maitreya…it’s on the mix I did for Fluid.
When did you actually start creating music Ben and can you remember when you started performing?
With a computer…at 17. With instruments…I guess 11 or 12.
I was about 6 years old when I played the violin in a school concert. I dropped my bow in the first minute. Other than that it was pretty good. The first proper gig was when I was 17. At that time I was obsessed with the drums. Before playing I laid out pots and pans across music stands between the drum kit and in a breakdown in our track went off on a 45s solo: a mixture of drumming and kitchen mayhem. I think they enjoyed it.
What equipment do you use when playing live?
Nowadays I don’t play live much…I usually used piano / guitar / laptop. Over the last few years I DJ’d a lot instead, playing chillout and trip hop. I used a pair of Technics SLDZ1200 CD turntables and a pair of Technics SL1210s for vinyls, set up with a Pioneer scratch mixer. The CD turntables were impressive – they felt pretty close to vinyl. I didn’t buy all this DJ equipment though, just borrowed it from my uni. It would’ve cost about £3000 otherwise.
Describe how you feel when you play live to an audience..
There’s only one time I’ve had the feeling of being ‘in the moment’, and that was a while ago. There’s a mixture of feelings: nervousness of cocking up, excitement at performing, enjoyment of playing together in a group, the pleasure of creating something unexpected and one-off.
Musical bio from 1st production up until most recent?
I’ve released one EP to date – ‘Before The City Wakes’. There’s another one in the pipeline with Somnia Records later this year.
I’ve written for quite a few short films here in the UK and also in the US.
I’m currently writing for a feature film in the US (see below) and a documentary in London.
I’ve also produced music for a few commercials.
What kind of studio equipment do you use at the moment?
Hardware: Edirol UA-5, Yamaha Clavinova CLP-170, flamenco, classical, electric guitars, laptop, Rode NT2000, an M-Audio Microtrack II with a Sony ECMms957 for wild tracks, and a Numark TT200 turntable with a Stanton scratch mixer.
Software: Ableton Live, NI Reaktor, Sonar, Sibelius and Reason with every refill known to mankind, I think.
Did it take a long time to build up your studio kit?
About 6 years. The Edirol UA-5 was one of the most expensive bits at the beginning, and also the biggest pain in the neck to get working. Maybe it’s because I’m not using a Mac.
Fav piece of hardware?
The Yamaha – it actually sounds and plays like a piano.
Do you have a process that you like to stick to when working on new material in the studio/djing?
It’s not so much a process I like to stick to as a process that sticks to me. I often tinker around on the piano or guitar and put something into the laptop. Then it usually ends up in Live being twisted out of recognition alongside elements from Reaktor and Reason…at the end I sometimes go back to real instruments and live playing. I don’t have a grand plan when I’m starting new material – it’s done on inspiration without much initial thought, then refined and arranged later. Every track is something like another experiment for me.
How does visual/visionary art fit in to what you do and why?
Visuals are another form of expression I think, and they can complement or be complemented by music. A film without music can be brilliant, and music without film also… But when the two are combined you can make something which has more impact and more depth than the sum of its parts.
What genre does your music fit into?
Hopefully I’ll be able to let Amazon decide that
Plans for the future/Upcoming releases/gigs/events???
I’m working on an album for Somnia Records, which I hope I’ll have ready by late this year…it’ll be a mixture of ambient / downtempo and ‘technical+glitch’ chillout…whatever that may be!
I’m also writing the music for a movie in the US called Sunday Rain, which has just started filming…so should be out sometime next year I guess. It’s a pensive drama about the relationship between a young couple and the struggle of the woman to reveal her private fears.
Another project I’m working on is the music for a documentary on prostitution in the Far East, expected to come out in the UK sometime later this year.
Why is music important to you……………
It’s not that it is important to me like politics, poverty or corruption – a grand issue. It’s something that I just do. Like taking a piss or eating a meal or waking up in the morning. It’s more a compulsion or an obsession than a choice. Perhaps it is my best way of expressing myself. Maybe it lets me escape the everyday.
What words can you give to new artists wanting to make music…….
If at first you don’t succeed…don’t worry, no one does!
|Posted by Tony Lankford on April 20, 2011 at 7:10 PM||comments (1)|
I'm Tony Lankford director of Revelation Blue.
Please continue to check our site for behind the scenes of our latest production for DOWNTOWN TELEVISION NETWORK, Revelation Blue!
|Posted by Tony Lankford on April 18, 2011 at 11:10 PM||comments (0)|
By Brett S. Harrison
“Revelation Blue”, a one hour cop show pilot directed by Tony Lankford, begins with a dead homeless guy in an alley. It’s not the first cop show to do show and it won’t be the last. But, “Revelation Blue” is not your average cop show.
Detective Devon Blue (Nicholas Torrens) is a former minister now on the Philadelphia Homicide squad. Blue discovers the dead homeless man wasn’t homeless at all but a financial guru who was taking his get rich seminars to the city’s homeless population. This is not a particularly fun case for Blue as he’s getting heat from all sides: Fellow Detective Wormwood (Mark Bitner), Assitant D.A. Roth (Maria Wolf), and his own boss Lt. Harlin (Marc Jones)
Lankford, with the help of writer Donnell Booker, has set out to make a cop show with a twist. The blurb on the screener and the Website is quite clear: “Ex-pastor Devon Blue, now Philadephia detective, faces the choice of living by the law of man…or the Law of God”. In that sense, he has succeeded. Although “Revelation Blue” doesn’t hit you over the head with religion, it makes it quite clear more than once that its protagonist is a man of God. In one very good scene, Blue is confronted by Lt. Harlin(nicely played by Jones), who asks him point blank “What are you running from?” So we never know quite what drives Blue but we know he has demons.
Blue might be the main character but the real star of the show is Philly itself. In much the same way “NYPD Blue” showcases New York, “Revelation Blue” showcases Philly as Lankford shows us everything from the Municipal Services Building where our characters work to the rougher parts of South Philly and other areas of the city. Lankford has a firm grasp of the visual as he efficiently uses shots of the El and other locations to give his story space.
Because of its spiritual angle, “Revelation Blue” would be expected to be low on violence and is. But Lankford is no fool. He is still working in a genre that is expected to have a certain edge and that he provides. The urban feel is augmented in no small way by Alex Khaskin’s brooding electronic score. Donnell Booker’s no nonsense, sparse script also does a lot to give “Revelation Blue” authenticity.
Nicholas Torrens is an engaging actor who will no doubt be heard from in the future. Blue has a lot of screen time and Torrens is more than adept at carrying this weight. “Revelation Blue” does a competent job balancing the police procedure aspects with the more spiritual aspects without ever seeming preachy. We know from Jump Street that Blue is a spiritual person and are happy to go along for the ride.
Despite the show’s positive traits, I wouldn’t recommend Lankford starts counting his Emmys just yet. Like its main character, “Revelation Blue” is not without its flaws. In the exterior scenes the sound is sometimes very difficult to hear, particularly the aforementioned scene between Blue and his superior and another scene shot in the Italian Market with Wormwood. This can be quite distracting and makes it difficult to follow the story. The other main weakness is the other characters. Detective Wormwood(Mark Bitner) comes off as one-dimensional and shrill. It’s difficult to tell if this is from the writing or from Mr. Bitner’s acting. Assistant D.A. Wolf also could have used a little fleshing out. And the story itself, as compelling as it often is, gets a little difficult to follow.
There have been cop shows since the beginning of TV. Some have been brilliant. Others merely run of the mill. With a novel premise and a compelling visual style, “Revelation Blue” just may have what it takes to make it.
With a little help from the Man upstairs, of course.