Hope and the Power of the Dream

Hope and the Power of the Dream

James Duval profile picturesI am not certain this blog will win me friends or not. When you talk about what motivates people you almost have to treat it like a discussion on religion. In some cases it has almost become a religion. How people feel has become from my experience more important than what they do. When this is applied to a life long dream, well how do you know it won’t happen? I can’t predict the future. I can barely predict the present.

I have been involved in hundreds of conversations on how to make it in whatever endeavor people choose. I have met many people who have succeeded. I have noticed a difference between those who try and those who actually accomplish. It falls down to an understanding of how to keep one word in perspective, hope.

Now I am not saying I have accomplished anything. That I believe is for others to judge. On this topic I am speaking only as a person who has observed. When I think of hope I think of in two ways. The most common way is a fear or hope of consequences. Kid wakes up, remembers he had a report do, and then prays with all his hope that the teacher does not ask for it. Sometimes happens. I had a few unexpected extensions. But reality usually was it was due and I did not have it. That is common hope. Then there is hope where you have done everything you can and you place the rest into the hands of the universe and you hope it turns out the way you want it. That is hope where you understood the obligation of your own effort and acceptance of our own human condition.

How does this apply to film, being an actor or accomplishing anything in the film industry? The people I know who have succeeded by my definition, have a few things in common. The first thing is forward motion. Every day, almost every moment they are focus on moving forward. They will get up and write, even if it is bad, They will go to any audition no matter how small or presumably unimportant, they will go out with the intention of meeting someone to finance their film. Even if it is just the slightest part of an inch they are always pushing forward.

The second thing that is in common is acceptance of responsibility for their own success. I have heard at least a 1000 times how someone’s agent or manager is not doing anything for them. I have done that myself. Okay logic question: This is easier for actors:

You have an agent. You have not succeeded yet. So what level of agent do you have? Probably not one that will make it happen for you. On the other hand, if you are responsible for your own success then the agent probably can help you help yourself. Why? The agent is also trying to make it also. This is the reality at the beginning— beginning is, are you successful yet? No? Then you are still at the beginning. Success is a partnership waiting to happen. Now reality dictates that not all partnerships are good. That is understood.

Consequences are a mathematical approach to thinking. If the cow its grass it makes milk. If it does not make milk it becomes hamburger. (sorry for the visual) Hamburger is not what you want to be. You want to be part of a process that leads you to your goal.

In filmmaking it is the understanding that the film comes first, the acting comes first and that constant motion is necessary. If you are treating the process like math and you just keep doing it you will find some measure of success. Success leads to more success. Hoping that you will be a great actor or director, but spending your time not doing things related to actually succeeding in your dream gives you no choice but to hope.

Movement gives you an understanding that you will win and accomplish your life goal. It may not come in the form you want, or even expected. But when you find it, you know it. Making you dream the result of consequences in my opinion is a more likely path to success.

Part of our problem is the word consequences. For many people the word has a bad connotation. For me it is the result of an equation. If you want a different outcome you change the elements in the equation. If you do this you don’t need hope so much. You have understanding.

Decisions are hard. We always want to hedge a bit on them. Just in case we are wrong. The what if I fail fear kicks in. What will people think? When I began this journey with my friends I used to point out that lots of people die before they get to the mountaintop. For me the journey was the justification for the risk. Dying while climbing a mountain is better than standing and only staring at it your whole life. Film is a mountain; if you climb you have a better chance at getting to the top than if you just wish.

The other part of taking the consequences approach is most people around you will not understand, even if they are giving lip service to the same dream you have. When you make it many of them will make up a little lie to justify in their minds how you did it and they did not. The thought of the consequences of their decisions is beyond their ability to accept. You must have had a “special” friend or just got lucky. Success is rarely luck. It is almost always motion. You can walk into success. You can run, crawl and even fall into success. But rarely can you stand into success.

I have chosen to live my dream and to always push forward. As such even against difficult odds, I have manage to make some movies and even get them out. I have found myself to be part of a wonderful team of human beings, Continuum Motion Pictures. I have found myself surrounded by people who want and are willing to move forward with their dreams.

James Duval

Project First Strike Update: Continuum Pictures: Producers James Duval, Danny Torres

Project First Strike Update: Continuum Pictures:

Usually when people begin “projects” like Project First Strike, they wish to create an image of neutrality.  Being neutral presents an image of professionalism. This image is one of the problems with filmmaking. Rarely do you hear why you did not get the deal, or your script was rejected.

Peepers: dir Mark Lillig, James Duval writer producer

We wish to begin this journey for these filmmakers with honesty. Project First Strike is an embodiment of a way of filmmaking that Continuum Pictures and its producers have been doing for years. We have always given first time directors, producers and writers our support. Unfortunately as we have moved up the film world, our time has become more difficult to spare. Anyone who has had to work with us will tell you that communications is our one down fall.  At any given moment we have anywhere from 5 to 10 projects of various shapes and sizes in our production pipeline. This is not an exaggeration.  Sometimes it is as small as volunteering to shoot a scene for an actors reel.  We love actors. Other times it really is the favor of shooting a feature for someone. This is how Continuum Pictures and its producers came together. Wrestling Days was one of those projects.

James Duval

My point is given our production pipeline and what we are trying to accomplish, the first set of projects for Project First Strike will be with first time directors we already know. We have decided that it is better to get the program going than to set up hype and false professionalism.

Currently we have two directors in Los Angeles and one director in the UK for whom we are setting up projects. As we bring on more producers with experience into this arena we will be able to expand to people we do not know.

The reason for this honesty, is one of the first rules of film is you do not lie to production people. You have to tell them the truth so that they can help you get through the project, or problem.

Directed by Matt Dyer, Produced by Danny Torres, James Duval-Continuum Pictures

Project First Strike is about production not hype. So here is what we are looking for:

  1. Producers in every country willing to work with First Time directors of all backgrounds.
  2. First time directors who are willing to go to the edge with their projects and not settle for what they have seen before. Basically no fan films or films with nods to other films. They will have the opportunity to direct features, shorts and/or web series.
  3. First time writers willing to join with these directors with edgy material who will be given writers credit/producers credits and have a chance to see their work on the screen.
  4. People with equipment that wish to help out on such projects that are willing to commit not just to the project but also to building careers.
  5. People who are about production/not hype.

Dan Albracht & Danny Torres, Troubadours

We will be coordinating this project probably on xing.com. The goal is to make this an international program trying to help filmmakers around the world.  Which means we are trying to move away from the U.S. centric approach.

We do not wish to approach this in to formal of a way, but in a way that first time filmmakers of every background can be equals with those who have years of experience.

Continuum Pictures/Filmplane want to see wonderful films come from this.

Here is a partial log of films we have done with First Time Feature Filmmakers

Wrestling Days, first feature by Dan Albracht, Danny Torres, Scott Hayman

Wrestling Days: Dan Albract 1st Feature as a writer/director
Danny Torres 1st Feature as a producer
Scott Hayman  1st Feature as a Actor/Producer

Ten Cents Short, Austin Anderson's first featureTen Cents Short:  Austin Anderson 1st Feature as a Director

Mano a Mano Continuum Pictures Spanish Language ThrillerMano a Mano:    Matt Dyer 1st Feature Writer/Director

The Absents:       Jason Durdon 1st Feature Director
Taylor McPartland 1st Feature Writer/Producer

Taught in Cold Blood: P. David Miller 1stFeature Director

Danny TorresDarien Harte 1st Feature Writer/Producer

No Words

No Words:     Tenaya Cleveland 1stTime Writer/Director

Directed by Joseph Neibich, Produced by Danny Torres, James Duval & Continuum Pictures

Ocean Front Property: Joseph Neibich 1stTime Feature Writer/Director

Unseen Shadows one of the films we lost and will shoot again

Many of these people have gone on to become a integral part of the Continuum Pictures team, some have even gone on to become partners in this journey. Filmmaking should be an art/career open to all people. Unfortunately because of access to technology most of the world can only ever dream of making or being in a movie.

It is our hope that with the help of filmmakers around the world, that we can make the opportunity of this dream available to many people who would not have gotten the chance otherwise.

The WebTV series Produced by Frank Krueger, Wylie Small, Danny Torres, james Duval & Continuum Pictures

Continuum Pictures: Announcing Project First Strike For First Time Feature Directors and Filmmakers

Peepers: dir Mark Lillig, James Duval writer producer

Announcing Project First Strike For First Time Feature Directors and Filmmakers.

To read the entire blog please press on the link above.

Continuum Pictures Filmography

James Duval Filmography

Danny Torres Filmography

Continuum Pictures: Announcing Project First Strike For First Time Feature Directors and Filmmakers

Wrestling Days, first feature by Dan Albracht, Danny Torres, Scott Hayman

Wrestling Days, a family sports drama, first feature by Dan Albracht, Danny Torres, Scott Hayman avail on Amazon

Continuum Pictures, has always been a company that wanted to share its dream with others. Wrestling Days, the family sports drama, produced by IIE and released by Continuum Pictures, was directed and produced by first time filmmakers Dan Albracht, Danny Torres and Scott Hayman. The Absent was the first feature for Director and now head of Filmplane Jason Durdon, Mano a Mano was written and directed by Matt Dyer and Taught in Cold Blood is P. David Millers first feature as a director. Ocean Front Property, which will soon be released into the festival circuit, was Joseph Neibich’s first feature as a writer/director. Many of those filmmakers became permanent members of what is now Continuum Pictures.

Ten Cents Short, Austin Anderson's first feature

Ten Cents Short, writer/director Austin Anderson's first feature produced by Danny Torres available on Amazon

This tradition of giving first time feature directors and in general first time filmmakers the opportunity to use our skills and many of our resources to realize there dream is one we wish to continue at Continuum Pictures. It is also one we wish to expand. To accomplish this goal we are reaching out to producers and other filmmakers we have worked with, such as Lawrence Williams to help become a driving force behind this project.

No Words Directed by Tenaya Cleveland, her first short

No Words, first time director Tenaya Cleveland produced by Continuum Pictures, Danny Torres and James Duval. This short has been shown in film festivals around the world.

The goal of Project First Strike (to borrow a concept from former President George W. Bush) is to literally help these filmmakers create projects that say “BAM!” I am here pay attention to me as a creative force and I am not afraid to strike first and make you see me. As such these projects will specifically be edgy in their respective genre’s. We feel strongly that every genre has an edge and we wish to explore it with up and coming filmmakers.

Mano a Mano Continuum Pictures Spanish Language Thriller

Mano a Mano, writer/director Matt Dyer's first feature a Spanish Language thriller produced by Continuum Pictures, Danny Torres and James Duval

These projects will take place here in Los Angeles and Internationally. We will help filmmakers organize their resources using the strength of the filmmakers we have worked with and know.

Writer/Director Joseph Neibich's first feature

Ocean Front Property, a romantic comedy, was Joseph Neibich's first feature as writer/director. It was produced by Continuum Pictures, Danny Torres and JamesDuval and will be entering festival circuits in 2011

As we move forward with Project First Strike, we will let people know how they can help or become involved. Everyone wants to see a dream come true, Continuum Pictures, the filmmakers we have worked with, know and myself wish to make the dream a reality.

Follow us on Twitter: ContinuumPics or jduvalfilm
see our work on IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/company/co0209293/

Continuum Pictures: James Duval: Danny Torres: The Many People You Meet on the Road to Making Movies

Directed by Joseph Neibich, Produced by Danny Torres, James Duval & Continuum Pictures

When a good production team comes together like this romance comedy directed by Joseph Neibich, Produced by Continuum Pictures Producers James Duval, Danny Torres

The difference between a dream and a fantasy is in the doing. People who live in fantasies instead of reality are often the destroyers of dreams.  If they cannot make their fantasy a reality, then they do not want other people to succeed in achieving their own dreams.

When I started filmmaking I received a bit of advice that has paid off when I have listened and harmed projects (and me) when I have not: “Let no one near your projects when you are beginning who is not there because they love the project.”

Getting a movie made is nearly impossible as it is, and most projects do not die because of lack of funds, but because of people who become destructive and hateful. I have seen films held hostage by actors, producers, and any number of other people who have a personal agenda other than the film.

Wrestling Days(shot 2004) Danny Torres then age 20 and Scott Hayman 21 at the start of production first Producing Roles.

Wrestling Days Produced by Danny Torres at age 20 with Scott Hayman 21 at time of production starting in 2004

Continuum Pictures has been lucky for the most part. If the camera has rolled then we are pretty damn certain it will get completed. If you look at our track record, we have worked with the same people over and over and over again. Why? Simple: surround yourself with people who love film enough to put their personal egos, angers or even hidden agendas aside for a project.  Especially in the beginning.

You cannot avoid haters though. Someone will always find a reason not to like you. They will always attack when they are not getting what they want. Film does not attract the most mature group of people. It attracts dreamers and for the most part that is good. The downside is that you will often find yourself on the blade side of someone’s creativity if they do not get what they want. We see such things in the press quite a bit lately.

The Bouncer set Danny Torres age 26 at time 2010

John Murray, Danny Torres, Joel Murray 2010 Continuum Pictures

What do you do when they attack? The answer is simple: Keep making movies. Don’t give them attention. People are smart enough to know the truth. People are smart enough see through the fake names, vicious language and one-sided representations. If they are not you should not worry anyway- those people can’t help you. You only want to ever work with people who are filled with love and truth. The rest? Just let them slip away.

Sirens a Zombie Apocalypse  Danny Torres Cam. 1 Jason Durdon Cam 2 Continuum Pictures

Continuum Pictures/Filmplane set of Sirens Danny Torres DP/Producer on Camera 1 a Panasonic Jason Durdon Director on Camera 2 a Sony

We have had equipment stolen, films destroyed and promises broken. We have tried to be kind people who share the dream and help; for the most part I think we have accomplished this.

Continuum Pictures was a concept that turned into a form; creative people doing creative things. We’ve done film on the independent level primarily and fortunately it appears to be moving in a direction that allows us to do larger films. We are very proud of our past and the growth we have made as a company and filmmakers. We are happy to share our initial work and experience with other filmmakers. We hope it helps.

I have been told that we are supposed to show only our best work. Well we do and we also show our first work. How are people supposed to see how to run the race if you only ever show them the finish line?

Unseen Shadows one of the films we lost and will shoot again

Mark Lillig directing Unseen Shadows a film we lost but will shoot again 2003

People will try to stop you and stop your projects. They will take the supposedly unexplained facts of your life and fictionalize them to turn you into a bad guy, and when that fiction does not work, they will go into science fiction and just make crap up.

Expect this.  It is actually a sign that you are getting close to succeeding. Accept it with a smile and the knowledge that you know who it is and you have told everyone important about it. Trust that the people who make movies understand this and many have been through it, too.

Our production history is clear: IIE to Continuum Pictures and Filmplane. From No Strings Attached directed by Mark Lillig to The Absents directed by Jason Durdon. Continuum Pictures was founded by six filmmakers: Mark Lillig, Danny Torres, Scott Hayman, Tyler Ross and myself, James Duval. Many others have since joined us.

Wrestling Days early 2005

Wrestling Days, Danny Torres, Richard Scott, Dan Albracht, Tyler Ross, Sultan Udin, Chris Nagel, Wayne Jones Continuum Pictures/IIE production early 2005

We have personally made Wrestling Days, No Strings Attached, Two Rooms in The Valley, Mano a Mano, Cider Springs Slaughter, aka The Absents, Convict, The Darkness Descending, Ocean Front Property, Sirens, Troubadours, OMG! Wrong Party, Sabor Tropical, No Words, Ten Cents Short, Thirteen or So Minutes and Midnight Snack, and we have helped with the production, release and festival run of many many more.

You cannot let the nay-sayers (from where ever they come from) stop you in achieving your dream while they burn in their fantasy.  Truth is in the image. Remember this: people for the most part only stick with good people and I have the best in the world.  The Continuum Pictures team is brilliant, young, and a team that can get films done, and we’ve been together a long time.

We shall continue to make our movies at Continuum Pictures and Filmplane. We will continue to give new actors, new directors and new writers the best chance we can. We will continue filming and letting our work speak for itself. I hope all those reading this will do the same. Don’t get distracted, get your movies made.

Follow us on Twitter: ContinuumPics or jduvalfilm
see our work on IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/company/co0209293/
The WebTV series Produced by Frank Krueger, Wylie Small, Danny Torres, james Duval & Continuum Pictures

Continuum Pictures and the Making of Sabor Tropical

Sabor Tropical
Writer/Director Jorge Ameer
Producer Austin Anderson
Executive Producers: Danny Torres, James Duval, Jorge Ameer
Starring Matthew Leitch, Jose Rosete, Jorge Ameer, Jean Carlos London, Torie Tyson
AJ Productions, Continuum Pictures

Shot on location in: Panama, with additional photography: London, Los Angeles

promotional poster for film

Sabor Tropical was a strange experience for us mainly because of the shooting and posting schedule. It was a film that already had its domestic DVD distribution locked down through Ariztical Entertainment, which had previously distributed the director/writer, Jorge Ameers earlier films.

The production team flew into Panama and had approximately 9 days to shoot the Panama side of the production in a small town called Los Tablas during carnival. Austin Anderson was the producer on the ground for Continuum Pictures. He was also the Cinematographer.

Mathew Leitch is Brian

Sabor Tropical was to have the flavor and even content of a travel log, but a travel log gone bad. Matthew Leitch who flew in from London for this production played the American gone “bad” in another country. Jose Rosette played the trapped immigrant turned bad to make it in Panama. Their journey takes unexpected twist, when their lives cross. Matthew’s brave performance is much appreciated. As a director and writer Jorge Ameer is known for pushing the edge of peoples comfort zones, taste and values.

As a gay filmmaker Jorge is not afraid to create work that makes even the gay community uncomfortable. He challenges everyone equally.

Continuum Pictures was faced with posting the project at lightning speed as there were festival deadlines to meet. It was we feel the worlds quickest feature post or at least the sleepless nights in production and post made us feel this way.


Continuum Pictures went on to work with Torie Tyson in other features and Jose Rosete, myself James Duval, Gino Costabile starred with the Karmadons in their music video Came a Long Way to See You, directed by Danny Torres.

The film was reviewed by Variety, New York Times and Los Angeles time as well as the online English speaking news for Panama. The film opened internationally in a limited release.

For us it was a chance to finally shoot outside the US and more importantly to work with a wonderful and willing cast like Matthew Leitch and Jose Rosete.  It was a chance to take the production lead with a project that did not originate with us, and to follow Jorge Ameers creative lead once again. We had previously shot Thirteen or So Minutes (Directed by Branden Blinn) Midnight Snack, posted on House of Adam, Dark Side of Love and other projects with Jorge. Jorge has always attracted to him wonderful actors and willing filmmakers. It was a fun project to be involved with. And thought the reviews were not great, we know many who enjoyed watching.

Continuum Pictures and Project Choices:

Austin Anderson, Kerr Seth Lordygan, Torie Tyson, Brian Dawson, Jorge Ameer, James Duval, Danny torres, Branden Blinn, Carlos Salas

When I first started this filmmaking journey I was given a bit of advice. It seemed very pessimistic and not very inspiring at the time, but I have come to know it was one of the best things I was ever told. “Make a movie, any movie, its not very important. The process is what is important.”

Now being an “inspired young filmmaker/writer/everything else a person” is when they start, this of course properly insulted me. See I did learn something in the year I tried to go to film school. But I took it.

Joel Murray directing the Bouncer, Produced by Danny Torres written by Doug Jackson starring Vince Cecere Continuum Pictures

I began working on other people’s projects, which never started. Then I worked on my own “art” projects, which we shot and then I began to see the wisdom of the words. Every movie is brilliant in our heads, and in truth given the right resources, casting, crew, etc… it truly might be. Unfortunately at the “indie” level and when you are beginning that is rarely the case. You ultimately learn that crap is crap no matter what your intentions or efforts were. The only thing you can take from those projects is experience and people.

Driver (James Duval) hunting Chuey (Luis Villa Franca)

Driver stalks Chuey deep in the Arizona Bad Lands

Now when we formed Continuum Pictures, who followed a little bit of the same advice. In this case, we chose to work with people that could get a project done and OUT.  This is why we have worked with directors like Branden Blinn (Thirteen or So Minutes), Jorge Ameer (House of Adam, Dark Side of Love, Sabor Tropical, Midnight Snack), Joseph Neibich (Ocean Front Property), and our own team of Danny Torres, P. David Miller, Mark R. Lillig and Jason Durdon. In each case the directors know how to see the journey through. If you are a producer you must produce, if you are a production company you have to get films made and out.

Continuum Pictures romantic comedy Ocean Front Property

Hollywood romance can always be found in your home town

Now the journey of a production company is very similar to that of a individual filmmaker, you get better with time. We look at our productions with great directors like Branden Blinn, who constantly wins at festival, and directors like Jorge Ameer who always gets his films out and we push our own productions like The Absent, Ocean Front Property, Taught in Cold Blood and Mano a Mano to that higher level always knowing we have to do better next time.

It seems that next time is here. As we now finish post on our current slate of films, we are gearing up to work with our own directors now and their projects. So far the projects at the next level include an action/horror, action/scifi, zombies, urban horror, and a romance comedy

Follow us on Twitter: ContinuumPics or jduvalfilm
see our work on IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/company/co0209293/