This weekend at the Biola Media Conference, I had a great deal of fun, and a lot of challenging conversations. I will be writing quite a few thank-you notes.

Let me tell you just a few of the highlights:

– Waking up in the hotel room, watching the world slowly come into focus, and seeing a black widow spider hanging almost within reach. It moved under a table, where it had a web already built. I called the hotel front desk and said, “I have a lot of experience killing big poisonous spiders, thanks to the infestation of hobo spiders in my basement at home. But still… you might want to come see this.” Let me tell you… if you want a more powerful wakeup than caffeine, try a black widow spider in the morning.

Remember when I blogged about a snake in my room at the last conference I attended? If the assassin who is trying to kill me is reading this… just take the easy way, pal. No more of this sneaky predator-in-the-room stuff.

– Meeting a few folks from Regal Books, especially Alex Field and Amy Sprigg, who have worked so hard with me on spreading the news about the book. It’s great to put faces with names, and they have great faces. And names. And personalities.

– Meeting Brett McCracken, one of my favorite film critics. The guy’s just seen The Double Life of Veronique for the first time, and I do hope he writes about it.

– Another good chat with producer Ralph Winter about recent developments in “faith-based” filmmaking, and his upcoming project… which is quite an intriguing project.

– Presenting the main ideas in Through a Screen Darkly to a captive, attentive, but small audience. (I was unfortunately scheduled at the same time as Ralph Winter, who was one of the main attractions of the weekend. I mean really, if you were trying to work your way into the filmmaking industry, who would you go learn from… a critic, or the producer of the X-Men series?) Still, I was blessed by how many came up to talk with me afterward.

– Making new friends in Mark Joseph, Dean Batali, Ken Wales, Lisa Swain, Phil Cooke, Dan Rupple, and others.

– Spending the evening with the legendary Ken Wales, and listening to him tell story after story about his amazing experiences in the film industry, from the time he was a young boy (he spent a week with Walt Disney) to his recent work producing Amazing Grace.

– Watching Steve McEveety, producer of Braveheart, We Were Soldiers, and The Passion of the Christ, accept his Briner Award, and tell a behind-the-scenes story about the making of The Passion that is absolutely astonishing. Some day I’ll take the time to pass along that story here.

– Breakfast with Nate Bell, Josh Sikora, and Clint Cullum, at Red Robin, on Sunday morning… just like we did three years ago on the morning after the Conference. Three great guys with a passion for good movies, good movie reviews, and good filmmaking. Congratulations to Clint and Josh on their new feature film, The Deserted, and to Nate on his progress as a published film reviewer.

– Lunch with Nate and film critic Darrel Manson. Darrel was kind enough to drive me to LAX, and it was good to finally meet him and have a long talk.

– Oh, and here’s the weekend’s biggest disappointment: My plans to have dinner with a certain film director fell through due to schedule and transportation complications. Maybe next time.

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