Red Carpet Event Held to Honor Tempting Fate

It was in the summer of 2015 that Tempting Fate, the movie that includes soundtrack music by Pedro González Arbona, was released in theaters across Africa.  Ever since that time, I waited and watched as the movie traveled its course through the normal film industry outlets, and hopefully to American theaters.

Click on image to view movie trailer and sample Pedro’s music.

Although Tempting Fate was a big success in theaters throughout the African continent, the only release of the movie in America was via Amazon and other streaming types of services in 2016.

Gone were my hopes of sitting in an American cinema again and watching the movie on the big screen like I did with Pedro at the 2014 VIP screening in Houston.   Thankfully, it didn’t totally dash my hopes of sharing the movie with my friends—which lead to a recent private viewing party at my home.  But first…

Tempting Fate Background & Success

Why is Tempting Fate so significant to me?  I’ve been connected to the movie since the summer of 2013 when Pedro was hired to compose the movie soundtrack.  I was privileged to read the movie script while on holiday in Spain with Pedro and his family.  I was already praying for Pedro’s music to be used to glorify God.  So knowing his music would be used on this Christian movie felt like answered prayer to me.

My prayers ramped up over the course of the production of the movie and during Pedro’s intensive composing process.  Then Pedro and I attended the VIP screening in Houston in July 2014.  It was a monumental day in my life and a dream come true for Pedro to see his music come to life on the big screen.

Pedro’s red carpet interview in Houston, July 2014.

A year later, Tempting Fate premiered in Lagos, Nigeria, during an all-star red carpet event.  It ended up being one of the top 10 Nollywood movies of 2015. (Nollywood is the Nigerian movie industry, based in Lagos.)  The movie is one of the top 25 movies of all time in the Nollywood film industry.

Thanks to Kevin Kwankwor, the Nigerian born writer, producer and director of Tempting Fate, the movie was one of the first Hollywood/Nollywood movie collaborations.  Tempting Fate stars Nollywood movie icon Ramsey Nouah and Hollywood actors Dan Davies, Andrew Onochie, Tiffany Denise Turner and John J. Vogel.

At the Lagos premiere, July 2015.

A Red Carpet Invitation

I would have loved to rent out a theater and host a real gala event to celebrate the success of Tempting Fate and share it in style with my friends.  Since that wasn’t an option for me, I held a private viewing party at my home instead.

It was an elaborate party with the look and feel of a real Hollywood premiere.  Invited guests were informed of the formal nature of the party and to come dressed to meet the paparazzi.

Upon their arrival, they were literally given the red carpet treatment.  The main hallway of my home, once lined with scenic photographs, was transformed into a gallery of photographs from the VIP screening Pedro and I attended in Houston. My honored guests (celebrities) slowly walked the red carpet as the paparazzi clicked away on real cameras (not cell phones) to capture the celebrity’s entrance.

Each guest was assigned the identity of a celebrity and wore a name tag pinned on their back.  They played along, not knowing their own identity, but knowing who the other celebrities at the party were.

A Surprise Guest Appearance

After a paella dinner and a toast to the movie’s success, we got comfortable for the main event.  As a preview to the movie, I presented a video from the VIP screening in Houston. That followed a surprise video appearance by Dan Davies, one of the actors from Tempting Fate.

Dan Davies at Lagos premiere.

Dan played Scorpion, gangster and leader of the bank robbery/drug gang, a central figure in the movie.  We met at the VIP screening in July 2014 and occasionally connect via social media.  (Read my interview with Dan, A Behind the Scenes Look at Tempting Fate with Actor Dan Davies, for more information and background on the movie.)

Dan graciously sent a video to greet my guests and to introduce the movie.  That very night in Accra, Ghana, Dan won the African Golden Movie Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Role.  Dan’s nomination was for his portrayal of Michael Rice in A Trip to Jamaica, the top Nollywood movie of 2016.

Dan recorded our Tempting Fate introductory video a few days in advance of the awards, so it was a nice surprise to me and my guests to hear of his win later.   Dan was the first American to win this prestigious African award.  Congratulations Dan!!

Watching Tempting Fate

The movie viewing followed.  By this time, I had already seen the theatrical version of Tempting Fate several times.  The movie went through more editing after the screening in Houston.  Most notably to me was the change in some of the music.  Another composer was added to the soundtrack and some of Pedro’s music was dropped, a common occurrence in movie production.  I gave occasional commentary while watching the movie, mostly in reference to the music.

Click on image to rent or buy the movie on Amazon.

Watching the movie this time around was easier for me—to remove myself from my personal involvement and attachment to the music and Pedro’s proud moment.  However, like audiences across Africa and even in my home that night, Pedro’s music accompanying the final scene brought tears to our eyes.  Tempting Fate has such a powerful and thought-provoking ending.

Post-Movie Celebrity Interviews

After the movie, I took on the role of the press and interviewed each of my guests, I mean celebrities, about the movie. It was at this point that I also revealed their celebrity identities and the significance behind their chosen names. (But that’s a story for another time.)

Sometimes I think my involvement in the movie makes my opinion less than objective. So I had much anticipation in hearing what my honored guests thought of the movie. It was such a blessing to hear their reactions to the movie and its message.

One guest (aka Emma Stone) had never seen a Christian movie before. “The theme of forgiveness really resonated with me, probably because that is what I’m working on in my life. It really hit home. I found it very meaningful and very valuable in my life,” she shared.

Another guest (aka Sandra Bullock) said: “I thought it was great, very touching, pretty deep and pretty real. A great message for all of us.”

Another guest (aka Meryl Streep) was a local pastor who I’ve known for years. Her perspective about the movie was very insightful.

“I thought it (the ending) brought it all together in a very healthy and practical way. Edu had said to others, this is how you live. And then he had to face his own quandary of how to forgive the two people that hurt him the most. So I thought the culmination of all of those stories was very well done…The movie would help people think through their own lives and situations, and where maybe they are not living out the truth that they claim to believe.”

Tempting Fate in a City Near You? 

Since my private viewing party a few months ago, I’ve heard rumors that Tempting Fate will be on a U.S. tour in the fall. It started in Atlanta at Georgia Tech over Labor Day weekend. I’m hoping and praying it comes to Seattle or a city near you. For more information about the U.S. tour or to set up a special viewing at your church, contact info@kevstelgroup.com.

If you can’t attend one of these events, be sure to rent or purchase the movie on Amazon or other streaming movie site.  Pedro’s music and other beautiful music from the movie is also available on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, and other music sites.

A Behind the Scenes Look at Tempting Fate with Actor Dan Davies

Tempting Fate is heading into its 5th week in theaters across Nigeria and Ghana and is still showing well—especially considering the stiff competition from the summer’s blockbuster movies. This week I’ve dedicated my time to giving my readers a new and exciting angle into this movie.

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Still showing after 4 weeks in Nigeria and Ghana.

I’m delighted and grateful to share about Tempting Fate from an insider’s viewpoint, with co-star Dan Davies. Dan plays Scorpion, a gangster and leader of the bank robbery/drug gang, a central figure in the movie.  (Watch trailer with the music of Pedro González Arbona.)

Let me start off by saying that Dan is nothing like the evil villain he portrays in Tempting Fate. I first met Dan via Facebook shortly after Pedro signed the contract to compose for the movie. Then we met face to face at the VIP screening in Houston last year. That was a whirlwind weekend, and regrettably with no time to connect outside of all the press attention.

Days before Dan left for the Nigerian premiere of the movie last month, he granted my request for an interview. It wasn’t your typical press interview. We talked about matters of faith, his trip and the premiere in Lagos, and about the film. I hope you enjoy getting to know Dan a bit and what it was like on the set of Tempting Fate. But first…

Who is Dan Davies?

Dan Davies is a talented actor, screenwriter, and producer from Appleton, Wisconsin. His credits span a variety of different media: national TV commercials, local television and radio programs, internet video production, and print modeling. He received the prestigious Platinum (2005) and Silver (2006) Remi awards for films at the International Houston Film Festival (World Fest). Dan even spent time as a competitive body builder in the 1990s.

Dan Davies

Dan Davies

While Dan’s day to day work is in film promotions, marketing, procuring distribution and writing, his favorite work is when he can engage his creative juices in acting and screenwriting. To that end, Dan’s star is rising over Hollywood and Nollywood (the Nigerian entertainment industry).

Dan’s most recent work (before Tempting Fate) is in the movie West of Thunder. (Watch trailer.)  Dan co-wrote and stars in this film, a film selected in three 2012 film festivals: Toronto Independent FF, the American Indian FF, and the Red Nation FF. (Vote it into the top 10 American Indian Film Institute movies here.)  He also co-stars in Flim: The Movie, a 2014 British film that was nominated for the Best Film at the British Independent Film Awards (BIFA). The movie was recently selected for viewing at the very prestigious NYC Film Festival in October.  (Watch trailer.)

How did Dan get the role of Scorpion in “Tempting Fate?”

Dan attributes the accolades and acclaim from West of Thunder for getting him the role of Scorpion in Tempting Fate:

Dan: “Because I didn’t really audition for this role,” Dan explained. “Kevin Nwankwor (the director/producer) gave me a call. I sent him my resume and he was familiar with some of my other work.”

“He asked me one question. He said, ‘Dan, can you do a Russian accent? Because we’d love for you to play this Russian gangster, the head of the bank robbing crew.’”

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Dan as Scorpion, in Tempting Fate. (Photo credit: Chris Willard Photography)

“I said, ‘No, I can’t, because I sound like Yakov Smirnoff, the comedian from the 1990s. I can do an Eastern European/Kazakh.’” Dan demonstrated his Kazakh accent to Kevin and the other producers listening in on the speaker phone.

“And that was it. He basically said, ‘That’s it. You’re in.’”

During the call with Kevin, Dan learned that the film had a real strong Christian message to it.

“I appreciated that,” he told me. “In Nigeria it is rated PG-15, which is their rating board. Here in the U.S., it would probably be PG-13, because of the violence in it.”

“It’s a really, really great story. It’s a story of redemption and forgiveness. It doesn’t shy away from tackling issues with a Christian perspective when things go bad, and when you have bad things in your life, and evil things happen. It relies on our faith to triumph over those. So that was important to me.”

What was it like working on the set of “Tempting Fate?”

In past interviews I had seen of Dan, he mentioned that working on the set of Tempting Fate was not like any other movie he had been a part of.

Dan: “It was neat to know that almost every single one of the cast and crew was a Believer. It was just amazing. I’ve been on movie sets where I’ve literally… been at my wits end. It sullied my outlook on films. I kept thinking if filming is going to be like this, I don’t know if I want to do this.”

“And then Tempting Fate came along. It was this brotherly love, this teamwork. It was having a bigger and better goal other than yourselves. It permeated everything we did. And the people were true, and friendly, and warm, and honest. I would literally wake up in the morning and say, ‘Is this a wonderful dream?’ It re-ignited my love for being on set on films.”

“It almost brings a tear to my eye just how amazing it was. Like when I talked with my Dad, or when I talked to my brothers or sisters, or family. Just basically saying how blown away I was by it. I had never seen anything like it. It was like we were long-lost brothers and sisters all brought together. It was someone’s force or a few people’s fervent prayer was answered. And that’s the truth. There is no way around it.”

Ardis: “Wow! God is definitely good. Even as I watched these things unfold in the year since the Houston premiere, I really sensed that His hand is all over this. I’ve seen that with Pedro’s music as well, as part of it. That is really great to hear.”

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Dan Davies (Scorpion), John J Vogel (Detective Travis), and Andrew Onochie (Edu) arrive by limousine at the Lagos premiere, July 10, 2015. (Photo credit: Chris Willard Photography)

What is Dan’s favorite type of work?

Ardis: “Dan, you have worked in a variety of different mediums and types of work in the entertainment industry. If you were working in your sweet spot, what would that be?”

Dan: “I always like the creation of the character. It’s the most energetic, the most thought-provoking, and the most passionate part of what I do. Although I love the writing, the marketing and promotion, and the producing end of it. But the more I am creating a character from the ground up…I get into completely creating the character. It is prayerful too. I want to be true to that character. I want it to be memorable too.”

Ardis: “So right now with this movie coming out, is this a major shift for you? Do you feel like you’re living your dream?”

Dan: “It’s one of those things that because I’m older and been doing this for a number of years that I’m so glad I have the success now compared to my 20s and 30s.”

Dan went on to tell about how he used to be a heavy drinker. In time that lifestyle, spending money on alcohol, being hungover, etc., took a toll on his body, his work, and his relationships.   When people ask him now if he regrets not having the success sooner, he answers, “no, because I couldn’t handle it then.”

“It’s nice to have it (the success) where I’m growing more with my spiritual life, and at this stage of my life.”

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One of many press interviews on the red carpet at the Lagos premiere, July 10, 2015.

More about the Entertainment Industry

As a Christian writer myself, I was interested in how Dan balances his faith while working in an industry that relies heavily on self-promotion. Unlike his big name Hollywood counterparts, Dan serves as his own agent, at least for now. He is always on the go getting the word out through social media about his projects and hustling for his next big break.

Dan: “It’s the unseemly part of the business. It’s really difficult. I never want to fall into a place where I start bragging or I start feeling I’m anything other than who I am. I don’t want to be that person. I’d much rather be me, than that persona. Staying humble and being filled with humility is really, really difficult…you start reading things and this and that.”

“I’m being mentioned with Steven Spielberg, or George Lucas, or Quentin Tarantino, you know, with West of Thunder. Then being mentioned with these great British actors and comedic actors in Flim: The Movie and you get a little bit of an ego. And I don’t want that.”

“It’s fun. And it’s attractive. But you got to remember that’s just Dan Davies as the actor, or as the writer. You have to completely distance yourself, or as much as you can.”

“I think Fred Astaire said, ‘Don’t read your press.’ The only press clipping he ever kept was one he used for motivation, and he put it on his fireplace mantle. It was the first critical review he received early on in his career. It said: ‘This Fred Astaire cannot sing. He is balding. He is not very attractive. But he can dance a bit.’ And he used it as a way to motivate himself, to keep himself getting better, to always work on his craft.”

Dan aspires to be like Fred Astaire, and not put any positive critic reviews on his mantle. I agreed with Dan how hard it is for Christians to separate ourselves from the media attention and the message that we want to convey.

Dan: “It’s one of those rocks between hard places as Christians. We want them to see His heart. It’s difficult to be in a situation where you are quoted after an interview or whatever. I want them to see who is great in me, not me. But they have to see me. I have to do these interviews, these premieres, and so forth and so on. But don’t get me wrong. I do enjoy that process. And I do enjoy meeting people. It’s difficult because one of our ultimate goals is for people to see that we do have the love of Christ emanating from us.”

Another red carpet interview at the Lagos premiere, July 10, 2015. (Photo credit: Chris Willard Photography)

Another red carpet interview at the Lagos premiere, July 10, 2015. (Photo credit: Chris Willard Photography)

What’s next?

Dan went on to talk more about his current movies and projects. He was tight-lipped about some contract negotiations that were in the works with Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA). Since then he announced a major movie deal.

Dan will be co-starring in the sequel to “30 Days in Atlanta,” the No. 1 Nollywood (Nigeria) movie of all time. He returns to Nigeria in September for filming alongside American movie stars Lynn Whitfield and Vivica Fox (still in negotiations), and Nollywood movie stars Ramsey Nouah (from Tempting Fate) and AY.*

Tempting Fate also continues to be part of Dan’s future. It’s been a long road to the theaters from the filming back in September 2013. That was followed by the VIP screening in Houston in July 2014. The original release of the movie was scheduled for April 2015 in Nigeria. The premiere was delayed to July 10, due to the uncertainty surrounding the Nigerian elections and the exchange of power.

The premiere and release of the movie has been a great success in Nigeria and Ghana. There is speculation that the movie will be released in other English-speaking African countries. A normal progression for the movie would then be to go to England and Europe, Canada, building momentum, and eventually back to the U.S. When that happens, Dan and the entire cast and crew of Tempting Fate will be living their dream.

Dan: “It’s a risk when you are backing film to get your money back. KevStel can put the excess back into other projects that are uplifting with a great message. I know it is important to Kevin, Unoma, and their family, to get the ministry out, to get the mission out, in film.”

Ardis: “Amen to that! I’m excited for all of you.”

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Tempting Fate cast and crew on the red carpet at the Lagos premiere, July 10, 2015. (Photo credit: Chris Willard Photography)

Dan’s Final Thoughts

Ardis: “Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share?”

Dan: “Yes, I want to encourage people to not give up if you’ve had a bad experience on something. Just keep plugging away. Literally—age isn’t a factor. There isn’t anything that holds you back from your dreams. The only thing literally is yourself.”

“You really have to conceive it, see it, believe it, and you’ll achieve it. And do that with everything in life. Even your prayer life should be that way too. The Bible literally tells us when you pray to believe that it’s already been answered (Matthew 21:22). And do that with all aspects of your life.”

Ardis: “Dan, thank you for that encouraging message. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to share your personal perspective on Tempting Fate. You have my continued support of this break-through Hollywood/Nollywood film project, and prayers for a safe and successful press tour in Lagos. I’m looking forward to watching it unfold on Facebook!”

Dan: “Thank you, Ardis. Take care. I’ll talk to you soon.”

Dan & Pedro at the VIP Screening in Houston, July 4, 2014.

Dan & Pedro at the VIP Screening in Houston, July 4, 2014.

Dan and I talked again earlier this week to catch up a bit since the Lagos premiere. There was an excitement in his voice and confident assurance in this new direction with his acting career. It reminded me of Hebrews 11:1, Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Knowing Dan’s story as I do now, I can honestly say that he has paid his dues and deserves this success.

I’ve learned a lot about the film and music industry as I’ve collaborated with Pedro González Arbona these last few years. And now I can say that I’m also learning from Dan too, not just about ‘Hollywood,’ but about living life for Christ under the scrutiny of the media. I’m proud to call him a friend, and anticipate that audiences around the world will see more of his rising star in the film industry.


Related Facebook links: Dan Davies, Tempting Fate, KevStel GroupPedro González Arbona, and West of Thunder.

Purchase Tempting Fate soundtrack at Amazon.com.


*Update 7/22/2017:  Dan Davies won the African Golden Movie Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Role for his portrayal of Tim Rice in “A Trip to Jamaica,” the sequel to “30 Days in Atlanta.” Dan was the first American to win this prestigious African award. Congratulations Dan!!

God Knows the Desires of our Heart

It was siesta time on Day 29 of my 42-day pilgrimage through Spain in 2013. This was my 5th day in Sóller, near the northwest coast of Mallorca, in the Balearic Islands of Spain. I was sitting poolside at the summer home of my gracious hosts, the parents of Pedro González Arbona, who we met in an exchange program three years prior.

The day was hot—just like the preceding days. I was still not used to the Spanish heat. Sóller was only slightly cooler than Madrid. It was in the mid-90s; and there was no air conditioning. When we left Madrid the week before, I was expecting cool island breezes and relief from the heat. There was no such luck. I adapted as best as I could, and relished the mid-day siesta to take a bite out of the heat.

The view from my bedroom window in Sóller.

The view from the writing desk in my bedroom in Sóller.

Siesta Time in Sóller

After the mid-day meal which was typically served at 2 PM, the family would turn to siesta mode. Some would take a nap, or others would read or relax by the pool. It was a deliberate time of restfulness and solitude.

Most days I would be in my room with the ceiling fan on, either typing away on my laptop trying to catch up on my writing, or sprawled out on my bed catching a few zzzzz. Traveling away from home without the benefit of an American companion, I considered both an investment in my emotional and physical health.

On this day, I relinquished my writing and my napping to another restful activity. I sat in the shade reading the script to Pedro’s most recent film. It was the script to Tempting Fate, the movie that is now showing across Africa with his music wafting through the theaters.

As I sat there reading with the sound of running water filling the pool in the background, all I kept reflecting on was how God really does know the desires of our heart. I’d love to be able to say that was because of the idyllic setting I was in, or the generosity of my family back home, or my Spanish host family. I had many of those moments in my 6 weeks of living with Pedro’s family.

A Holy Plot Twist

No, on this day it was the content of what I was reading that gave me goosebumps and lit the fire of the Holy Spirit within me. The script was ‘hot off the press’ so to speak. Pedro received it electronically and had a copy made at the print shop in town. He had already made his first pass through the script and had ideas running through his mind on the scenes and music.   I was honored to be the next to read it—mostly because I was his manager, but also because I was one of the few family members who could read English.  (His previous scripts were in Spanish and difficult for me to read.)

I knew very little about the story, and so I eagerly read it. The story opened with a bank robbery scene, lots of gun fire, and the death of a police officer. That didn’t sound like my type of movie.

Immediately following that, the story turned to a scene at a church with African worship music being sung. The sudden shift caught me off-guard and peaked my interest. As I read further and further into the script, I was enthralled with the story, and excited to read how this tale of two Nigerian brothers, one with deep faith fighting for his life against cancer, and the other steeped in a life of crime and drugs, would end.

I was not disappointed. It had a powerful message of redemption and forgiveness. Here’s one piece of great dialogue:

“God owes you no explanation, son. He looks out for you and gives you what is best for you. The important question is not why, but what happens next? And trust me, for those that trust God their next chapters are always better than the former chapters.”

Scenes from the movie Tempting Fate.

I couldn’t believe my eyes as I read some of these scenes that challenged the characters in the movie, and would certainly resonate with audiences.

At one point, when I was nearing the end of the script, Pedro asked me what I thought of it. I had a hard time containing my excitement, but told him he would have to wait until I was finished reading. “Only a few more pages,” I told him. “And then we can talk about it.”

“Are you looking for the scenes with music in it?”

“No,” I confessed.

“You are a bad manager,” he teased. I didn’t mind. I was too overwhelmed with the sudden shift in the focus of my trip.

“The first of many more scripts for you to read,” he continued jokingly. But I didn’t take his musical talent or potential success in jest.

God Knows The Desires of our Hearts

God was not only giving me the desires of my heart with this trip of a lifetime, the Lord was giving Pedro the desires of his heart. Pedro dreamed of composing film scores since he was ten years old. Now at the age of 20, he was composing for his first full-feature American film!

A few days earlier, my daily devotional was based on Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” After reading the script of this faith-based movie, I had a teachable moment with Pedro about that scripture and how the Lord’s favor was on his music. He wasn’t sold on the idea that God would really have any interest in his musical success. There were much more pressing things for God to have His attention on like poverty and worldwide issues.  But I begged to differ.

Psalm 37.4

I expressed to him how I believed it was not a coincidence that he had landed this contract at this very point in time. I had been praying for his music to be used by God since the day I found out he was a composer. The script pointed people to God’s love and forgiveness, so his music would do the same. I saw it as an incredible blessing and confirmation that his music really was meant for the big screen.

Since Pedro came into my life five years ago, the Lord has given me many desires of my heart: the friendship of this family across the world, being the benefactor of Pedro’s music, and giving me a mid-life career change into writing (my long lost passion from college).

It’s not because God is like a genie, or I prayed for earthly success or rewards. It is because of my faith shift that started with a deeper and truer relationship with the Lord, and as the scripture says, delighting in Him.

So what about the Movie?

The Lord’s favor is on Tempting Fate too—the movie, the cast and the crew as it plays in theaters across Nigeria and Ghana. It premiered at #3 in the Box Office last week and is getting lots of positive reviews. Nollywood is all a twitter about this Hollywood/Nollywood collaboration.

My prayers continue for this movie and its message. I applaud KevStel Group for producing this film and following their dreams and desires of their hearts to bring quality faith-based entertainment to the big screen.

What about you? Are you delighting in the Lord? Where is He giving you the desires of your heart?

The Making of Tempting Fate’s Score by Pedro González Arbona

Today marks the theatrical release of Tempting Fate across Nigeria. It is a day I’ve been anticipating and praying for ever since Pedro González Arbona signed the contract to compose the movie soundtrack while we were together in Madrid two summers ago.

wp_ss_20150717_0001Early last year while Pedro was in the final stages of synchronizing the music with the movie, Kevin Kwankwor, the film’s director, asked Pedro to write about the movie composing process. At that point, it was uncertain where the premiere would be held. There was talk of a Hollywood premiere and Pedro didn’t expect he could make that. The script below was to be recorded for showing at the Hollywood premiere.

Pedro and I did attend the red carpet VIP screening in Houston last year. And last week was the premiere in Lagos, Nigeria with the major U.S. cast and crew and Nollywood star Ramsey Nouah. If Tempting Fate does well in Nigeria and Ghana, there is much hope that the movie will make its way through Europe and back to America for an official nationwide release.

In the meantime, I’m sharing Pedro’s account of his work on Tempting Fate and his creative music process.

THE MAKING OF TEMPTING FATE’s SCORE
by Pedro González Arbona

Introduction

I received the call from Kevin Kwankwor—producer, director, screenwriter, and CEO of KevStel Group LLC.—in the middle of July 2013. I was finishing the score of two short films, so it was the best time to start a new project.

Kevin and I had some conversations about music in general, and the “Tempting Fate” project in particular. We connected very well from the beginning because we had the same approach to this story of a deep relationship between two brothers and how their different paths in life affect their destiny.

Pedro in his studio in Madrid, July 2013.

Pedro in his studio in Madrid, July 2013.

Kevin showed me some classical music he had in mind when writing the screenplay and some instruments he wanted to use in the project. He told me they were shooting in September and wanted some of the tracks of the score to be done by then. That was just the beginning of an amazing process.

Music in Films

In my opinion, there are four aspects that are needed in order to make a good film: a good screenplay, a good director, good acting, and a good score.

When I started focusing my composing on cinema, I started realizing how important a good score is for a film. I actually think that music creates the magical environment needed for a film. Music is another kind of narration, apart from the screenplay and the visual narration made by the director. More importantly, music helps to tell the story with the intent of immersing the audience in the movie.

What would the famous shower scene from “Psycho” be without the screeching strings by Bernard Herrmann? Or the scene from “ET” with the kids peddling their bicycles through the sky with the moon in the background, without the music by John Williams? Or the Hobbit´s Shire in “The Fellowship of the Ring” without the music by Howard Shore? I am sure you can imagine dozens of examples, and by then you will realize that those films would not be the same without that music.

Photo credit: Universal Studios

Photo credit: Universal Studios

The question now is, what do you consider a good score? Well, there is not a perfect theory, but I usually consider two kinds of scores.

On the one hand, are the composers who just use the music in the background of the film in order to create the perfect environment for the film. In these kinds of scores, the music is so well done that when the audience leaves the theater, they do not realize that they heard a score. Some examples could be amazing composers such as Thomas Newman or the Spanish composer, Alberto Iglesias.

On the other hand, are the composers who use a lot of melodic music that goes directly to the mind of the viewer. Most of the “famous” composers are from this second group. But there is a big problem with this kind of music; they have to have caution in order not to distract the viewer from the film. And that is a very difficult task. Wonderful composers such as John Williams, Hans Zimmer, or James Horner are from this second group.

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The script to “Tempting Fate”

The Process of Scoring

The process of scoring all starts with the reading of the screenplay. In the case of “Tempting Fate,” Kevin sent the screenplay to me after the contract was signed in late July. I read it three or four times in order to fully grasp the film´s message and get a feel for the characters. I took a lot of notes about what scenes needed music and what kind of music was needed. Then I start the composing process.

Most composers start creating the score when they get the film, but I have always preferred to start the scoring even before the shooting starts. This makes the composing more fluid for me, and because it is better if the director has the music while shooting the film. This also allows the director to plan the film with the music in mind.

I always write around two main themes, which usually are linked to the main characters.

  • First was the “Love Theme”, about the love story between Edu and Tracy. For this theme I composed very melodic music with a violin solo and a piano in order to get a romantic melody that was going to be used in the most poignant moments of the film.
  • Second was the “Brother´s Theme”, about the relationship between the two brothers, Ugo and Edu. I made different variations of this theme throughout the film, because of the different facets of their relationship. I used the guitar and clarinet in the good moments, the piano and the violin solo for the bad moments, and the woodwinds for the background scenes.
Music Composer Pedro González Arbona

Music Composer Pedro González Arbona

“Tempting Fate” was shot in September 2013, and during that time Kevin and I continued to keep in touch. He told me very important details about the filming. With Kevin’s keen directorial insights and the screenplay in hand, I had lots of inspiration to compose the score.

After the composing process was completed, and after I received the final edited version of the film, I started what I call the synchronizing process. This process consisted of comparing the music I created, with the scenes from the film, and deciding what music to use, what not to use, and how many changes were needed.

Finally the time came for the recording process. As violin and piano were the main instruments in this score, professional violin and piano players were hired for the recording. A soprano, a guitarist, and a percussionist were also hired. It was so exciting to be at the recording studio and to see my compositions come to life thanks to them.

So this is the end of this amazing project which involved so many different people from so many different countries such as Nigeria, India, Spain, and the United States.

I am very thankful:

  • to the head of the project, Kevin Kwankwor, for giving me this opportunity;
  • to Francisco Arbona, for consulting with me on the music;
  • to José Iglesias, the director of the musical academy where my music foundation was formed;
  • to Ardis Nelson, my manager, for helping me so much with my composing career and producing my first two CDs;
  • to Guillermo Servera, for introducing me to orchestration software and for sharing his expertise with me so many times;
  • to Chani Bas, for giving me my first job in the cinema;
  • and to my parents:
    • my father because he played the piano and immersed me in what is now my passion for music,
    • and my mother who expanded my musical knowledge so well and instilled my Christian beliefs.

Congratulations to Pedro and the entire cast and crew of Tempting Fate. I am proud to support the release of this faith-based movie across Africa and beyond.

Below is a slideshow of images from the press tour and the Lagos premiere on July 10.  Special thanks and credit goes to Chris Willard at willardphotographic.com and the Nigerian Press for use of many of these photos.

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For up-to-date information about Tempting Fate and to view more photos, check out the movie’s Facebook page.  Stay tuned for more updates on Pedro’s musical pursuits, and an exclusive interview with co-star Dan Davies.  He is nothing like Scorpion, the evil character he so convincingly portrays in the movie.

Sneak Peek & Rave Reviews for Tempting Fate Soundtrack

It’s been many months since I last wrote about Pedro’s movie composing and the status of Tempting Fate, his first full-feature American film.  It’s hard to believe that we celebrated the 4th of July last year at the VIP screening of the movie in Houston.

On the red carpet at the Tempting Fate premiere, July 4, 2014, Houston, TX.

On the red carpet at the Tempting Fate premiere, July 4, 2014, Houston, TX.

One year later, the film’s stars and key production crew have just arrived in Lagos, Nigeria for another very important premiere of this Christian movie (Friday, July 10, 2015).  Although Pedro is not able to attend, we are no less interested in what is going on with this faith-based film across the world.

We are counting down the days to its release across Nigeria (July 17) and Ghana (July 24). Only 9 days to go as of today’s publishing of this post.  Momentum is building as positive media reviews are spreading across Nigeria.

To date, the official movie trailer has over 30,000 views on youtube.com.

 

What is the significance of the release of this movie in Africa?   Stay tuned for my next update on the movie and an exclusive interview with Dan Davies, co-star of Tempting Fate, for more behind the scenes information.*

For now, let’s talk music…

Post Screening Promotion

The first music related production after the Houston premiere was the filming and release of a music video for the Tempting Fate theme song.  This video was shot in LA, starring Andrew Onochie, who portrays Edu in the movie, and actress and singer Jacobed Melgarejo.  The song is a blend of Igbo (Nigerian), English, and Spanish worship with words that echo the message of redemption and forgiveness, the overarching theme of the movie.

 

Over the past year, we’ve watched and patiently waited while the movie made its rounds through some very prestigious film festivals.  Tempting Fate was chosen to premiere at the Indie Fest USA International Film Festival last fall in Orange County, CA and also at the Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) in Hollywood, CA earlier this year.  Rave reviews were shared by audiences at both festivals.

PAFF program information, February 2015.

PAFF program information, February 2015.

Release of the Movie Soundtrack

The movie soundtrack (available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etc.) was released worldwide on February 12, 2015.  In order to create the cross-cultural mix of music for the Nollywood (Nigeria)/Hollywood (US) film collaboration three composers were used on the project:  Daniel Berg, Folorunso Obilana, and Pedro González Arbona.

Click image to sample soundtrack or purchase on Amazon.

Click image to sample soundtrack or purchase on Amazon.

The emotions in Tempting Fate music comes from real life’s rough ends and plundering experiences of Ugo and Edu as they journey from love and betrayal to forgiveness and loneliness. This is a story of two brothers, one of deep faith and the other buried in a life of crime. They had their worlds torn apart when the wrong one goes to jail and the other commits an unforgivable act. This music is a collection of compositions from Spain, USA and Africa. These songs are sent from above; they pierce directly into the heart.  (Album notes from CD Baby site.)

The African songs with singing, including the “Tempting Fate” main theme song used in the music video, were composed by Folorunso Obilana.  Daniel Berg’s music is purely orchestral.  Pedro’s music is a combination of orchestral and African instrumental with some melodic voice additions.

While the official CD soundtrack has 12 songs, there is much more music in the film, most of those songs were composed by Pedro.  After seeing the movie at the premiere in Houston last summer, more music changes were made to the final cut.

As is common in scoring for films, the composer doesn’t have a lot of input in the final cut of the movie.  Even highly sought after Academy Award winning composers like Hans Zimmer have to swallow their pride when it comes to which music is used in their movies.  Pedro composed over 80 minutes of music, but only a small fraction of that ended up in the movie or on the soundtrack.  Pedro released some of that music on his latest CD, Memories.

An Exclusive Music Sneak Peek

One such song not on the CD, but in the movie is “Brothers.”  This song is used in one of the first scenes in the movie where the two main actors, Nigerian brothers, Edu and Ugo, are revealing to the audience the nature of their brotherly relationship and love.  It is a beautiful song that I was privy to watch Pedro compose while in Madrid in July 2013.

Pedro walked me through the composing process as he created this song.  It was a very educational and magical moment to witness his creativity in action.  The song went through a few revisions before settling on the version now in the movie.  Since I work with Pedro, he gave me exclusive permission to share this song with my readers by clicking the ‘play’ button below.

 “Brothers” from “Tempting Fate”  © 2015 Pedro González Arbona.

One final music related note, last week during the media showing in Nigeria, the overriding comment was “not a dry eye in the house.”  I won’t give away the ending of the movie, but suffice it to say that Pedro’s final song, “Requiem,” combined with the superb on-screen acting, gives the movie a lasting final impression.  Memorable, moving, and touching, even for a crowd of seasoned movie critics.  Listen for yourself and see if you agree.

“Requiem” from “Tempting Fate”  © 2015 Pedro González Arbona.

Other reviewers commented on how the music strikes people as uniquely different.  The music fits perfectly with the storyline and with the film.  It fosters, helps, and propels the story along.

Praying for Success

Tempting Fate is the directorial debut of Nigerian born Kevin Nwankwor.  The mission of KevStel Group, Kevin’s Atlanta based production company, is to produce uplifting, Christian, and faith-based film and television projects.

How can you help support this independent Christian movie outside of Nigeria?  One way is to purchase the soundtrack. Another is by praying for its success. Nigeria is just the first stop for this movie with global appeal.  With the premiere only days away, prayer is critical to the successful outreach of this film.

TF Nigeria PremiereThe message of this movie is truly inspiring.  If people get behind this movie and pray for it, there will be more films like this available for viewing. So please join me and others around the world who are praying for this movie.

It’s not a coincidence that Pedro is associated with this inspirational faith-based movie.  His music has been bathed in prayers since we met five years ago.  It’s been a long road: from the antique and gutted out player piano in our home in the suburbs of Seattle, to his studio in the heart of Spain, and now to theaters across Africa.  We are proud to be associated with this first class independent film.

Congratulations to the cast and crew of Tempting Fate!  May the message of this movie resonate with viewers in Nigeria and beyond.  May your dreams for this film exceed your every expectation.

*Special thanks to Dan Davies, who portrays Scorpion in Tempting Fate, for contributing to the content of this post.

Memories: A Musical Adventure by Pedro González Arbona

If you found your way to this post you must be a fan of the music of Pedro González Arbona, or film music in general.  In my last post about Pedro’s latest CD, Memories, I gave my readers a glimpse into the making of his CD.  In this post, I am taking you on a musical adventure of the sound, movement, and artistic beauty that these songs entail.  (Click on any of the song names in this post to sample or purchase the song through Amazon.)

Memories CD Cover

Memories: A Musical Adventure

Have you ever noticed when you watch the beginning of a film how the music fills the theater as the name of the movie, main actors, director and key production personnel appear on the screen?  It is a glimpse into the music to come.  Often it is blending of some of the songs for that movie, or maybe a medley like an overture in a musical.

Memories starts in the same way with track 1, aptly named “Opening Titles.”  It is a large and extravagant piece that showcases Pedro’s musical talent and ability to draw the audience into the songs (or scenes) that follow.

Track 2 is one of Pedro’s most beautiful compositions, “The Great Beauty.”  What can I say about a song whose title sums up the music that it portrays?  Delicate, soothing, and distinctive notes from the piano, oboe, harp, and building up to the addition of some mellow horns.  Yes, it is a great beauty! (Select the song title on the media player on the right sidebar to hear this song in full.)

I first heard this beauty a few months before the screening of Pedro’s new movie, Tempting Fate.  I was already privy to his submitted work on the Tempting Fate soundtrack.  This piece seemed to take his work to an even higher level.  Yes, his work is (was) destined for the big screen.

Memories CD back cover

There are several other songs on this CD that are soft songs that would accompany slow or romantic movie scenes.  Some songs may lend themselves to a sad scene with strings accentuating the mood.

Which mood is really up to the listener.  They are all magical.  Included in this variety are “Memories,” “Dreams,” “The Crime,” “Ordinary Lives” (listen on the music player in the right sidebar), “Green View,” “Autumn,” and “Learning from Life.”

Memories contains several songs geared more on the dramatic side.  “Chaos” sounds like a scene right out of a drama or suspense film.  Riveting music that builds and takes you along with the action, glued to the music and the movie, awaiting the finale.

Another large song is “Flying.”  This song reminds me of a patriotic piece or something maybe in a war movie.  It takes me back to movies from years ago.  I can envision an old black and white movie playing as the victory is won in a waging battle.

Epic” is a song meant for a dramatic or suspenseful scene as the music builds.  The music (and the scene) end with a slow fade.  If action movies are your favorite genre, then “Action Theme” will be the song for you.  This song was used by KevStel, producer of Tempting Fate, in a short trailer alert for the movie, but was not on the soundtrack released in February 2015.  Watch the video below to check out how they used this dramatic music.

The last song on the CD is a sentimental favorite of mine, “Kalinda.”  This is Pedro’s first song that was composed for a movie.  It dates back to February 2013 when he first started to experiment with adding strings and other instruments to his piano compositions.  It was used as the trailer music for Thirst for Love, a Spanish short film directed by Chani Bas.  Check out the video below to watch the trailer and listen to “Kalinda.”

Hear it for Yourself

Memories is really music for the movie that is yet to be written.  It is from the movie in Pedro’s mind.  In time, some of these songs may accompany a movie in a theater near you.  Until then, please support Pedro’s music dreams by purchasing his CD, reviewing the music online, and liking his professional Facebook page, Pedro González Arbona, composer.

Want a copy for yourself?  Here’s the purchase links and methods to listen to his music:

Digital Downloads

Streaming

Or purchase the physical CD through my site.

For more information about Pedro González Arbona and his music, visit pgarbona.com.  Stay tuned for more updates on Pedro’s musical career and breaking news about the premiere of Tempting Fate across Nigeria and Ghana in July.

Tempting Fate in Houston, Part 3 ~ Meet the Press

While Pedro González Arbona, a young Spanish film composer, and I attended the VIP screening of Tempting Fate (produced by KevStel Group) in Houston over the 4th of July last year, we walked the red carpet and witnessed much of the paparazzi and press attention directed at the actors and movie producers.  Pedro had his time in the spotlight as well.  It was indeed an exciting evening!

On the red carpet at the Tempting Fate premiere, July 4, 2014, Houston, TX.

On the red carpet with Pedro González Arbona at the Tempting Fate premiere, July 4, 2014, Houston, TX.

I was proud to be there for Pedro, traveling from Seattle, just to meet up for this special milestone in his life.  An avid photographer myself, I was happy to join in with the professional photographers to capture the memories for Pedro’s portfolio as well.  I expect that was only the first of many opportunities Pedro will have to participate in these types of events.

Opportunities to Meet the Press

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this series, Pedro had live press interviews the night of the premiere.  He was interviewed on the red carpet by two Houston stations: Sky Houston, from Majic 102.1 radio station and Usenika Usoro from Afro Centric Television Network. (Unfortunately my requests for copies of these interviews went unanswered.)

The next day, Pedro was scheduled to do a television interview for SpeaksTV, a local cable channel in Houston.  Most of the actors had arrived in Houston before the movie screening and already had their interviews.  They were on their way back to LA and other locations across the U.S. that they called home.

Watch the short video clip below for a teaser with each person in the show!

Like the night before, we were again direction and GPS challenged on our travels in the Houston area.  This time the GPS led us in a very circuitous route over surface streets to a multi-story office building outside of downtown.  There were virtually no cars in the parking lot on this Saturday afternoon, the building was locked, and we couldn’t find a sign to confirm we were at the right place.  We used the after-hours security phone and finally reached someone who could let us in the building.

In the ‘Green Room’

When we arrived at the television studio, we were greeted by Kevin Nwankwor, Tempting Fate producer/director.  We apologized for our tardiness, but luckily there was no harm done as there were other interviews still in progress.  We sat in the green room (my comical name for the waiting room, in reference to the TV guest’s pre-interview room commonly referred to on NBC’s Tonight Show).  While waiting, we conversed with Kevin and his wife and producer Unoma Nwankwor, executive producer Emmanuel Ojeah, and Ramsey Nouah, Nigerian actor and star of Tempting Fate.  Ramsey is the winner of the 2010 African Academy Award for a lead role in the Nigerian movie, Figurine.

Nollywood, Nigeria’s version of Hollywood, is a growing film industry and the 2nd largest in the world after Bollywood in India.  The Nwankwor’s are from Nigeria, and with Ramsey’s affiliation with Tempting Fate, the Nigerian audience is a very important market for this movie.  The movie will open in theaters across Nigeria on Friday, July 17, 2015.

While waiting for Pedro’s interview, we learned a bit about Nigeria.  At the time Nigeria was in the early aftermath of the kidnapping of a group of girls by terrorist Boko Haram.  The Nigerian government’s response was a hot topic of conversation.

Kevin Nwankwor (writer/director/producer), Pedro, and Unoma Nwankwor (producer)

Kevin Nwankwor (writer/director/producer), Pedro, and Unoma Nwankwor (producer)

I asked Ramsey about Nigeria’s spiritual climate in relation to the Christian theme of Tempting Fate.  Nigeria is equally divided between Christianity and Islam.  The conversation turned to social media.  In referencing Ramsey’s Facebook page (over 100,000 likes at the time), we found out that his identity had been stolen on Facebook and that the page wasn’t his.  He doesn’t use social media at all.  I was saddened to hear it, realizing how frustrating it would be to have that sort of false promotion and unauthorized use of one’s personal name.  It was shocking!

We were the last to go in for the interview.  Before we did, I gave Unoma, who is also a successful author of several Christian fiction novels, a signed copy of my book, Journeys to Mother Love.  She graciously offered me the opportunity to guest blog on her site, unomanwankwor.com.  That post, Author Spotlight ~ Ardis A. Nelson, was published in August 2014.

We bid the Nwankwor’s farewell, thanked them for their invitation to the premiere, and pledged our continuing support for the movie.

Pedro’s Interview at SpeaksTV

Pedro and I were greeted by Voké Ogueh, producer for Talk Time Show, the SpeaksTV program that was spotlighting Tempting Fate.  Voké was at the premiere the night before, but we didn’t get a chance to meet.

Tempting Fate 007

Voké prepping Pedro for his interview segments.

Talk Time Show is not filmed as an interview dialogue between two people but is pre-recorded as separate segments. I was invited to join Pedro in the interview, but declined.  This was Pedro’s moment to shine.  I watched the filming from behind the camera man’s angle, and occasionally coached him.

Pedro at ease in front of the camera.

Pedro at ease in front of the camera.

I could tell that Pedro was very accustomed to being in front of an audience.  He was a natural on camera and spoke with clarity and command.  (He has acted in several theatrical productions in Madrid, and also starred and co-directed “Noises Off” in December 2013.)  Not having the pleasure of seeing him act in person, and certainly not in English, this was a priceless experience for me.

Voké prepped Pedro telling him what they wanted to know about the movie’s music.  In the first segment Pedro explained how he composed the music, first being inspired and touched by reading the screenplay.  When he received the film, his music was inspired more by the actors and how moving the scenes were on screen.

Pedro and me with Voké on set at the SpeaksTV studio.

Pedro and me with Voké on set at the SpeaksTV studio.

In another video segment, Pedro was asked to describe some of the music.  He spoke about the Brother’s theme music that he wrote with multiple variations throughout the film, matching the mood of the scenes.  I watched Pedro compose some of that music while in Spain the year before and was quick to recognize it in the movie: violin, cello, and guitar—a trio of beautiful strings.

Voké was particularly interested in the African music in the movie.  In another segment, Pedro described how he added African instruments to some of the songs and a female African soprano was hired to add humming as well.

Pedro wrapped up his studio recording with a 15-second teaser for the show (below).  For the benefit of their Spanish speaking viewers in Houston, they also had him close the commercial teaser in Spanish.  We wrapped up our time at the studio with a few photos on the set.

Editing of the interviews and adding Pedro’s music to the final show took a few weeks.  The interview was broadcast in Houston on July 26 (video below) and posted on youtube.com for viewing online.  (Pedro’s segment starts at 9:30 into the video.)

Farewell to Houston

Pedro and I had a leisurely dinner at a very American restaurant at The Galleria and had a long overdue conversation to catch up on family and personal news.  We ended our day by reviewing, selecting, and posting a photo album on Pedro’s Facebook professional page. (Like it to show your support of his musical endeavors.)

The following day was reserved for a tour of the Johnson Space Center.  Pedro was on his way back to Madrid on Monday morning. It was a whirlwind trip—less than three days together on this once in a lifetime experience.

Click image to sample soundtrack or purchase on Amazon.

Click image to sample soundtrack or purchase on Amazon.

I’m ever so grateful that I was there to witness Pedro’s dreams come to life on the big screen.  His star is starting to rise.  For a few days it shined over Houston, soon it will shine across Nigeria as well, and hopefully over all of America too.

The Tempting Fate soundtrack will be released on February 12, 2015.  And then everyone will get to hear for themselves how great this soundtrack is.

Stay tuned for lots more exciting news about Tempting Fate and the music of Pedro González Arbona!

Tempting Fate in Houston, Part 2 ~ The Movie Screening

In Part 1 of this series on the Tempting Fate VIP movie screening in Houston on July 4th, Pedro González Arbona had performed at the pre-screening Meet and Greet, walked the red carpet and was interviewed by local media that was on site that evening.  Now it was time for the main event, the screening of Tempting Fate.

Tempting Fate VIP Screening FB Cover

Almost Show Time

We individually filed into the theater where the screening was to be held.  Our names had to be crossed off the attendee list before we were allowed to enter so there was a bit of a backup to enter the theater.  Oh my aching feet…the swelling and pain in my sprained foot were making it harder and harder to patiently wait our turn to enter the theater.

When we did we were directed to sit in one of the two rows of seats reserved in the center of the theater for actors and VIPs.  We sat sandwiched between the actors as we waited for the start of the movie.  Ramsey Nouah, winner of the 2010 African Academy Award for a lead role in Figurine, was seated to my left, and actress Trinitee Stokes on Pedro’s right.

The audience, can you spot us in the crowd?

The audience, can you spot us in the crowd?

Kevin Nwankwor, the producer/director/writer of Tempting Fate, was introduced and gave a few remarks to prepare us for the screening.

Let the Movie Begin

When the movie and the music started on the full sized theater screen, I’m sure my heart must’ve skipped a beat.  I knew Pedro’s music better than anyone there, except for Pedro, of course.  I had been captivated by these melodies and the moods they conveyed for as long as Pedro had been composing them.  They were the sounds of drama, action, brotherly love, romance, and sadness.  And now here they were larger than life for all to hear.

It was a strange feeling at first for me.  Being so personally familiar with the music, it was hard to separate my emotion and pride for Pedro’s work from watching the movie.  Initially there was a lot of chatter going on during the movie.  There were cheers at times and some laughter too.  At first it was a distraction for me.

However, as the plot began to unfold on screen and the characters’ relationships became intertwined, I got carried away in the story.  That is to say I was thoroughly engaged in the movie.  I didn’t want it to end.  And when it did, I wasn’t the only audience member with tears streaming down their face.  Pedro’s song, “Requiem,” was playing in the background of the gripping final scene, adding impact and emotion with his music.  It was simply beautiful.

As the credits began to roll up the screen, the audience was clapping and cheering for the movie.  Pedro’s name was one of the few with his name listed alone on the screen:  Music Composed by Pedro González Arbona.  Bravo Pedro!!!

Director Commentary

After the credits rolled off the screen and the lights came on, Kevin Nwankwor, the producer and director came to the front of the theater to address the audience.  Kevin shared his passion for the project and how difficult it was to make the movie.  His desire was to make it as much like a multi-million dollar movie as possible, but with the low budget that he had.  And he accomplished it all in two weeks!

Kevin Nwankwor addresses the audience.

Director Kevin Nwankwor addresses the audience.

He finished his commentary by sharing the message he wanted people to take away from the movie, and what he learned as a result of the project:

First, you don’t have a second chance in this life.  Like the brothers in the movie, you don’t know what will happen in the future.  You can’t do it by yourself.  It is God.  Do your best, work hard. But do the right thing.

Whatever it is you believe that you want to achieve, I want you to know that you can always achieve it.  The Tempting Fate movie has made me to understand that in this life nothing is impossible.

Applause filled the theater as the audience showed their appreciation and agreement with Kevin’s comments.

Q & A and More Photos

Next on the scheduled events was an opportunity for the audience to ask questions of the cast and crew.  Several of the actors were asked about how they got into character for their roles.

I patiently waited and wondered if someone would ask Pedro a question; and they did.  He was asked about the composing process.  Pedro stood up, and was acknowledged by the audience for his music.  He shared how he started by reading the script and making notes in the margin to identify scenes to add music too.  Then he begins composing the music.

Pedro fields a question from the audience.

Pedro fields a question from the audience.

At the end of the Q & A session, the night was not over yet.  Photographers and the press were still at the event, so the red carpet media frenzy continued longer into the night.  Pedro mingled more with the actors and crew.  I followed along with my camera and met people as well.

An End to the Fairy Tale

An after-party was planned at Zanzibar Lounge, in downtown Houston, into the early morning hours.  We graciously declined the invitation.  Pedro was still dealing with jetlag and sleep-deprivation from his 2-day travel ordeal.  As much as I didn’t want this night to end, I knew my feet (sprained foot) wouldn’t be able to tolerate any dancing anyway.

At the end of Cinderella’s night at the ball, her carriage turned back into a pumpkin.  In much the same way, our fairy tale evening didn’t have such a smooth ending either.  Although the hotel was only two miles from the theater, we got lost and spent almost an hour aimlessly driving around Sugar Land, TX.   Dead cell phones, no GPS, and closed services on the 4th of July all contributed to our sense of frustration and exhaustion.  Thankfully we met someone in a parking lot who could direct us back to our hotel.

Tempting Fate 150

When we pulled into the hotel parking lot, the limousine was parked outside waiting to take the cast and crew to the party.  Next time, I suspect that’ll be Pedro’s carriage.

When the clock struck midnight on July 4th, 2014, our day to remember was emblazoned forever in our minds, not as a fairy tale, but as a dream come true—with more on the way for the cast and crew of Tempting Fate.

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Post Screening Update:  Exciting things are definitely ahead for this movie.  In the two months since the Tempting Fate screening, KevStel Group has been working on the release of the soundtrack with Pedro’s original compositions, a new music video was shot in LA for the theme song, and they announced that the movie will be widely released in Nigeria on Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015. 

(Many photos for this post are courtesy of KevStel Group. You can view other photos on the Tempting Fate Facebook page.)

Updated 2/12/2015: The Tempting Fate soundtrack with Pedro’s music released today and is available on Amazon and iTunes. The movie release has been rescheduled to July 17, 2015 across Nigeria.

Tempting Fate in Houston, Part 1 ~ On the Red Carpet

When I last wrote about Pedro’s Tempting Fate* premiere in Houston, we were en route to the theater.  No limousine treatment for Mr. Pedro González Arbona.  That was reserved for the cast arrival later.  I was Pedro’s chauffeur for the night, and he was stuck with me.  No chauffeur’s cap like he suggested, but I bet I was the best dressed chauffeur at the event.  (His real limousine ride will happen in due time.)

Pedro arrives at the theater for his American composing film debut.

Pedro arrives at the theater for his American composing film debut.

I had many roles for Pedro that weekend.  I was his image consultant, his photographer, his personal biographer, his publicist and his manager.  Best of all, I was his friend.  At any given moment it was hard to separate which role I was playing.  As his benefactor and producer of his first CD, I was grateful to be there for his American movie debut.  It was all in God’s timing, for sure.

At the Keyboard

We arrived at the venue for the sound check, before all of the festivities started, and in advance of the other cast and crew.  Our first introductions were to Doyin Fashakin, the event planner (Events By Doyin).  It was her smooth talking and quick maneuvering that got the keyboard at the event on such short notice.  (Muchas gracias, Doyin!)

Pedro turned on the keyboard and started to practice, but there was no sound coming out of the auxiliary sound system!  I prayed silently—no more problems in Houston.  He fiddled with the cable connections a bit and music soon wafted through the theater reception area. (Answered prayer, thank you, God!)

A musical temptation straight from Madrid, Spain.

A musical temptation straight from Madrid, Spain.

What a delight it was to watch him play some of the soundtrack songs I’d been listening to for the last several months.  At one point, he threw in a sentimental favorite, Seattle, from his first CD.  No one was the wiser except me.  I proceeded to take plenty of photos and some video of Pedro performing.

On the Red Carpet

I didn’t know what to expect at this event.  I’d seen Hollywood premieres and red carpet events publicized on TV in the past.  It always looked so glamorous.  It seemed to be reserved for the biggest stars, and the beautiful people in Hollywood.  But here we were.

This was Pedro’s opportunity to bask in the limelight and to be acknowledged for his fantastic movie soundtrack.  I wanted to make sure that I fit in with the crowd as well.  Like most Hollywood actresses, I spent hours shopping for just the right dress, jewelry, shoes and so on.  After all, it was my fairy tale moment too.

On the red carpet with Pedro at the premiere of "Tempting Fate".

On the red carpet with Pedro at the premiere of “Tempting Fate”.

At the first break in Pedro’s music, we were asked by some fans to have our picture taken with them.  Those were posted on Facebook within minutes; and that was the start of the social media frenzy that ensued for the movie.  I was too busy with my digital camera to post online that night.  However, I did get some photos back to Pedro’s family in Spain.  I was also proud to be handing out Pedro’s business cards and pointing people to his Facebook pageLike, like, like.

Then we strolled over to the red carpet area.  The red carpet was laid down on an area between a row of life-sized movie posters to the left and a row of photographers and videographers on the right.  As you exited the second floor elevators into the event reception area you would walk right onto the red carpet and right into the line of paparazzi.  There are photos all over Facebook at Tempting Fate and Simon’s Aperture.

Pedro's interview with Unsenika Usoro from Afro Centric Television Network.

Pedro’s interview with Usenika Usoro from Afro Centric Television Network.

Media Interviews

We plunged into the fun and had our photos taken together.  Sky Houston, from Majic 102.1 radio station in Houston was on the red carpet interviewing people.  She asked Pedro how he heard of the event.  When he said he was the soundtrack composer, she interviewed him on the spot.  I introduced myself as well, but let Pedro do all of the talking.  He later said he was nervous, but it didn’t show.

Pedro’s second interview was with Usenika Usoro from Afro Centric Television Network in Houston.  Again Pedro did all of the talking, as I graciously walked off camera after our initial introductions.  That gave me the opportunity to get photos of Pedro during his interview.

Cast Arrival at the Meet & Greet 

Pedro performed on and off during the ‘meet and greet’ portion of the event.  People mingled and munched on fine appetizers and drinks in advance of the movie screening.  The Houston sky turned dark and a deluge of rain, thunder and lightning swept across the region just as the limousine carrying the actors arrived at the theater.  We watched from the balcony above as they did some publicity photos in the main theater lobby.

Watching overhead as the cast and crew arrive.

Watching overhead as the cast and crew arrive.

As luck would have it, the storm caused the power to go out to some of the theaters, but it did not affect our reception area.  It was also at this opportune time that the elevator lost its power and some of the actors were stuck between floors.  “Satan really doesn’t want this movie to get out,” I thought to myself as I sent another prayer up above.

Pedro meets John J Vogel, who plays Detective Travis in the movie.

Pedro meets John J Vogel, who plays Detective Travis in the movie.

When the power was restored and cast members started to have their turn at the red carpet treatment, the atmosphere turned more energetic and full of anticipation for the movie screening.  The cast had spent two weeks together filming the movie ten months earlier and now they were reunited.  They had formed a bond over the project.  They were like family, and the celebration certainly had that sort of feel to it.

Pedro on the other hand had watched the movie many times as he synchronized his music to the scenes.  He intimately knew the lines and the characters, but he never met the actors.  He was like an invisible collaborator, working remotely from Madrid.  He was very excited to meet everyone.

Kevin Nwankwor, the producer/director of Tempting Fate, is interviewed by Sky Houston, Majic 102.1 radio station.

Kevin Nwankwor, the producer/director of Tempting Fate, is interviewed by Sky Houston, Majic 102.1 radio station.

We watched from the sidelines as the actors and producers were interviewed by the media.  We had some brief opportunities to meet some of the cast.  They all knew who Pedro was and heard rave reviews of his music.  Pedro also finally met Kevin Nwankwor, his producer, face to face after almost exclusively communicating via email over the last ten months.

We were all here for the same reason.  We were eager and excited to see the VIP screening of Tempting Fate.  Stay tuned for the next post on Pedro’s musical pursuits to hear about the Tempting Fate movie.

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*Wondering where you can see this movie for yourself?  Tempting Fate was produced by KevStel Group, an independent production company based in Atlanta.  They are seeking distributors for release in 2015.

UPDATE 07/05/2016: Tempting Fate premiered in Lagos, Nigeria, during an all-star red carpet event in July 2015.  It ended up being one of the top 10 Nollywood movies of 2015. (Nollywood is the Nigerian movie industry, based in Lagos.)  The movie is one of the top 25 movies of all time in the Nollywood film industry. The movie is available to rent or purchase on Amazon or other streaming movie site.  Pedro’s music and other beautiful music from the movie is also available on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, and other music sites.

Houston We Have a Problem

It’s hard to believe that it’s been two weeks since traveling to Pedro’s Tempting Fate* movie première and my (his) so called fairy tale moment that I last wrote about. I’m back to reality in Seattle—integrating what feels like another major milestone and its emotions into my life. Pedro is back in Madrid celebrating his milestone with family and friends while preparing for the annual family holiday period on Mallorca—a place I got to experience myself last summer at this time.

However for 3.5 days in Houston I had the honor of watching the dreams of Pedro González Arbona come true—American style. Since I know friends and family are waiting to hear about the experience, I’m sharing it here without further delay. Please humor me as this is not my typical post, and is longer than usual.

Tempting Fate Cast & Crew

The cast & crew of ‘Tempting Fate’, produced by KevStel Group, at the Houston premiere, July 4, 2014.

Let me start by saying that while the evening and the weekend was a big success and we had a fantastic time, there were also many challenges that we had to face—separately and together. But like most dreams, there is a fair amount of work and determination involved to achieve them.

Destination Houston, U.S.A.

Getting Pedro to Houston was no small feat. For months we had been anticipating the Tempting Fate VIP private screening. Since Pedro was coming from such a long distance of 5,000 miles, the producer tried to get his flight sponsored by an airline. When that didn’t pan out, I lent my support by contacting people I knew in the travel industry. Unfortunately, none of that materialized into a ticket for Pedro either. He eventually got the funds on his own.

When it came time to purchase my tickets, I deliberately chose a flight that would arrive shortly before Pedro’s. I wanted to be at the gate upon his arrival and take photos as he departed the plane—to play the role of his paparazzi, an ongoing joke between us. Besides how often do you get the chance to actually meet someone at the airport gate anymore (post 9-11)?

Hurricane Arthur trackingAs I boarded my flight in Seattle, I knew Pedro was on the ground in Philadelphia waiting for his connecting flight to Houston. His flight was going to be slightly delayed. No worries, I thought—that just gives me some time to catch up on my writing.

When I landed in Houston and turned on my cell phone, my heart sank at the news that awaited me. His flight was cancelled due to hurricane Arthur; the airlines had put him up in a hotel, and he would arrive at 2 PM the next day—a mere four hours before the movie premiere. I was disappointed and deflated.

Navigating Houston on my Own

As I finally headed toward the baggage carousel at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, I was reminded of my travels from Mallorca to Barajas (Madrid) Airport last summer. I was expecting to be met by a mutual friend in Spain to help me with my luggage and checking in for the American leg of my flights home. He was a no show, and I was alone, just like I was now.

Houston mapOn this trip, I had been looking forward to Pedro’s help navigating through Houston to our hotel 40 miles away in Sugar Land, Texas. As I left the baggage claim area and walked out into the night air, I was hit with more reminders of Spain. The late night heat in Houston was thick with humidity and made my clothes stick to my skin. Then, even with the aid of a GPS, I was frustrated and lost within minutes of leaving the airport in my rental car.

Grounded Planes, But Spirits High

That night my sleep was interrupted multiple times with ‘pings’ from international text messages by Pedro’s parents and eventually from Pedro as well. When I went to bed the night before, I was ignorant to the havoc that hurricane Arthur was making along the East Coast.

I didn’t realize that the entire Philadelphia airport was closed down!

Within minutes of communicating with Pedro that morning, my adrenaline kicked into overdrive and I got out of bed to start researching flight activity at Philadelphia International Airport.

“What if they cancel my flight again and I’m too late for the premiere?” he asked me. “Pray everything is solved.”

“Of course,” I said trying to reassure him and calm his nerves. I was already multi-tasking in my mind, praying while texting him, and looking online for flight updates.

Flights were back on schedule at Philadelphia International Airport.

Flights were back on schedule at Philadelphia International Airport.

“Thank you, Lord for your mercy and your ways. Help us to lean on you and see you in the midst of our challenges. Give us peace. Clear the skies, literally, part the weather, and bring Pedro to Houston safely.”

“Amen,” he texted back.

Surprise Me God!

As soon as Pedro ended the chat, I was on my knees praying. “Surprise me God” has been a recurring prayer request lately as I let go of my expectations and give God greater freedom to work His ways and His will in my life. In the midst of the challenges we were facing, God managed to surprise us over and over again.

prayerTap, tap, tap was the noise I heard on the door, interrupting my prayers. It was Pedro’s producer. Wouldn’t you know it that for our first meeting I was in the hotel hallway in my robe and pajamas! Ok, that was a funny surprise God! But work was to be done.

For months Pedro and I waited for confirmation on whether he’d be able to perform at the premiere. His producer explained that the event planner was still trying to secure a keyboard for the event. That was another God-sized surprise, but no expectations on my part. After all, it was the 4th of July! How were they going to rent a keyboard on a holiday?

“Surprise me God! And Lord, while you’re at it, just get Pedro here safely and on time for the premiere.”

Our Airport Reunion

Saying that Texas is BIG is an understatement—likewise for the Houston airport. As luck would have it, I got lost at the airport trying to pick Pedro up. Although he didn’t check any luggage, we were to meet at the baggage claim area for his flight. What I didn’t know is that Houston has a baggage claim area for each terminal.

No broken bones, just a bruised ego.

No broken bones, just a bruised ego.

Under normal circumstances it would’ve been comical, but not when time was so limited. I rushed through the airport tram system between terminals to find Pedro, falling and twisting my foot in the process. In pain, and almost in tears, all I could think and selfishly pray was “please let me be able to walk the red carpet with Pedro and wear my new high-heeled shoes tonight!”

Meeting Pedro at the airport was a surreal moment for me. It had been almost a year since we last saw each other—saying farewell at the Palma Airport on Mallorca. And now through a twist of fate and the Lord’s favor, here we both were in a distant location thousands of miles from home. I almost didn’t recognize him. But when I heard him call my name, I followed the sound of his voice to catch a glimpse of him smiling near the baggage carousel.

After the standard European cheek kiss, now my routine greeting with my American friends as well, we rushed through the airport, tram system and all, (I hobbled), labored over finding the car in the parking garage labyrinth, and collapsed in the car. But before we drove away, we pulled his suit out of his luggage so the creases could fall out. There was no hope for his shirt though—ironing that would be my first job back at the hotel.

Arriving Houston

The composer and his paparazzi, I mean manager, finally reunited on American soil.

No More Problems in Houston

As we settled into our familiar conversations about life and our travels, Pedro texted his producer that he arrived and we were on our way to the hotel. His reply was the icing on the cake of God’s surprises for the day.  The keyboard was en route to the theater.  We just had to be there early for a sound check and for Pedro to get acquainted with the keyboard.

It would be a tight schedule for us, but none of that mattered. We’d be there; we’d be on time; and Pedro would perform—one of his greatest desires for the event.

Pedro toiled on the Tempting Fate soundtrack for nine months. We both faced many challenges in getting to the Houston premiere. Over the last few months, the famous line uttered by Astronaut Jim Lovell of Apollo 13 (portrayed by Tom Hanks in the movie), “Houston we have a problem,” seemed to be a recurring and somewhat comical theme; but no more.

As I rushed to dress for this Cinderella event, I marveled how we overcame each obstacle to get to this point in Pedro’s musical career. I was not going to let any more problems in Houston dampen his night. Even the pain and swelling in my foot was going to have to take a backseat to the joy in my heart. God was faithful and surprised us at each step along the way. We persevered!

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:4, NIV)

Stay tuned for my next post about Pedro’s musical pursuits to hear about the Tempting Fate red carpet event, the movie screening, and Pedro’s performance.

*Wondering where you can see this movie for yourself?  Tempting Fate was produced by KevStel Group, an independent production company based in Atlanta.  They are seeking distributors for release in 2015.

Update 2/12/2015: The Tempting Fate soundtrack has been released and the movie premieres across Nigeria and Ghana in July 2015.

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    I'm an author, writer, speaker, mentor & mom. I've struggled to find my voice all my life as I lived in the shadows of a mother with mental illness. Thankfully that was not the legacy that she handed down to me. It took a lot of recovery and deep healing work to rise above it.

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