Dancing in the Orange Glow

It was our last evening in Guatemala before returning home. We had traveled to Lake Atitlan to rest and reflect for a few days after an incredible I AM ART Camp at Casa Bernabe, an orphanage outside Guatemala City. My head was full of thought, so I went out for a walk by myself to soak up one last evening before eating dinner as a team. I wandered through the small town of Panajachel recounting countless stories from our many journeys to Guatemala … everything from our first trip in 2006 when we visited our son during his adoption process, to filming Becoming Fools. I must have been on autopilot because I didn’t have a specific destination in mind. But, I ended up at the back end of town, where a small river meets the lake – a place I had been to before under different circumstances. It had rained a little that afternoon and the air was cool and damp. Far in the distance the sun dipped into the horizon. I heard children playing and kept walking towards the source of that magical sound.

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Before I knew it, I was standing at the water’s edge watching a glorious sunset in one of the most beautiful places on earth. The scene was absolutely breathtaking. A red-orange glow reflected on the glassy water as the green mountains faded into the distance. Dark clouds rolled in to contrast the fireball laying down to sleep in the west. In the foreground children ran free, laughing and playing, calling out to one another as they and their parents looked to the sky.

I followed the sightline of their gaze up and was suddenly overwhelmed with a surreal emotion I couldn’t quite define. Long strings stretched from the hands of these children, crisscrossing into a purple sky … filled with dozens of colorful handmade kites dancing in the twilight. I paused for a moment to soak it in. For just a moment, I was transported back in time. This place of awesome beauty was the place of horrific tragedy just a short four years ago when a holy fool named Italo Castro drowned in these very waters, at this very place. I began to weep in remembrance. It was an odd feeling because I had only spent a few hours with him during the production of our first documentary, Reparando. But, this man significantly changed my life (and many others). I spent three years working on a documentary about the impact of his ministry to homeless children, and somehow, he felt like a brother.

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Four years ago, we mourned the loss of a hero. Four years ago we stepped forward in faith to share the legacy of his life in a way that would honor his life’s work to help children at-risk. Four years ago, we had no idea … how difficult … and how beautiful our journey would be. But in that moment at the water’s edge, all of the tragedy and comedy collided together into beautiful irony written by the hand of an author writing a greater story. After all, it was the weekend of All Saints Day and Día de Muertos, a holiday to remember loved ones who have passed away. In Guatemala, kites are flown during this holiday as a symbolic gesture to connect with the spirits in heaven. I had seen people flying kites all weekend, but these kites were different. These kites were like angels hovering over the water, quietly, but powerfully honoring a holy fool. The children, the place, the sunset, the memories – they all combined in a way that I could never quite understand nor communicate. I’ll just sum it up to say it was beautiful.

In that moment, my spirit was carried up with those kites, and I caught a glimpse of heaven. I imagined Italo looking down at the place where he breathed his last breaths on earth … and seeing so many children playing joyfully with their families … he smiled … and I smiled with him. In that moment, there was no tragedy, there was no comedy … there was only peace.

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Help us empower at-risk children through I AM ART.

Becoming Fools on YouTube

Becoming Fools Documentary Feature Film

[vc_row][/vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][/vc_column][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]We foolishly set out to produce a feature length documentary about a professional clown who served youth living in the streets of Guatemala. Why was it foolish? We didn’t have the financial resources to pull it off, it was in a foreign country and foreign language, it focused on a chaotic story with characters who lived in dangerous city streets, and to top it all … the main character of the story died when we were in pre-production.

But, we unanimously believed that God wanted us to share the story. So, we began the journey in faith. Now we’re adding another chapter to the story that many would consider foolish …[/vc_column_text][mk_fancy_title tag_name=”h2″ style=”false” color=”#393836″ size=”20″ font_weight=”bold” font_style=”inhert” letter_spacing=”0″ margin_top=”0″ margin_bottom=”18″ font_family=”none” align=”left”]You can watch Becoming Fools on YouTube for free![/mk_fancy_title][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rr9zaBQflo”][mk_fancy_title tag_name=”h2″ style=”false” color=”#393836″ size=”20″ font_weight=”bold” font_style=”inhert” letter_spacing=”0″ margin_top=”0″ margin_bottom=”18″ font_family=”none” align=”left”]Why? Because we want to empower at-risk youth through I Am Art.[/mk_fancy_title][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”10″]

At-risk youth are often caught in generational cycles of poverty because they lack the ability to dream beyond their current circumstances. We developed I Am Art to plant seeds of change by helping at-risk youth discover their unique identity in God’s greater story, and inspiring them to aspire together.

[/vc_column_text][mk_fancy_title tag_name=”h2″ style=”false” color=”#393836″ size=”20″ font_weight=”bold” font_style=”inhert” letter_spacing=”0″ margin_top=”0″ margin_bottom=”18″ font_family=”none” align=”left”]Becoming Fools is an I Am Art project.[/mk_fancy_title][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”10″]

Creatives mentored at-risk youth for over five months in a theatrical production that honored their mentor, Italo Castro. The entire process was documented in the Becoming Fools film, a compelling and symbolic story of God’s grace.

[/vc_column_text][mk_fancy_title tag_name=”h2″ style=”false” color=”#393836″ size=”20″ font_weight=”bold” font_style=”inhert” letter_spacing=”0″ margin_top=”0″ margin_bottom=”18″ font_family=”none” align=”left”]Watch it. Share it. Join us.[/mk_fancy_title][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″][/vc_column_text][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][mk_fancy_title tag_name=”h3″ style=”false” color=”#0ba9b9″ size=”25″ font_weight=”bolder” letter_spacing=”0″ margin_top=”10″ margin_bottom=”30″ font_family=”none” align=”center” font_style=”inhert” txt_transform=”uppercase”]HELP US EMPOWER 500 AT-RISK YOUTH IN 2015[/mk_fancy_title][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][mk_custom_box border_color=”” border_width=”1″ bg_color=”#f6f6f6″ bg_image=”” bg_position=”left top” bg_repeat=”repeat” bg_stretch=”false” predefined_bg=”” padding_vertical=”30″ padding_horizental=”20″ margin_bottom=”10″ min_height=”100″ visibility=”” animation=”” el_class=””][mk_font_icons icon=”mk-icon-money” color=”#0ba9b9″ size=”xx-large” margin_horizental=”4″ margin_vertical=”4″ circle=”false” align=”center” link=”https://Athentikos.com/give” target=”_self”][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”center” margin_bottom=”0″]

GIVE

Sponsor a child for as little as $17/month

[/vc_column_text][mk_button dimension=”two” corner_style=”pointed” size=”medium” outline_skin=”dark” outline_active_color=”#ffffff” outline_hover_color=”#333333″ bg_color=”#eb7f2c” btn_hover_bg=”#252525″ text_color=”light” icon_anim=”none” url=”https://Athentikos.com/give” target=”_self” align=”center” fullwidth=”true” button_custom_width=”0″ margin_top=”0″ margin_bottom=”15″]GIVE A DONATION[/mk_button][/mk_custom_box][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][mk_custom_box border_color=”” border_width=”1″ bg_color=”#f6f6f6″ bg_image=”” bg_position=”left top” bg_repeat=”repeat” bg_stretch=”false” predefined_bg=”” padding_vertical=”30″ padding_horizental=”20″ margin_bottom=”10″ min_height=”100″ visibility=”” animation=”” el_class=””][mk_font_icons icon=”mk-icon-plane” color=”#0ba9b9″ size=”xx-large” margin_horizental=”4″ margin_vertical=”4″ circle=”false” align=”center” link=”https://Athentikos.com/give” target=”_self”][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”center” margin_bottom=”0″]

GO

Join an I Am Art Trip

[/vc_column_text][mk_button dimension=”two” corner_style=”pointed” size=”medium” outline_skin=”dark” outline_active_color=”#ffffff” outline_hover_color=”#333333″ bg_color=”#eb7f2c” btn_hover_bg=”#252525″ text_color=”light” icon_anim=”none” url=”https://athentikos.com/iamart/i-am-art-application/” target=”_self” align=”center” fullwidth=”true” button_custom_width=”0″ margin_top=”0″ margin_bottom=”15″]JOIN THE TEAM[/mk_button][/mk_custom_box][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Becoming Fools Deleted Scene: Panchorizo

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Many scenes in a documentary morph over the course of editing, and others end up on deleted on the “cutting room floor”. We captured 5 Terabytes of footage for Becoming Fools over the course of two years, so we had a lot of material to work with. I wrestled with the footage for about ten months as I edited the story, focusing in on the journey of street youth as they prepared for a theatrical event on a professional stage. One scene that ended up being cut is the Panchorizo Event.

Panchorizo is an incredibly talented entertainer in Guatemala who performs as a comedian, acrobat, and musician for audiences of all ages. During Becoming Fools, we took a few of the street youth to his performance at the Guatemalan National Theatre to inspire them. Panchorizo began performing in the streets of Guatemala and is now a full time professional artist who performs to sold out shows. I loved the motivation of the scene: the youth caught a glimpse of what is possible when someone devotes themselves to something and works hard at it. But sometimes we need to cut things that we like.

Panchorizo was originally supposed to be very involved with the Becoming Fools film, but he became very busy with his work and didn’t have the margin to join the cast. So, this was the only scene with Panchorizo. It is a fun scene with a lot of laughs, but in the editing process, we decided that it didn’t really push the story forward, so we cut it from the film. Thankfully we can still share it in this form.

Becoming Fools at Sundance, What?

Becoming Fools at Sundance, What?

I should start right off by saying, no, Becoming Fools did not get into the Sundance Film Festival… well, not as an official selection that is. The long story short is, Canon, the world renown camera maker, contacted us through their marketing firm and had seen some of the work I had done with one of their cameras. They especially noticed that I had used the camera exclusively while shooting Becoming Fools back in 2012. They asked permission to possibly use some clips from the film in some of their marketing campaigns. We agreed, even signed a disclosure statement, but then did not hear of what came of the footage, whether it was used or not.

However, we just got word recently that they did use the clips and that footage is featured in their demo reel which is being showcased at the Sundance Film Festival. Sundance is already underway and will continue till January 26th.

So if you’re attending the festival, work your way to any of the Canon exhibits and catch the showreel in action. If you’re not attending the festival, don’t worry, we have a video of the footage here.

We are thrilled and honored to have the Becoming Fools right up there with films by directors and cinematographers of the likes of Ron Howard, Scott Waugh, Shane Hurlbut ASC, Steven Poster ASC, and Anthony Dod Mantle ASC, just to name a few. If those names do not sound familiar look any of them up at http://imdb.com and you will see the long, extensive and impressive work these filmmakers have done… Becoming Fools is in good company!

Join us in sharing the excitement of this news by sharing this post! And feel free to comment on how many times you see footage from the film. Hint: There’s 4!

Deliver The Story
: The Canon Showreel at PhotoPlus 2013 from Canon Pro on Vimeo.

Becoming Fools at Sundance, What?

A Fools Guide to sharing Becoming Fools

A Fools Guide to Sharing Becoming Fools

We understand it can be overwhelming with all of the different social networks and all the ways to share something, even when you’re eager to share it! And we know many of you have asked us, “how can I spread the word about Becoming Fools?” So we decided to make it easy for you. Below we provided all of the current social media outlets we are active on, our home pages, hashtags to use and even some sample messaging. We hope this will make it easier and more effective to share your excitement about Becoming Fools and the issues of homelessness and at-risk youth the film addresses.

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Our Homepages

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Instagram
Youtube
Vimeo
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Hashtags and ID’s

@Athentikos
#BecomingFools
#atriskyouth
#homelessyouth
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[clear]

Sample Messaging

Just copy [Cntrl+C] and paste [Cntrl+V] any of the text blocks below into Facebook, Twitter, Google+, any social media outlet where you can share content.

It took @Athentikos over 2 years to produce it. Now’s the time to launch it. #BecomingFools http://bit.ly/19tSWNl

#BecomingFools is finished. Help @Athentikos launch the screening tour! http://bit.ly/19tSWNl

Help #atriskyouth by supporting the #BecomingFools Screening Tour http://bit.ly/19tSWNl @Athentikos

#BecomingFools is complete, help @Athentikos now get an audience to see it and raise awareness of #homelessyouth http://bit.ly/19tSWNl

A Fools Guide to Sharing Becoming Fools

Wrestling With Thanksgiving

I’m wrestling with Thanksgiving.

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I’m not wearing a Lucha Libre mask, leaping high off the ropes to grapple a turkey (although that would be epic). I’m talking about being honest with myself about what I’m thankful for.

I’m typically thankful for the good things in my life:

God, Family, Food, Shelter, Health, Education, Friends, Travel … things that warm my heart and put a smile on my face.

But what about the other stuff?

What about the stuff that has angered me, saddened me, or hurt me? What about the things that have really been a struggle? Am I thankful for those things? What things fit into that category? Depending on my perspective (or lack of one) … anything can.

I’ve been immersed in Becoming Fools for the last three years. It has been a stressful journey and I have found myself growing more and more exhausted … and less and less thankful for the opportunity to be involved with the project. I used to feel the same way about Reparando. But that changed over time, after we released the film.

Like most humans, I forget too easily.

During my Becoming Fools scouting trip in 2011, Tita asked me to personally attend a screening of Reparando. I was honored for the invite, but was exhausted from two weeks of 16 hour days interviewing people and capturing footage in Guatemala City. Part of me wanted to just go back to my room and go to sleep. I couldn’t understand why it made a difference if I was there. I thought, “I am just a silly Gringo. They won’t care. And besides … I’m in Guatemala for Becoming Fools, not Reparando.” But Tita was persistent. She said she really wanted me to come. So, we drove straight from our production across the city to a church near La Limonada. Tita met us outside the church with hugs and we watched the film from the back of the room.

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After the film ended, Tita called Shorty and I to come up in front. She hugged me, and while everyone was clapping, they presented a gift from the people of La Limonada: A T-shirt covered with signatures of people who live in La Limonada … People who were very thankful we made the film. I could not have been more wrong about … everything.

My perspective was renewed.

Reparando brought me closer to many things in the list I made above – God, family, friends, education, and travel. On a personal level, it helped me understand my sons’ stories in a way that I could never grasp otherwise. On a broader level, Reparando has inspired countless resources given to mission that have blessed people with much more struggle than I could ever image – people who are very thankful.

I believe that Becoming Fools will do the same eventually. So why am I wrestling with thanksgiving over Becoming Fools? I’m human. I forget. That’s why we’re called to be transformed by the renewing of our mind (continually refocusing our perspective on truth). We forget. That’s one of the reasons we celebrate Thanksgiving: to remember. I am personally challenged to remember things that might not seem to easily fit into a warm and fuzzy Thanksgiving box. Because most of the time, I’m just trying to put these things in the box from the wrong angle.

Here’s the right angle:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Everything fits in the Thanksgiving box with the right angle.

It’s not easy, but hopefully if I continue to wrestle, Thanksgiving will eventually win with a knockout.

What Thanksgiving do you wrestle with?

Homeless Youth Aren't Always Orphans

Homeless youth aren’t always orphans.

Becoming Fools documents the intriguing story of homeless youth in Guatemala learning to heal through the art of clowning. During production, we developed friendships with youth who began living on the streets when they were 7 years old – and we learned a lot about the issue. One of the most profound revelations is that a great number of these youth living in the streets actually have family that they could return to. But these youth choose to remain in the streets.

Some children lose their families. But many other youth CHOOSE to live in the streets – sleep in the rain, eat scraps from a dumpster, disengage from society, constantly “exist” in the threat of harm, and fall into the trap of drug addiction or prostitution …  etc … rather than return home to a roof and company of a family? Why? Often, it’s because violent city streets are actually more peaceful than the homes they left behind. It’s difficult to wrap my mind around that fact. But, I grew up in a healthy family.

Many of these youth were born into extreme conditions that will continue to incubate drug addiction, child labor, violence, and abuse … unless something changes the paradigm and endless cycle.

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Becoming Fools features stories from youth who fled to the streets for different reasons – but in a way, are exactly the same. Mefi lost both of his parents when he was 7 years old and moved in with a family member who abused him. Sandy was sent to the streets at an early age to sell candy to help provide income for her family. She was beaten when she didn’t return home with her quota. Raul lost his mother at an early age and lived with his alcoholic father who repeatedly abused him. They all have family … but their family members are abusive. They are guaranteed to be abused at home. At least there is a small chance of peace in the streets.

street_youth_01

It’s an extreme issue in Guatemala that doesn’t have an easy solution. For many reasons, there isn’t yet a strong culture of adoption and foster care in Guatemala, but that wouldn’t matter anyway. These children aren’t orphans. There isn’t a strong social services program with funding and resources to intervene. Unfortunately, Guatemala is riddled with violence and many people confuse homeless youth with violent delinquents (gang members, drug traffickers, organized crime) and ignore opportunities to make a difference. As result, these youth slip under the radar as they wander the streets trying to survive.

youth_clown_01

youth_clown_02

But all is not lost. There are organizations responding to the issue, developing relationships with these youth and working with them day to day, in the hopes that their lives will be healed and transformed. During Becoming Fools production, we saw first hand how these “fools” pour their passion into the uphill battle of rescuing and rehabilitating homeless youth. On one occasion, a couple organizations partnered together so street youth from Guatemala City could share their clown performance with orphans outside of Antigua. Part of this event ended up in the final cut of the film and the symbolic significance of the event still echoes in my mind: homeless youth clowning for orphans, organizations partnering together, and joy conquering tragedy.

Help us conquer tragedy with joy by giving a tax deductible donation to the Becoming Fools Screening Tour.

Homeless Youth Aren’t Always Orphans

Homeless youth aren’t always orphans.

Becoming Fools documents the intriguing story of homeless youth in Guatemala learning to heal through the art of clowning. During production, we developed friendships with youth who began living on the streets when they were 7 years old – and we learned a lot about the issue. One of the most profound revelations is that a great number of these youth living in the streets actually have family that they could return to. But these youth choose to remain in the streets.

Some children lose their families. But many other youth CHOOSE to live in the streets – sleep in the rain, eat scraps from a dumpster, disengage from society, constantly “exist” in the threat of harm, and fall into the trap of drug addiction or prostitution …  etc … rather than return home to a roof and company of a family? Why? Often, it’s because violent city streets are actually more peaceful than the homes they left behind. It’s difficult to wrap my mind around that fact. But, I grew up in a healthy family.

Many of these youth were born into extreme conditions that will continue to incubate drug addiction, child labor, violence, and abuse … unless something changes the paradigm and endless cycle.

cast-600w

Becoming Fools features stories from youth who fled to the streets for different reasons – but in a way, are exactly the same. Mefi lost both of his parents when he was 7 years old and moved in with a family member who abused him. Sandy was sent to the streets at an early age to sell candy to help provide income for her family. She was beaten when she didn’t return home with her quota. Raul lost his mother at an early age and lived with his alcoholic father who repeatedly abused him. They all have family … but their family members are abusive. They are guaranteed to be abused at home. At least there is a small chance of peace in the streets.

street_youth_01

It’s an extreme issue in Guatemala that doesn’t have an easy solution. For many reasons, there isn’t yet a strong culture of adoption and foster care in Guatemala, but that wouldn’t matter anyway. These children aren’t orphans. There isn’t a strong social services program with funding and resources to intervene. Unfortunately, Guatemala is riddled with violence and many people confuse homeless youth with violent delinquents (gang members, drug traffickers, organized crime) and ignore opportunities to make a difference. As result, these youth slip under the radar as they wander the streets trying to survive.

youth_clown_01

youth_clown_02

But all is not lost. There are organizations responding to the issue, developing relationships with these youth and working with them day to day, in the hopes that their lives will be healed and transformed. During Becoming Fools production, we saw first hand how these “fools” pour their passion into the uphill battle of rescuing and rehabilitating homeless youth. On one occasion, a couple organizations partnered together so street youth from Guatemala City could share their clown performance with orphans outside of Antigua. Part of this event ended up in the final cut of the film and the symbolic significance of the event still echoes in my mind: homeless youth clowning for orphans, organizations partnering together, and joy conquering tragedy.

Help us conquer tragedy with joy by giving a tax deductible donation to the Becoming Fools Screening Tour.