Finding A Bridge: Behind the Scenes in Guatemala

Finding A Bridge

Our mission: to find a bridge in Guatemala that was visually epic!

Scott and I recently got back from Guatemala after spending over two weeks in country. We were capturing footage for a new short story video for the organization AMG International. We are not strangers to filming in Guatemala. In fact, it’s at times very automatic, we are aware of the hurdles as well as some of the benefits of producing visual content in this beautiful Central American country.

In many ways it’s much more different to film in Guatemala than filming in the United States. You have the sense at times that everyone is watching you when you have a camera out… for me, personally, its unnerving at times. But there are many moments in which we’ve pulled off shooting in some locations that we’d never be able to achieve in the States!

So as part of our concept for this new short story video, the challenge of finding a bridge that was epic visually in some ways didn’t really phase us but at the same time, we weren’t really sure what to expect.

For the first four days after our arrival we visited some bridges around Guatemala City, even taking a 90 minute jaunt outside the capital to see an old Spanish bridge built in the 1500’s. We viewed many photos and videos and asked many locals about bridges in the area. The process was a little tedious and we didn’t want to settle on something less than epic!

After we had ruled out most of the possibilities, our friend and fellow filmmaker Rafa Tres suggested a hanging bridge and showed us video of it from when he had shot some footage for a short film. Scott and I had wide eyes after seeing the footage. It was truly epic! Not necessarily the type of bridge we had in mind but the scenery around the bridge was beautiful!

Rafa had informed us the bridge was a couple of hours outside the city so after looking at the calendar, we gathered our two cast members and some local help and we set the date!

We set off for the location. There was a slight caveat however. No one in our circle really knew the exact location of this bridge. We knew the general area according to Rafa’s instructions but even he could not remember the exact location. But, not to be deterred we set off.

After about 90 minutes of driving we stumbled across a little village that bordered a river. it so happened to have an old railroad bridge that the villagers used to get across the river from the village to the market areas. The railroad is no longer there but the bridge still remains. We decided to stop and observe to see if this could be another possible location for what we needed. After a few minutes of walking around and scouting the area we decided to go ahead and get some shots at this particular bridge given the uncertainty of finding the hanging bridge we set out to find.

Finding A Bridge

Finding A Bridge

We filmed enough footage that we felt good about what we captured that if we did not find the hanging bridge, we got what we needed. Yet, at least for me, we have already come out this far, nearly two hours from Guatemala City, it seemed like a waste to turn around now and settle for what we just captured. Thinking we only had about another 30 or 45 minutes to go, I urged us to continue and the group agreed.

About 30 minutes later we decided to stop and ask someone if they knew the where a bouts of the bridge, thinking we were getting close. When we found someone that knew the bridge we were describing, they stated it was on the other side of Mazatenango, about 30 minutes down the road. Feeling a little discouraged we continued on.

Another 30 minutes later we still hadn’t come upon Mazatenango so we stopped again. This time, we were told that Mazatenango was still another 30 minutes away! Ugh! Well, we have come this far, may as well keep going. But by now, the afternoon rains had started to come and we were starting to wonder if we would ever find the bridge.

We finally came upon Mazatenango and some relief was felt among the group. While in town we decided to stop and ask someone if they knew where exactly the bridge was. To our amazement, the person we asked had said… you guessed it… another 30 minutes outside the city. By now the situation was getting comical! But, we still continued on.

By now we had been driving collectively for for nearly 4 hours. We were tired, it had been raining, the time taking to get to the bridge now was twice as long than what we planned for. The doubt that we would ever find this bridge was so plentiful you could cut it with a knife!

But then we started to see a deep ravine and some water falls. We saw the mile marker in which we were told to look for and we turned off the main road. We could sense we were getting closer. The road followed the deep ravine so we knew we were in the right place. We went through a small village where we stopped again to ask someone where the bridge was. They told us it was in the direction we were headed. It was still raining but it didn’t matter, at this point we were not turning back.

Finally after the coming off the paved road and we were sloshing through mud and water, up ahead we saw where the road ended… at the ravine. But, we still couldn’t see the bridge. We pulled up near the edge where a few locals were huddled under a simple open air roof. We asked them if this is where the bridge was and they all pointed just off to our right. Excited, we parked the van, jumped out to have a look. And there it was!

Just then, the rain had pretty much stopped but we heard thunder in the background. We needed to take advantage of this break in the rain so quickly Scott and I grabbed the camera bags and shouted out orders to have out cast ready to begin walking across the bridge as we rushed to our vantage point in which we were going to shoot, a second, older bridge about 200 feet away!

Finding A Bridge
Bobby setting up his shot while standing in the middle of the old bridge, which you can see is not much wider than a man, suspended about 150 feet in the air!
Finding A Bridge
Scott setting up the camera, ready to shoot from the old bridge.

As you can see, the shoot was a success and the location of the bridge was grand, beautiful and very much epic! Not only did determination paid off but God rewarded us by halting the rain just long enough for us to capture some amazing footage. Literally, after about 30 minutes of shooting the rain started again but we knew we had what we needed.

Finding A Bridge

The Implosion of Becoming Fools

A year ago today, we were in Guatemala documenting the implosion of Becoming Fools.

We were three days away from a big theatrical event called “Voz de las Calles”, which was the culmination of five months of rehearsals with street youth and professional entertainers. The road had not been entirely smooth. In fact, there were some major hurdles along the way. But, with the help of gracious volunteers, it looked like they were going to pull it off.

And then … three days before the show, the bottom dropped out …

One of the street youth with a leading role in the play had been in drug rehabilitation for a year. Three days before the show, he left his rehab and went back to the streets to consume drugs. My heart was broken. This guy wasn’t a “street youth” to me – he was a friend. I was rooting for him and his peers as they wrestled towards their goal of performing on a Guatemalan Broadway Stage.

A year ago today, we didn’t know if they would be able to pull it off. It seemed impossible:

  • Most of the cast were youth who still lived in the streets
  • The original director wrecked his motorcycle and couldn’t continue with the project
  • Funds had not been raised to pay for the theater rental
  • The cast had never finished the entire play in rehearsal
  • One of the lead characters left the show 3 days before the event
05.31.13_02
The cast rehearses a symbolic scene where the hero is attacked by shadows.
05.31.13_03
This is probably how Roberto, the theatrical director felt, as he tried to pull the show together in three days.
05.31.13_04
Scott Moore documents the implosion of Becoming Fools, on his knees.
05.31.13_05
A tired cast receives notes after rehearsal.
05.31.13_06
The night ended with conflict as one of the cast members quit the show.

We didn’t know what would happen a year ago, but we all walked forward in faith .. Becoming Fools.

We captured a beautiful story that walks a tightrope between tragedy and comedy.

Fast forward to today …

We feel much like we did a year ago. It seems impossible.

We never raised the money needed to finish the film. But we believed in the project, so we subsidized it with our blood, sweat, tears, and personal savings.

The good news is that the film is finished.

The bad news is that so is our funding.

We need your help to share the story.

Will you join us in Becoming Fools and give a tax-deductible donation to help us release the film?

Give a tax-deductible donation.

 

Diving Into Documentary Production

Strong waves on Guatemala's south coast.

Diving into documentary production is like diving into the ocean. It’s breathtakingly beautiful, but you can easily drown in it.

A year ago today I said goodbye to my family to spend 2 1/2 months in Guatemala producing Becoming Fools. At the time, I was anxious to get to Guatemala to start capturing the story. I had been directing the production from the US for a couple months and that proved to be quite frustrating. Every day there was a new conflict and obstacle that seemed to distract forward momentum. At least that’s what it felt like, because bad news travels fast – especially when you are trying to do something good. So, I hopped on a plane to dive into this film and immerse myself in something I felt called to do.

Saying goodbye to my son to go to Guatemala for 2.5 months to produce Becoming Fools.

I thought my presence in Guatemala would somehow bring continuity to production. I thought that things would be easier once I was physically in the country. But, I thought wrong. Proximity to conflict doesn’t give you any advantage to control it. It wasn’t any easier. It was just a different kind of difficulty – and in many ways, even more difficult. I was simply closer to the waves that kept crashing down on everything and was quickly carried out to sea just like everyone else. But I know two things about waves that also hold true for documentary film production:

  1. Don’t fight the current
  2. Never swim alone

Charles Dickens was onto something when he wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness …” That prophetic description held true for the Becoming Fools production. It was grueling. It was stressful. It was absolutely heart wrenching at times. But, it was also one of the most joyful times of my life. I locked arms with close friends and purposefully dove into the crushing breakers with them because we believed in something greater than ourselves. We were all swept away by the crashing waves and pushed beyond our comfort zones. But somehow, “together was better” because we weren’t swimming alone. It was this community – this mutual trust and interdependency that gave us confidence to keep going in the face of enormous adversity. We all dove in together.

This is what you call irony – because in reality, none of us knew how to swim in the first place.

None of us had the capacity to accomplish the goal. All of us had failed at some point. We weren’t the dream team and at times it felt like a real nightmare. But somehow our group of incapable individuals was made capable, because it was called together by the One who makes all things possible. In this calling, my incapacity gives someone else strength … and vice versa, when we are committed to each other in the collaborative process.

But working together it isn’t easy. It’s ugly and full of dysfunction in the process. We all make mistakes at times and hurt each other in ways that would seem to prevent anything from being accomplished. A group of frightened people climbing on each other, gasping for air to survive in a surging tide will almost certainly drown each other. But we have a life raft if we will choose the right perspective. Somehow over the long run, the ugliness cancels itself out in a beautiful algebraic expression of grace, if the equation is built on a constant of God’s love. That love makes up for our mistakes and turns our pride of self ambition into a sacrifice for others. Thankfully, that love is a life raft big enough for all of us.

I dove into the ocean of documentary production hoping to make a difference in the lives of youth living in the streets. I’ve spent the last year being tossed around by a current I cannot control, and I still have no idea where it’s taking me. But, with help from my fellow fools, I’ll keep holding on to this life raft of love that transforms an ocean filled with broken people into an ark of redeeming grace, capable of bringing hope to distant shores.

 

You can join the story. Click below to give a tax-deductible donation to Athentikos.

Give a tax-deductible donation.

Behind The Scenes: Cameras!

Behind The Scenes: Cameras!

I recently created and published a video talking about one of the cameras we used on the ‘Becoming Fools’ production, the Canon C300. I got such a great response I decided to also publish it here as well. I know it’s more of a tech type video but I added quite a bit of behind the scenes footage in the video itself so it was worth sharing to those who like to view that sort of thing.

To view the full post on my own personal blog, you can check that out by clicking here.

Why do we keep marching forward in something that seems so foolish?

We are fools.

Why do we keep marching forward in something that seems so foolish?

Seriously, sometimes I wonder if I am just stubborn or stupid. Either way, we are foolish for marching forward. Today, I finally finished editing Becoming Fools … and …  we received our first response back from a film festival in which we submitted the film. It went like this:

“I’m sorry to inform you that your project was not selected … Best of luck with your future projects.”

Not the most encouraging news on this milestone of production …

Now, let me set the stage for this message. I’ve been working on the Becoming Fools documentary for two years; full time for the last year and a half. And really … Full time is an understatement. It’s more like 16 hours a day, 6 days a week. I don’t share this for sympathy. I share it to reinforce the fact that I am truly, without a doubt … foolish.

From the very beginning, every step of this journey has been foolish. It’s been a marathon of impossible hurdles strung together to taunt our souls to give up:

▪    The protagonist of the story died while we were in pre-production.
▪    Amelia and I lost our day jobs within 3 weeks of each other & we were left without secure income.
▪    Our Kickstarter fundraiser failed to raise the funds we needed to produce the film.
▪    Funds were not raised to pay for the live theatrical event which is documented in the film.
▪    The lead character of the live theatrical event quit and went back to the streets.
▪    485 hours of footage needed to be translated before we could edit it down to feature length
▪    The edit took 5 months of working 16 hours a day, six days a week.
▪    We missed the opportunity to enter several large film festivals for the season.
▪    Technical difficulties made finalizing the edit very difficult.
▪    Our 1st Film Festival notice was negative.
▪    We don’t have any funds to release the film.

… And yet we continue …. WHY?

There are days in which I wonder if I have wasted the last few years of my life investing into this foolish endeavor. Somedays it stings the very core of my being and I feel like a total failure.

But then I take a deep breath and remember why we started this project: it is a story that needs to be shared so that it may inspire.

What is failure? What is foolish? Italo could be considered both. He lived his life according to the passion that God gave him. He risked his life in dangerous city streets to care for kids who were not likely to change. In fact, most of the kids he cared for still wrestle with some sort of addiction and never totally left the streets. But Italo didn’t die in the streets where he risked his life. And … His passion was reborn into not just one person, but an entire community of fools that believe they can make a difference together.

Was Italo a fool? Yes. Was he a failure? Absolutely not.

Like Italo, we continue because we ARE fools living life according to the passion God has given us, and with that established, there is no way we can fail. So we keep marching forward …

 

Will you consider giving a tax-deductible donation to help us finish this story & make a difference in the lives of homeless youth?

Give a tax-deductible donation.

 

2012 was a year of adventure and blessing for Athentikos

2012 Athentikos Collage

We are grateful to be able to share the journey of 2012 with you:

  • Athentikos took a risk and began production
    on the Becoming Fools documentary without full funding, believing God
    would provide. As of December 2012, the film is 75% complete.
  • Athentikos was blessed with our first production intern, Brandon Rojano.
  • In June, Athentikos partnered with Guatemalan Churches, NGO’s, Local and Federal Government in a consultation event to explore homelessness and present an official report to the Guatemalan Government.
  • In June, homeless youth shared their story through a theatrical performance in front of over 400 people in Guatemala’s historic Teatro Abril.
  • Athentikos served on a leadership team with Lemonade International & Vidas Plenas to host an annual Art Camp
    for 100 at-risk kids in the community of La Limonada. Guatemala.
    Athentikos provided over 70% of the funding through individual donations
    and a grant given by LEGO.

Stories inspire change and hope. We are thankful to be
able to share these incredible blessings from 2012! They would not be
possible without you! Please help Athentikos continue to inspire through
the art of story by giving a tax-deductible gift of $50, $100, $200 or
more. Your investment will be exponentially returned as it inspires through the art of story throughout 2013 and years to come!

Thank you for believing with us and generously sharing your time, talent
and treasure! We are all part of this story to inspire together!

Help us inspire hope by giving a tax-deductible donation.

Please give online today or send a check to:

Athentikos PO Box 1902 Springhill, TN 37174

Thank you,

Scott & Amelia Moore

www.athentikos.com

Hiking Pacaya Part 2


Hiking Pacaya Part 2 from Athentikos on Vimeo.
 

 

The 2nd to last day of primary film production for Becoming Fools, we had an afternoon off so spontaneously the crew decided to hike an active volcano just outside of Antiqua called Pacaya. At the time we thought it was a little crazy but we had no idea just how crazy it was.

Not only did we set out to climb it, we thought we’d take some gear along to get some shots from on top of the mountain. Armed with some GoPro cameras and iPhones we set out to document the experience. It took us about 2.5 hours to get to the top and the view will take your breath away. In this part 2 you’ll see us completing the trek to get a vantage point in which we can do some filming and also what we had to endure to get back down!

If you missed part 1, Click Here!

Hiking Pacaya Part 1

Hiking Pacaya Part 1 from Athentikos on Vimeo.

 

The 2nd to last day of primary film production for Becoming Fools, we had an afternoon off so spontaneously the crew decided to hike an active volcano just outside of Antiqua called Pacaya. At the time we thought it was a little crazy but we had no idea just how crazy it was.

Not only did we set out to climb it, we thought we’d take some gear along to get some shots from on top of the mountain. Armed with some GoPro cameras and iPhones we set out to document the experience. It took us about 2.5 hours to get to the top and the view will take your breath away. In this first part you’ll see what it took to get to the top.

Click Here for part 2

Behind the Scenes: Production Clothing

Behind the Scenes Production Clothing

A couple of weeks ago I posted on my blog about the clothing I chose to use while in Guatemala filming “Becoming Fools.” So I thought I’d share this article here to give you a little more of a behind the scenes look (more so than others!) of what goes into filming a documentary. Here’s a little from the article:

On my last trip to Guatemala back in June to DP the documentary of Becoming Fools, a new film by Scott Moore and the Athentikos team, I made some changes to my clothing choices that proved to be very effective. The results of my decision has proved to me what an asset good quality clothing can be on any film or video production. Thus, I thought I’d share!

Let me preface by saying I am not paid to endorse REI, Vibram, Mountain Hardware, Kuhl, Arc’teryx or any other brand mentioned in this article!

Ok, I’ve got that out of the way, let’s continue!
Continue reading

My Experience: More Than Words Can Express

It is hard to believe how quickly the last 7 months have gone by.  It is even harder to grasp how much I learned and experienced during my time in Guatemala, about Guatemala, about the world, about God, about appreciating the things He has blessed me with, about myself, about managing a team, about coordinating a production schedule, about unconditional love, about overcoming obstacles, and the list could go on and on.  It is almost impossible to share everything about my experience, but I will try through this and several other blogs.

My Experience

When I arrived to Guatemala in January, after missing my connecting flight in Dallas, I took a detour to the LA airport and finally arrived in Guatemala City at 5:30am.  (Thank you again Hubert for picking me up, and Josue for making me breakfast).  Shortly after arriving, I fell asleep.  When I woke up a couple hours later, I hit the ground running, with little rest for the next 6 months.

My experience: more than words can express

With the start of February, we began Tuesday/Thursday rehearsal workshops with several youth from the streets.  At the beginning, other than Fergie, Mefi and myself we had a different group of kids each week.  Some would come to check out the classes, but quickly after lose interest; others would wander in, still feeling the effects of their latest solvent consumption, barely able to participate in the exercises.  But slowly, we started attracting a group of extremely talented, determined and passionate young adults.  Each class was an experience, some were encouraging as the kids made progress and gained confidence in their abilities and what they had accomplished; however, others were extremely emotional as some chose to drop-out because of obvious internal struggles they were experiencing.

My experience: more than words can express

March and April were work months.  Our Guatemala team kicked it into high gear as we started developing the plan and organizing the team for the Live Event in June, in addition to keeping Tuesday/Thursday classes going.  The deeper we got, the more work we took upon ourselves.  And the deeper we got, the more responsibilities I added to my list of things to-do.

My experience: more than words can express

With Scott’s arrival at the end of April, production went into high gear.  As other A-team members have mentioned, the production of Becoming Fools was very different from Reparando in the way that the Becoming Fools story was taking shape, with the occasional sharp, left turn, right before our eyes.  The unstable lives of the youth we were working with added an additional level of stress and planning as I was still adjusting to coordinating and planning our production schedule in a foreign country, in a different culture and different language.

The beginning of June came before we knew it, and with it came nerves and excitement about a whole week of events we titled Celebración: Voz de las Calles.  During this week, we had a press conference, a national consultation and the live theatrical event, not to mention rehearsal for the show every evening.  As all the pieces for the show started coming together, I was continually in awe at the progress these young adults from the street had made in their performance ability, confidence.  Throughout different conversations and interviews we had with the kids, my heart was so warmed as each of them continuously thanked us for the opportunity to participate in this event.  However, about a week before the show, I realized that these kids had no idea the magnitude of the event they were about to put on.  One day at practice as I was stamping the entrance tickets for the show, Cesar, one of the young men asked me what I was doing.  When I told him that I was stamping tickets for the show, he said, “Wow, there are that many?”  I only had a stack of 100 I was working on at that specific time.  I asked him how many people he thought were coming to see them perform.  He responded “You, Scott, Josue”…and listed a couple other members of our team.  As I told him there were 700 seats in the theater and we were hoping to fill as many as possible, a mixture of nervousness and excitement crept over his face.

My experience: more than words can express

As the show got closer and closer, I got more nervous and more nervous.  Even then, in the middle of June, after about 5 months in Guatemala, I still had not gotten used to how everything ALWAYS comes together last minute.  Characters were not finalized, costumes were not altered, set pieces were not constructed, tickets were not sold out, several scenes of the show had not been rehearsed, and many other details weighed heavily on my mind and heart.  I feared not having a full theater for the kids to perform in. I feared that the kids having stage fright and forgetting their parts.  I feared not having the finances to make the show happen.  I feared letting the kids down in giving them an amazing experience.  I feared letting the Athentikos team down if everything didn’t come together like it needed to.  Night after night, I went to bed praying that God would make the things happen that needed to.  And for the things that didn’t, I prayed for complete trust in Him, that Celebración: Voz de las Calles (the press conference, the consultation, and the live event) would bring awareness and change the hearts of Guatemala City.  I prayed that the kids would be great, confirming my belief in them that they are way talented, charismatic, amazing young adults that could accomplish any challenge set in front of them.

My experience: more than words can express

The week of Voz de las Calles came and went quicker than any week of my life.  I tried to absorb every emotion, every up-and-down, every fear and every triumph because I knew after it was all over I was going to want to experience it all over again…and I did!  The day/night of the event was crazy!  Good thing I wore shorts and a tank-top, because I was sweating all day from running around to fix all the finishing details.  The crazy running around continued throughout the show, but I was able to sit and enjoy some of it.  Words cannot express how amazingly proud I was of each and every kid performing on that stage.  And as the show ended, each of their faces lit up with pride, accomplishment and a new sense of self-confidence.

My experience: more than words can express

More production followed the Live Event, and time continued to fly.  After Scott and the rest of the production team were gone, I was able to take a step back and enjoy Guatemala.  I was able to spend some time in the streets with our kids from the show and meeting other young adults.   I shared Reparando with some street kids.  I was able to travel a little.  And before I knew it I was packing my bags to come home.

My trip home became a 24-hour, emotional ordeal.  With delayed flights, long lines and lots of waiting, I had lots of time to reflect on my time and experiences.  However, now a month later, I still find myself unable to completely wrap my head and heart around everything.  I am forever thankful to Athentikos for the opportunity to be a part of this production.  I am forever thankful to every person I met in Guatemala who touched my heart in such a special way.  And I am forever thankful to God for the lessons I learned, relationships that were formed and changes He made in my heart.