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=”http://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 in Sarasota

We spent a week in Sarasota, Florida to screen Becoming Fools, and document the work of our local response partner, Night Life – an innovative youth outreach center that offers hope to at-risk youth through mentoring relationships.

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Becoming Fools in Grand Rapids

Wednesday was THE day of our first big premiere in the theater .. and everything that could go wrong did go wrong. We hoped to get a power nap in, but were dealing with technical difficulties right up to the time the event started … and then experienced even more difficulties during the event …

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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 Filmmaker’s Response to Film Festivals

Film festivals are a mixed bag when it comes the effectiveness of exposure for a film. On one hand, getting your film shown at a film festival instantly gains you a laurel, you know, one of those leafy little graphics wrapped around the film festival name. You’re proud to show it off on any postcard, movie poster and disc jacket you have done up for your film. Having more than one laurel (in other words, getting into more than one film festival) is like winning more than one gold medal, you just wear them all!

However, on the other hand, depending on the size of the festival, you’re a small fish in a huge ocean when it comes to having a decent size audience actually see your film. I personally have been at film festivals where the audience was packed, slam full. But on the other hand I’ve been in theaters where there was myself and about five others. And I can pretty much assume at least one of the five was the director and the rest was the director’s family.

Large or small, the best thing that can happen for you having your film at a film festival is to maximize the opportunities to learn, observe and network. Learn from other filmmakers and other professionals in the industry from their experience. Observe other films and talk to the filmmakers. Get an insight as to how they made their film and what their experience was like. And network with others, you never know who you will meet and how they may have an impact on your current and/or future projects.

I had the pleasure of accompanying Scott to see ‘Becoming Fools’ at the Omaha Film Festival. We made the 12 hour trek to the great city of Omaha just recently. The film was to show on the last day of the festival so we had three days prior to see what other films were showing and get a gauge of what other selections were made. We saw both narrative and documentary films. I will have to say I was pleased to see that not only films are still being made with little to no budgets but that the quality of the films are getting better, even on such tight financial constraints. Some narrative films hosted talent by working actors, some even in popular tv shows and other films you may have seen. I think it’s safe to assume that many actors and actresses are doing these independent films for the love of what they do and their love for the story. I’m encouraged by this as we look forward to future productions.

Omaha Film Festival is only in it’s either year so it’s not as large as others but having been there two years prior for the showing of ‘Reparando’ I will say it has grown. That said, the film we saw seem to have an average audience size of 50-75 people. Some of the documentaries we saw had less. But even the short films group seem to draw the most, I would guess to maybe 100-150.

A Filmmakers Response to Film FestivalsWe woke up on the day of the showing for ‘Becoming Fools’ to about 6 inches of snow and more was coming! The film was showing at noon and by the time we arrived at the theater a few more inches had fell and the wind was kicking up gail force winds. Needless to say we were told some groups of people we were expecting were not going to be able to make it. I for sure thought that it would only be Scott and I, Amelia and their boys, Darlene and our friend Major in the theater. However, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that not only our local friends and family showed up in support but people as far away as Minneapolis drove through the crazy snow storm just to see the film! All total we had 50 people, not bad!

I won’t say it was a total waste of time and effort. In fact, probably the opposite. We made a few more friends, got great feedback about the film and even planted a seed about where we are going from here to the festival producers. As I stated earlier, the best thing to do as a filmmaker at film festivals is to maximize your opportunities to learn, observe and network. I think we did just that!

A Filmmaker's Response to Film Festivals

Film festivals are a mixed bag when it comes the effectiveness of exposure for a film. On one hand, getting your film shown at a film festival instantly gains you a laurel, you know, one of those leafy little graphics wrapped around the film festival name. You’re proud to show it off on any postcard, movie poster and disc jacket you have done up for your film. Having more than one laurel (in other words, getting into more than one film festival) is like winning more than one gold medal, you just wear them all!

However, on the other hand, depending on the size of the festival, you’re a small fish in a huge ocean when it comes to having a decent size audience actually see your film. I personally have been at film festivals where the audience was packed, slam full. But on the other hand I’ve been in theaters where there was myself and about five others. And I can pretty much assume at least one of the five was the director and the rest was the director’s family.

Large or small, the best thing that can happen for you having your film at a film festival is to maximize the opportunities to learn, observe and network. Learn from other filmmakers and other professionals in the industry from their experience. Observe other films and talk to the filmmakers. Get an insight as to how they made their film and what their experience was like. And network with others, you never know who you will meet and how they may have an impact on your current and/or future projects.

I had the pleasure of accompanying Scott to see ‘Becoming Fools’ at the Omaha Film Festival. We made the 12 hour trek to the great city of Omaha just recently. The film was to show on the last day of the festival so we had three days prior to see what other films were showing and get a gauge of what other selections were made. We saw both narrative and documentary films. I will have to say I was pleased to see that not only films are still being made with little to no budgets but that the quality of the films are getting better, even on such tight financial constraints. Some narrative films hosted talent by working actors, some even in popular tv shows and other films you may have seen. I think it’s safe to assume that many actors and actresses are doing these independent films for the love of what they do and their love for the story. I’m encouraged by this as we look forward to future productions.

Omaha Film Festival is only in it’s either year so it’s not as large as others but having been there two years prior for the showing of ‘Reparando’ I will say it has grown. That said, the film we saw seem to have an average audience size of 50-75 people. Some of the documentaries we saw had less. But even the short films group seem to draw the most, I would guess to maybe 100-150.

A Filmmakers Response to Film FestivalsWe woke up on the day of the showing for ‘Becoming Fools’ to about 6 inches of snow and more was coming! The film was showing at noon and by the time we arrived at the theater a few more inches had fell and the wind was kicking up gail force winds. Needless to say we were told some groups of people we were expecting were not going to be able to make it. I for sure thought that it would only be Scott and I, Amelia and their boys, Darlene and our friend Major in the theater. However, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that not only our local friends and family showed up in support but people as far away as Minneapolis drove through the crazy snow storm just to see the film! All total we had 50 people, not bad!

I won’t say it was a total waste of time and effort. In fact, probably the opposite. We made a few more friends, got great feedback about the film and even planted a seed about where we are going from here to the festival producers. As I stated earlier, the best thing to do as a filmmaker at film festivals is to maximize your opportunities to learn, observe and network. I think we did just that!

The Official Becoming Fools Movie Trailer

Drum roll, please …. After much anticipation, we are thrilled to release the official Becoming Fools Movie Trailer.

We’re not yet finished with the film, but we’re close. It’s in the final phase of post-production: coloring, music, mixing, animation, art, and credits.

After a year of pre-production and research, 6 months of production and 6 months of editing and post-production, we are rounding the turn towards the finish line. My heart has swung through all emotions imaginable over the course of this journey – from loving the story, to absolutely hating it, to loving it again.

The production phase is my favorite. It is a time when we are out in the world together, collaborating, capturing a story and experiencing the richness of community. It’s hard work, but somehow we don’t notice because we are together. You should hear the laughter at 2 AM when we’re logging footage, after a 12 hour shoot in a dirty environment … and the water is off, so you can’t take a shower before bed. It is a true joy!

Then there is the flip side. If production is a joy because of community, then editing is the Alcatraz prison of loneliness. To be honest, I often wrestle with depression while editing a film. It is a long period of isolation in the “editing cave” with only small spurts of community when we evaluate the film. And because those small doses of community are focused on critically evaluating the film, it usually results in me having to spend more time editing in isolation. Don’t get me wrong. I greatly value constructive criticism during the process and want our films to be the best they can be! It just begins to take its toll after 6 months of 16 hour work days. Needless to say, I am very glad that I can see the light at the end of the editing tunnel!

After all this work, the film is slightly different than we originally imagined. But, this is normal because you never have control over all the production elements in a documentary. In this case, we were thrown some pretty big wild cards during production. I compared it to riding a wild bull. We just held on tight, kept the cameras rolling, and prayed we were capturing what we needed to tell a great story. Thankfully, we captured some great stuff!

During a recent Athentikos meeting, we engaged in a deep and honest discussion about the film. We asked some  tough questions ….

Is this a compelling story?

Does this film achieve what we set out to do?

Is the story depicted in the final edit the same story we passionately felt called to produce in the beginning?

It was unanimous. Even though the story is different than we initially imagined, it compellingly accomplishes the goal we set out to achieve. This is the story God called us to tell.

It’s full of warm characters, beautiful tension and redemption that we couldn’t have written better if we wrote it as a narrative. It still makes me cry … and I have seen it thousands of times over the course of editing! So, either I am completely off my rocker, or this story truly connects to the heart.

As we work diligently to wrap up the final details in this project, I have mixed emotions. I’ve committed 2 years of my life to developing, filming and editing this story. I’ve grown to love these street youth as dear friends. Their delicate charm has captured my heart! I would love for this film to raise awareness and bring needed resources to this issue! But, I have no idea what will become of it all.

We raised enough funding to get through production. But we still lack the financial resources to release the film. Unfortunately, we can’t subsidize this next phase with our sweat equity. Unless we receive additional funding, we will be forced to put the film on hold. We truly believe this story has the potential to make a difference in the lives of street youth around the world. But we need your help … will you consider giving a donation?

As of right now, we only have one official film screening planned. Let’s make it count!

Becoming Fools will screen at the Omaha Film Festival on Sunday March 10 at 12:15 PM.

Gather your friends and meet us there! If you are too far away to attend, please help us make noise so we can try to fill the theater. Use every means necessary to tell people about this opportunity to see the film: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, phone calls, post cards, smoke signal … and especially talking face to face!

Please watch the trailer and share it. Give a donation if you can. Work with us to help bring the film to your city. Let’s become fools together and make a difference!

Give a tax-deductible donation to help us release the film.

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.