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.
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?
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!
Ok, I’ve got that out of the way, let’s continue!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By: Matt Eldredge
In preparing for my return trip to Guatemala to help on production for Becoming Fools, I heard a lot of keywords of what to expect like tired, loco, busy, long, tired, hectic, tired, etc…I tried to plan ahead with which audio adapters to bring and just be mentally ready for the hard work and long hours ahead. After a minor scare of not finding my bag right away, Bobby and Tyler showed up at the airport and we all made our way cleanly through security and customs with all the gear, thank God. I had flown out a little earlier and gone through Dallas while they flew through Miami, and we both landed in Guatemala City at right about the same time, but an hour late, go figure.
We were a little too late to make it to our first rehearsal to see what all the kids had been working on, so opted for some KFC and settling in at Joel’s. Evidently, we had missed quite an eventful rehearsal as one of the main characters in the Voz De Las Calles production, Mefi, had left the cast after missing several rehearsals and then showing up under the influence and fighting with the other cast and crew. We began to feel some uncertainty as to how well this whole event was going to come off but pressed on and hoped for the best as we continued planning.
The day before Voz De Las Calles, our whole team held a morning production meeting with a local film producer named Rafa to help us prepare and film the event. It was a great meeting from a production side as we got everything lined up and we were encouraged by everyone offering their resources and talents to pull this thing off well.
At the Friday night rehearsal, the eve of the performance, we were hopeful to have the cast of kids finally get through the entire performance at the rehearsal theater, but it didn’t exactly turn out that way. Believe it or not, it’s actually quite a challenge to get all of these different performers, volunteers, let alone kids living out on the streets, together at the same time for hours enough to rehearse a large production all the way through. But instead, we worked on several scenes and saw a lot of the kids displaying the new talents they had been working on for months, and then the director gathered everyone together and all sat down on the stage in a big circle. What happened next was even better than finishing a rehearsal as they began to share their hearts, their struggles and accomplishments thus far, their purpose for pressing ahead, and then they gave thanks to God and lifted each other and this special performance up to Him in prayer. I could just feel God stirring in hearts and smiling down on this special group.
Saturday, performance day, we headed to the theater to set up and get establishing shots. As we tried to prepare in this beautiful venue I was just hopeful that the kids would make it through the performance all right. It was a real treat to see all the actors and crew and musicians and photographers buzzing around backstage. So many people there giving their time and talent to this project. It was also really fun watching the kids get transformed into all the different clown makeup. The energy for the performance was really building and then we were all surprised by who showed up next…Mefi!
Fortunately Scott and I got to rush over and capture a humbled Mefi return to apologize and accept the consequences of his actions. He knew that he had messed up but still just wanted to be a part of the play in any way that he could. He then had a really hard conversation with the director, accepted that he would not get to perform his original part, but again asked humbly that he could just be a part of it and said that he didn’t want to give up on his dreams and all the hard work that he, and his friends, had put into this performance, he wanted to be here for himself and for them and was willing to say he was sorry for his actions. And then he was allowed to get his part back!! What an inspirational picture of God’s grace and forgiveness and the truth that he always gives second chances and open arms!
During the play Scott and I stayed backstage to capture all the energy and action. We did get to see a lot from the side stage and also quite a lot of frantic running around, warm up routines, jitters, and a girl struggling to get her stilts on right, it was a little nerve racking! But the most fun part was hearing all the laughter and applause coming from the audience! The performance went really great, and ended in a climactic joyous celebration, amazing! I’m sure that you can’t wait to see it… 😉
Now, this was only 2 days into our production trip! I was continuously inspired in so many ways…
During our trip to Lake Atitlan I was inspired by the strength of a young man Raul, who had to watch his friend and mentor, Italo drown right in front of him, and who was able to share that pain and tell his story at that very lake spot. During one of our many trips into the city streets I was inspired by a business owner who shared the use of his building, roof, and even his security guards to allow us to film and move about getting shots we wouldn’t have been able to get otherwise.
The adventure didn’t come without a little struggle, being in a foreign land and realizing how needy we were for help with direction, translation, transportation, and with our limited resources. So I was especially inspired by the Voncannons who graciously escorted us all around the city to profound areas of ministry, by their own hearts to sacrifice and pour out to very difficult places, meeting people right where they are: hungry, addicted, broken, hurting on the street, and sharing the love of Christ with them. Oh and for a little thing like giving us their van for a couple of days so we could actually get around and film, amazing!
Other sources of inspiration: our incredible team! Scott our fearless leader and master of the BRPs, Amelia getting amazing stills and our underwater filmmaking champion, Bobby making us all look good and driving like a boss, Tyler Balboa keeping the momentum alive with the eye of the tiger, Ericha coordinating and taking care of business, Darlene with the creative vision and fresh dance moves, plus all the help from Joel, Jonathan, Josue, Dave, Mono, of course Hubert, helping us conquer Pacaya, Nathalie, Brandon- you guys are the best! And pretty much every day seeing all of God’s beauty, Lake Atitlan, hiking Panajachel past a 75′ high waterfall, lightning storms, amazing sunsets, and on top of a freaking live volcano walking over liquid hot magma!
We had so many more adventures, trials, and triumphs, and the theme set here would continue throughout the entire trip…things didn’t always (ever?) go quite as we planned, but God was always faithful to our efforts and He allowed us to see and capture more than we could have even planned for in any production timeline. I was inspired in many other unexpected ways, even in a coffee shop in Panajachel called Crossroads. I got to see God orchestrate events and connect us together in unexpected ways to tell His story of Grace. We may seem limited, but He has no limits, for His purpose and glory, and I can’t wait to see how this story unfolds!
Have you ever been to a place (vacation destination, location for missions, etc) that you haven’t been too in a while where upon arrival it’s all familiar but either the purpose or situation dictates a totally different experience? If so, then I know how you feel! For me, going back to Guatemala to capture footage for our second film was so different than that of Reparando! The places were the same and even many faces were familiar but the experience was definitely unique.
From a pure production stand point, filming Becoming Fools was different than Reparando for many reasons. Probably the most obvious was for Reparando we were telling a story that already happened, whereas Becoming Fools was a film we captured as a story was unfolding right before us. So if trying to plan production days and events wasn’t hard enough in a foreign country for a story that we could sort of dictate, it was even more difficult to plan for a story we could not foresee happening.
However from a personal standpoint having the opportunity to film another story in Guatemala allowed me to connect more to the people that were in front of the lens. Not to say during production of Reparando we didn’t have those opportunities but it being my first time in a Latin American country, knowing only “hola” and “adios” (obviously my two years of Spanish in high school 20 years ago didn’t stick) and filming with a crew I had never worked with it goes without saying that I was a little preoccupied with other things to be developing relationships.
I also think that now that I have a 4 year old daughter and a 1 year old son that I can relate with the production, being that of us filming kids living on the streets. This had a huge impact on me!
Seeing the Heart First Hand
One occurrence I remember vividly was the night we went to observe kids selling goods on the streets. Tyler, Matt, Josue, Ericha and myself went to local fast food establishments where kids typically sell. At one establishment we ran into a 9 year old girl named Marta. Her mannerisms, smile and attitude were so infectious that it was impossible to not pay attention to her every move and word (even though it was in an unfamiliar language). I couldn’t help thinking of my own daughter and how I would feel if she had to be on the streets late at night selling goods, it was heartbreaking. At the same time, she amazed me how smart and mature she was for her age. Marta definitely captured my heart. I couldn’t help buying a few hair clips that she was selling for my own daughter.
The 16 days I was there were very adventurous! I could talk about the zip lining near Lake Antìtlan, shooting while walking through some of the most dangerous streets in Guatemala City (with armed guards of course!), climbing and shooting on top of an active volcano and many more exciting moments such as those. However, I believe what we do changes peoples hearts. I like to make sure we focus on that aspect because as much as we impact the hearts of others, as a team, our hearts are impacted as well.
We are very excited to welcome our new intern, Brandon Rojano, to the A-team. He is working on his media production degree at the University of Houston, and has volunteered about 6 weeks of his summer to help us with video update stories in Guatemala. We would like to give him this chance to introduce himself…and we invite you to keep checking the blog for his updates!
The road that led me to Guatemala in the first place is very long, and if I tried to explain it all in one post you would probably get bored and open YouTube. As such I’ll try to be brief. I am volunteering for Athentikos. I have lived and spent time with both Shorty and Tita. Both of these amazing people work in hard places, bringing hope and love to those who Guatemala has deemed untouchable and left forgotten. Reparando means repairing in Spanish, and that’s exactly what Shorty and Tita are doing. They are working to repair their country, which has been scared and broken. I am especially close with Shorty and have lived with him on several occasions. Walking the same streets as him, journeyed to prisons, and learning so much about what it means to truly sacrifice and give all that you have for those around you.
During one of my stays with Shorty, I learned about Athentikos. I learned about Reparando and about the stories that Scott and Amelia have a passion for telling. They seek to give voice to people with none, and they, like me, have a passion and love for the people of Guatemala. This drew me to Athentikos, because as a aspiring filmmaker this almost exactly matched my philosophy of film. I want the things I create to have meaning, to tell stories of the things that you see everyday. I think film, more than another media has the power to create fantastic worlds and stories. Even though many of the films released are “popcorn” movies, movies can still evoke powerful emotions and reactions. So after a couple of years I contacted them expressing my interest to work with them. Then boom, here I am.
This time around I’ll be working to create a series of short videos updates focused on what has happened in the lives of the central characters in Reparando since its release, their triumphs and struggles, as well as raise awareness and support for their ministries. At the beginning of my stay here in Guatemala, I also helped the Athentikos film crew with the production of the new documentary Becoming Fools. It is tiring work and I’m constantly busy, but I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way.
It’s been great to be back, after all the times I’ve been down here this is my second home, and the people here are my family. Every time I come down here it is physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining, but it is good to go to bed after all long day of work and sleep well. I still have a long way to go and a busy schedule ahead of me but the time will go by fast, too fast usually. When I get back to Houston there is a lot of uncertainty ahead of me, but I’ve gotten used to that feeling a long time ago. That’s why I decided to call this blog Setting Sail. During the time I spend here and afterwards I see it as me setting sail into a vast sea, with adventure and excitement awaiting me on my journey.
There’s probably more I could write but I can’t think of it at the moment. I look forward to the many stories that are lying in wait here, and hope to share them with you soon.
Goodbye For Now
Joel Van Dyke came to Nashville to host our Vision to Respond event and also took some time to do a promo piece for the film.
Joel lives in Guatemala City with his wife Marilyn and two children, Joeito and Sofia. After 16 years as a pastor in North Philadelphia, he currently serves in Central America as the Director of the “Estrategia de Transformacion” (Strategy of Transformation) which is a grassroots training initiative with a mission “to equip the church in Latin America to reach high-risk youth and their families in hard places.”
Joel has been a key member of the Athentikos team as one of primary contacts in Guatemala and has been a vocal advocate for the project. Special thanks to him and his family for dedicating time and effort in the vision for the film.
We have had a productive week in Antigua and Ciudad Vieja. We wrapped one of our stories yesterday after three long days of production. The Ortiz family was such a blessing to work with. We spent two days documenting their routines at their house and then followed their three children at school. Interestingly, despite the fact that it is rainy season, the only day it has rained is the day we needed for it to rain for our story … Thanks to God.
Ciudad Vieja is a beautiful little town at the foot of Vulcan Agua. Kyros school has some amazing views of the volcano and surrounding patchwork fields of green. We followed Victor, Michelle and Josue through their day of school and conducted a few interviews. At the end of the day we drove to a couple of lookout points above Ciudad Vieja and Antogua to get some timelapse footage. It was a wonderful closing sequence for our time together as a team of five.
Today Bobby and J.Mac flew back to the US. They will certainly be missed. Now we are down to three team members. This morning we shot footage arpind the central park in Antigua. We paid a young boy to shine a man’s shoes so we could get a shot of a child working. We also saw several elderly women begging for money. The visuals are such stark contrast … Beautiful surroundings, beautiful people … But such great need. Bengy and I will continue to work with Cesar in Antigua today and will travel back to Guatemala City tomorrow to spend the day with Shorty. We will travel to Casa Bernabe tomorrow evening to begin production on some orphan related stories. We still have over 120 official shots left on our storyboard in order to complete our project. I am certain we will shoot those and even more … This country is simply beautiful.