Monday, February 25, 2013

Je suis un conteur.

Most of the stories I tell aren't my own. I tell other peoples stories. I try to do them right, to show the heart of that person, To go deeper than just the physical, deeper than just what can be seen on the surface. I try to dig into their story and understand the story from their point of view, to see where the importance lies for them.

Sometimes this is easy. Most times it's not. It takes time and trust for people to open up that way. It takes patience on my part to accept the answers people give to my questions. It takes perseverance to keep asking questions until I find the way into the story. It takes gentleness to hold back from digging deeper when the nerves of pain are exposed. It takes wisdom to know how to view pain in a person and the triumph. It takes discretion to know how to leave a line of questioning before I cause more pain and harm.

Sometimes I come across a story that moves me. More realistically, it grabs me by the throat and demands that I change. I heard a story like that this past week. A story of war, pain, survival, death and new life, hatred and forgiveness, the evil of man pitted against the grace of God. I think how can I tell a story like this? Just one of those subjects is worthy of the most skilled treatment and careful exploration to reveal the deeper truths within. But to tell all of them wrapped up into one? Impossible.

Stories like that force me to change. The force me to see myself as I am, to remember that I am unable to tell stories. I lack the ability to dig into a persons story and tell its truth. I don't have the patience, perseverance, gentleness, wisdom, and discretion that these stories demand. And yet stories are being told. Despite my inability these stories of change are changing people.

And that's my story. I am the story-teller who couldn't tell stories but did anyway. I tell stories of change because these stories have changed me.

Friday, February 22, 2013

New Projects, Problems, and Plans - February Newsletter

What a great start to the Year! The last 6 weeks have been a blitz of production. Traveling to 4 different cities in Cote d'Ivoire where I was able to shoot for 6 different projects. The project is well underway and it's fantastic to be able to start sharing these amazing stories.
One new story I'm very excited to share, is a little of mine. For 3 months this past year, I lived in Brobo. A little city of about 2000 people located about 24 miles east of Bouake. The people there welcomed me into their homes and their lives. While living there we worked together to produce this short film so that everyone can learn what I did. Brobo is the Best!


Right now there are 20 projects at differing stages of production, from preliminary requests to videos waiting for their internet debut. Each of those projects has their own problems. In pre-production it often is scheduling and figuring out where I need to be when and how to get me there. While in production the barrier of language and trying to get to understand what is need to capture the story can be exhausting. When it's all done I have to try and find a strong enough internet connection so that the final video can be uploaded. A strong connection is anything over 20 kbps.
As I said in the last newsletter, this project is bigger than me. It's that perspective that keeps me moving forward. Problems come quickly, but the solutions are never far behind. Exhaustion and fatigue are as constant as the heat. But each time I start to feel week, encouragement comes like a fresh breeze in the shade. In the little moments between all the business, someone gives an encouraging word, reminds me why this is so important, lifts my head to realize, “I live in Africa. I make movies in Africa. My life is awesome!”


I'm learning that making plans in Africa, especially concerning travel, is an on going and continuous process. If the plan hasn't changed 5 times yet, then you probably don't have plan. After getting lots of feedback and advice from colleagues, locals, and experts this is what the next couple of months might look like for me.

March 1-10 Mali
March 11 – April 6 Guinea
April 6 – May 10 Senegal
May 10 – May 31 USA
June 1 – 27 Cote d'Ivoire

Many of the details are still up in the air but that is part of the process. I'm very excited about the opportunities to travel to new countries such as Mali and Senegal and start telling the stories in those locations. For those of you watching the news, I will only be traveling in the south of Mali where things are stable and secure.
I'm extremely excited to be able to travel back to the US of A for a good friends wedding and while I'm there want to see as many friends and family as possible. So if you want to try and make something happen during those weeks send me an email and we'll make something happen.

This is just the begging of this project and already we are seeing great results as people view and share these stories. I can't wait to see what else happens as we continue to work together.  Thank you for your continued support and involvement with me and this project.

Your Fellow Servant,

Friday, February 1, 2013

All in a Days Work

Photo: While filming in the Lab, I mentioned I was O+ blood type. #allinadayswork #savinglives 

In the past 15 days, I've been able to shoot for 5 different productions. When I'm not shooting or traveling to a location, I'm editing. 8-10 hours a day, I'm working to tell the amazing stories that I'm running across here in Cote d'Ivoire.
I love it!

But life isn't just work. There are meals to make and share, trips to the market, conversations over tea, and all of the little events of life that happen without anyone planning them. For example, While filming with a doctor doing out-patient consultations, he asked me if I could help him set up his new laptop. So between patients we walked through the steps together. Yesterday, I got a phone call while making dinner. "We have a patient who needs blood but we are low on her blood type, O+. Earlier today you said you were O+, could you come down and donate?" I did. A couple of days ago one of the staff members said to me, "I make videos too, but I'm not a professional. Could you help me with some problems I'm having?" So I spent an hour that evening sitting and talking about compression ratios and proper file formats. None of this was on the production schedule, well at least not mine.

A constant question for me as I shoot, produce, and go through life is, "God, where are you at? What are you doing here?" It's tempting to think that a God who created the universe, raises the dead, and controls all of reality is ONLY doing those kind of "block-buster" activities. It's easy to see Him in a miraculous healing, a witch-doctor leaving animism to follow Jesus, or even in the events of production coming together perfectly. But those little things, those unplanned life events, so small that it's difficult to even describe them, is He there?

I came here to produce videos and tell the story of what God is doing. But somehow I can't help but think that in God's infinitely more detailed production schedule, these little events are all written in.