Laki Karavias | Filmmaker and Director of Messania's Story - Part 2

Laki Karavias | Filmmaker and Director of Messania's Story - Part 2

The Ministry Growth Show

April 19, 2021

Episode Notes:

This week on The Ministry Growth Show, we're joined for a second time by Laki Karavias. Last week we shared Part-1 of our conversation, and today we're sharing Part-2. Laki is an incredible Filmmaker and Director and in this episode, we discuss his latest film, Messania's Story. Laki directed the film while working for World Vision and the film is currently making the rounds through the awards circuit with great success. I believe that Messania's Story is going to have a profound effect on how we tell stories in the ministry sector. The film has yet to be released to the public, but in this episode, we discuss the making of the film and spend some time discussing storytelling structures. Enjoy!

Episode Transcript:

You're listening to the ministry growth Show brought to you by Reliant Creative, the creative agency for gospel centered ministries. Find out more at Reliant Creative dot org. Welcome to the Ministry Growth Show, a podcast dedicated to helping churches and ministries grow and make more effective impacts for the Kingdom of God in an ever changing digital world, whether you're building and growing a gospel center ministry or leading a church, if you want insight into the strategies, struggles, challenges and successes of other ministry leaders, you come to the right place.

Welcome back to the Ministry Growth Show Today on the show. We're talking with Laki Carabias. Last week we started part One or episode one of this series and this is going to be episode to just continuing this discussion with Laki and specifically focusing on a film that he just got done telling called messinis story.

Lucky. This has been an incredible conversation. I'm so thrilled to continue the conversation with you. Thanks so much for being on the show. Um continuing from last week, I wanna last week we ended talking about the community element within this story.

You guys involved the community and the production of the film. The audio was all recorded in the country and it was really, really powerful. But I want to I want to talk to you specifically about what for you as a filmmaker was one of the things that was most impactful for you, one of the one of the most impactful moments for you during this film.

Let's walk through that a little bit. Oh man. I think with any project I work on, the most impactful thing is always the same. It, I think of that verse in Hebrews, where it talks about men of who the world is not worthy.

And I often find myself, you know, when I'm yeah sitting uh speaking with someone about their life story that I do not deserve to be in this person's present and I I have this moment where I kind of stepped back from like being in film production mode and trying to get that shot where you just feel the honor of being in someone's presence and you know, mess Ania was just such a force to be reckoned with.

So full of light, so full of strength, so full of love, so full of wisdom. And I kind of felt walking into her little west picot home that you have to take off your shoes, stepping in not to keep it clean, but because it feels like holy ground.

Um so I, I'd say that that probably first and foremost always impacts me with any story that I feel like I get to be a part of. Um but besides that, I think there was, there was this moment where I was trying to wrap my head around what exactly um why this custom, you know of the cut? Like what, what was its meaning and why was it? Um the, the mode for rites of passage for young girls in this region and beyond this region, many places in the world.

And messinis said this phrase after two days of interviewing the cut is the doorway to the marketplace and what I understand stood for the first time when she said this is this essentially is a ritual and a physical symbol that says that now this girl can be bought at a price, you know, and it's not until you undergo the cut.

And you know, what impacted me so much about that is I grew up in a home with a very strong loving creative mother, uh sisters who are entrepreneurs. A lot of the leaders I've looked up into my looked up to in my life are very strong women.

And the fact that this custom is pretty much saying to to young girls that the only thing they're good for is to be a commodity. And so many of these young girls never get to dream of a future beyond being oftentimes one of many wives under uh much older abusive husband who at the time of marriage is a complete stranger.

So yeah, I mean that is that's incredibly heartbreaking. And um you know, while we were working on this project, we had an opportunity to actually speak with some high school girls who all had escaped their husbands and we're living in a safe house and just seeing the potential in the life ahead of them was so exciting, you know, and for so many young girls, they are, you know, they just don't have that opportunity to even dream for anything in the future.

Well yeah, that that first part you were talking about where you felt like you felt honored just to be a part of telling her story or even hearing her story and being in the same room as her. I think there as we tell stories in the ministry space, I think it's easy to default to just going and telling stories for the sake of donor development and building our organizations and we forget that this is a real human beings we're talking to with the real story.

And if we're not careful, we can exploit those stories even if we tell so our, our, our mindset going into this and I think that probably experienced because you have this mindset. If, if we actually are caring about these individuals and wanting to hear their story and wanting to do justice to their story, um, there is that level of, there's a relationship building piece to it.

Like we're getting to know the intimate details of this person's life. Um, and it goes beyond just telling a story for the sake of the ministry or forsake of the work or the cause or the issue, we're if we're going into the, with that mindset that I really care about this individual and I really want to do their story justice, and I want to tell it.

Well, then we are approached to the questions that we ask and and how we approach those interactions becomes something bigger than just the telling of this story. So that's why I think that that is such an important piece to remember.

Um, and it, and it's hard, right? You're, you're, you've got deadlines that you meet, you have to meet you, you're going in country oftentimes where you've got a week, maybe a week and a half to tell these stories and create this content and you, there's a rushed element, We've got to get this shot, this shot in this shot.

And are we gonna fit all this into our one week trip? Um, that, that can be difficult. And so understanding that the importance behind really actually caring about telling the story well and caring about the individual and not exploiting the story for the sake of our organizations and our ministry is, but really caring about them and wanting to learn that story and wanting to tell it well, I think is so important.

Yeah, if I could add to that, you know, I, I, I often think of how I'm moving from a place of respecting to revere ng, you know, if we understand that the people we work with our um ago day that they are the impression or image of God, you know, it should always cause us to be in this place where we are moving beyond respecting an individual, to revere ng an individual.

Um, and you know this, this past weekend, I had the honour of sitting with a native american couple that live outside of Portland Oregon um kind of sharing american history from a native perspective and sharing a bit of their journey and the insecurity.

They grew up with his Children feeling like they lived amongst a society that hated them and the scars that that left over the years. And you know, 11 thing we talked about is, you know, when we go into, so you think of like the western world view like the pilgrims coming to America and they were this, you know, wanted to be this city on the hill, the shining light, but it kind of comes with assuming that God hasn't already been at work within this place and a lot of natives, you know say we were so close, we just didn't know how much God loves us because we didn't know the story of jesus and it's really easy to come into a place and feel like I know the way forward.

I know how to tell the story instead of understanding that there is so much work being done in that place and if we come in just imposing our ideas, we're going to miss out on the real opportunity of that story and you're going to feel it when you're editing, Like is this is this like in position is this respect? Er is this reverence if it's reverence you're going to feel that when you're editing it together? Mm Yeah.

Uh do you feel like that happens you're able to get to that point in in your storytelling often? Or is that a difficult thing to do or achieve? It's difficult, it's like it's lightning in a bottle, you know? It's you know, I think what you said, yeah, you're like focused on deadlines and getting that shot and like you know where the sun's at and oh no, it's like two silhouetted, we need to like bounce some light on it, like there's there's all those sort of things but you do, I think the front end work of you know, preparation and also just making sure that your values are intact and that's going to influence the way that you first contact the community, you know the way that you're working within the community, the way you're partnering with leaders in that community, so that for Macedonia, like that was one of the smoothest productions I have ever been a part of.

Um and so much of that is because of the mission and values of world vision and how they choose to work within communities and partner with communities. So we were, you know, riding on the coattails of the amazing work they've been doing Since 1953, you know, and you know, so I can't say that I came in there being like, we're going to do this in a way that really reveres this community.

No, I was learning from the way that world vision does things how I should do things as a filmmaker well, and and for our audience, like we're never going to do this perfectly right, that's not never going to get to the point where, oh yeah, we've got this on lock and we can tell a story with reverence versus respect every single time and do it periodically.

But at least having that mindset and the desire to tell these stories in that way as you go into a production or go into a process for a project is a, is a really good starting point because permissions your, your motivations positions how you go about things in a way that is going to point you in that reverence direction versus just simply respecting the individual or the culture, which is good.

But let's take it a step further in our storytelling in our communication. You, um, do you think it's important that the ministry sector start telling stories like this more often or or maybe why? Why would you? Because obviously the answer is yes to that.

But why why, why is it important that the ministry sector start telling these stories or start telling stories like this more often? Yeah. Um you know, I I think one thing, like as a filmmaker that I think about often with all the, you know, political discourse, um, you know, and just media discourse around, you know, race and racism, segregation.

Um, you know, and just this kind of worldwide reckoning of things that maybe have not want to be addressed. Um, I realize as a filmmaker that I have, uh, an opportunity to use whatever skills I have platform I have.

I mean, I have no platform by any means, but, you know, like, as a filmmaker, like, there's there's certain skills that I've um, you know, honed over the years, and I'm like, I have an opportunity to, you know, give a voice to the voiceless at times or shine a light on an issue or, you know, that's kind of my way, instead of me being someone who's always posting on social media, like how upset I am about this, this or that, like, I'm like, man, I could actually give people a platform to speak and I think whatever ministry organizations listening right now, you see things that we don't see, you know, things that we don't know and you're connected to people that were not connected to, and we all have this beautiful opportunity to press into those places and to shine a light.

And, you know, I think first and foremost, you know, whatever our, you know, financial goals are, or fundraising goals or any of that stuff, like, I always feel like, um, that should be secondary. You know, like, we literally have a chance to build a better world through story and let's not miss that opportunity in the process of whatever we're doing now, how can how can the ministry sector move in this direction of, of communicating stories and, and communicating their, their perspectives through their stories on a more regular basis.

Uh, when, when oftentimes in the ministry space and the nonprofit sector budgets don't allow for productions of this scale. Right? So how do we, how do we move in this direction of communicating stores more often When Oftentimes it just is not financially feasible? Maybe secondarily to that, tell us and share with us a little bit about what you're doing with, like the training and equipping programs you're doing because I think that that kind of starts to help us move in that direction.

Yeah. Um, I mean, it's always, I think telling stories like this. I mean, any creative work always feels risky, like you hire someone to make a logo and it might suck when you get it back and you're like, well that was a waste of money.

So I mean risk is always going to be there. I think one of the best things an organization could do is bring people into that conversation who really care about story. You know, whether that's somebody you have internally or that you need to hire a consultant to help you tap in two story because I think that should be one of the first places to start, you know, people who have, you know, are maybe in charge of, you know, video production for their organizations, start reading books on story structure, read invisible ink, read save the Cat, you know, read these sort of things because you'll see in the work that you do those stories are there.

But I think sometimes approaching it from like, oh if I were to write this as a fiction piece, how would I tell this story? There's something that could be really helpful about that when you were working on more documentary focus pieces.

So yeah, I'd say first thing like find people who care about story because they're going to continue to push in that direction. Um, what was the next part zack help me training and equipping of Oh yeah, yeah, local I believe in, are you doing in kenya Uganda? Uganda? Yeah, so that's one of the ideas that I think really excites me in, in, I mean, we're an agency and I'm, I'm trying to move in this direction, which is talking us out of a job, Right? Um, and I, I think the importance in the ministry space of raising up our mission, our ministry national Partners and our missionaries on the ground to be capable storyteller's storyteller on our behalf, so we don't have to be sending all the time.

You and I were max uh, the DP director of Photography to tell these higher production value stories. Those stories absolutely need to be told. What if we could have our ministry National Partners are people on the ground who we know, trained up, equipped to be capable storytellers that fill in the rest of our years worth of content strategy with really welcome stories like you're already doing this.

Talk to us about that a little bit and you got, oh, this makes me think of uh, Covey's seven habits of highly effective people you have like Quadrant One things that are urgent and important, Quadrant Two, which are things that are not urgent but important.

Quadrant three is not urgent. Not important anyways, but Quadrant Two is the world we all struggle to live in, but it's the most important which is investing in things that are not urgent but important.

So when we think of something like training, that is one of those things that might, it feels not urgent because there's going to be an amount of time before they could actually do this thing. But for the longevity of a ministry that's focused on storytelling or needs to be kicking out constant content, that should be one of the first things that were all investing in.

But the thing is is it takes time. It takes funds, you know, and yeah, you just have to wait for that moment. But I am a huge advocate of um, you know, for numerous reasons. I mean, number one who better to tell their own story than them, you know? Uh Number two, you could be inspiring the future filmmakers or nonprofit leads of the world by something like this and you know, creating an avenue for, for people to learn new skills.

Um, and the number three that could become an amazing source of income. Um, those are three things that I think about often. So I've been, uh, Kind of, it started working on a short film project with a group of Ugandan kids back in 2018.

I mentioned before that I was, uh, you know, a driver, uh, for this Ugandan choir. One of the drivers and one of my stipulations of going on this tour is that I wanted to work on a short film, which actually just started entering the festival circuit last week.

But they learned pretty much my crew was these kids, they were sound mixing, boom operating, helping with camera lights. You know, all the actors that show up on screen are members or leaders of the choir.

Um, it was finding kids who had this interest for this fascination and filmmaking and I was like, hey, I'll show you what I know. Well what ended up happening was we ended up creating some magic together and we had a little uh private screening here in Portland and we flew some of the kids out and uh, community in Portland raised $10,000 for those kids to go back to Uganda with a bunch of film gear.

And just in the last year they've been commissioned by different local nonprofits in their area. They've created music videos. I just watched a music video that they made for a uh, an artist there that was, they sent me a link to a tv station.

So something they created is on their Tv station, which is like a huge deal for these kids And even world vision. I've sent some of what they've been shooting to the head of video and the head of one of the other departments and these kids, they're 16.

they're already on World Vision's radar of who they want to start contracting for telling some of those Ugandan stories because then you know if they're flying us over there, like it's super expensive for World Vision if they could hire internally, not only is it more cost effective for World vision but you get a voice from that community telling a story and these kids get paid, you know like that's that's their their livelihood, that's their future.

So I mean no one loses in that situation. Yeah that the idea is is really exciting. I'm I'm excited to continue watching that evolve and and see where things go with that idea. I'll send you a link to the film, you'll get a secret sneak peeks there.

Yeah. Well is it's for our audiences messinis story publicly shareable now. Like is that is it just making the rounds in the, in the award festivals? Or can it can it be seen? Like is there a link? Someone could look at it? So, I mean right now, all we're allowed to do is linked to the trailer and then give updates on which festivals it could be viewed at.

You know, because of Covid 19. A lot of festivals are either hybrid or they're solely online. So it just screamed a, you know, a festival that was fully online this year called Women's Voices Now. And you know, there's there's ways if people are interested, they could go to mess any a film dot com and there's going to be updates of opportunities to screen the film because it's in the festival circuit.

Um, it's not currently available online. It probably won't be available to Republic till this summer because yeah, right now there's still quite a bit of a festival journey was just accepted the three new festivals in the last week.

So yeah, walk us through the success you've seen in the festival circuit so far. Yeah, so we never intended to make a film that we were going to submit to the festival circuit. Obviously World Vision has never done anything like that.

But once the edit was wrapped and we saw what was created through this partnership, we said, hey, let's let's just try and see what happened. So one of the first festivals we submitted to was an Academy Qualifying festival called the Rhode Island International Film Festival.

So we submitted to about 10 festivals and we were looking at like top tier festivals in the U. S. And so essentially what Academy qualifying means is the the Oscars of the Academy Awards. They have certain festivals that they um look at.

So if you win like a grand prize at these festivals then you get put on a long list for Oscar consideration. And so the very first festival we submitted to not only accepted our film and this is out of I think it was 9300 film submissions.

And and they selected 120 films. So that already is like insane. And we were not expecting that. And then out of all those 120 films they have three grand prize categories. One is documentary short film which was our category one was animated short and one is narrative short.

So that's fiction essentially. And I remember we had the awards ceremony and I was ready to go to bed you know because I was like, this was a cool thing to be a part of. And then they announced, I don't know if I'm going to say either of these names, right.

But the grand prize is messinis story by director Lakic RVs. And that was this moment where we realized that we created something in in the, you know, the incubation of this ministry that is so relatable and palatable to the world.

Um and so that ended up putting us on the long list for Oscar nomination consideration. And yeah, since then we've been I think we've been a part of about Maybe 14 festivals now. Um and then we're still waiting to hear from about 30.

So there's still a lot of festivals ahead. So yeah, that's incredible. Well, congratulations to you guys on that. Yeah. Having gotten to have an insider look into seeing that film, it is worthy of all the success you guys are seeing in in the festival circuit.

So congratulations. Yeah, Thanks. Well, lucky. This has been awesome. I'm hoping that this provides a ton of value for ministry leaders. Thank you so much for being on the show. Um if people want to get a hold of you and learn more about Lockie, how can they do? So, um, I mean, I have a website that's just Laki Kerviel's dot com.

So that domain was available, believe it or not. So that's one way. And then obviously the spelling of that is tricky. So you could just find it on the title of the podcast. Um, and I'll put I'll put it in the show notes as well.

Okay. Yeah, awesome. Yeah. And I mean, even if that is just a converse conversation that could spark up, you know, people that you could connect with her, how to keep moving your own stories forward with whatever your, you know, whatever your ministry does, like I, I'd love to love to have a chat.

So awesome. Well thank you. Lucky, we appreciate you being on the show. Can I pray for you real quick? Yes, please father, we just lift up Lockie, thank you for his willingness to be obedient to use the gifts and talents and skills that you have given him in in storytelling and filmmaking.

But I pray that you would just continue to go before him. Is he hones those skills and uses those skills for your kingdom for your glory Father. It's clear that um, he is incredibly talented and the stories that he is able to tell and is telling um are just so powerful.

So thank you for his, his uh using of the skills you've given him for your purposes and uh, we just pray a blessing as he continues to grow in those skill sets and um, that he would get to continue to tell the stories of how you're working in other people's lives.

Lord, we love you so much. We know that you're working in incredible ways and thank you that we get to tell, be a part of telling those stories. Lord, we love you in jesus name. Amen Amen Malaki. Thanks so much for being on the show man.

I appreciate it. Thanks so much, Zach, I appreciate you having me on by. Yeah, I have a good one. Right, Thank you for listening to this episode of the ministry Growth show. If you enjoyed it, we'd appreciate it.

If you rate and review us on the itunes store and make sure you subscribe. So you never miss an episode if you have a story to share with other ministry directors and pastors or know someone who would be an incredible guests on the ministry Growth show, let us know.

We love connecting with ministry executives and sharing their wisdom and insight with our audience. Just send us an email at info at Reliant Creative dot org. And lastly, if you need help telling your ministry story, we would love to share how we can help in that process.

Check out Reliant Creative at Reliant Creative dot org. See you next time. Mm hmm.

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