Laki Karavias | Filmmaker and Director of Messania's Story - Part 1

Laki Karavias | Filmmaker and Director of Messania's Story - Part 1

The Ministry Growth Show

April 12, 2021

Episode Notes:

This week on The Ministry Growth Show, we're joined by Laki Karavias. 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've come to the right place.

Welcome back to the ministry Growth show today on the show. I'm gonna be talking with La cuchara venus and he is an incredible filmmaker and I'm excited to have him on the show. Lucky! Thanks so much for being on the show, man.

Hi zack. Thank you for that very kind introduction. Yeah, well, we've we've tried this once before and we weren't able to have the episode go live. So I'm really excited to have you on the show again and uh see if we can't give this another shot.

Yeah, I mean, I think with all things considered and what's kind of transpired over the last year, the timing is probably perfect. Yeah, I'm excited to hear some of the updates on what's been going on with the film.

So before we get into that, can you share some of your background with us? So we have some contact context for uh some of the topics we'll discuss today, and and then how did you get started in video production and storytelling? Yeah, I mean, my background in filmmaking is was kind of by accident I guess.

Um I actually started uh working in the social work field and I always had like a passion for storytelling. I was always that kid who was, you know, if something very anti climactic happened in my day, I would make it into a grand narrative.

But uh yeah, when I uh you know, kind of had this like internal passion for film. I when I was working in the social work field, I started making these like little short films with the high school where I was working with.

And that kind of led me to this point where um we ended up getting a grant to do a film camp for at risk youth in Portland Oregon. And I was kind of on the outskirts watching all these kids right there little scripts and work with these industry people and make their films.

And I that kind of showed me that that's something I always wanted to do, but I always thought that filmmaking was for a special type of creative person. And uh so anyways I started, you know, kind of dabbling here and there and most of my work because I was connected with the nonprofit sector was tour was focused on like humanitarian sort of organizations and you know, making these little videos that were kind of promoting the work that they did.

And I've been doing that for about The last 10 years, so. Okay, cool. And what are some of the organizations that you've worked with in film production and storytelling? Yeah, So I mean the biggest one I've worked with his world vision, that anyone um in the nonprofit sector probably knows about world vision.

But before that I was, you know, working, I worked with an organization called Peace International that was based in Uganda, that was helping bring peace between the two tribes of the Dinka and the nowhere and South Sudan.

I had worked with organization for a lot of years called Little Kids Foundation that were, you know, essentially uh teaching people in economically fragile context around the world how to utilize pediatric massage, physical therapy and chiropractic techniques to work with Children.

Um, which is like sounds super weird, but when you think of that being a very sustainable form of health care for people who don't have access to hospitals, it makes total sense. Um, you know, I had done work for, um, you know, even in Portland Oregon organization called Hatch Innovation Laboratories, that was pretty much a hub for social enterprises to have kind of this incubation to help their social companies grow.

Um, so those are just like a few, but they all obviously kind of touch some sort of, you know, social focus. Um, and then a lot of my work has been with humanitarian organizations, specifically focused on child protection and enrichment.

That's awesome. Um, and as we get into today's discussion and topics can uh, I want to hear why you think storytelling is so important and specifically for the nonprofit and ministry sector, which is most of the audience listening to this show.

Um, I have my views on why I think storytelling is so important, but coming from a filmmaker, somebody who is a storyteller who has skills in that craft, why why is this so important for ministries to take seriously? Yeah, I mean, even the, if someone were to ask me the question, like, tell me about who you are and if I were to start that with, You know, I was born in 1982 and when I was this age, I moved to this city.

That's one way I could like introduce who I am. But if I started saying, let me tell you this story, Like I remember when I was five years old, me and my dad, we were walking to the store and you know, if immediately the audience is drawn in, you know, you're going to still get to learn that information.

But when you're presenting information through a story, like we all know that that has a different level of impact. And um, I think part of this, when I was working with these nonprofits, I found myself very bored by this sort of content we were producing because it didn't match the amazing people that we were meeting along the way.

And I think so much of this is just like leaning into the characters who essentially are carrying all this information that nonprofits and humanitarian and christian organizations need to convey. But why not do that through an actual character who carries that information, you know, one And we know that, that we engage at an emotional level through stories so much more than that.

I don't think there's, I think you could argue that there's very little emotional engagement when you're just communicating data and statistics and strategies. Um, but when we can communicate at that emotional level at the heart level, then there's potential to get somebody connected to our work or our brand or organization or ministry at a much deeper level because there's the heart is connected to it and it's not just information in my head.

Yeah. And as a species like we know this to be true. This is how we communicate with one another. This is how we're communicating in community when I am hanging out with my friends. Like I don't tell them if something happened to me in that day that I want to share that story with them.

Like I'm not going to say, hey, I went to the grocery store today and I bought these items at the grocery store and I talked to this person named such and such and then I came home, I'm gonna, that wouldn't connect, that's not how we interact, I'm gonna, I'm gonna tell an actual story that took place and so connecting at the emotional level is so, so important, right? Yeah.

And I think there's, uh, you know, if anyone were to, you know, read any books on screenwriting or crafting a story, you'll kind of see this re occurring hero's journey and everyone kind of has their own take on it.

But essentially it's the idea that stories that really impact people leave the audience with survival information for their own life, you know, so just because we're telling a story about, you know, from Estonia story, this woman in west picot, kenya her journey and what she learned along the way actually matters for me in my life in Portland Oregon because her, her story is a story of her quest for identity, you know, in a world that was really cool to her and you know, when, when we were creating content that essentially is just talking heads, like you were saying, conveying information and stats, you know, we miss out on a real opportunity to leave the world with something that is going to be useful for them and their everyday, so in our previous attempted podcast that we did, like even the story of, you know, I think we talked about finding nemo, finding nemo on, on paper might seem like, oh, it's a story about a father trying to find his son who's lost in the atlantic ocean, but really what that whole film is about is the idea that the things that we love, we have to be willing to let them go and that piece of survival information is accentuated through everything that is written in that script.

You know, Marlin the father, he pretty much right at the beginning of that film, he loses his wife and his kids except for nemo. And so he's hyper, hyper protective. And the only way for marlin to grow and finding nemo is not nemo story.

It's marlins story is that he had to be thrown into this grand adventure that went against everything in his fabric because of the trauma he went through at the end. You see this like amazing test where marlin has this chance to decide to let his son go or to hold him close and it's when his son nemo sees all those fish that are in trouble and in the net.

And it's it's this moment of reckoning for Marlon where he decides, okay, I've gone through all this journey and I've learned this one thing along the way, I think is filmmakers is, you know, nonprofit organizations, humanitarian organizations, we have the opportunity with story and sadly we miss it so much of the time.

One. And ministries talk about the difficulty that they have so often with connecting the realities of what may be going on in africa or India or wherever they're working, like the the cultural barriers between those type of places and communicating that to a Western audience in a Western donor base.

Those cultural gaps are gigantic. Like if you tell me about the strategies and the statistics that exist outside of my culture, outside of my context, I'm not going to be able to relate to those things because those two cultural differences are so far apart and have such a gigantic gap between them.

But it's no wonder that ministries can't get their donors to relate to what's taking place in the, in the areas that they're doing their work. But if you can tell a story like messinis story, um that follows some type of structure that is a true story of a real person going through real struggles, overcoming those real struggles and then applying what that person or individual has learned to their life moving forward.

I can watch that as a Western donor who doesn't share that same cultural context and I can relate to that story and I can relate across those cultural barriers and those cultural gaps because I also share that same structure, that same experience going through my own life.

Now it's going to be very different, right? But Macedonia story is very different than my upbringing and experience. But I'm still going through life experiencing challenges and struggles overcoming those things and applying what I've learned in those situations to my life moving forward.

And so because I'm following that same pattern in my own life, I can relate to her and now I've crossed that cultural barrier and I can connect myself to her story and ultimately connect myself to whatever brand or organization is telling that story because I relate to her, even though my are two different experiences are vastly different, right? Yeah.

So that that's a good segue. I think into the next question, like you mentioned the hero's journey, do you, are you following story structures like that every time you try to communicate a story? Is it pretty consistent? Are you always following the hero's journey or is there like a three act story structure you like to follow orders that kind of look like in your process? Yeah, I think, I think for documentary work, it's uh it's a little bit different than if you're, you know, working on like a fiction piece where everything is kind of like mapped out, you know, with documentary, it is there is a lot of unearthing, you know, but one thing that helped us with Macedonia story and continues to be a guide and any project I work on is um you know, I I tend to gravitate more towards um it's almost like a seven part story structure that essentially is like a three act story structure broken up.

Um and for anyone who doesn't know three act story structure could be explained as simple as this act one is where you get your character up the tree. Act two is where you start throwing rocks at your character and act three is where you get them down, you know, and almost any film we watch, you're going to see like the majority of the film is this character who is having all these obstacles and struggles, You know, but what moves a character from Act one into Act two is essentially you have this like once upon a time, what was life like before this thing happened, that kind of threw your character into this journey or this quest and so you know, those sort of things, just the more you hear anyone story and if you're really paying attention and you're making uh setting a table for those conversations to happen, you're going to see this story in all of our lives.

And so I think with Macedonia it was you know, kind of going into into that uh you know, when we first went into her home and started interviewing her, you know, it was you know, just kind of coming with this assumption and expectation that that story is there and if we went in not believing that it was there or kind of oblivious to it, Yeah, we would have missed it.

We would have just had her talking about all this information, but going into knowing that that core story structure is there, it is with all of us, it really helped us capture the content that we needed.

So so were you following like dan harmon's variation to the hero's journey? Like his, his um or a circle or another variation? I mean I do like dan harmon's story circle. Uh I I think what I did with this was more based on its uh there's a book called Invisible Ink by brian Macdonald and I was reading that a lot during the editor of this film because essentially, um you know when you're doing a project like this, you have hours and hours of, you know, talking content and it's really about like, okay, what is, you know, that one thing that we really want to say and how could we structure um all this content into this sort of arc, so that you know what, the first thing that happened was obviously having to get every word she said translated.

And then I had to print everything out and I had this room where I literally had everything taped around the wall and started color coding and finding themes and it was a real struggle. You know, it probably felt like you're given this slab of marble and you have to make this like beautiful sculpture out of it and just not knowing where to start and you know, so yeah, I would say this uh you know, invisible ink and it's kind of that idea of a story being broken up into Once upon a Time, which is just the setting of where this world takes place and who this character is.

And then the second part is in every day. So what did this person's look person's life look like every day and for messing me a lot of us talking about her childhood. And then after that it's until one day, like what is that thing and film that's called the Inciting Incident, the thing that took this this normal equilibrium and kind of threw it for a loop and the next sections are and because of this, and because of that, and that is essentially most of your story, what are all the things that happen that eventually led your character to this point, which is until one day and the last part is and ever since that day, the and ever since that day takes into consideration everything your characters learned and how you see this in Lord of the Rings like you know sure photo is back in the shire at the end of return of the king but things are different, you know, he's learned something along the way, you know, and that is really what the hero's journey is about.

Yeah, yeah. Watching the Messina story um knowing that you didn't follow that here's journey structure to a T. But still seeing themes and similarities to her story and how you how you shared her story that followed that journey structure was really, really cool.

Like the fact that she leaves her ordinary world as a as a young adult or a young woman. Um even though hurry ordinary world was very different than you and I is ordinary world, right? She leaves that walks away from that situation not knowing what the next thing was.

That that aspect of that follows like the hero's journey to a t right? I'm going to leave my ordinary situation into this chaotic special world that I don't know and have never experienced and I'm gonna learn something in that about myself um watching that film progress, I was like, man, this, he had to be following the structure, but knowing that you didn't, it's crazy because it still follows some of those similarities or structures.

Well, yeah, and I think, you know, true talk like is a filmmaker is a creative as a human. Like, I look back at the project and there's so many things I wish we did differently. You know, I watched the film and I'm like, I wish we captured some of this, I feel like this is missing and that's always going to happen.

You know? It's like, you know, there's, yeah, there's there's always those things and I think if I could go back to the beginning of the project, yeah, there's definitely a lot I learned along the way of shooting and editing and yeah, just what I'll do differently next time.

Yeah. Well, as is always the case. Huh? So, um, so how, how did you land at World Vision and, and specifically as your time progressed there? Um, how did your time there culminate in the story of Macedonia? Like what, like was this a was the production level and the style of this story, something you had always wanted to do during your time there, like there was this a build up towards this big thing or this big idea that you always wanted to do.

Yeah. Yeah. So the way I first connected with World Vision, I was actually um you know, a year before I started at World Vision, I moved to L. A. Because I was like, I'm going to commit to being a film director and I left everything in Portland, it's not that far.

But you know, anyways, I went to L. A. And uh I was there for about three months and I was like, I do not like this place. And I had a lot of people telling me like if you want to be a director, like maybe L.

A. Is the last place you should be because nobody wants to help you with your projects because everyone's working on something here, you kind of get just like lost in the sea of amazingly talented people.

And so I had a lot of people say maybe this isn't the place for you. And while I was deciding what I was going to do, I got a call from a friend who is somewhat jokingly said, hey, do you want to be a driver around the U.

S. For a Ugandan Children's choir? And I think she didn't realize I was really looking for a reason to get out of L. A. And so I ended up going on the road driving around the U. S with this uh, this amazing organization called Bridge of Hope African ministries and at the tail end of that time, which was in december, I did not know what was next.

And I remember um receiving an email from the head of the video department at World Vision Comcast stands a great human who said a friend of yours told me about you and we would love for you to apply for this job.

There was an opening for a video producer, World Vision and you know, in my heart, I was like, I don't really want a full time job, I want to have my freedom. But I I knew a little bit about world Vision growing up in the, growing up in the church and I knew that they were doing some cool stuff, although I didn't realize till I got there how amazing the work they're doing around the world is.

I kind of reluctantly applied and then I kept making it through rounds of interviews to the point where they gave me the job. And I remember when I got that email, I was like, where we were staying with the kids, there was like this garden behind this church we were staying at and I was walking through and I felt like jesus in the garden of Gethsemane t like not my will, but yours be done.

But I'm wrestling with like a four oh one K and not really, you know, quite what jesus was, but you know, I really did feel and nudging that this is what God had for me in this season. And and my original conversation with Tom, I said, have you guys ever made like a proper, like documentary? And he said no, but we've always wanted to and he said, maybe you'll be the one to do that.

That was my first interview called with Tom Yeah. And once I got to World Vision, uh, soon after I started uh there was the child protection department who wanted to do this piece on like FGm forced forced child marriage and Tom connected the department with me and I was like the new guy and they were like, we don't want to work with that guy, we don't know who that guy's and Tom says, I have a feeling this might be something cool and connected us.

And they came with like, a creative proposal, this is what we want to do. And I said, will you give me a few days to come back at you with a different proposal of what I think we should do? And they said, yes, let's do that.

So they let me sit in my office and just like, idea. And I came back with a proposal and they said, yes, this is the story we want to tell. And so yeah, that's kind of how it started. And yeah, it's been a really cool journey.

Oh, wow. So the idea behind this film started right off the bat when you got there. Yeah, it was like, I think I had only been at World Vision for like two months and then I gave them this this pitch and we shot it that like, I think we shot it in june of that year.

But I couldn't touch the footage for almost eight months because if anyone knows World Vision, there was all the stuff around chosen, you know, kids, uh you know, choosing their sponsors and instead of vice versa and I was kind of assigned to overseeing all the video for chosen.

So I wasn't allowed to touch anything with Macedonia even though I was like itching to I was like, I can't touch any footage yet. It had to be painful. Yeah, it was very painful. So knowing you've got this incredible story in the Q and not being able to go play around with it and mess with it and start editing.

Yeah. Or not knowing if the story was good or not. So I think we just, you know, until you dive into an edit, you don't really know what you have. And I think that's why it's just important when you're onset or on a shoot, like you have to get into this rhythm of like trusting your instincts.

And sometimes in the edit you see that that sort of mode of operations really works to the benefit of the story. But yeah, we were very grateful when we started piecing things together that were like the stories here.

Well, you were on set. So you had to have known like, oh man, this is this is going to be something special. At least a slight hint of that. Yeah, you have a hint, You have strong hints. But you know, I think it's there's always, you know, with any creative work, there's always that level of terror that's like what if this is, you know, because sometimes work, you know, with messinis story, we did some very experimental things, you know, with music and with, you know, these kind of recreations of her backstory.

And, you know, even our director of Photography, who's used to being this kind of one man production show where he's directing, shooting editing, you know, he doesn't really get an opportunity where he's just, you know, for anyone who doesn't know what a director of photography is.

That's pretty much all the cinematography, the lighting, the camera. But there were moments where he's just like, I don't know what you're doing. And I was like, you just have to I was like, I I see something in my head, He's like, why are we shooting this? And it wasn't till I started piecing things together, and he's like, oh, I totally get what we're doing now.

so that's cool. Yeah, maybe that's a good segue. Walk us through messinis story and, and some of the, some of the things that make this story that you feel makes this story significant and special and, and different than other documentary storytelling pieces that have been done before in the ministry sector.

Yeah. Um, I think what I am most proud of with this piece and this could not have happened without the support of World Vision, the amazing team they have over, uh, in kenya, specifically the team in west peacock kenya, which is where medicine is from.

Um, you know, because really early on when we put in a request to, you know, to have this story of FGM and child marriage, not told through a young person, but through an elder in this community, they came back and they knew right away who was supposed to tell this story.

They said it's Macedonia and my response to their head of their communications, who ended up being our our our producer whose name is May own Deng. Um I said, can we find several women who fit this criterion? They found seven women in that region and who were not only uh, you know, former victims of FGM, but they were former child brides, but they also were former circumcise is because it was a major source of income for some of these older women in these communities.

And so when we ended up flying, you know, to West picot with our team, we sat in the homes of these amazing women and one of the last woman we met was Macedonia. And immediately you knew this was her story to tell for what we were doing.

And what was amazing is her community knew all along. We were just kind of catching up to what they already knew and what I look at this project back to your question of like how did you phrase your question again? Sorry before I quote you wrong, just walk us through that her story a little bit.

But sure why you think this her story was what made it so special and so significant. So I think what made it special, this is what I was getting to is the fact that we our main goal was for people to feel like they were really getting to know yesenia and being able to sit at her feet and to really humanize this one person who has touched these world issues.

And if we could do that, we knew the film was like it was impactful, it was doing everything we wanted it to do and that's the response we've gotten from it. People say, I feel like I really connected with her, you know, so when we talk about like water crisis or we talk about sex trafficking or we talk about economic empowerment, like how amazing to have an experience.

We actually get to connect with the person who was just experiencing that thing. Um, and yeah, I I think that is, well, yeah, that was one of the things that I noticed watching the film was that for most of the ministry sector and the most of the films that I've seen, even the ones that are heavily story driven, there's still a bent towards and a desire for the ministry, whoever telling whoever is telling that story to try to interject and and communicate as much about the cause within that film intertwined with maybe that individual story.

Um, to, to try to force and and communicate as much as they can, how bad the causes and the statistics around the cost and what was different about messinis story is that you there it was just focusing on her story.

Like those things, those things about the causes and issues came out within her story, but there was such a focus in communicating her story and being true to her story without any other ulterior motive.

Um that that it was incredibly powerful and emotionally engaging. And yet it's still served to communicate the seriousness of the cause and the issue and and and still did what all ministries want to do.

They want to communicate those issues and they want to communicate how bad things are or the problems that exist. And but how you guys approached it was just, it was taking that story element to a new level and it still served to communicate the things you wanted to communicate.

It wasn't it wasn't heavily brand specific, it wasn't heavily cause or issue specific, it was just here's Macedonia story and then the support of or the communication of the cause and the issue and the brand that you were creating this for came out within that.

But and it was so much more powerful because you had just focused on really truly telling her story. Well yeah I mean what's what's so fascinating about this is you know, it the early stages of the development of what this would be there was that you know kind of tug of war over how much you know like obviously world vision is doing a ton of work in all of these areas areas creating alternative rites of passages for young girls in those regions, you know, providing economic resources for older women who decide to leave the practice of F.

G. M. Creating safe houses and primary and secondary schools for these girls who are escaping their older often abusive husbands. So it felt like, yeah, there's like all this stuff we could talk about in this film, but what if we just shine a spotlight on this character and through that character, we don't shine a spotlight on the world vision, but we really china spotlight on these issues.

And the one of the great things is there's no reason why we can't have supporting content, written content, other videos. You know, if people want to take a deeper dive, but to get people to care, it should always be the first priority.

And how are you going to get people to care without them connecting with another human who this touches in a real visceral way? And you know, since, you know, I mean just in the last year, I mean this film has been used to spark up conversations with, you know, with donors with, you know, big influencers like you know, this film, it recently had Somewhere like 1.

5 million impressions on Instagram through famous people re posting about the film. It sparked up conversations and presentations with members of Congress. You know, this is just in the last year and essentially the film is being used to have a deeper conversation.

But what the film is doing is it's setting a playing field of people who actually care. It's moving them from being just an observer to something that they personally can relate with because they can relate with her.

They could relate to that character and the character story in that film. I mean you guys barely touch on, I mean the brand shows up twice, right? She talks about it, World Vision. And then it shows up to the end World Vision dot org white text on black backdrop outside of that.

So what's funny is actually, so this film is currently going through the festival circuit and I'm sure we'll talk about that a little bit, but we actually the President of World Vision us, Edgar Sandoval came into the office with an early cut and I always kind of felt early on that I thought it would be great if World Vision wasn't even mentioned.

You know, because what it would say is that one of one of the things that World Vision does as a ministry is they shine a spotlight on amazing people telling amazing stories that in turn accentuate the things that their organization focuses on.

And when Edgar Sandoval came into my office and he watched the cut. His first piece of feedback was let's take World Vision out of it entirely. So actually the edit that's been making the festival around, she doesn't even mention world vision.

Uh you know, so that was like something that is very against the grain of what I think anyone would do. You know, it's like, but I think because that decision was made, the peace doesn't feel like a branded piece for world vision.

It just feels like world vision just decided to gift the world with a story. Yeah, that's incredible. And and the you can definitely see the difference in the film and and the emotional engagement impact that it has not being tied or focused on a brand or a strategy or solution and or cause or an issue it's focused on Macedonia and the those aspects and those pieces come out within her story because they were part of her story.

Um, and it's it's just really incredible. I I think that this film, it already has. I mean, I think it's already doing this, but I think it's gonna kudos to you because I think this is going to be a film that changes and shifts how the ministry sector thinks about storytelling.

And, and so yeah, very well done. Yeah. Thanks. Um, so as you guys were telling the story, you talked about how you found messinis story that the community was uh, crucial piece and crucial part in pointing you guys in the right direction.

How else did the community get involved in the production of this film? And um, I think the thing that knowing this the some of the background behind this film, that's really exciting for me watching it was the audio behind this thing.

So, can you talk about that a little bit? Yeah, I mean, to your first part, like, how was the community involved? Um I think the first, what I'd like to say is when you're, you know, going into a community that's not your own, you're working with people who have been through things that you don't quite under understand or have an experience, personally, one of the worst things you could do is go into that place and feel like that's your opportunity to tell your story.

And then you kind of, you kind of step into those situations, not is an active learner, and looking to, like participate with the story of that community, wants to tell you start kind of imposing your story onto this people or this place for this subject.

And, you know, one of the huge benefits I had with this is I knew very little about child marriage or F. G. M stepping into this project. So already positioned me into this place where I'm like, I need to learn everything I can and you know what we discovered when we were there was that the story that we were telling was the community took such ownership of it.

They all wanted to do everything they could to tell this story and wanted to accentuate everything in Messina story that they could. And so just one example of this, So in the film, you know, the film opens up with this, this kind of long dolly shot of Macedonia singing and gathering water at the river and you hear this course of young girls uh coming with this beautiful african song and those girls are actually all former members of forced marriage and FGM who are living in a safe house in west pokot kenya and oh, the music throughout the film.

And again, this is just one example because we could get into all the actors for the reenactments, you know, the production coordinators, the translators, like people who are crewing at times. I mean that's also largely built of the community, but we'll focus on the music, but we have, You know, there's a scene where medicine is going up to remembering and when she was about 14, when she was going up to the cutting stone to receive, you know, the cut, which is how they refer to female genital mutilation.

And there's this uh, there's this performance group called chip Wanga traditional dances that is singing the ceremonial song that is some when a girl goes for this rites of passage and this, these, this group was actually a reformed performance man.

They used to sing that song, but now they actually campaign against FGM and travel around kenya. Our producer May own Deng had to spend some time with them explaining to them why it was important for the story for them to sing the song that they used to saying that they never thought they would sing again.

And as soon as they understood that it was to highlight this part of Messina's memory, they sang with such conviction and you know, so that, that kind of is, you know, a window into how every piece of this production work.

Because messineo would tell us a memory of when she was young, dancing around the fire to the Adan to dance with her friends. And then after we left that interview, I said to our producer, I said I would love to do some recreations and specifically recreate this moment along with these.

And I'm like, we need different versions of Macedonia, we need one of her around eight years old, one around 14, 1 in her late twenties, early thirties. And the next day we show up and we not only have these, you know, this young girl, teenage girl and woman who matched these ages, but they actually have some resemblance to Macedonia.

This is all the work the community did when we weren't, when we were back at our hotel resting from our days shoot. So yeah, it's a community effort through and through well. And and as you watch the film for our audience, if you have been to africa, you know that there's a feeling and experience the sights and the smells like there's something about being there that is different than where you come from.

And when you watch most ministry films, um it watching those films most of the time doesn't really take you back quite um, like you, you would experience if you were there. And the thing, one of the things that stood out to me watching this film, and I think a large part is due to the fact that you guys were so invested in including the community to help out in this project.

Um, and, and a big part is around the audio being all recorded in country. You watch this film and you go, oh, that takes me back, like legitimately takes me back to the places that I've been. And so I think that that was just a testament to, um, as we tell stories to being true to the culture and true to the locations in the regions and the people that we're talking about in these stories and not trying to put a Africans story with a western christian music track to the film.

And, and expecting it to give the same feeling when our audience watches the film. And so, um, that that piece that the importance that you guys pushed and placed on, including the community to be involved in this production really shines through and takes the audience and the viewer back to or to a place that they've never been or have been before.

Yeah, I I think that, you know, that point of uh, you know, just trying to really transport people capture what's truly there. But you know, at the same time, you know, with our composer there was that conversation of like a lot of this will go to a Western audience.

So how do you kind of, you know, you know, walk that line of giving honor to this culture and, you know, accentuating the beauty of what you experience when you're there while at the same time? Obviously, like I'm a western film maker, he's a western composer.

So you're going to have, you know, that influence and hopefully if it's done well, that becomes a very symbiotic relationship that ends up just accentuating the story even more. But I think when it's imposing your ideas or your creative sensibilities onto a story that will come out in a completely different way, that doesn't benefit anyone.

You guys did a great job in that. Um lucky, this has been awesome. I wanna be respectful of our audiences time. So we're gonna wrap up this episode and turn this into a two part episode. So thanks so much for being on the show and we'll be with you next week.

Awesome. I'll take that is, I talk a lot and let's break this up into two. Awesome. Thanks so much zack. Thank you. Thanks 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 our process.

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

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