We spent a week in Sarasota, Florida to screen Becoming Fools, and document the work of our local response partner, Night Life – an innovative youth outreach center that offers hope to at-risk youth through mentoring relationships.Continue reading
Wednesday was THE day of our first big premiere in the theater .. and everything that could go wrong did go wrong. We hoped to get a power nap in, but were dealing with technical difficulties right up to the time the event started … and then experienced even more difficulties during the event …Continue reading
Tamagochy is a Guatemalan icon, made famous for his performances in the streets of historic Antigua, Guatemala. We saw him performing during our scouting trip in 2011 and were totally blown away by his creative talent. We first noticed the crowd surrounding him and wondered why everyone was gathered. We approached the crowd to explore and quickly realized they were watching a master at work. Before we knew it the crowd unglued us as more people joined behind us.
Being a filmmaker, I pulled out my camera to capture his antics. Of course, Tamagochy dialed right in and pulled me into his show to be part of the act. I remember thinking, “It would be so great if someone like this was a part of Becoming Fools.” But at the time, we didn’t know much about the film. I didn’t want to prematurely invite him into something that wouldn’t pan out. So I decided to keep quiet. It was hard for me to walk away and not say anything because I could see Tamagochy’s potential. I regretted that decision for the rest of the scouting trip.
I pulled up Tamagochy’s footage after returning home and again felt regret for not reaching out to him. I couldn’t believe I met him personally and didn’t mention a single thing about the film. I didn’t get his contact info and I didn’t ask him to sign a release form either. So this footage was never going to see the light of day … And then …
About a month after returning home, I received an email from … Tamagochy …
He heard about the Becoming Fools project and wanted to help. I just sat there for a moment in awe of what happened. I hadn’t said a thing. I had no idea how to contact him. But that didn’t matter. Tamagochy contacted us!
Tamagochy is an absolute star when it comes to talent. But he didn’t come in with arrogance as a professional. He joined the team as a humble servant, volunteering his time because he understood the issues these youth were facing. He proved to be an incredible treasure for both the street youth and the Becoming Fools story.
If you are ever in Antigua, Guatemala, make sure you take some time to enjoy his street performance … and when he passes the hat, tip him well, knowing that you are helping an incredible artist continue to help make the world a better place.
Here’s a scene from the Becoming Fools Theatrical event with Tamagochy and Toñito – both are featured in the documentary, Becoming Fools.
Prodigal Clown – Scene 2
We gained more than a trophy at the Omaha Film Festival.
Despite a total white-out blizzard, the turnout was pretty decent. Over 50 students, teachers, filmmakers, parents, grandparents, friends and family braved the snow to experience Becoming Fools in Omaha. We learned that there were at least another 100 people who planed to come, but couldn’t due to the snow. Ironically, Omaha enjoyed 60 degree weather every day prior to the Becoming Fools screening. That was an emotional hurdle, but we quickly accepted the fact that we don’t have any control over the weather.
I found myself at peace when the Becoming Fools title sequence began to play, despite knowing that the film was not yet entirely finished. There were still grammatical errors in the subtitles, audio in a few scenes needed to remixed, and none of the beautiful animation that our friend Beaux is working on, had been edited into the film. These things just couldn’t be finished in time for the screening. But in the scope of all the work already completed, these things were small – and hopefully, most people wouldn’t notice.
After the film ended I had the opportunity to answer questions from the audience. As a filmmaker, this is a golden opportunity to get feedback and gauge the impact. I was delighted to answer questions about the production and our motivation to produce the film. I even called attention to our son Micah as a visual aide, noting that children as young as him were living in the streets alone. I could sense the weight of this reality sinking in as members of the audience gasped and shook their heads in disbelief.
At one point, someone asked me if we had staged a specific scene in the film. I tried not to smile too much when I answered the question, because it was a legitimate thought. After all, the scene in question could seem “too good to be true”. I responded with something like,
“I know it could appear to good to be true, but in all honestly that is the way it happened. In fact, I wish I could have had some sort of control over the film, because I certainly would have done many things differently.”
But I didn’t have control … and I still don’t (obviously – I mean … a blizzard on our screening day!) … and really … I will never have control.
The story captured and presented in Becoming Fools is an authentic depiction of chaos made beautiful by a God who knows a lot more, cares a lot more, and ultimately LOVES a lot more than I do. The film presents beautiful grace, but ultimately doesn’t end with everything wrapped in a bow. That simply isn’t reality. These kids are still living in the streets. Some of them are now purposefully in jail. Others have been admitted to the hospital for knife wounds. Their status has changed several times since we began post production, because that is the nature of life in the streets.
We hope to finish the film this month and begin planning a fall screening tour, but we don’t really have control over that either. We dug deep into savings to finish the film and don’t have the resources needed for a screening tour. But we trust that resources will be provided. We hope that others will choose to join us in Becoming Fools.
This journey has been chaotic and it’s been beautiful in the midst of chaos. We didn’t set out to tell this story because we knew how it would end. We simply felt called to authentically amplify the voices of these youth who live in the streets in the hopes that audiences would want to join the effort to make a difference. We didn’t win any awards at the Omaha Film Festival, but the audience affirmed our hope. Several people shared how the film inspired them to do something and engage the issue of at-risk youth. To us, that’s worth more than a trophy.
You can join the story. Click below to give a tax-deductible donation to Athentikos.
Drum roll, please …. After much anticipation, we are thrilled to release the official Becoming Fools Movie Trailer.
We’re not yet finished with the film, but we’re close. It’s in the final phase of post-production: coloring, music, mixing, animation, art, and credits.
After a year of pre-production and research, 6 months of production and 6 months of editing and post-production, we are rounding the turn towards the finish line. My heart has swung through all emotions imaginable over the course of this journey – from loving the story, to absolutely hating it, to loving it again.
The production phase is my favorite. It is a time when we are out in the world together, collaborating, capturing a story and experiencing the richness of community. It’s hard work, but somehow we don’t notice because we are together. You should hear the laughter at 2 AM when we’re logging footage, after a 12 hour shoot in a dirty environment … and the water is off, so you can’t take a shower before bed. It is a true joy!
Then there is the flip side. If production is a joy because of community, then editing is the Alcatraz prison of loneliness. To be honest, I often wrestle with depression while editing a film. It is a long period of isolation in the “editing cave” with only small spurts of community when we evaluate the film. And because those small doses of community are focused on critically evaluating the film, it usually results in me having to spend more time editing in isolation. Don’t get me wrong. I greatly value constructive criticism during the process and want our films to be the best they can be! It just begins to take its toll after 6 months of 16 hour work days. Needless to say, I am very glad that I can see the light at the end of the editing tunnel!
After all this work, the film is slightly different than we originally imagined. But, this is normal because you never have control over all the production elements in a documentary. In this case, we were thrown some pretty big wild cards during production. I compared it to riding a wild bull. We just held on tight, kept the cameras rolling, and prayed we were capturing what we needed to tell a great story. Thankfully, we captured some great stuff!
During a recent Athentikos meeting, we engaged in a deep and honest discussion about the film. We asked some tough questions ….
Is this a compelling story?
Does this film achieve what we set out to do?
Is the story depicted in the final edit the same story we passionately felt called to produce in the beginning?
It was unanimous. Even though the story is different than we initially imagined, it compellingly accomplishes the goal we set out to achieve. This is the story God called us to tell.
It’s full of warm characters, beautiful tension and redemption that we couldn’t have written better if we wrote it as a narrative. It still makes me cry … and I have seen it thousands of times over the course of editing! So, either I am completely off my rocker, or this story truly connects to the heart.
As we work diligently to wrap up the final details in this project, I have mixed emotions. I’ve committed 2 years of my life to developing, filming and editing this story. I’ve grown to love these street youth as dear friends. Their delicate charm has captured my heart! I would love for this film to raise awareness and bring needed resources to this issue! But, I have no idea what will become of it all.
We raised enough funding to get through production. But we still lack the financial resources to release the film. Unfortunately, we can’t subsidize this next phase with our sweat equity. Unless we receive additional funding, we will be forced to put the film on hold. We truly believe this story has the potential to make a difference in the lives of street youth around the world. But we need your help … will you consider giving a donation?
As of right now, we only have one official film screening planned. Let’s make it count!
Becoming Fools will screen at the Omaha Film Festival on Sunday March 10 at 12:15 PM.
Gather your friends and meet us there! If you are too far away to attend, please help us make noise so we can try to fill the theater. Use every means necessary to tell people about this opportunity to see the film: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, phone calls, post cards, smoke signal … and especially talking face to face!
Please watch the trailer and share it. Give a donation if you can. Work with us to help bring the film to your city. Let’s become fools together and make a difference!
Give a tax-deductible donation to help us release the film.
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?