Three of our team were sitting in our office brainstorming several weeks back, trying to come up with an engaging trailer that would introduce our new Christmas curriculum that will be coming this year. As you know, we are in the process of building our production company and this would be our first offering to the public, so we wanted it to be great.
But what should it be about? What should it say? Should it be a trailer at all? Should it be an introduction to the family who will be starring in our first several series? Should it be a story that has merit on it’s own, while still showcasing our storytelling and animation for future products? We considered the pros and cons for many different ideas and we finally decided to roll the dice on a project that would bring in no money, but would hopefully be able to be used to challenge and encourage people to do something better in their lives. A project that we would be proud to show potential donors and allow them to see what we are all about – telling engaging stories through animation that will impact families and kids in a positive way.
Keep an eye out for “Rainy Day”, an animated short on family togetherness. Coming Soon!
Imagine an old family book was given to you from a safety deposit box. In it was a letter that stated that at the age of 60 you were going to inherit 500 million dollars from a relative you barely knew. How excited would you be? But it gets better, the letter continues on to explain that at that time, along with the money, every bad thing in your life that has ever happened to you will be reversed AND anything you have ever lost in life that was precious to you would be given back to you again, ready to be picked back up right where you left off. Reading this, you suddenly realize that everything that you thought you were going to miss out on when that special thing went away would be given back to you! That you NOW had a future where everything would be renewed and the perfect life would be yours.
How would all of this make you feel right at this moment? How much would the hope of that future change you right now? It may not take away all the pain you might be feeling right now, but you should have a new sense of joy as you continuously think about this glorious future and revel in the love of the benefactor who gave this gift to you.
Sound far fetched? It isn’t. A future even better awaits us in Christ. A future that is guaranteed to give us all of the above and more (okay, we won’t need money where we are going, but you get the idea). I don’t know about you, but I for one am anxiously looking toward this future with great hope and joy!
Stepping out in faith was the biggest step of faith in my life. Leaving the security of 25 years of ministry, a great salary and my vested retirement and stepping out with no foreseeable income and 8 months of money in the bank, took much prayer and counsel. But when you know that you know that GOD is calling you to take the step, it’s impossible to do anything else. Taking that step was exciting and terrifying. I know that we should not have fear when GOD calls us to do something, but I think it is impossible for even the most spiritually mature not to feel a twinge of fear when making monumental decisions that have no humanly known certain outcome. But there was also excitement and peace that can only be found through Christ over the Christmas holidays. It was a joy of what GOD was going to do in the future and all that could be accomplished with ISeeIt! Productions. It was like a gift from GOD under the tree.
When January rolled around the reality of the magnitude of what GOD had called us to hit pretty hard. Who were we to think we could accomplish such grand things as one day producing a full length animated feature film? Who were we to think that we can figure out a way to produce curriculum with no financial or material support in sight? I can’t lie, there were many anxious early mornings spent in prayer and time in His word. What followed was a roller coaster of a ride with the highs of knowing we are in the center of GOD’s will and the struggling lows of doubts that creep in saying, “this can’t be done.”
But one thing I do know, GOD is capable of ALL things and this journey He has placed us on will be seen through to His fruition. I am at complete peace with the fact that every day I’m not 100% sure what needs to be done. But, through daily prayer and seeking Him, I am assured that GOD knows and He will lead us. You see, this is HIS adventure, not mine. The skills He gave me are HIS skills, not mine. The opportunities presented are HIS opportunities, not mine. I am but a conduit for Him to work through. All I can do is make myself available and work on the things that He presents to me. This brings me great comfort and relieves my anxiety. I am not in control. This is GOD’s adventure to do what He wants. And, whatever that turns out to be, I will be blessed because He chose me to be a part of it. What a ride it will be!
Back in October I was approached by a volunteer at Fellowship that I had known for a long time. J.W. had developed a company in Zimbabwe that outsourced university educated, English speaking employees for up to 75% off current staffing costs. Positions such as Marketing, Social Media, Accounting, Video Production and many others could be found. J.W. approached me because he wanted to know whether churches and other non-profits would be interested in it. Knowing church finances and staffing budgets very well, I thought the idea would go over in a big way. Then I thought about what GOD had been developing in my heart over the past 8 months – the dream of ISeeIt! Productions and how a door needed to be opened to find animators and artists we could afford (something I couldn’t see happening any time soon). I asked J.W. what he thought and he said he would post some job opportunities. Within a week he presented me with three people to interview. Immediately, seeing their work and knowing what someone of their caliber would cost me here in the U.S., I jumped on hiring all three (even though we didn’t have the money to do it…more on that in a later post). This was going to be a huge benefit to me, but also a huge benefit to my 3 new employees as they left a culture where 80% of all people are unemployed. Now, four months later we are a several weeks from releasing our first 4-5 minute short film on Family Togetherness. As I look back on that encounter with J.W. I see how our great GOD is always setting things in motion behind the scenes that we are not even aware of and at just the right time He brings them to us.
Nothing can capture and keep attention like a good story. I remember hearing Pilgrim’s Progress as it was read to us, a chapter at a time, in Sunday School. A few years later I was thrilled as I read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Both stories impacted me because they allowed me to enter into another land, a wondrous place much different from my own.
Because of books like that, as well as the impact of movies on my life, I have developed a passion for telling stories. There is nothing quite as thrilling as telling a story and watching your audience fully lean in to hear what is coming next.
I was given an opportunity to share stories when I produced a curriculum line called Elevate and Elevate Jr. while working for Fellowship Church. Now, with ISeeIt! Productions, we plan to continue that legacy through curriculum, short film and hopefully one day feature film. There are so many great stories out there ready to be told and I am thrilled to be a part of helping them come to life.
Here’s a quick behind-the-scenes video that I took when on the set of Elevate’s Altitude Jr. series video shoot this week. Many of you have asked me “Where does Elevate shoot it’s videos?” My answer: “Right here at Fellowship Church”. In this video, you can tell our sets are printed and contain a few added 3D elements. You can also see the teleprompter for “Switch”, the puppet (“Bivvy”, the human girl character, memorized her lines, the puppet on the other hand…well, he can be very demanding.) You can also see the number of cameras we use and the directors table, with our director for this Jr. series, Sam Johnson.
This shoot has been a lot of fun and we can’t wait to share Altitude with you and the kids in your ministry! Check out our ElevateAtChurch Facebook page for more behind-the-scenes pictures and updates of this upcoming series!
It is true that we have used stop motion animation several times before, but this video is the first time that we have used this type of animation in a music video!
Our children’s worship leader and Elevate music producer, Ryan McMackin, saw the Coldplay music video for their song “Strawberry Swing” and liked how the style of video opened up the door for so many creative ideas that couldn’t be done in a normal music video format. He wanted to see what Elevate could do with this approach, and he decided it would be the best venue to tell a story in the next music video.
Ryan’s vision behind the new video came in a spurt of creativity: “At the time, I was working on Now & Forever, about how Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and how He’s our Savior both now and forever. When writing the song I was thinking about the journey that we go on as Christ-followers and all the amazing things God has for our lives. There are many unexpected, and sometimes fantastical, stops along the way. But no matter the circumstances, He always provides.”
Stop motion animation was the perfect choice to display a simple storyline with as many imaginative elements as possible. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do! To download the full music video for your kids, go to ElevateAtHome.com/music. To use the video at your church, you can order the series The Game Show: Big Questions now available on ElevateAtChurch.com!
Elevate is expanding its global reach with our curriculum in Spanish and French! I am excited to announce that after 4 months of the translation process, the Elevate Kids Entourage series premiered in French and Spanish. Entourage Kids is a movie themed series that teaches kids how to be the right kind of friend.
The journey of translating our curriculum started when Dr. Claude Thomas from C3Global asked what it would take to give Elevate to orphanages in Haiti. C3Global, Fellowship Church and many other churches partnered together after the Haiti Earthquake to provide food and supplies to over 50 orphanages, but we also wanted these kids to hear the life-changing message of Jesus.
A few conversations started among our staff and we started researching companies who would have the resources and desire to partner with us in this non-profit endeavor. We partnered with a company called Transperfect, an international multilingual translation and interpreting service. After months of praying and brainstorming, we decided to start translating into French and Spanish. And the process began!
Though it started as a simple prayer for the kids in Haiti, our prayer now is that children all around the world will hear about Jesus in their language, and learn how to apply the Bible to their daily lives in their own culture.
We are proud to announce Peak 5 of the Elevate Curriculum! Each series in Peak 5 will be released in Elevate Jr. for ages 3-6 and Elevate Kids for ages 6-12.
See if you can guess the themes of each series featured in the map above!
We have some exciting things coming in our two newest series, Under The Big Top and Under The Big Top Jr. Each series will focus on some of the Bible’s most interesting characters. Check out the shots below of our time at the circus!