Our ministry team gets a lot of requests to focus our attention on this or that need within the Church, but one thing that seems common to them all is the desire to regain a sense of hope. Most people don’t want to fight this theological battle or that one, but they do want to know where God is in it all, and that is something our team thought we could help with.
We are a media based ministry after all, so the idea of producing something with video in a period of the Church when many are actively seeking inspiration is an obvious fit.
The two series Come to Christ, and Ashes to Palms, are for those who want to prepare more actively, reflect more deeply, and above all regain a sense of hope during these two powerful seasons in the Church.
Come to Christ
ABOUT THE SERIES
Come to Christ was the first seasonal video series released by Evango. Intended to be a conversation piece, a message that changes someone’s day and perhaps even to help someone see the Faith more positively, Come to Christ has surpassed our expectations.
In total there are 20 videos which are normally viewed Monday to Friday during the season; each with an approximate run time of one to two minutes. While the topics of each video range from insightful theological points to thoughtful reflections on the symbols of the season, many will find what they need within its message.
Ultimately though, the series is about coming to Jesus Christ, so if it helps just one person to do that then our Evango Team will consider the mission a success.
To freely use Come to Christ in your parish or setting this Advent, just email us at [email protected] to let us know how you are spreading the Good News through our video series.
Ashes to Palms
ABOUT THE SERIES
Ashes to Palms is a high quality video series freely distributed during the season of Lent to Catholics around the world. During Lent, it can be seen on various social media, Catholic television and internet channels, as well as on Catholic diocesan webpages from all over the globe.
In total there are 32 videos which are normally released Monday to Friday during the season; each with an approximate run time of one minute. While the topics of each video range from insightful theological points of encouragement for one’s Lenten observance, all are meant to meet the baptized wherever they are at in the spiritual life.
The length, the topic, as well as the ‘feel’ of the videos were all carefully prepared to help pastors and leaders in the Church assist the people under their care; and it is the hope of all Evango team members that this happens.
To freely use Ashes to Palms in your parish or setting this Lent, just email us at [email protected] to let us know how you are spreading the Good News through our video series.
AN INTERVIEW WITH THE HOST OF THE SERIES, PATRICK SULLIVAN
Q: What gave you the idea to create a series like this? How does it relate to evangelization?
A: Our ministry focuses on the baptized, whether they have been raised in the Faith or not; whether they are ‘churched’ or not. So creating something that can not only remind them of the season of the Church but can call them lovingly into the drama of the season, seemed like quite an opportunity to evangelize. We just had to take it.
Q: There seems to be a deliberate effort to keep each episode short. What is the reason for that?
A: We are not only in a digital age but we are in an age when we have little time to make an impression. We wanted the series to obliterate any excuses we tend to set for ourselves as to why we cannot engage with the world spiritually. Ashes to Palms is beautifully presented using some of the best of modern media and it is short. It is that combination, we hope, that helps many to watch something on the Faith that they normally would not.
Q: If you could describe what you and the Evango team are hoping to do with the series in one word, which word would you choose?
A: Inspire. Does that need more explanation? Haha, it probably does. We at Evango are trying to inspire people to take steps in the Faith no matter how small those steps are. And for those who are already taking steps, we want to inspire them to go out and evangelize. This video series is in line with that thinking.
Q: What is it about this series do you think that will help it to stand apart from similar projects?
A: There are very good, Catholic, seasonal video projects out there. And they all offer something valuable. I believe Ashes to Palms though offers the hope and inspiration that people need in a way that is both visually compelling and down to earth.
Q: Has the series been received well by the larger Catholic community?
A: At the time of this interview it is too early to tell, but I can tell you that we are already being contacted by dioceses and media outlets from around the world in its anticipation.
Q: What do you think they like about it?
A: Well I think the quality speaks for itself, and the message is consistently a positive one; but there is also the blatant fact that we provide the series for free, and that has to have some degree of appeal. It is our intention to support the work of all the hard working pastors and parish priests by providing these series at no cost to them.
Q: How did you come up with the content? You do not use the Scripture passages from the Church’s liturgy to guide your reflections, so what was your ‘springboard?’
A: Those around me; the broken hearted; family and friends over the years who struggled with their Lenten promises.
Q: We know that your family has always been a source of inspiration for you and in your evangelizing work. Do your children or wife make it into any of the episodes?
A: Haha, you’re right. It is not unusual for audience members at a retreat or conference to know my family members and their names off by heart. In the series though, we do find a few spots where it seemed very appropriate to film this child or that one. I wonder if our friends around the world will be able to spot them.
Q: What comes after Lent? Is there another video project we can look forward to?
A: Two actually. We are just finishing up our video course called 5 Day Catholic Parenting Challenge, as well as a parenting video program called, Me and My House. We are excited for what both projects can do to encourage Catholic Parents everywhere; Both these series are completely different from anything we have done so far and we hope young parents will love it.
AN INTERVIEW WITH THE DIRECTORS OF THE SERIES FROM WESTBOUND CREATIVE, DREW SOMMERVILLE AND MATTHEW MCAULEY
Q1: From a technical point of view, what was the most challenging aspect of filming this series?
A: The lighting design in the churches was the most challenging aspect of filming the series. We wanted each video to have a distinct setup, which meant that we needed to find several setups in each church. In most cases, there wasn’t enough natural light for a good exposure so we needed to add lighting a fair amount of lighting. However, we didn’t want the lighting to look like studio lighting or artificial in any kind of way. It became challenging to execute multiple lighting setups in a short period of time, while maintaining a naturalistic look with the lighting. Our main approach was to use lightweight and dimmable LED lights with lots of diffusion. We also paid very close attention to natural sources of light in the scene and used those sources as complements to the lighting we added.
Q2: There seems to be an effort throughout the series to bridge the gap between the religious sphere and everyday life. How did you go about trying to create that ‘feel?’
A: We tried to bridge that gap mainly through the scenes we shot that complement Patrick’s speaking. We filmed in a variety of locations including busy city streets, rural areas, inside churches and homes. We always approached these scenes with a feeling of universality. We aimed to capture people struggling with the common and everyday challenges of life we all face at some point and we encouraged our actors to channel those emotions.
Q3: Is Ashes to Palms similar to any other projects you have done? In what way?
A: Apart for a series we previously filmed for Evango, Ashes to Palms really was a unique project for us. Though we have been involved in some webseries productions that were structured in short (1-2 minute) videos released daily over several weeks, the content and structure of the videos themselves were new to us. We feel very privileged to have been involved in some of Evango’s video projects.
Q4: What is the range of equipment you used to make the series? (e.g. drone, type of cameras, lighting)
A: We mainly used a Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6k camera with Canon lenses. We also used a Canon 7D and a DJI Phantom 3 Professional drone. Our lighting was mainly LED.
Q5: A lot of directors have a noticeable style. Is there anything present in the series that you would point to that is clearly your style?
A: I think that we both try to bring a very organic or natural feeling to most of our filmmaking. Whenever there is an opportunity to make the content feel authentic, real, unstaged, etc., we try to emphasize that. We are absolutely committed to executing production with a high level of technical expertise, we feel that the content connects with people in the most profound way when it is rooted in authenticity. Our “sets” our almost always real locations, our actors are often not formally trained but can relate to the scenes they are in and our lighting design is intended to give a naturalistic feel whenever possible.
Q6: What was it like working with Patrick? Many people have seen Patrick ‘on stage’ or Patrick from the videos, but what is he like when the camera is off?
A: Patrick is really great to work with. He is always encouraging us to be creative and develop our filmmaking style. Whenever we have an idea that’s a little unconventional or outside of the original plan, Patrick is very supportive to help make it happen. That being said, we want to produce a series that best showcases the content he has created and fulfills his vision. Whenever we need direction he is always there to help guide us and offer insight. Patrick is great to collaborate with.
Q7: Your production company was also behind the Evango series, Come to Christ, in your opinion how do the two of these series differ? How are they similar?
A: This project has some clear similarities with the Come to Christ project. It was quite similar in structure and content. Most of the filming involved Patrick speaking in various churches with complementary b-roll. The structure was very similar in that it was a series of short videos, one released everyday for the season of Advent. Ashes to Palms is a little more focused on scripture, which at times made finding complementary b-roll to film, but Patrick and his team helped us develop some scenes to film that worked really well.
Q8: It is not often that a filming project has two directors. Are there certain strengths that each of you bring that compliments the other?
A: During production we are constantly bouncing ideas off of each other and I think we both bring aesthetic, structural and content focused ideas to the project. That being said, I (Drew) tend to focus more on technical execution while Matt likes to think about the “big picture” and think outside the box. Matt is really good at hair and wardrobe though.
How to Get Involved
One of the easiest things you can do to get involved is to help us spread the series in your diocese.
Ask your diocesan representative if they might be able to post the video on the diocesan website, or even send out a notice to all of the parishes that the resource is widely available.
To do so is all free and highly encouraged by the Evango Team.
Invite Patrick to speak about either of the series on your podcast; do a review of the series or a text interview for your blog. To arrange one of the above, contact him here.
These video series were created through the generous donations of Catholics like you! Please consider helping us to continue evangelizing through great video. Donate