Seventh-day Adventist communicators in Europe unveiled the last installment in a series of annual collaborative multimedia projects that have synergized them in creative partnerships for several years. The official presentation of the 2021-22 project, titled Happiness, took place October 15, during the 2022 Global Adventist Internet Network (GAiN) Europe convention.
“This is part of a strategic goal, to work and move together,” GAiN Europe leaders reminded participants as they introduced the unveiling. “What we can achieve together is much more than what we can accomplish by ourselves.”
Collaboration in the Making
GAiN leaders explained that since 2012, Adventist communication leaders were dreaming of working together. A few years later, European church communicators moved from ideas to action as they launched the Rest project in 2016, in partnership with Hope Channel, Inc. The fledgling initiative, which sought to motivate audiences to reflect on the meaning of Sabbath rest, energized communicators across Europe to keep exploring ideas for collaborative multimedia projects.
After a momentous GAiN Europe conference in the United Kingdom in 2017, where communication leaders established the foundation for greater collaboration, they developed the 2017-18 project, This Is My Mission. In February 2019, during a worldwide GAiN convention in Jordan, GAiN Europe communicators introduced Fathers, which became an award-winning documentary and a book.
After Fathers, the communicators decided to explore the notion of Uncertainty. Little did they know when they chose that project how relevant it would become a year later, as the COVID-19 pandemic brought worldwide worry, anxiety, and a lot of uncertainty. That collaboration kept the teams busy from 2019-21. And in 2021, during a virtual GAiN Europe conference, the group decided to focus on the notion of happiness.
What began as a mostly European idea soon crossed borders to include productions from other countries such as Brazil, South Africa, and South Korea. As of 2022, 26 countries have participated in producing spots or clips, 27 countries have collaborated to produce documentary films, and 21 countries have provided authors for the printed resources.
“Our goal has been to create the environment and the spirit and the community that may think more as ‘we’ and less as ‘I,’” Adrian Dure, Hope Media Europe producer and coordinator of network projects, said during the October 15 presentation. “We keep creating a community that is willing and want to work together.”
The idea to focus on the notion of happiness was born out of a vote by GAiN participants after a brainstorming session during the virtual event in 2021. The cross-media initiative was created and coordinated by Hope Media Europe, the Inter-European Division (EUD), and the Trans-European Division (TED) of the Adventist Church. It also included the cooperation of the Inter-American Division (IAD), the North American Division (NAD), and the South American Division (SAD), GAiN leaders said.
Happiness sets out to explore various aspects of happiness itself. According to Dure, the project’s target audience is broad, and is intended to reach Adventists and Christians from other denominations as well as people of other faiths and secular people. The type of production, format, and genre are all customized to reach specific and varied audiences. “The materials portray the life experiences of people from different cultures who are happy and people who show those values that are important for them to live happily beyond their circumstances,” Dure said. “It is a project that highlights positive values, cultural diversity, hope, and faith.”
What the Project Includes
The project includes “700 Years of Happiness,” a documentary series that interviews seven centenarians from different countries to find out what makes them happy and what helps them enjoy life even at this age. It also includes Masters of Joy, a documentary film about children in countries such as Bolivia, the U.S., and Iceland, who share what makes them happy.
The project also includes Happiness, the Movie, which will premiere March 2023, clips for social media titled Happiness and the Biblical Beatitudes, and the book Happiness in Unexpected Places, where authors from several continents explore the same notion through storytelling.
“Networking and sharing resources make our work more efficient,” book editor Norel Iacob, who coordinated the printed resources, said.
Dure agreed. Some of the materials “were produced globally because there is a network established,” he said. “We are a strong network. We are a family. I am thrilled about the results of Happiness.”