A group of media production specialists from across Seventh-day Adventist media centers throughout the Inter-American Division (IAD) met recently during a cinematography workshop hosted by Hope Channel Inter-America.
The three-day event sought to engage professionals to sharpen their skills, dive into creating documentary short films, network as a team, and commit to sharing hope in Jesus in every message they create and share for the millions of viewers living in the territory.
“We are all part of this great Inter-American Division which has invested in this Hope Channel Inter-America initiative to reach more people,” said Abel Márquez, Communication director for the church in Inter-America, who oversees Hope Channel Inter-America. “You will be an important tool that will help us build bridges of hope to transform lives.”
Márquez said Inter-America’s Cinematography Workshop, the first of its kind in the region, is part of a larger strategy to promote innovation, creativity, information, collaboration and integration, in proclaiming the message of hope. “Our main goal is to be able to produce more programs as a network of professionals to strengthen the mission of the church.”
Bringing together professionals that work directly with media productions was important, as new programs need to be up and running in Hope Channel Inter-America’s three channels in English, Spanish and French, explained Márquez. He said professionals representing all three languages across media centers were invited to the workshop but only some 14 came mainly from the Spanish-speaking territory in Inter-America.
Currently, about 32 percent of the programs transmitted by Esperanza TV Inter-America are produced mainly by Montemorelos University’s media center, and the goal is to work collaboratively to fill it up to 90 percent, added Márquez. The English and French channels also need more new programming, he noted.
“We want those who came to the workshop to become key cinematography experts in their union territory, representing our channel, producing spots and short television documentaries, and engaging colleagues and professionals to become part of the project,” said Márquez.
Kandus Thorp, international development director for Hope Channel Inc., encouraged attendees to live in hope with the strength and courage it provides, strive for excellence in every message shared and ensure that Bible truths are ever present in every production made.
“Hope Channel is a bridge that the church uses and it is essential that we focus clearly on the presentation of Bible truths, because it is the reason we exist,” said Thorp, who led a similar workshop last year in South Africa for world church division film professionals. “We have a message no other Christian television network has of presenting the Bible truths of righteousness by faith, the sanctuary and judgment, Sabbath rest, spiritual gifts, death, the Second Coming of Jesus and the truth about the millennium.”
Media production specialists sat through seminars by Montemorelos University professors Jorge Diaz and Lizbeth Elejalde, learning about the elements needed to produce short documentary films, storytelling, the difference between television and film producing, how to budget a low-cost production, among others.
The group was split into teams to produce a dozen spots or short pieces on themes related to Bible promises, rest, faithfulness, care for the earth, healthy choices that will be available to air on Hope Channel Inter-America and for the world church.
“Today, there’s a converging of the two with television and cinematography mediums that takes it to obtain the same result,” said Diaz, a professor and audiovisual producer at Montemorelos University.
Diaz motivated the teams to produce television series using the language of cinematography: “You can tell stories with a purpose, and use creative ways of showcasing the kind of content that can elevate the message of the church, the message of salvation,” he added. ”Always keep in mind that it is your responsibility to present a clear message that points to Jesus and His promises.”
Elejalde, who teaches television production at Montemorelos University as well as schedules programming for Hope Channel Inter-America, reminded the teams to focus on sharing hope and helping people see through their productions that they too can find peace.
“You can show your leaders and others that this is a medium that can be used to get to people who have many needs as they go about their day,” said Elejalde. “The standard has now been set higher and this has sharpened your skills already during these three days.”
For Diego Garcia, who works for the church's media center in North Colombia, the workshop gave him a broader view of the vision of Hope Channel Inter-America and challenged him to dive into producing more focused productions. Overseeing numerous productions, Garcia coordinates events, works as the webmaster and social media manager, wants to be involved in more creating spots to reach people’s needs.
“I leave with a plan to organize our week better so that most of the week my colleagues and I can work on productions and assignments Monday through Thursday and Fridays take the time to learn new technology and for creative thinking and planning,” said García.
Mari Santibañez, who works in the Inter-Oceanic Mexican Union’s media center writing scripts and coordinating productions, said the workshop opened up more possibilities for collaborative projects and for more precise production budgeting. She wants to duplicate the workshop in her territory to train volunteers to help in productions and short films that can be used for Hope Channel Inter-America.
As they departed, workshop attendees were enlisted to be part of a documentary film project that will highlight community impact by church members in Inter-America. Each will work on a 13-episode series for Hope Channel Inter-America and out of that project, a 30-minute film will be edited to be aired as well, explained Márquez.
“This is all about working together for the ministry of Hope Channel Inter-America in reaching the millions in our territory and around the world who need hope and will see their lives transformed in Jesus with our message,” Márquez said.
For more about Hope Channel Inter-America, visit hopetv.org.