"What was I thinking?" - Adrian Tee, Founder of PixelMusica
In 2012, during a visit by the Missionary Community of St. Paul the Apostle (MCSPA) to Singapore, I made an offer to produce a documentary about the life and work of the community in Africa. Perhaps it was an inspiration from God, but at that time it seemed as if I was out of my mind.
Having only just started a tiny media production company for a couple of months with a handful of friends and basic equipment, the offer seemed foolhardy and ill-conceived. Fast-forward 18 months to 22nd April 2014, I found myself on a journey from Singapore to Nairobi, Kenya, to fulfill the promise in the company of colleagues Linus Koh, Tom Seah and Elaine Chai.
With the kind support of various donors and the team who took a month off with no salary, it is clear that only God could have orchestrated the events needed for us to pull off a project like this.
The Life Givers - MCSPA
One of the core values we have in our company (PixelMusica) is to place our talents in the service of God. From the beginning, we had the dream of creating a documentary series entitled The Life Givers, which we hope would promote a culture of life by sharing the stories of people or organizations that have devoted themselves to the service of others. With the work they are doing in Africa, it is without a doubt that the MCSPA would be a most worthy and inspiring place to begin this endeavour.
When we were planning for the documentary, the first question that came to our minds was:
"How do we tell a story worthy of the decades of sacrifice and love that the community has given to the people of Africa?"
The answer was clear. We had to deliver the best cinematography in the service of love.
We chose to field cinema lenses and cameras such as the Red Epic Mysterium (which was used in feature films such as The Hobbit), aerial video drones and other rigs in order to capture the heart of the community and the people they were serving.
That meant we had to travel for over a month with nearly 200kg of equipment on a journey covering more than 20,000 km in order to have the right tools to capture the beauty of the mission in moving images.
In addition to the main documentary, we set out to produce a series of shorter (5 to 10 minute) "highlight videos" which each mission could use as a tool for creating awareness of their work, challenges and needs.
Our daily schedule involved shooting from sunrise till sunset, doing interviews and capturing establishing shots and then travelling on to the next mission.
While the work was physically demanding, we were surprised how each time whenever we felt fatigued, we would find renewed strength through the stories of the community and testimonies of the people.
Through our travels, we discovered that each mission was blessed with its own unique identity, story, beauty, challenges and most certainly heroes.
While none of the community members would ever acknowledge or view themselves as heroes, the commitment they have made and the impact they are making is nothing short of heroic.
One such hero we were blessed to encounter on our trip was Father Angel Valdiva Lopez who accompanied us throughout our journey as a producer, camera operator, sound engineer and negotiator extraordinaire who had the miraculous gift of getting us through seemingly impossible customs and visa issues.
Back to the original inspiration
In every mission we visited, we could feel the charism and influence of the founder of MCSPA, Father Francisco Andreo (Paco) who passed away in Feb 2013. His vision, love and hope for Africa continue in a most tangible way through the work and spirit of the community.
For us, the documentary would not be complete without featuring the beautiful testimonies and stories we captured about Fr. Paco. Because in all honesty, we believe that he is working alongside us too on this documentary.
For in the most insane dream of trying to make the impossible happen, we can feel the spirit of his courage, audacity and hope spurring us on, and occasionally challenging us to "do more"!