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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Jessica Christine Ferraro - #SingOverUs

Now it's time for me to share with everyone the incredible visionary behind this project, director & editor, Jessica Christine Ferraro. Enjoy the interview as you get to know this remarkable, talented young woman!  What an extraordinary gift to be able to work with her- it was amazing seeing her vision become reality as the music video was being made...the whole process just burst forth with life and beauty. It all started with a conversation over dinner last year when my falafel fell on the floor and rolled through the restaurant... It was a night of laughter and friendship with another good friend of ours when Jessie told me how she could see a music video for "Sing Over Us" and believed the song's message was powerful to tell a story and touch hearts. So here we go- meet Jessica Christine Ferraro!

What inspired you to get started with film editing and directing?
      It’s a talent that grew subtly. I developed a love for music at a young age and when I would listen to a song I would imagine its story.  Years later I did a project for my high school Theology class that was called “Finding God in Secular Music”. The assignment was to create a power point presentation using lyrics from the song of your choice, in combination with pictures. I chose a Michelle Branch song called “You Set Me Free”.  After turning it in, my teacher told me how impressed he was by my project. (“Really? It’s just power point”). From there I began working in windows movie maker and quickly learned how much I enjoyed editing film. Though the programs seemed simple to me at the time, looking back I know the countless hours I spent in them led me to where I am today. 

 How did you come up with the vision for the “Sing Over Us” music video project?
      Since “Sing Over Us” was inspired by Caitlin’s sponsor child, Wanda, I wanted letter writing to be the main theme running throughout the music video because building a personal relationship through letters is encouraged by Compassion. It is a powerful experience for both sponsor and sponsor child. But, as always directors want to convey their ideas in an artistic way so you will have to wait for the music video to find out how we did it :)

What was the most challenging part of creating this music video?
      I would say the most challenging part of the music video was that I had no background in directing. I was worried the story I had in my head was not going to look right on camera and I certainly felt like I was winging it at times. On top of that I was going through a rough patch at my job which was resulting in lots of stress and long work days.

What is your favorite moment from the days of filming?
      Like a true girl, I can’t just pick one favorite moment. One was seeing the picture quality for the first time. I had never helped record footage that flawless before. Secondly, I had a lot of fun working with James Knightly throughout the shoot. I am very thankful for his patience with a newbie like me. We were blessed by his plethora of talent. In addition to the cinematography, he also did the color grading and final editing. Lastly, I had the time of my life working with my dear friend, Caitlin :)

Where do you see yourself with film in the future?
      I love doing music videos, so I hope I have the opportunity to work on many more in the years to come and then eventually feature length films. But, most importantly I enjoy giving a quality product to a client. For me it’s not just about producing something that will sell, I’m aspiring to create something that is going to touch people’s hearts- unique, beautiful and thought provoking films. In the future, I would love to collaborate with James Knightly (again) and a longtime dream of mine is to collaborate with a production company in New York City called Grass Roots Films.

You recently became a sponsor through Compassion- tell us a little about your sponsor child!
      My Compassion sponsor child lives in the Philippines. Her name is Ria and she is 5 years old. Some of her favorite things to do are: playing house, hide and seek, running, singing, and playing with dolls. When I received my first letter from her, my eyes began filling with tears as I looked through the little pictures she drew for me. Her mother wrote me a letter as well, which gave me more information about Ria's family life and living conditions in the Philippines. I am so excited to help her pursue her dreams and be with her along the path God has created for her life.

What do you hope viewers will take away from this project?
      My desire is that people are inspired to find those who are in need both domestic and foreign and then emotionally invest in their lives.  We are a culture of convenient relationships and "Sing Over Us" hopes to shatter that mentality by promoting the beauty of building relationships with people from all walks of life- especially the underprivileged.  

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

James Knightly Films - #SingOverUs

Friends, I feel so honored to share my brand new music video "Sing Over Us" in just a few days (July 21 official release date)!  I want you all to get to know the incredible cinematographer behind the footage, James Knightly. He was amazing to work with--his passion, dedication, focus, experience, humility, and talent were just what we needed on set to make this project come alive.  He and Jessica Christine Ferraro (director, editor) worked seamlessly together. The synergy on set was something beautiful. I feel grateful to God for both of these extraordinary individuals who have poured their time, talent, and heart into this music video. I couldn't have asked for more wonderful people with whom to work, and I'm honored to call them friends! Enjoy this interview with James Knightly, cinematographer.

When did you know you wanted to go into a career in film and what was your inspiration?
      It wasn’t until high school actually. Growing up, I used my parents’ VHS camcorder to make little movies, but never thought I would eventually go into that field. When I was 16, I started filming friends skateboarding. It was around that time that it clicked- this could be a really fun way to make a living.

What is your favorite part about cinematography?
      I love telling a story with pictures. Words aren’t my thing, but I love using light, lens selection, movement, and color to communicate.

What inspires you most when you are working behind the camera?
      Emotion. I remember the first big film project I worked on in college. In the scene, the actress comes home to an empty house and remembers what it was like before her husband died. I had lit the scene, readied the camera, and put my eye to the viewfinder. When the director yelled action, I remember watching the actress suddenly experience profound loss and suffering. I was completely speechless.

What are some favorite film projects you’ve done?
      Paper Turtle was a short film a friend of mine wrote and directed as a Temple grad student. We shot on Super 16mm film and were privileged to work with fantastic child actors. We worked for months in preproduction on storyboards, locations, etc. When the time came to actually shoot it, we were well prepared. Being able to film something just as you imagined it is an incredibly satisfying experience.
Another fun project was shooting a promo for a chartered catamaran in the British Virgin Islands. A week of shooting on a sailboat in the Caribbean? I’ve done worse gigs. 

What was the most challenging aspect of shooting “Sing Over Us”?
      Probably working with Caitlin. Total diva. Just kidding. It was both challenging and wonderful working with folks who didn’t have much film production experience. The challenging part was communicating without using the production lingo that I was used to. I couldn’t say “Could you flood that 650?” without Jessie looking at me like I had two heads. The wonderful part was how little pressure and stress there was on-set. I felt like I was back in film school again- it was great!

Do you have a favorite moment from the music video shoot?
      I think seeing Jessie’s face when I showed her the video monitor of Caitlin’s close-up at the piano. It was the second shot of the production, and I had just finished lighting the scene. I was very happy with how it looked, but wanted Jessie’s opinion. When I asked, “Were you thinking something like this?” her jaw dropped. It was very gratifying.

What is something unique about your style as a cinematographer?
      Authenticity is something that’s very important to me. When I read a script and am thinking about how to film a scene, I constantly ask myself, “What is this character feeling at this moment? How can I communicate that visually?”

Where can people find out more about you and your film work?

Friday, July 11, 2014


Here's the Story Behind the Song & Music Video!
Music Video Coming Soon! 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Story Behind The Song...

It was a sunny October morning in Santo Domingo. Our small group of child advocates from different places, literally all over the globe, was heading toward our school bus, some staff and translators accompanying us. We were told, "Now, where we are going is the most dangerous part of the city. If you don't feel comfortable, you can decline the visit to this project."  That was the last thing any of us wanted to do. We had come to experience Compassion, to meet the children, to see God's hand at work in their beautiful lives.

On the bus they passed around a few packets from project 521. Her face touched me. Those big beautiful eyes and braids. "Lord, are you speaking to me?" I couldn't get her photo out of my mind. I carried her packet with me and searched and searched for her at the project. All those bright Dominican faces, beaming with hope. Pastor Rodriquez exuded joy and it was clear from the very moment he began to talk, through the translator, that he was a visionary for this church, for this child development project, and for God's Kingdom. "Jesus Christ is King and Lord of Gualey," he exclaimed, without doubt or hesitation. In a place of violence, drug smuggling, and other atrocities that are so often knitted into the fabric of a community caught in such poverty, it was clear this man was anchored in hope and held onto a sure and steadfast promise from His Savior.  This was no melancholy minister- this was a man passionate about bringing redemption and rescue to people caught in a world of pain and bondage- a man on fire for God, living to set the captives free and  protecting his sheep- especially the children.

I told a staff member with Compassion that I wanted to sponsor her- yes I carried her packet close to my heart and said she was mine. The program director brought her to me, and in that instant we embraced, and it all was so fast, I don't remember if tears fell or if they just welled in my eyes. I don't remember what I said. I remember Joshua was there, our amazing translator. He explained everything to Wanda, and she felt like a sister to me in that instant- yes a little sister who I loved so dearly. How could I feel this way about a child when waking up that morning I did not even know she existed? I wasn't planning on sponsoring another child! What in the world was going on? This was a holy moment, where God stepped in and brought us together as sisters united in His love.

My friend Keith sponsored another little girl, too, and we were given permission to stay longer at the project so we could really get to know them. It was an incredible morning! The children had breakfast- cereal in bowls. They drew pictures for us and Wanda's friend Susan cried, because her sponsor never wrote. She asked me if I knew him, and I didn't...oh how could I respond to this precious child who was just longing to know her sponsor loved her? I assured her that he cared and he was proud of her...  I had the opportunity to go through Wanda's files with her and that's when I found out she loved dancing and other wonderful things about her. And then I found out some sad things...her mother had died. She was young. It was the greatest loss in her life.  And then her first sponsor left her. Oh the abandonment and loss of this little girl!  It broke my heart. I just held her and tried to comfort her and show her Jesus' love in that moment. Her smile was still so bright and full of hope, sneaking through the despair and loss that threatened to steal her joy.

We played spontaneous group games, sang worship songs that we knew- the children in Spanish, and we in English. We blew bubbles and laughed. We took photos and I gave her a photo of my family. It felt like time froze, but then it burst and it was time to go...she had to leave also. I just wanted to go with her and meet her family. I wanted to protect her on the dangerous roads and not let anything harm her. But I had to leave her in the care of the angels and to know God had this church there as a hedge of protection around her- a safe haven of hope.That was a day I will never, ever forget. A day that changed me forever. Since then I've met four other sponsor children and every experience has been just as miraculous and holy and beautiful, but that first one I remember in such a special way...just like the other visits, it was one of the most spectacular moments in my life. So simple, yet so profound and filled with a hint of eternity at every turn. From the first hug to our goodbye, I knew this little girl was now someone so incredible in my life. She now was a part of my life, a part of my family, with a deep place in my heart that would only grow over time through prayers and correspondence and love.

It was late at night in our hotel room. My roommate and new friend, Denise, was reading her devotions and simply asked, "Caitlin, I'm reading in Zephaniah and I just wonder- what does it really mean for God, the One on the throne, to 'Sing over us'?"  I pondered on that and walked out onto our city-view balcony. I heard rain drops hitting roofs. I heard sirens on the streets. And I closed my eyes, seeing the children dancing at project 521. I heard them singing and saw Wanda's face. I thought of all the pain in her life, the loss, the fear, the threats of poverty and drugs and gangs and violence and lack, all looming around her. But in the midst of all that I could hear the voice of God singing over her with incredible delight, passion, dreams, vision, hope, and most of all, His great LOVE.  And I grabbed my little mp3 recorder and journal and began vigorously writing a song...

And that is the story of "Sing Over Us." It's where earth's poverty and Kingdom riches meet. It's where a child's loss and despair find hope and gain. It's where God takes the broken pieces and sings His mysterious healing over them, re-building a masterpiece of beauty. It's where a little girl from Santo Domingo and an older girl from Delaware meet and hug and become sisters forever. It's where the raindrops turn into God's tears, weeping over His children. It's where the lights of eternity glowing in the hearts of every believer around the globe brightly shine the love of the Savior, the King and Lord, who reaches even into the darkest places of the ghettos of Gualey.