Monthly Archives: February 2016

Let me just take a moment right now and embarrass myself.  With baggy pants, long hair, bandannas, Linkin Park, hacky sack and thinking we’re cool, I humbly present to you the very first video I’ve ever made:

First, let me just say that I used this video to work my way into the creative department at Rockford First Church.  Crazy, right!?  This was an announcement video made way back in 2005 for my hometown youth group in Cold Spring, MN.  I watched over the shoulder of a youth leader of mine edit a video using Final Cut and the spark began from there.  I convinced them to let me borrow their camera, I believe it was a Canon GL1, back in the DV Tape days.  And there lays the master piece before you.

We all have to start somewhere.  I often hear creatives complain about not being happy about the projects they currently are working on.  “If only I can be apart of that shoot.” “Apart of that project”  “If I had this camera,”  “If I had this gear,” “If I lived here,” “If leadership would let me do blah blah blah”  Thing is, those examples might be somewhat true.  Yes, it would be awesome if you had those things, but that’s the wrong attitude to create by.  If you saw what I saw, when re-watching that youth group announcement video, then you would agree with me that I wasn’t hired purely based on my talent.  There’s a difference from being an emotional artist to being a creative professional.  BE A TEAM PLAYER!  Now, I’m just guessing here, because no one really told me, but I think I was hired to be on the team because of a few things; I took initiative in learning something new, trying something different, I expressed passion for the over arching end goal and was honest that I may not have any idea how to do something but would do everything in my power to make it happen.  Fulfilling the goal and being apart of the team was more important to me than showing off what I could do.  And luckily, someone saw that potential and took a chance on me

If you’re going to be a creative in a professional world, if you’re a designer, an animator, a writer, cinematographer, editor, whatever, fill in the blank, you have to give up yourself.  Your art is not your own.  Pour everything you have into it, but it’s not who you are.  You were gifted to give it away.  So whatever stage you find yourself, whether at the beginning of your creative career or you’ve been crushing it for years, give your art away.

I’ve been truly blessed be apart of the Rockford First team since 2008 and in between now and then there had to have been some growth.  So let me close with some shots of some projects I had the opportunity to work on in the last couple years:

Special shout out to Kyle Curran, Kurt Peterson, Maddie Eickhoff for letting me post this without your permission.

In September 2015, I had the amazing opportunity to work on a creative film project for Rockford Fist Church that took climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.  I’ve climbed a few larger mountains in Colorado that were “Fourteeners” (mountains with a summit elevation of 14,000 feet or greater) but Kilimanjaro was a different beast!  This was bucket-list material!  Mt. Kilimanjaro is the worlds tallest free standing mountain, towering at 19,341 feet above sea level, and I was stoked for it!  Should be a walk in the park, right?  You know… with all the practice we get climbing mountains in the Midwest.

There were four of us on the team that would ultimately be trying to make it to the top.  Jeremy DeWeerdt, the lead pastor at Rockford First.  Taka Iguchi, who helped organize a lot of the trip details, and then Matt Sandberg and myself as the cameramen for the trip.

IMG_0014 IMG_0017 IMG_0351

Rockford First annually creates two creative teaching series for the small groups that we have in our church that are called “life group series”.  I have been blessed to be a part of every teaching series that Rockford First has created since the beginning dating back to 2007.  For this series, we decided to do it a little differently and film it like a documentary.  We didn’t want to force anything, we wanted to see what we, as the crew, would experience personally on the mountain and bring those lessons to the life groups at Rockford First.  This meant we had to film almost everything.  Which was much more work than past series, however, what we were able to capture was totally worth it.

IMG_0019 IMG_0273 IMG_0341

Each team member had our “big thing” that we learned on the mountain and those lessons are illustrated in the four week series starting this February 28th.  I’ve always felt closest to God when I’m in the element of His creation.  There’s just something about being in the Mountains.  Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  Way harder than I would like to admit.  I just couldn’t get use to the thin mountain air.  There where times when I was leaning against my trekking poles swaying back and forth trying not to pass out.  In those moments one thing kept coming to mind, “I am bigger than this mountain.”  I was determined to get to the top.  I had a job to do, but at the same time, I was also on a very personal journey.  Part of that journey was coming to the realization that “I am more capable than I know.”   If I could conquer this physical mountain how much easier mentally for me it is to conquer the smaller “mountains” in my life.  Everyone has mountains in there life and climbing Kili inspired me to conquer mine back home.

For those who don’t know my wife and I’s story, starting a family has been difficult for us.  We have had three miscarriages and that had led us down this path to adopt.  A little over a month before our trip , we had been selected by a birth mother for an adoption placement, needless to say we were thrilled (aka freaking out excited!!) … the nursery was ready, the house was baby proofed and we were ready for our son to come home.  We finally received the call that she was going into labor and we made our way to the hospital with the anticipation of leaving with the child we had been waiting and praying for in our arms… We left that night instead with empty arms and a heavy heart.   The journey has been a roller coaster to say the least, and honestly, at that point we had wanted to throw in the towel and quit. So climbing Kilimanjaro had taken on a much more personal journey for me in regards to struggle. It was hard, but the biggest lesson I had taken away from our filming adventure is that we are bigger than the struggles we have in our life and we are more capable than we know, because God is with us.   So we’ve decided to stay the course and are excited about it!  In fact you can even check out our adoption profile HERE.

The point is this… You’re more capable than you know.  What are the mountains in your life that  you think are too big for you?  What is something you need to step into that feels uncomfortable, scary or too hard?  It’s easier to just leave sleeping dogs lay, but there’s something powerful with moving past struggle.  In order to grow in anything that’s worth while you have to go through some conflict.

This was the biggest lesson I learned on the mountain, and everyone had a different moment or lesson that they learned.   I’m excited to bring that experience to the life groups at Rockford First through this series.   This video series is going to be unlike any we’ve done so far. The footage is amazing, the lessons are life changing and the scenery on the side of that mountain was unlike any I’ve ever seen.  The four part series, “Above the Clouds” premieres February 28 at Rockford First.  And if you’re in the Rockford, IL area, you’re not gonna wanna miss getting involved!  If you’re unable to make it, check out the series online at

Stay tuned for more posts about the trip.  I’ll dive in more after the series as started.

DSCF6710 DSCF6760 IMG_0016 IMG_0343

Photo Cred: Matt Sandberg
Check out more of his awesome pics from the trip HERE.

Sometimes inspiration comes from places you least expect when you least expect.  Having had the opportunity to work where I do, I’ve been really blessed to have a lot of creative freedom to projects we get to work on.  For any church, especially churches who love being creative in their messages, there are common seasons and common messages within those seasons.  The story of Easter will always be about the resurrection of Christ, the story of Christmas will always be about His birth and what that means to us.  But what I get to do is try to give a new perspective, try to make a story that may seem common and possibly lost in the middle of a holiday rush come alive.  So at times it can feel like we need to one up ourselves from last year.  Bigger, louder, more too see, etc.

But the point is often not how to one up ourselves but how to tell the story in a way that really matters to the viewer.  Tell it in a way that will “stick”.

This year, inspiration came from the old hymn, “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.”  Here’s a look at the opener that was played at Rockford First:

We had a blast putting this together.  With the help of Greyspot Visuals, we were able to make the story come to life, the way we wanted to tell it.  We wanted to use the lyrics of the hymn to tell the story of a path that we all take.  Whether a drummer boy, shepherd, wiseman or the modern person, we are all wandering in search for something, but the true reason on why God came to earth, to be in the middle of our mess, is the same for all of us.  There’s not one person He didn’t come for.

Christmas 2015 Opener Script

Christmas 2015 Opener Script

Christmas 2015 Opener Script

With every project, it had it’s obstacles.  Adding stars to the scene, was one of them.  We wanted to introduce the Star of Bethlehem without actually seeing it, to give a feeling of encountering greatness off frame.  But without other stars in the background, it seemed out of place.  So adding stars to a black background meant a lot of rotoscoping:

Christmas Opener - Rotoscope for Stars

Christmas Opener – Rotoscope for Stars

Here’s a small glimpse of the rotoscoping and fx with color grade starting with original looking footage:

Here are some more behind the scenes pics and shotlist breakdowns for the project:

Location Scout

Location Scout




Camera Op, Follow Focus, Director's Monitor

Camera Op, Follow Focus, Director’s Monitor


Christmas 2015 - Field Shot List

Field Shot List – Example

Christmas 2015 – Field Shot List

Special thanks to:
Greyspot Visuals, Inc
Colin Gregory
Jeff Anderson
Matt Sandberg
Igor Kasyanyuk
Greg Farnham
And of course the Talent