One year ago today I posted my first Breaking In The Habit YouTube video. Looking back, it was dreadful: the camera work was shaky, the edits were rough, the music was clichéd, none of the images were properly positioned or color corrected, and my narration was so… so forced *cringes thinking about it*. It was far from perfect. And yet, at the time, I was so proud of it. I had made a video!
Over the course of the summer I experimented with other types of videos—reflections, questions, conversations—realizing almost immediately that what I was doing with the videos was not just some fun project to show off to friends, it was a blossoming ministry touching an underdeveloped medium. To my great surprise, the “little videos” I was making were being watched well beyond the readership of the blog and were producing comments from far and wide.
Maybe there’s something here… I thought.
Overtaken by this new “hobby” of mine, I began to learn everything I possibly could about film-making. Even though I stuck to the mantra “content is king”—the idea that no matter how good the production value is, people are not going to watch a video for long if the content is boring, poorly scripted, or disconnected from reality—I wanted my videos to look like the films and shows I watched. As I learned more, taking a film class at Catholic University this year, I realized that I was actually more interested in the directing and producing of the video than I was in the performing.
Does this mean that I’ll be giving up my part on camera now? No, not exactly. I still really enjoy doing segments like “Ask Brother Casey” and “Catholicism in Focus,” and plan to continue these things in the fall when I return to the US. But what I’ve realized slowly over this year is that there is more to Breaking In The Habit than simply me on camera, and there are more ways to tell a story than simply using my voice.
The video I present today is just that. The first in the Breaking In The Habit Productions segment, “Franciscan Volunteer Ministry” is a short glimpse into the lives of Franciscan Volunteers, men and women who devote a year or two of their lives in humble service as a part of a prayerful community. At no point in this video will you see my face, and nowhere in these five minutes will you hear my voice; the story that it tells is told by the three volunteers themselves because it is their story.
And yet, there is a sense that it is mine as well. As the person organizing the video, I was amazed at how many different ways the raw footage could have gone. Move this clip here, that clip there, slow this down, edit this out, leave this in… Faithful, of course, to the story they wanted to tell, I was able to make something that told mine as well.
By the looks at what I’ve learned in one year, I’m sure I’ll look back on this video in six months and cringe at all the many mistakes and poor decisions I made. In all honesty, I hope I do. There’s obviously no use in beating ourselves up for not being as mature in the past as we are now, but there’s also no use in remaining content with who we were and what we accomplished yesterday. In another year, I hope that this project makes me cringe as much as I do watching that first video I posted because it means that I’ve learned something worth knowing, it means that I’ve grown in some important way.
I never expect to reach perfection. In filmmaking, and in life, perfection is a goal that has no real end—there is always something more, something better, something incomplete. But what makes producing videos like these fun, what makes this life as a Christian so fulfilling, is pursuing it anyway. There is always a new challenge, always a new lesson, always a new way we need to grow and move towards God. May we never stop our pursuit to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect,” until we live perfectly in God’s love.