In June, I had the great honor and privilege to coproduce a music video for Gungor alongside Joel Marchand Productions. I was the official art director and logistics coordinator for the shoot. I helped with costuming/character development, casting, communication, and coordinated a whole bunch of details about the shoot weekend. By the time I got the job to the finish of filming, a WEEK AND A HALF had passed. It was a tight turnaround, needless to say.
I hadn’t written yet about this experience yet because I wanted to be able to showcase the finished product, along with my thoughts on the whole thing. So without further ado: HERE IT IS!!!
When I did this project, I’d recently quit my full-time office job due to health and a growing feeling that I wasn’t truly doing what I was called to do. I was beginning to feel restless, miserable, intensely unhappy every hour of every workday (which, by the way, isn’t normal and shouldn’t be normal in a work environment).
Yet deep down in the part of me that never quite gives up hope, I KNEW beyond a shadow of a doubt that I wanted to make my life about creating. About beauty. About things I truly love: writing, photography, art, storytelling, social justice, LOVE. I knew that quitting was a huge leap of faith into the unknown. I knew that the suffering I’d endured (the grief and wrestling and pain and health problems) wasn’t the end of the story. I truly believed God would use all of this in some way to get me to a new chapter. New things. Newness of life and heart and spirit and body.
Life isn’t ending, I kept reminding myself. Life is beginning. Life is just around the corner. No matter how deeply painful it is to see everything about my life collapsing, something must be coming. I know God is good, I know He is Love, and I know He is working.
At the end of June, I received a text from my friend Joel (of Joel Marchand Productions). “You want to be a coproducer for a music video?” he asked. We’d been talking about doing some film projects together at some point, but I hadn’t imagined it’d be something this big. “YES,” I replied. “Send me the details.”
The details: It was Gungor, a band I’ve loved for YEARS (and I was actually in their last big music video–see if you can spot me here). I’d be doing a bunch of creative direction, along with some logistics. And we had a week and a half to pull it off.
I was both exhilarated AND overwhelmed. It was a lot to do, but I knew we could do it.
The pain of quitting my job just a month and a half previously fell off my shoulders as I began to work, work, work to get things together in a week. And it was in that week that everything came together in my head: My passions, my creativity, my dreams. I’d been wanting to do things like this for years: Be involved with films/art/story/characters. Do creative things. Work alongside creatives. And most importantly, showcase the importance of love no matter what–a message this world so often ignores.
Gungor’s song “Us for Them” spoke to me–as it should to all of us–about that love we must have for those who we disagree with. NO ONE is an enemy to be mistreated with hatred, and we should be loving and praying for those who hurt us. We should be pursuing peace and love with each other. In a country so full of hate about the Other, the message in this song is so prophetic for our time.
Personally, I have learned a lot about the importance of love (NO MATTER WHAT) over the past few years. When I first heard the song, I got chills up and down my spine. Wow. This was a song I could fully endorse, and the music video was going to rock.
As I listened to the song over and over the week before the shoot, the words deeply embedded in my soul. I channeled that creative energy into every aspect of casting, costuming, logistics, etc. We were very committed to having diversity among the cast to further show our message, and I’m proud of that effort. I’m proud of the way the story developed to further enhance the message of the song. May our judgment be love, may our judgment be love… Let this soak into our hearts and minds.
See the face of Christ
See the mercy in his eyes
Every valley shall be lifted high
Now our enemies are blessed
The heavy laden rest
For his judgment is love
His judgment is love
The love in this song became personal to me in many deep ways. It was during this project that I felt God reminding me of something: God LOVED me. God loved me as a creative, God loved me for who I am. God had given me gifts and talents for a reason. Getting to hang out with the cast and crew was a healing experience for me. You see, although I’d enjoyed my office job–I never truly felt like I fit in there. I’d always felt out of sync in the corporate, big business world. It just wasn’t really me. Filming that weekend helped me realize that creatives and the creative process and all the planning and profoundness and chaos that comes together to make something beautiful–that’s the environment I thrive in.
When I was ripping up clothes and stitching them up again and making things dirty, my room became utterly chaotic, and I was messy and my hands were covered in paint and dirt–that’s when I came alive. Seven characters would make their appearance, and I made up background stories and everything for them, and I put every element of who they were into their costumes out of love because I LOVE characters and stories. It just came so naturally to me. When I was tired and weary during the filming, when my health started to kick in on day three of the shoot, I kept reminding myself–out of chaos comes the beauty. It’s worth it. I’m actually doing something I love. I’m part of art, I’m part of a story, I’m part of making something amazing.
But there was also another kind of love that weekend–and it permeated everything that happened on the shoot. I LOVED the cast members. Every single person in this shoot was just an amazing human being. And I’ll forever be a fan of the Gungors now–they were authentic, real, honest people who, frankly, seemed to care less about what we might think of them (and cared a whole lot more about cultivating authentic community during the weekend). On Saturday night, we had a five hour discussion on faith and beliefs and life and everything in between. It was absolutely amazing. (So yeah, I’m pretty much a Gungor fan for life.) 🙂
Creating is HARD work. It’s not easy. Working on this video was indeed a labor of love for me. I’m not going to say it was easy. It was a very challenging thing. Joel and I learned so many lessons that we hope to implement going forward in our professional careers. It was a lot to pull off in a week and a half–but WE DID IT. Two of us. Yep.
And that’s something else God taught me during this project: I CAN DO IT. I can do this. I can freelance. I can make money doing things I love. I can pursue creativity. I will be okay. Quitting my job, not getting a consistent paycheck anymore–it’s going to be okay. I just have to move forward into my calling, move forward into my new career of writing and photography and storytelling and everything else…because it’s going to be okay. Doors are going to open and opportunities will arise that will surprise me–and it’s going to be an amazing adventure in the Great Unknown (a theme of my life).
And you know what? A few months down the road–it’s totally working out. Jobs have been opening, and I’ve had so many amazing opportunities come my way. I did it. I made the transition from a corporate office job into a freelance career. I’m scheduling time for creativity, choosing to live a much more peaceful, beautiful existence that ultimately helps my physical, emotional, and spiritual health in ways I couldn’t have imagined before.
People keep telling me I look SO happy now, and you know what? I AM HAPPY. I’m following God into the great unknown. I’m doing what I was created to do. I’m not controlled by fear or worry or the expectations of others.
(Which, coincidentally, is the message of another of my favorite Gungor songs, “Beautiful Things.”)
All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us…)
All photos by Teryn O’Brien Creative.
A shout out to several people who helped a ton on this shoot: Carlin Michael Dixon was an amazing dancer out of Cleveland and choreographed for us (https://www.linkedin.com/pub/carlin-michael-dixon/b6/636/15b). Marisa Youngblood of Meraki Goods handmade the necklaces that people are wearing (https://www.etsy.com/shop/merakigoods) and did an incredible job on those. Thanks so much!!!