Barelas’ Sacred Heart Church

Hello! How’s it going? A lot has been going on in my corner of the world. Los Angeles was recently hit with a heatwave that lasted two days. Doing anything in that kind of temperature made me feel lethargic. Yes, some of you are thinking “honeymoon stage is over” – haha! Well, in a way, you’re right. Everything I’ve been told that would happen, is, indeed, happening; traffic, heatwaves, dry spells, the list goes on. But, none of it compares to all of the fantastic people and new experiences I’ve had in my new home. I’ll say it again – I am loving LA. Anyway, you may have noticed that I’ve been a little quiet this week. I was busy working on a few upcoming projects, such as one about a vintage matchbook collector who I met on Instagram. See, there ARE some really cool things about social media, after all, folks. I also have been diligently working on an overdue project – this one, in fact, which I’ve titled Barelas’ Sacred Heart Church. Yeah, I know, not the most creative title, but it’s because the story is exactly about the Barelas Sacred Heart Church. Oh! For those of you who don’t know, Barelas is the second oldest town or barrio in Albuquerque; the oldest is Old Town, hence its name, but I’ll stop right here, because you’ll learn a bit more about the place in this video.

So, about this project. As I said, this one is long overdue. My friend Steve can agree with this (Sorry, Steve! But, I told you to hang in there!) Steve is our narrator in the video and you’ll learn more about him, too, by watching. We filmed this project a little more than a year ago now and right around the time I finished filming it, I experienced a MAJOR creative block during which nothing I created was “good enough” and I was, and, most importantly, in the works of realigning my life by planning my move to someplace different, which at the time was between Chicago, Denver and San Diego. It’s crazy that I ended up in Los Angeles; none of those places, I mentioned.

Anyway, I can come up with a few more excuses, sure, but the point is, time changes a lot of things. Hell, it can change a person and being in the best head place at which I’ve ever been, feeling proud of my work, connecting with likeminded people, waking invigorated everyday to be alive and living this one and only life of mine, well, it finally pushed me to open this project again and finish it off. And, believe you me, this was noooo easy task.

Here’s why: It took me about three days to put it together. I made a few other cuts prior that I didn’t like, so I trashed them and spent a few days thinking about it, asking myself how I would put it together and whatnot. Eventually, I found my flow and started cutting away again. Steve, I know you’re reading this, omg, you are very longwinded, but! don’t take it in a bad way – you really helped me step up my game in postproduction. Through you, I learned how to splice at the right breath and fade at certain points in your cadence – all of that was tremendous practice for me. Thank you!Do you see all of the micro cuts? That required my sitting through every second of interview (over 30 minutes) to get it down to this condensed level. I also had to pair two audio sources to provide you, my viewers, dynamic visuals. I prepared for this, because I knew I wasn’t going to have a lot of the b-roll I needed to illustrate some parts of this story and, so, I wanted the longer cuts of interview to be visually dynamic. That took up the bulk of my postproduction time.

Also, since this video was filmed over a year ago, I can see where I’ve improved and where I still need work. For example, I have a lot of improvement to make with color correcting. The funny thing is, is that since filming this project, which was filmed on a Sony and a Canon DSLR, I have learned a lot about S-log, which is a means of pairing two entirely different cameras by stripping the color pallets that are unique to them and making the image flat enough so that one can add dynamic color in postproduction. The result is that the shots look like they’ve been filmed with one camera. Obviously, this project doesn’t have that kind of quality, simply because of my knowledge gap back then, but that’s ok. You live and you learn. I lived and I learned.

Also, when it comes to documentary storytelling (which I watch enough documentaries to make anyone crazy), I can see that I must provide breaks between sections of the story. I fail to do this in this video, but it’s still solid. If you think that I lost you at any point in the video though, I’d love to know where. Any bit of constructive criticism improves my product, so thank you in advance.

Here’s some context about the development of this story: I met Steve Burke at work. He immediately stood out to me as the absolute biggest goofball. Every time he attended our meetings, I always felt like he was the only one in the room who was able to see the fun in everything we did. He never took anything too serious, because after all, we weren’t at the so-called “frontlines” in our department (despite what others thought/think), and he was extremely personable. He always does a great job and… Steve, damn it, you’re an asset, man. Just reminding you, because I know you’re reading this, and sometimes it’s nice to be reminded of the things we already know.

Anyway, Steve and I kind of bonded as we worked more projects together and he would often visit me at my little office and crack jokes and make me laugh about the funny things people said or did at his church or the awesome moments he had with his baby granddaughter when his family visited, or how his wife makes the absolute best cake pops in all of Albuquerque. People, they are AMAZING; check ’em out here.

Anyway, during one of those office visits, he told me about the Barelas’ Sacred Heart Church and the history of it. I was really amazed. I have family who, during their lives, loved that church way back when and maybe that was part of what hooked me to the story, but I was also intrigued with how Steve was so fluent in its sequence of events, especially regarding politics, generations of poverty and the neighborhood’s tie-in with September 11, 2001.

Coming from a very traditional New Mexican family (something I’m really proud of, because my family is written about in history books), I was surprised I had never heard this story and I knew after learning it that I would need to somehow put it on my blog. So, I decided to film a mini documentary about the Barelas Sacred Heart Church.

During its making, I recruited Morgan Wilt, who I worked with at the time, and who, on-the-fly, learned simple camera movements and visual storytelling components during a couple of production day lessons. It was a fun experience and I learned a lot about myself as a teacher and interviewer. I’ll say it again: there is always room for improvement.

In a word, this mini documentary is dedicated to the Barelas Community and Sacred Heart Church, but a special thanks goes to the time and patience of Steve Burke and Morgan Wilt, whom without, this mini documentary would cease to exist.

Without further ado, I hope you enjoy Barelas’ Sacred Heart Church and if you do, would you please drop me some love in my blog comments? You already know how much that helps me out, plus, I’m sure Steve and Morgan would love to hear how their work has interested the folks, from around the globe, who frequent my blog. Thank you!

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