I am very passionate about telling compelling stories that have a positive impact. When I have the chance to tell an individual’s story that I know will better society, I jump on it.
A few weeks ago, I was finishing up my workout at my gym. I went to get a drink of water and while waiting I noticed the guy in front of me wearing a hat with a cross on it. When I took a better look, it said Faith with the t being larger than the rest of the letters. It looked as if it was a cross and sure enough it was. I asked the guy where he bought it and he said a local guy sells them. I asked for the artist’s info and I connected with him a day later.
I emailed Tony, owner of AOF Apparel, and he called me back later in the day. We briefly talked about his hats, and he told me he also sells shirts and other merchandise. Tony said it was more than a business to him, it was a ministry. After we talked a bit we decided to meet up for coffee so we could chat more in depth about his vision and his ministry. I was intrigued and was looking forward to meeting him.
Saturday came, and we met up at a local coffee shop. Right off the bat I could tell that Mr. Lopez was a passionate individual. He talked to me about why he is leading this ministry and how it has brought him so much hope. Tony has a love for people and wants to plant seeds in which Christ can water. Tony explained his troubled past and how he found Christ. I explained that I would love to do a feature documentary on him and what he has gone through. We talked about incorporating his passion for his ministry in the documentary too.
I met up with Tony at Fitness Evolution the following week. I wanted to get video footage of him selling his merchandise and talking to people. The man is very wise and articulate when talking about Christ. You can tell by his choice of words and how he uses verses from the bible to explain his ideas and thoughts to people. Tony is on fire for Jesus.
We met up a second time where his apparel is made. I shot some footage of how his hats are made, as well as how the shirts are made. It was interview time and after I finished setting up all the lights, cameras, and mic we both just had a conversation. The interview went very well. Tony spoke about his upbringing, his ties with gangs, and how he used to drink too much. We also talked about how his friend invited him to church and it was there he had a head on collision with Christ. We finished up talking about his ministry and how he is very blessed to spread the word.
Now, I had to edit this piece. It was going to be fun because I had plenty to work with. When I originally thought of telling his story I was going to focus on his ministry. However, Tony’s testimony was so strong I had to tell it in its entirety. As I was editing, the pieces just came together. It was as if Christ was behind me telling me what needed to go where. After the video was done, I told Tony that our meeting was not a coincidence, it was God’s intervention. We were His tool, and this story needed to be told.
The video has only been out for a few days, but peoples’ lives have really been impacted by Tony’s story. This video has been chosen to be a teaching tool for inmates. They hope to show them that they too can overcome hardships.
Stories are all around us. We just need to open our eyes and listen to them. As a filmmaker I am constantly looking to help serve my community, and I think I did by telling Tony’s story. Tony was very brave to tell his story, and he is helping lead people to Christ. Just think, if it wasn’t for Tony’s apparel I wouldn’t have seen his hat that morning and this very powerful story wouldn’t have been told.
I have been working in television and media for over 18 years. My experience includes news photojournalist, editor, producer and storyteller.