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A Celebration of Blessings

Monday Nov. 17 was a big day for Habitat for Humanity of Kanawha and Putnam—and for MotionMasters. That’s when more than four months of planning, shooting and editing brought together 500 volunteers, donors, partner-families, homeowners, staff and friends to share a Thanksgiving meal and view two new MotionMasters videos in an event called “Celebrate the Blessings.”

“Blessings” was the brainchild of MotionMasters’ president, Diana Sole Walko, an 18-year Habitat volunteer and incoming president of the non-profit, and Shawn Means, Habitat’s executive director. The evening was designed to commemorate 20 years of blessings that have enabled Habitat to build 125 homes; to showcase the organization’s efforts to eliminate substandard housing and to recognize the dedication of long-term volunteers Mike and Tina McCready.

That last part was tricky, though. The McCreadys tend to shy away from recognition, so the video presentation in their honor had to be kept secret—right up to the moment the first images of Mike McCready working at a Habitat volunteer job site flickered across the three huge screens in the Embassy Suites Ballroom.

Before the McCready surprise-video, though, the house went dark for the premiere of “Habitat Generations,” a long-format video showcasing the dramatic impact of home ownership upon the lives of three Habitat children who now are college students.

Produced by Lukas DeGruyl and shot in HD by Doug Morris, the “Generations” video owes part of its distinctive look to using still photography lenses during shooting. “The lenses lent an incredibly smooth look to the HD,” says Morris. “It’s richer and more cinematic, more like a movie and less like newscast or documentary footage,” he says.

Morris added, “We wanted the interviews to be very close and personal, so we went to the subjects; no studio shooting. And that shallow depth of field you see in the interviews, along with hearing their story in their own words (no narration), makes for very powerful storytelling.”

With two videos to write, shoot and edit, plus invitations, programs and press releases to produce, the staff at MotionMasters stayed busy with the project over the summer and all through the staging and production of the event. Amy Drake designed the event logo, invitations and program; Diane Dimoff sifted through nearly 100 McCready family photos and then scripted and voiced the surprise video; pk Khoury and Carole Morlachetta helped with planning and organization, and Doug Morris, Lukas DeGruryl and Wesley Poole handled the vast amount of video production and editing for both videos. Poole also provided technical direction for the event.

“Nearly the entire MotionMasters staff was involved in the Blessings event in some way or another,” said Sole-Walko. “It’s great to have such a fine example of the good work being done by both organizations: MotionMasters and Habitat for Humanity of Kanawha and Putnam.”

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