In the midst of a situation that is crucially affecting everyone, the real invisible enemy is brought to light. The source of our pain isn't from the coronavirus, or political unrest, or social injustice - but from the Devil. He is the real invisible enemy instigating the unseen battle. The evil one is putting everyone in a struggle against their fellow man and within themself. And right now - we need a leader. We need Jesus Christ. We are all spiritually exposed and vulnerable to the attacks of the evil one. Christ can protect us and give us strength. Only Christ can guide us, through his Word, to put on the whole armor of God. Now is the time to put it on. We all need it to battle whatever our demon may be.
About the process:
The day I found out about the Engage Art contest around the themes of Ephesians 6:10-20 was the same day that a church I was visiting read this same chapter and the priest gave a sermon about it. I felt so spiritually assured to push as hard as I could to submit an entry that revolved around the spiritual battle and putting on the whole armor of God.
My process in creating this film evolved, changed, and adapted over a 6-month period. As the pandemic hit, original concepts were altered or removed all together. This is because of all the filming logistics during shelter in place and social distance. So a majority of this film was conceived in a way that myself and my wife (Jenna) could film and act in our apartment. Before this project, my wife had no experience operating my camera and equipment. So I coached her along in filming the scenes that I acted in. Everything else I filmed, especially as the shelter in place was lifted and I was able to arrange some shoots with a former roommate in college, Jon, and my neighbor, Stephanie, who I met through a truly spiritual experience.
So the difficulty in the concept was how to come up with an idea that could all creatively be filmed in and near my apartment - do it in a safe way - and also still tackle the complex theme of the Spiritual Battle in Ephesians 6:10-20. After the course of several months and incredible spiritual struggles with Covid, social media, politics, and injustice - my topic became more clear.
Everything was filmed with one camera, a Sony A7III, a Ronin-S gimbal, and a ring light my wife uses for cell phone pictures. I also rented a probe lens for the Bible and cell phone shots. The animation and motion graphics were done with a small blue-screen area and a lot of patience and prayer. My friend from college, Jon, who is a very talented and prestigious filmmaker and actor - not only was the right devil character, but also helped film his scenes. It was great to reconnect and collaborate with him. Stephanie, my neighbor, is a tremendous spiritual friend. While working out at our apartment gym, God encouraged her to talk to me about Christ. This immediately made me cry - as she somehow knew how much I was struggling with this short film. We eventually found out each others love of filmmaking and music. I found her social media streams where should would sing and play piano as a form of worship. From seeing her viewers and how much she is helping them with praises to God, I knew that was a music video within itself as well as an interesting additional to my project. I filmed one of her sessions that has some scenes from the music video. But I took her improvising lyrics and singing to see what could work for the music I was using in my project. As I found the right lyrics, she listened to it and knew it was off-key because she wasn't singing with the music in what I selected. So we actually re-recorded those lyrics, in the right key, and with the right emotion and purpose. I never did anything like this before - so editing those portions were also a learning curve but also incredibly rewarding. I hired a professional voice over artist through voices.com. Marcus Anderson's audition was too good to even consider anyone else. Everyone, including and especially God, came together as a team to make this one happen.
How it fits in my canon of work:
This project fits in my canon of work of creating meaningful, spiritual, Christian content. Coming from an agency and advertising career, the voice over lead approach was appropriate in communicating my message while hiring the right voice over artist. It also fits in my canon of work in that I was able to experiment with a probe lens as well as a new challenge in ideas revolving around motion graphics, photography, and animation.
This film fits in the contest of the Spiritual Battle found in Ephesians 6:10-20 through the sheer, real struggle myself and every person has faced from Covid - and battles that have stemmed through it including fear, anxiety, social media obsession, political pride, judgments on racism, police brutality, and social injustice. Our lives have been rocked and shaken. Too many people are talking about these issues instead of talking about how much we need Christ to battle to real stem of all this evil - The Devil - The Real Invisible Enemy. In this film, the evil one is depicted as the organizer of these issues which have left our hearts, minds, and souls exposed. It was an attack no one could have predicted. It was an attack that affected us all. So many of us, including myself, had no armor to protect us.
The characters in this film all face different dilemmas. My wife, Jenna, who really struggles with anxiety. She had some very horrible nights as things kept getting progressively scarier. Through our conversations and coping, she was able to battle her anxiety and seek Christ's help to give her strength to battle her fears of the future, as well as simple things like going to the grocery store. Another character was and is myself. I have seen several situations where my friends and I have got into such horrible arguments over this situation and politics. Some stopped talking to each other all together. People are blocking each other on social media. I myself had a horrible, anger-fueled argument with my loved sister and father to the point where we didn't talk for a few days. The anger seeped into my heart about who was wrong or right. Luckily, Christ was able to humble me and allow me to pursue them for forgiveness before things got worse. And the last character is my neighbor, Stephanie, who was crushed by the George Floyd situation - but who is also a tremendous spiritual leader who live-streams, during the shelter in place, to provide worship and encouragement for those who need it, including herself, myself, and Jenna.
As these very real conflicts are presented, our voice over artist and message encourages us to seek Christ for help during this time. These aren't normal times. This isn't a normal battle. We need a leader to help us in the fight for our souls. The concept of the armor in Ephesians is then introduced through seeking Christ and His teachings. The three characters use parts of the armor to overcome their struggles against the devil. Jenna "stands firm, with her feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace". She calls on the Lord, and does not stay down, afraid, and beaten. She gets up with the strength that Christ provides. Craig "takes up the shield of faith". In every thought and situation, I was leading myself into arguments, anger, "who's right or who's wrong?", endless debates, endless last words. All of this made me realize, only God knows. All I can do is pray - pray for everyone, and for those who are doing things that are so out of my control, and for myself - so I don't get so angry I harm relationships, judge others, or think I am righteous. The shield "extinguishes these flaming arrows of the evil one". Stephanie leads with the "Word of God". Using the sword as a protest sign - calling on Christ, The Word of God, as our leader. We should follow Him and His teachings - to love one another, love our enemies, be humble, and pray for everyone. This should be our weapon during this time. And our battles aren't over - we will face the enemy again. But when that happens, we can find our armor again before battle. And the whole armor can help us defeat the invisible enemy.
Over the course of the film, and for me personally, I understand Ephesians as seeking Christ in any situation on how to combat our struggles in life - which stem from the evil one. I have fallen into sin many times. And I am weak to temptation. I struggling thinking I had to be the one who fought the devil. It was foolish for me to think I could do that on my own will power. Simply calling for Christ, in prayer, creates an instant spiritual weapon that protects me and gives me strength. Reading His word, both in the Bible and through the Engage Art app have also be tremendously helpful. There are so many amazing and outstanding verses that are tailored to very timely and appropriate things I am going through. Seeing how Christ and His followers reacted to dilemmas gives fortified and proven strength.
One last thing to add is about my inspiration of the visuals of the armor depicted in this film. I do hope that this is not a cliche depiction - a gold, warrior's armor. These visuals actually stemmed from a dream I had. Which is also one of my biggest pursuits in Christian filmmaking - to create films about the dreams I have. One night, I was having a horrible nightmare. I remember praying to Christ to help me, protect me, and get me out of this dream. I remember waking up - but I was both half up and half awake - lying in my bed. From the light of my windows, an unexplainable gold armor was created. The way it looked in my dream is somewhat close but does not do it justice. The gold armor had a shield and sword. What was not depicted in the film was what happened next. From the bottom of the sword, light rays swirled and created gold chains. These chains braided and formed another sword, and another armor. But this time, it was silver. I remember waking up feeling incredibly at peace and in sheer awe of what I quite vividly saw and felt.
I hope the visuals I have attempted to create can help the viewer in the same way. To give them confidence in the Lord - to give them strength - to give them peace. Seeing the armor hopefully will give them a sense of protection, power, and awe that only Christ can provide and save us in any situation - even a nightmare or even what when we are awake. Glory to God!
Writer, Director, Cinematographer, Editor, Motion Graphics Artist, and Actor: "Himself/Man With Anger"
Actor: "The Devil", and Camera Operator
Actress: "Herself/Woman With Anxiety", and Camera Operator
Voice Over Artist
"Battle Epic" by MJ_Productions (licensed Audiojungle.com track)
Storyblocks.com (licensed, royalty-free stock footage and visual effects)
Digital copy available upon request. Please contact Craig DiRienzo at Craig.DiRienzo@yahoo.com or call 330-774-9588.
Our struggle isn’t against something we can see.
It’s against what we cannot see - the devil - the real invisible enemy.
He is fighting for our souls - as we fight with each other - and within ourselves.
This is the unseen battle.
And now - more than ever - we need a leader.
Not a man of this world.
We need - Jesus Christ.
Don’t distance yourself from Christ - by any circumstance.
Look for any way to be with Him.
Only Christ can provide the strength and protection we need - and that’s not hard to find.
Put on the whole armor of God.
(Put on your armor - get ready to fight!)
Take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
Our weapon is prayer.
Call on the Lord.
And stand firm.
Equip yourself with the power of Christ’s name and His teachings.
We cannot defeat temptations of the devil on our own.
These aren’t normal times.
And now is not the time to fight with your friends - with your neighbors.
We are trying so hard to prove the other person wrong - or justify who is right.
Only God knows.
And so much is out of our hands - but in our hands - we can pray.
Pray for those who wrestle with these decisions.
And for ourselves - to shield us against pride and anger.
Anger is like a match.
Blow it out before it’s too much to extinguish.
The devil wants man to hate man - because Christ died for us all.
(Not fight each other, not fight our brother, not fight our sister, but put on the armor!)
Leave injustices to the Lord - for God is the judge.
It’s beyond us to understand.
It’s easier to love everyone equally.
Don’t hate the sinner - we are all sinners.
Be like Christ who prayed for them.
Pray for everyone.
Pray for hope.
Christ can save us and restore us.
And when you face a challenge again -
Remember your weapons.
And you’ll be ready.
Like a soldier before battle.
And through the Word of God -
Defeat the invisible enemy.
Curious? Interested in submitting artwork to our contest? Know someone who might be? Through April 14th, 2022, the Engage Art Contest is open to the whole world! Get your foot in the door by claiming your Artist Page now!