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The time I was hired to make a documentary video about a friend of mine

A Nashville church recently asked me to direct a video honoring someone who’s a part of my own story. 


In my 15 years of directing documentary videos, I don’t think I’ve ever interviewed one of my own friends. So when West End Community Church in Nashville approached me about producing a video honoring its pastor, Carter Crenshaw, I smiled. 

Carter Crenshaw! 

Years and years ago, before either of us had gray hair, Carter was my own pastor. We were in a mens group together. Always the matchmaker, he even tried to set me up with girls in the church (unsuccessfully). And most vivid in my memory, he would often invite me to meet him super-early at the Green Hills Mall to walk and talk. Whatever came up, he was happy to listen and offer a little free counseling — so long as I could keep up.

Life took us in different directions, but Carter never stopped walking. For fifteen years he’s been logging thousands of miles at the mall, walking and talking and counseling anyone willing to sweat for it.

And this brings us to the video. Carter is stepping down as head pastor of the church he founded, and his executive staff asked me and my team to produce a send-off video that they could show to the congregation. Now, I realize that our services may be overkill for a going-away video that will be seen once, maybe twice. Most churches slap a Powerpoint together with some old photos and call it a day. But for me, this was an opportunity to focus my storytelling energies on someone who has meant so much to me personally.

There are so many people out there quietly and honorably doing good in the world, and they all deserve to have their own documentary videos. This was my chance to give Carter his. I will say humbly that Carter deserves a better video, but at least it’s not a Powerpoint. 

One last thing: when I called Carter to inform him that my crew and I would be spending two days following him, he made three requests. First, he made me promise to include his wife prominently in the video, because “she is my partner in the Gospel.” Second, he asked that I not elevate him more than necessary, because it was important to him that everyone understands he and his wife were only “broken vessels” that God used to build the church. And third, and not surprisingly, he wanted my assurance that whoever watches this video would in some way see and hear the Gospel that has been central to his life.

I told him that I could do all this, but that our documentary cameras only capture what’s already there. Then I had an idea.

What if we began by taking a walk at the mall?