I MAY NEVER GO BACK

Siroki Brijeg, Bosnia & Herzegovina //

IMG_7379.jpg

It was 4:30 in the morning. One of my students, a mentor, and I had just set up the gear on a hillside just outside of town to capture what would be a sunrise time-lapse for our documentary.

The moment we pressed record, rocks seemed to scatter just a few hundred feet below.

I looked down to see where they may have landed, but before I could do so, out of the near pitch black two giant orange eyes grabbed my attention. 

IMG_7373.JPG

Something was staring straight at us… and that something was moving slowly up the hill in our direction. 

Whatever it was, it’s gaze did not waver… however, my legs did. 

You know, I’ve seen and been around a lot of wildlife in my time as a native to Washington State… but nothing can prepare you for coming across two glowing eyeballs moving towards you when it is pitch black out at 5 am (especially after pulling an all-nighter editing, running on Coca-Cola and Milka chocolate) 

The only thought that crossed my mind was about a conversation I had just one day earlier with some of my students. 



“Do you have mountain lions here?” 

“Yeah. That and wolves. But we don’t really ever see them.” 

— 

My instincts kicked in… “TURN ON SOME MUSIC! Grab some rocks and start banging them together.” 

Before I could even think I was throwing dodgeball sized rocks down the hillside at… 

“Wait, where did it go?”

“Omg, it’s over there!”

It was as if its eyes knew of no where else to look except at the lanky white American giraffe-looking-man throwing (attempting to throw) small rocks in his direction. One of these things was a terrifying sight. 

Whatever it was continued to look straight at me as it bolted up the entire hill, darting around the side of us, in an incredible (what should be a world record) 1.5 seconds. 

The animal found its place on a rock about 150 feet away but it’s eyes would not turn another direction for another 2 (going-on-eternity) minutes. 

Finally, it vanished. 

And I may never be going back to Bosnia & Herzegovina. 

// 

I already thought I might never make it back to that country. 

Let me explain. 

You know, last year I travelled with a non-profit called Outside the Lens to Eastern Europe for my first time to help lead a group of high school students through the narrative filmmaking process. We were to conceptualize, shoot, edit, and screen a film at the Mediterranean film festival all in the matter of 2 weeks. 

Filmmaking typically is madness, but MFF School (the program we teach) is a whole other level. 

Very little time means very little sleep means very little room for error… all while teaching a bunch of high schoolers how to use equipment some of them have never even heard of. It was quite the challenge in 2018, and I was just along for the ride then. You can see the whole blog here. 

Regardless, my purpose for going last year was to be an emergency last-minute replacement for MFF school’s editing educator. So naturally, my initial feelings when 2019 came around would be that I wouldn’t be asked to come back.

I couldn’t be more wrong. 

USPUT-poster-A3.jpg

When I got the call to make the journey across the pond again, I would learned that Outside the Lens wasn’t asking me to fill any position similar to the one I had previously occupied. No, they had that filled with the educator they had always used. 

DVICA-poster-A3.jpg

To my surprise, this year they were requesting me to add on a whole additional documentary portion to MFF School, which traditionally centers itself around the students creating one single narrative film. 

That’s right. This year we didn’t make just 1 film in 2 weeks. WE MADE TWO. As if we weren’t mad enough already. 2 films that would screen at the end of the week for everyone from the students parents, to the US Ambassador to Bosnia & Herzegovina, to film producers from all over the world. 

My intrigue reached an all-time high. 

Narrative was one thing… it is scripted, planned out. Documentary is, well, documentary is completely unknown in both time and subject matter until it’s being shot. Which meant the room for error was pretty significant. 

Yet, my documentary mind couldn’t help but say yes to the opportunity. 

IMG_7376.JPG
IMG_7340.JPG

The doc crew would consist of about 6 students and 2 mentors. Our goal was to capture the essence of all that MFF is, but to also not lose the heart and life-changing influence this program has on these kids. 

Let me tell you a little secret about when you put camera into the hands of people from a community where you are shooting… 

- Getting heart into a project is the least of your worries. -

When you see the eyes of a community through the eyes of someone who is from there, suddenly transformation is happening not just in front of the camera, but behind it, beside it, and all around it. 

Watching these kids run about their community this past week… we no doubt had some setbacks learning equipment/dropping equipment/running away from equipment ;-)… yet the turnover on the back end once everyone understood and was able to really take ownership of their role was more worth it than even our final doc could capture. 

A film for students, by students. 

By the end of the week, we felt like a well-greased machine. I nearly didn’t even need to go out on set, and the story was falling into place like clockwork. I became so proud watching as these kids fell in love with an aspect of film that is so dear to my heart, all while capturing their own stories. 

IMG_7374.JPG

Don’t get me wrong… we had some major setbacks - 

  • A student accidentally stepped on our Ronin Camera Stabilizer and broke part of it on about day 4.

  • Another student dropped our camera on day 5. **Side Note - In all of my filmmaking, this has been the 1st time I/we have ever broken a piece of equipment. Needless to say, crazy that two things broke within a day of each other!** (Praise God for really good insurance).

  • The narrative film rushed to finish everything in the two week amount of time… but however rushed they were, doc felt even worse. Imagine trying to find time to interview people who are creating a film from sunup to sundown. Undeniably, there were tense moments where the doc crew had to cut corners to get in some interviews in time.

  • I mean, you remember me talking about the wild animal, yeah?

Herzegovina_2019.JPG

I’m not going to tell you that documentary filmmaking is the hardest thing in the world (although, **Side note again** getting doc equipment through International TSA may very well be). But what I will say is documentary is really hard. Trusting that a story is coming, that something is going to all fall into place somehow (in a matter of two weeks) is hard. And doing that whole process with 6 high school students is hard.

Taking on this role as an educator grew me as a filmmaker for sure. 

But in the end nothing, and I mean nothing in the entire world will be as hard as explaining to my mother why she should trust me to travel half way across the world again. 

And that’s the real reason why I might never (get to) go back to Bosnia & Herzegovina… despite how much I want to 🙌🏼

Shoutout to all you moms in the world. Keep sneaking pepper spray into your kids bags… because one day they might be peeing their pants on the side of a hill in the middle of the “old country” and really, really wish they had it. 

Blessings,

Luke

GroupPicture.jpg

OUR WEBBY!

This may come as a bit of a surprise, but this past week was actually really hard on me.

Offical Webby Headshot from Photoshoot.

Offical Webby Headshot from Photoshoot.

The Webby Awards.

It is strange how something so distant, just another website on a computer screen, can quickly turn into something involving itself in every aspect of my life.

Last week, the Webby’s got involved in my family, in my art, and in my personal well-being. It took me for a loop into a world that I had never really desired to enter, but soon found myself completely wrapped up in.

The film industry.

Cipriani Wall Street (Interior) before the show.

Cipriani Wall Street (Interior) before the show.

As I looked around at the hundreds of influential artists filling the banquet hall, I couldn’t help but be filled with two feelings at the exact same time.

Bewilderment - that someone like me, that a family like mine, was about to partake in an event as immaculate as The Webby Awards. An event that would take my farmer of a father and put him on a red carpet. An event that would allow my mother, who always dreamed of becoming an actress, a chance to finally dress the part. An event that would bring my elder sister and I to a city we only dreamed about coming to as children.

Cipriani Wall Street (Exterior) with Holly Starr.

Cipriani Wall Street (Exterior) with Holly Starr.

Well, we didn’t have to just dream about it anymore. No, in fact, we were standing in the Cipriani Wall Street - a building whose pillars stretched almost as far to the sky as those dreams we had as children.

I couldn’t believe it was all happening to us. I couldn’t believe it was all happening to me.

Confusion - It was all happening to me. This was never the reason I got into filmmaking. In fact, red carpets and premieres were never in the cards for this humanitarian documentary filmmaker. My goal was always to work with communities around the globe, not find myself back in the States walking between star-studded cocktail hours and after parties.

Red Carpet press shoot before the show.

Red Carpet press shoot before the show.

Standing there, amidst the plethora of fancy cutlery (which I could not figure out the use of) and mountains of booze, I found myself feeling very distant, very foreign. Some may call it the “imposter syndrome” but I don’t think that quite identifies what I was feeling.

I wasn’t feeling as though the work I had done was insufficiently deserving of this award. No, I was suddenly worried that the message of my work was being confused for something that I didn’t want it to be - my work, my voice.

I started this company so that those who we might not otherwise hear could find a platform from which to project their voice.

In a sense, I would say we accomplished that goal this past week. We were able to get Migwani, Kenya in front of the eyes of thousands. In front of the eyes of leaders of companies in the likes of Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and more. And isn’t that something worth celebrating?

Yes.

Being interviewed by the Webby’s podcast.

Being interviewed by the Webby’s podcast.

But it isn’t something I want to celebrate at an event with a bunch of people who either won an award or paid upwards of $500 to attend.

No, I want to celebrate with Migwani. I want to celebrate with Ngonza, with Mutei, with Eunice, Naomi, Irene, Jane, Janet, Muvana, Loise, Nah, Annah, Nzambi, Muthili, Makaa, Muli, Mwende, Nzyuko, Kanlinga, Kasiva, Kalunda, Mutei.

But the reality of the situation this past week was that I couldn’t. I had to represent a community of which I am not a part. I had to walk a red carpet that I did not deserve on my own.

I want to be honest in this post when I say that I am growing as a creative.

I am growing as a humanitarian filmmaker.

We are growing as a company.

And that means we are still figuring things out with what all this entails.

Last week was one of the greatest of my career as a filmmaker. But I don’t want to stop with this award, with this accomplishment and say, “Look, we did it. We figured it out.”

Our poster for “Our Children - Twana Twitu” on the big screen at the Webby’s.

Our poster for “Our Children - Twana Twitu” on the big screen at the Webby’s.

No, what I do want this award to say, if it must say something about the work we are doing here at Circle3Productions, is “Look! We struck a chord! We scratched the surface of a type of filmmaking that people need to see - a new way of documenting communities around the world. But we are just getting started. We have so much learning to do. Here is the direction, now let’s run with it.”

There are many things the Webby's did for me this past Monday. Many firsts that I will remember for the rest of my life. But what it really boils down to for me is that this event helped me to clarify even more so my vision for this company, for the communities with which we work.

I can assure you that one day, very soon, I will look back on this post and think, “Wow. You had so much to learn.”

And I am excited for that moment.

I am excited to one day be able to fully celebrate both at an award show and with a community.

May this Webby push me to continue learning, continue growing, continue reaching out.

May it help us as a company to continue researching, continue connecting, and continuing making content WITH rather than just IN communities.

This past week was hard on me. Yet I am okay with that.

It was refining me. It was refining Circle3Productions.

Blessings,

Luke

TO THE BOY THAT DREAMED

To the 1 year old boy that dreamed,

IMG_2176.jpg

You came into this world in the great upper left of a country whose lands are as diverse as its people. In a part of that country some would say was the last to be discovered on this planet - the great unknown.

But we know that couldn’t be true.

No. For there were others that graced these farmlands long before ‘ole Lewis & Clark ever made the journey out West.

IMG_4042.jpg

Alas, you were born. And you were born to the hands of a farmer and a CPA. And you were born in the land of apples, (although onions would be the only smell that you called home). You were born to a town of migrants… people from lands you would only hope to one day discover. People who would teach you such beautiful tales of humanity, of difference, and of bravery.

Consider yourself Lucky, Lukey. (Your grandmother will never remember which is your real name).

One day you will realize that this ground - these fields where your life was planted - means something. And it means a great deal. For it is these very neighbors (or lack there of), these very dirt roads, and yes, even these very star-studded skies that you were born under that make up who you are… and that will bear forth a life and a story worth telling.

Take advantage of every second. Even the millions you will be spending on that bumpy tractor. That “normal” life, one day under a very different, distant lens… will become one of the most extraordinary experiences you will ever have.

You were born on a farm. That is a gift. Not a hindrance.


To the 16 year old kid that dreamed,

58377_470203332844_7555928_n.jpg

I know you must be incredibly frustrated. Frustrated that you are stuck in a town that seems to only know just within the barriers of its own limits, cornered by signs reading “Opportunities Unlimited.” If I had one thing I could tell you, it would be…

Believe it.

Believe that what you have there is all you need to have to get… here, there, anywhere.

It must have been only a few days ago that your parents told you that they didn’t think you should go on that exchange to another country in your 16th year of life - you had too many responsibilities to finish up with.

I know that might feel like a dead end… but trust me when I say that dead end is the first of many realizations that your timing, however honest, is usually not the best timing for you.

Keep discovering. Keep feeling. Keep trying. One day those borders are going to swing wide open.

It isn’t today.

But today prepares you for tomorrow. And you have much preparing to do.



To the 19 year old traveller that dreamed,

It is true. You have completely fallen for a country you never before had called home (and you FINALLY, by some miracle, were able to become an exchange student.) All your life you spent wondering what it would be like to live the reality of someone outside of your farm, your town, your country. What a crazy ride it has been.

309792_1589806920399_1059527323_n.jpg

It is also true the feelings you are having about non-profits. No, not every non-profit you are finding is doing sustainable good in Perú. In fact, you are going to grow a lot more disappointed as time passes… but with the disappointment will come vision. And with the vision comes dreams… and the dreams will lead you to realize that maybe film & photography - something so foreign to you at the time - might be an idea worth pursuing.

That maybe, just maybe there is a way to influence these organizations, these philanthropists.

You may not know how to get there, but if you trust those initial gut feelings that this is a space you are meant to speak into… it is going to take you on a wild ride.

But before going on that ride, drink another Inka Cola, give your host mom another hug, and relish in your final days living in your favorite country on earth.

They will end soon… but your passion for that land, that people never will.

To the 26 year old filmmaker that dreams,

I don’t think you ever thought you would be this old.

CCF8ED97-40E9-4B96-B04D-9C30060B53FF.jpg

It’s a miracle that you are even alive after all that has gone on. Peru. Israel. Wisconsin. Los Angeles. UCLA. And finally, Circle3Productions.

Remember this moment.

Take a breath.

Remember all the breaths you took to get here and with whom you shared each of those spaces.

It’s been quite a long time since you spent your nights living under those starry skies back in “God’s country,” as grandpa calls it - 8 years to be exact.

You feel strange when you look at the parts of you that are no longer so soft around the edges. The parts that a city has roughened up. You look out a window into this “city of angels” as you edit the very films you shot around the world, and you wonder how this could be your life.

When did you become someone who lived in a city?

You spent the last 6 years of your life running down a road that you were unsure of where it would lead.

You had an idea in your head to help people, to run back the very stories of those rural desert dwellers you had learned of so many years ago. So you took up documentary filmmaking.

Somehow, in a strange way… you were able to use film to turn your love for people into a vocation, into a passion, into a way of life.

And I am so proud of you for that. (I don’t think you say this to yourself often enough.)

This month you found out one of your films was nominated for an award. That has never happened before. And oddly enough, it has caused you to rethink all those steps that got you to this point.

Each. Individual. Person.

But more importantly, the God that directed those steps before even that farmer and CPA welcomed you into their home and called you son.

Stick to your roots, son. In your roots lies your story, your power, your voice.

But as you grow, open up. Continue finding ways of connecting with those people whose realities are oh so different from yours… because they might not be as different as you would think.

This is still yet the beginning of the journey, and you have still yet so much to learn.

Happy reading, happy living, happy breathing, my friend.

BF2CF591-B353-438E-98DF-20545E97C451.jpg

To the old man that will dream,

You must have the most intricate stories of humanity to tell, and please, do tell.

Tell your children. Tell the world.

I hope you are still proud of the time you spent with a camera in your hand. I know your good posture might be running on empty, but surely your heart is full.

So here is to your first nomination for an award - The Webby Awards. Maybe there were many more, or maybe this was the only one.

Either way, I am proud of you, wherever you are. And you should be too.


Blessings,

The soul you have known your whole life. Inside that body. Inside that mind.

Luke








MOJA SUCUT - MY CONDOLENCES

39937501_1625035664290547_7216159284847968256_n.jpg

It was 3 a.m. in the morning. I hadn’t slept the entire last two days… and yet for some reason I had more energy in my bones than I would have had on any other day. 

Tell me 1 month ago that I would be in the middle of Eastern Europe, surrounded by a classroom filled with Croatian-speaking high schoolers, and I would have never believed you. And yet, through a friend of a friend, a last minute door swung open to work alongside Outside the Lens and the Mediterranean Film Festival to bring a film workshop to the kids of Hercegovina. 

39406677_1616324765161637_4823926358549725184_n.jpg

26 hours traveling to Croatia. 2 hours drive from Croatia to Hercegovina. The moment I showed up after my journey - literally didn’t even have the time to put my bags in my room - I was thrown on the first panel of the week to judge pitches that the students were giving to see what film we were going to develop over the following 8 days. 

Yes, that’s right. In 8 days we had to take a film from concept, to being premiered on the main stage at the Mediterranean film festival. Needless to say, it was a whirlwind.

After pitches, the first day was spent writing, location scouting, prepping actors and project files… and most importantly for me, interviewing and selecting 2 teen editors who would help bring this project to a reality. 

Although many of the kids were passionate about learning to edit, almost none of them had experience editing or using the software we would be cutting the film on. Needless to say, my role over the first two days was training these 2 kids - Colin and Patrick - everything they would need to know about an editing workflow. They learned software such as…

92BF5ABC-771F-4934-8495-0042171BE643.JPG
  1. Plural Eyes

  2. Premiere Pro

  3. After Effects

  4. Prelude

  5. Photoshop

And man was I blown away at the speed with which these kids learned. Below you can see a couple test videos from our practice with these mediums. We tried to utilize our offload/export time by learning some clever techniques that we could use in the real film such a masking, transitions, and even some special effects. 



As the footage started pouring in… the scope of our work was really taking shape… and in all honestly, was a mound that seemed like we would never reach the summit of. Editing a film in general is hard in 2 weeks. Typically one would have about that much time for a rough cut of a 12 minute film. 

73CD4132-F644-4823-971A-DF878F22B53C.JPG

Then add on to that the fact that I would be directing kids on how to edit a film in a language that I didn’t even speak. It would require a new level of attention to story and detail on my part… It really pushed me to not only trust the kids in their process, but to force myself to engage in every conversation so I could make sure I knew what was going on in the story. 

Patrick, our Hercegovinian native took it upon himself to just smash through all of our dialogue scenes, while Colin took over more of the montage sequences and finding other assets for us: music, SFX, graphics…. etc. 

It was such a blessing to see these two really begin to take the edit into their own hands over the next few days. Even late into the night, they were both dedicated to creating something bigger than themselves, with the help of about 20 other students who were equally as sleep deprived trying to get this story out. 

37F3EB17-4710-41C4-BB45-B931512DA04D.JPG

I definitely have never allowed myself to get as tired as I was in some of those late night sessions. What can I say, having multiple all-nighters in a row is not natural for the human body… However, when I was in the thick of it… I hardly noticed because I truly felt like I was in my element, fulfilling a part of me that has always been a passion of mine - helping kids to find, use, and raise their voice. You can imagine how special this week was for me. I’ve never wanted to be an educator… but I do strive to help people find empowerment through art… and I think in a lot of ways, we were able to open that doorway a bit for these kids this week. 

IMG_4821.JPG
IMG_4822.JPG
IMG_4823.JPG
B9F5DBDE-4E16-4768-A918-AF28155B8E79.JPG

You know, when I was younger, growing up in a farm town, opportunities for artistic expression were rare, if they even existed. I remember participating in things like the Missoula’s children’s theatre, or watching motivational speakers stop in our town for an assembly or two... and I always wondered what it would have been like to grow up in the big city from where these people often came - I wondered what it would be like to be able to learn the art forms that they displayed for us so brilliantly.

But I have never been one to ask for a pity-party... I don't believe you should define yourself by your situation. Define yourself by your opportunity. 

That is why I think giving the opportunity, leaving a door open for kids to see into a world... to experience a reality... To find the next step in furthering their education on a topic - on art... That is worth it. That is empowering. That is why this week was such a blessing for me to be a part of. 

In our final days, we were able to pull together the entire film by some incredible feat.We screened the film in front of thousands at the Mediterranean Film Festival; and in the end we left Bosnia with quite a few more friends. With quite a few more filmmakers. 

Listening to the kids talk about their own growth throughout the week on my last day reminded me that I need to continue fighting for these times.

Times when aid trumps ego.

When process trumps outcome. 

I'm looking forward to showing you the film. It should be out soon.
 

Blessings,

Luke Grigg

 

OUR CHILDREN - TWANA TWITU // FILM POSTER

OUR CHILDREN

I am excited to release the poster to this years' collaboration with the With My Own Two Hands Foundation. This is a film that has become so near and dear to my heart, and I cannot wait to show it to you all! Mark your calendars for July 8th, because I can already feel this one is going to be a film you won't want to miss. 

I spent about 2 weeks in a town called Mwingi in Northeastern Kenya, capturing a story of bravery unlike any other I had seen before. Check back in later today as we release the trailer, and first glimpse into who these children are, and why they are so special to this story! 

#lovelife

THERE WAS SO MUCH MORE GOING ON...

Grandma Starr

I may have grown 10 years older from this weekend. And I am okay with that. 

To all my friends and family, I pray that your Thanksgivings were full of the utmost joy, and that you made memories with your family members that will last a lifetime. 

This week I learned about God’s grace... and it was the best lesson I have ever learned, in the hardest possible way. 

If you have not heard, my Grandma Starr Bitterman passed away this past weekend in Wenatchee, Washington. Her funeral was this Saturday in my mother’s hometown of Cashmere, Washington. For the service, I created a short video from the many many hours of footage I had with Grandma Starr over the years (you can see it below). I pray that it is able to comfort those who were not able to make it this weekend. 

Grandma’s passing has taken me to an entirely new depth of emotion that I have never known. And for someone who already was pretty emotional, this roller coaster has been quite the experience. Needless to say, I am so thankful to all those who have taken the moment to share in my family’s grief, to reach out a caring hand, and to teach me how to navigate through these emotions. I feel it is partially my duty to share exactly what happened with those who loved grandma. 

GrandmaStarr_InHospital

Cause of Death: Grandma had broken her hip and was unable to be operated on. I didn’t even know that an elderly person could die from the repercussions of a broken hip. Since the doctors could not operate and the pain was too great she would have to be kept partially sedated to help ease the pain. Being a woman with an already deteriorating health condition, this was not good news. Morphine does nothing good to organs that are already wanting to slow down. What began as a two week life expectancy soon became a 2 day life expectancy. Grandma passed away 1 day after breaking her hip, valiantly holding on to say goodbye to her kids and grandkids. 

Your prayers, thoughts, and hugs during that time were needed so much more than you could possibly imagine. And that is what I am here to talk about. The Grace of God, poured out through His people, in a time when they didn’t even realize how much their support was needed. 

The wife of one of our old pastors said it perfectly, “This moment in time isn’t about death... it is about my family’s journey together as we rely on the Lord.” 

And that couldn’t be any more true. 

To put it brief, the journey my family took this weekend was much more than just emotional after my grandmother’s death, but spiritual and physical as well: 

-The day I received news of my grandmother’s fall, my brother happened to be in Los Angeles. For those that know me, I DO NOT DO WELL even for an afternoon alone on a normal day. I love being around people. I feel the Lord most present in moments when I can be near my loved ones. Hearing the news and being states away was the hardest moment of my life. Shaking on the couch, alone in my apartment... I was comforted knowing that I had a loving brother near, and my best friend, Gemalene Sunga, willing to come and sit with me as I processed what was going on. I will never forget God’s grace through these two during that moment. He surrounded me with the support I needed. 

-I work for UCLA Women’s Basketball. Last weekend we had two games. Within moments of getting ahold of my bosses, Cori Close and Debbie Haliday, I had confirmation that I could fly out to Washington the next morning. My coworkers, Caren Nicdao and Maggie Galle, took on the work without hesitation, despite their incredibly busy schedules. God’s grace came through the instant support of these people who don’t even know Grandma. 

-Arriving to Washington, the day of my grandmother’s death, hardly any of my family was in the area... and by area, I mean within 100 miles. Spread out between California, Colorado, Tennessee, and Seattle... this family journey didn’t start with the emotional, but the physical. All of my relatives were able to get flights back, including myself. Holly’s (my sister's) story was particularly incredible. I will explain in further detail after I say how gracious the Lord was for allowing us to make it back. 

-Once I got to the hospital, my grandmother was moments away from being put on her morphine drip, a Pic Line. This meant that she would soon be sedated, to the point where she would be able to hear you, but would not be able to respond. I grabbed her hand immediately. I held it there as I prayed she would wake up one last time... And even despite the pain, grandma opened up her Moroccan eyes as I whispered, “I love you, Grandma” into her ear. She clenched my hand, and then fell asleep. That was the last time I would look into my grandmother’s eyes, 10 minutes after I arrived from Los Angeles. GRACE. GOD’S SWEET GRACE. 

-The doctor’s told my family that she still had between 2 days and 2 weeks to live by the time evening rolled around. My sister holly, by that time, was just boarding her flight to Seattle from Nashville, Tennessee. There was no reason to think she wouldn’t make it home to see grandma. My dad and I were told to go home and get some rest. My mom was going to spend the night with grandma. My cousins would be arriving around 11 PM from Colorado and Seattle to see her, and we would be back in the morning. However, as soon as my dad and I had driven an hour back home, my mom called saying that grandma’s situation was getting worse. The nurse informed us that the end was coming and much sooner than anyone had anticipated. We rushed back to the hospital and were able to be by her bedside, alongside my cousins, aunts and uncles. The next few hours spent with my grandmother, I will never forget... Telling funny stories of her as I gripped her soft hand for what would be the last time, alongside all my loved ones. God’s grace filled the room as we were able to comfort each other, even up until the end. 

-AND FOR THE BIGGEST MIRACLE OF MY LIFE.... Holly was not going to make it. She landed in Seattle when my Dad and I were on our way to the hospital the second time. Seattle is 3 hours drive from where we were. Grandma’s lungs were already filling up. She was hardly breathing at all, and the doctor’s wouldn’t even turn my grandma over in her bed because in doing so she might actually pass away. PRAYER IS POWERFUL, people. I Face-timed Holly and with the hardest words I have ever said told her that she might need to tell grandma goodbye. She was still 1 1/2 hours away. “I love you grandma, and I am going to tell the world your story and how strong you were.” I will never ever forget those words. Holly loved my grandma as deeply as I did. My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t make it from Los Angeles. But knowing that she might not make it was just as bad. She had spent countless hours taking care of this woman in her final years. Not to mention Holly had been in Nashville, recording a song ABOUT GRANDMA’S STORY! Yet somehow, Grandma held on. Holly got to the hospital. As she got to the front door, I texted her to run as fast as she possibly could. Grandma was heaving, and it seemed as though holly was going to arrive only moments too late. As my family screamed down the hallway for Holly to run, I just kept whispering to grandma that Holly was almost there. “Holly’s just about here, grandma... You’re doing so well. Just hold on a second longer.” Grandma took a deep breath right before Holly entered the room and it appeared as if she had passed. My mom let out the first of her built up sadness, feeling as though we had just missed the moment. Holly threw herself on top of grandma and told her over and over how much she loved her. That moment is ingrained into my mind because of what happened next. Grandma took another giant breath. She had held on for holly. And then she took another, and another... only minutes later signing off to the world, as her family surrounded her, grieving, but also completely astounded at the Grace of God in that moment. It can’t be expressed, but I felt God in that room that night. I felt him in my tears. In my grandmother’s heavy breathing. In the wails of my mother. In the coldness of my grandmother’s hand. He was there. He was watching. And He held me up as I lived the saddest day of my life. He did not have to let us have that time with grandma at the end, and yet He did. And it was beautiful. 

-My dad became the physical manifestation of the Lord’s arms for me as he held me for what seemed hours, grieving the loss of one of the most inspirational people in my entire life. I gave grandma a kiss on the forehead, and with one final je t’aime (I love you), dad supported me as he guided my weak steps out of that hospital. I cried myself to sleep that night, and woke up crying the next morning... but God’s grace was there to hold me up. He gave me my dad. And I won’t ever be able to thank the Lord enough for that moment. 

The rest of the week was filled with what I am coming to know as the grieving process. It is much more difficult than I could have imagined; and yet, I also am feeling so much more support from friends and family than I could possibly explain. So so so much grace.

And yet there are still 2 occurrences that almost no one in my life knows about that took place this weekend. And it was God that carried me through in those moments. 

-The night my grandma passed away, my mom also received news from a mammogram she had recently done that the doctors had found a lump in her chest. Having already been through thyroid cancer, this was a dagger to her heart, as well as ours. You can only imagine the mixture of grief going on in my grandmother’s hospital room when we found out. Yet, this was a journey God was taking us on. We would claim that... and Mom, being the strong woman she was decided to put it out of her mind for the night. I tried to do the same, but had a much more difficult time. Why would God have me fathom the idea of my mom getting ill, when her mother was passing. Little did I know the lessons on grace that I would learn that weekend. My mother was scheduled for a biopsy two days later. After the procedure, my family waited... and waited. God kept me busy (making the video, moving my grandmother out of her house, ect) to whereas the waiting period went by quickly. My mom received news the day before Thanksgiving that the lump was not cancerous! but contained atypical cells (likely leading to cancer). Although it still requires surgery to be removed, God’s grace swooped down one more time to remind us that He was in control. I learned so much from Him in those few days... and I learned so much about myself... but that wasn’t all. 

-My other grandmother is diabetic, and has low blood pressure. The evening we received the news about my mother’s results, we received news that my grandpa had to rush my grandmother to the hospital. She had accidentally taken too much medication and her blood pressure was dropping. The doctors needed to monitor her. She was already pretty unstable from the medication she was on, and this could have be just a big enough wrench thrown in the equation to shut the whole thing down. Thankfully God held her in His hand, and the doctor’s were impressed with how her body reacted to the excessive amounts of medication. After her time in the hospital, they were able to release her for Thanksgiving to be with our family. God’s grace. God’s grace. God’s grace. 

It can’t be fully described. But this weekend grew me in the hardest, but best way. I am sad to feel 10 years older, but happy to feel 10 years wiser in the Lord. Although I have much more learning to do, Grandma’s passing, and a few other events have taught me so much about life’s journey. That they are in this with me, I am in it with them... no matter what. And yet, it doesn’t stop there... I am on a journey with all of you as well. The ones that supported me so well through these last days... And as Grandma taught me, we can choose to love life, or we can choose to fear it. 

Grandma’s funeral was the deepest, darkest, saddest day of my life. My heart was and is broken in so many ways. Yet because of God’s grace, my family, and friends sticking to my side during the difficult part of this journey, my heart is a lot less broken than it might be otherwise. 

I am so thankful for life. I will choose to love this part of it no matter how much it hurts me in this very moment. I will forever mourn the loss of this beautiful woman. And yet, if there were ever a time that I believed that Jesus redeems... that time is now. In what should have been the worst weekend of my life, God taught me the most important lessons I have ever learned. Though my initial reaction is to want to withhold the love I have for people now in order to mitigate the hurt of losing them, God is making me see a stronger, deeper purpose for relationships through this all. I want to be there for people on their journeys in the ways that they were for me on mine. Though no one can live forever... I want to make sure that for every moment you are alive, you feel supported to feel those emotions. To not back down from the fear of grief, fear of failure, fear of death. I want to hold your hand in the same ways I held Grandma Starr’s. 

I love you all!!

“I will not fear, for YOU are with me...” -Psalm 23

#lovelife, and love living it with others.

THANK YOU JESUS, for your incredible GRACE. Je t'aime, Etoile.

Blessings,

Luke Grigg

NO LONGER JUST AN IDEA!

Hello World. 

What a strange way to begin. The start of something I have only dreamed of for years and years. 

Creating content, creating connections, creating opportunities... for love, joy, friendship, and Jesus to abound. 

I'm not going to lie, even putting words down on a blog again is starting to make me emotional. If you've never seen my previous blog that I kept as I lived 1 year in Lima, Peru, 1 year in Jerusalem, Israel, until my first years of college at UCLA, then you should check it our... here.

I have so missed being able to write. Being able to express exactly what is going on in this big head of mine. The last few years have been the most challenging of my life. I must admit, they were not the most enjoyable, but the reward of knowledge that I have received from them has made it worth it. I have been so confused for so many nights, that writing to other people out there in the world felt like the last thing I needed, despite how much I may have wanted to.  But all the stories will come. All will be told in time. 

I write not because I feel I need to. I write because this is how I process. And sometimes (pretty much always), I find that some of you out there process a lot more quickly than I do, which is why I find it beneficial to ask help of others who have lived even more life than I have. 

A few things you should know right off the bat. 

1) Circle3Productions ---> came from Circle3Records (my sister's unofficial label name that we created years ago). It comes from a combination of the Biblical Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), as well as the fact that...

2) I come from a farm. An onion farm to be exact. I am probably the last person the big city needed to welcome in. I laugh loud in the movie theatre, I drive a big car (toyota 4runner), I feel as though the entire world should be friends, and to top it off, I didn't know that recycling was actually a thing until very late in life. 

Anyways, being from a farm, every "sprinkler" that waters the crops is actually more commonly known as a circle... because it goes in a circle. Since our farm has multiple circles... we numbered them. So yes, Circle3Productions is actually named after a location on the Grigg & Sons farm - circle 3. 

But there will be plenty of time to learn about me. 

If there's anything I can tell you at the end of today, it is this... create, and never stop. But don't create for creating sake. You have a voice. You have a story. Use them. When words are not enough, that is where I believe God gave us art. So that we can express things that our tongues will never be able to pronounce, our ears will never be able to hear. For me, art/music truly is a way of communicating that has no equal, with God, and with people. 

That is what Circle3Productions is really about. Though it may be a curation of my artwork, I would hope it would inspire you to begin your own. That you would share that here, there, anywhere. That this would be a place where love, peace, and joy are free to roam. 

God created you because his voice was love. He chose spend His time on you. What will you spend your time on? 

-Luke