In today’s environment, where young and people and the future the church are a topic of discussion, we are pleased to present interviews with young people who have followed the call of the church in different ways.
Today’s interview is with Mr. Efstratios Papageorgiou of Marietta, Georgia, founder of several YouTube channels, including TrisagionFilms.
FLM: How long has TrisagionFilms been active?
Efstratios: TrisagionFilms’ YouTube has been active for three years, since April 6, 2012. However, before that, I ran a channel called “Orthodox YouTube”—the brainchild for what we have now. It is really where the whole project began. In order to create something more unique and in keeping with the development of our videos, we changed the channel and the name to TrisagionFilms.
FLM: What was the impetus for the creation of TrisagionFilms, and how many people in total are involved?
Efstratios: When I was younger, I wanted to find a way to share my culture through videography and started a channel that featured videos of Traditional Greek Music, but my love for my culture matured into a deep love for my faith and a passion to share it through videography. If I was going to continue pursuing the art of film and photography, what better a subject than our own Orthodox faith?
FLM: How does TrisagionFilms select its projects?
Efstratios: We usually meet as a group and decide on what projects to work on next. We also look at the church calendar for inspiration regarding upcoming saints or feast days. It is a collaborative process that includes one or more team members writing the script, several reviewing it, including our theological consultant, Fr. Panayiotis Papageorgiou, with another team member providing the voice acting, and then I complete the video production.
FLM: How long does the average project take to complete?
Efstratios: At this point, we are a blessed to have a group of willing and hardworking volunteers who spend their extra time contributing to the growth of TrisagionFilms. Oftentimes, since the schedules of our volunteers are always in flux, a project can take any time from two weeks to two months depending on the availability of those on the team and the general scope of the project. However, we try to have multiple projects running simultaneously in order to have a consistent output of content.
FLM: How many films have you completed thus far? Which of all of these is your own personal favorite?
Efstratios: We have 84 videos on YouTube and our website. The major productions include films about iconography, pilgrimage, and the life of certain Orthodox saints. But we also have films from Orthodox services, lectures, and interviews.
While I love all the films we make, if I were to pick one of them, it would be “The Icon of Christ’s Resurrection”—a film that I truly loved making, since it is a subject of great joy and jubilation. Its message pierced my heart with that same joy and exultant hope of the Resurrection as I researched and made the film.
FLM: We hear so often about the crisis the church faces in the decline of attendance among post-collegiate young adults; as a young person so involved in an Orthodox project, what is your perspective on this?
Efstratios: To give this question and my own answer proper context, I would like to share a little bit about who I am and where I come from.
Having spent my childhood on the Island of Cyprus and under the guidance of my father (who is a priest), I gained a different perspective of the Church and our Orthodox faith that others might not have. When I moved to the United States and experienced the Church here, I must say that, for me, it was a huge culture change. There was a gap between the fullness of the faith in Cyprus and here in America. At TrisagionFilms we strive to fill that empty space—that broad and vital thing that seems to be missing from the Church here in America. I believe that this “thing” which is missing is proper Orthodox education—it is why so many young people leave our church after they finish high school. Many people have no idea about the great wealth and treasure that is Orthodoxy. They passively attend Church on Sundays, have little knowledge of the differences between themselves and other religious groups, and in the end, they live as one with the rest of a secular society. Church has become an event rather than a lifestyle. A mental decoration rather than an educational philosophy. Education is intimately connected to lifestyle. Once a group of people adopt a lifestyle, they begin to become conscious of who they are as a unit and develop a system of education to surround that self-knowledge. However, I think the majority of Orthodox children and young adults today have no idea who “they” are, as a conscious group. They have no wholesome and rigorous Christian worldview within their reach. They are lost not because they are incapable, but because they are directionless and parents, priests, and the Church as a whole are responsible for this sad reality.
So my goal is to present people, especially young adults, with an opportunity to be educated about Orthodoxy through the medium of film and photography–to make it more available and less elusive. Orthodoxy can answer the secrets to life and explain the point of our existence, things that so many of these young people are struggling with as they are challenged by professors, friends and family from day to day. So, when they are feeling lost, are far from home and feel that every thing is no longer making sense, my hope is that they can always type in “TrisagionFilms” on Youtube and can find some comfort knowing that they will receive the truth.