Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Switched to WordPress

Greetings Everyone:

After doing some research we have decided to switch over to using WordPress for the Projects official blog. There are two main reasons for this:
  1. Blogger does not support multiple pages (WordPress does), and
  2. I can post blogs as well as images to WordPress with my phone (Blogger does not have that functionality as of yet).
Heres the new URL:


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Just Purchased Our Flights!!!

Ok, so the official dates for the trip are Oct. 4 through Oct. 25th!!! Boy do I hate purchasing airfair online! It causes a little piece of me to die inside each time.

We are flying out on EVA Airways. Anybody ever heard of it?

Friday, August 22, 2008


...I hate them. Just got my first round today and my left arm feels like it lost a dead arm punching contest. Oh well. Guess its better than typhoid.

Friday, August 1, 2008

More Pieces Falling Together

Ok, so Micah and I decided to not turn this into one of those gimme gimme projects where we are whining about all the stuff we need all the time (not that we don't have needs but we don't like guilt tripping people into giving).

Anyway, here's how cool God is in putting a desire on peoples hearts to help play a part. I have known this wonderful lady named Tracy and her son for the last few years now through work. I guess I ended up mentioning what we were going to be doing in Cambodia to her son somehow a while back and he relayed the fact to his mom. Now fast forward to Wednesday this week. We were meeting with Tracy discussing some potential business and she asks me about my trip so I give her a short summary of the situation and what we were doing. She got very excited about it and told me that she would like to talk further about how she could play a part of which I was more than happy to do. Well she decided to set up a fundraiser for our project at a very nice and trendy restaurant downtown before we ever got a chance to get together to discuss the project further. She gave me the call yesterday and we will be setting up the details for the event this coming Tuesday. HOW COOL IS THAT!!!!!

I don't have any more details on the event but I will post them as soon as I do.

Until then, blessings on all of you.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Major Apologies Necessary

Greetings everyone!!

I feel that I owe all of you a very large apology. It has been some time since I have made any posts to the blog and I feel very bad about that. Essentially, life has been a bit crazy over the last few months and I let some things slide.

We have not let our preparations for the documentary slide though and I am happy to bring you this short update.

1. We pushed the filming date back to Oct. 1st due to the fact that Don and Bridget (two very key individuals at Agape) would not be able to be there until then. The film just would not be complete without them.
2. We have had a number of wonderful people offer us their equipment to use and we are more than happy to take them up on that offer. One of those people is our good friend Rolland Smith who is letting us borrow his lighting kit.
3. Its getting down to crunch time. We've got two months left and we are really starting to get excited. Clay was back in town a few weeks ago and we were able to get together with him to hash out some of the nitty gritty details of the project.

I will do my best from now on to update this thing at least every few days (even if it is nothing more than me saying "hey we're still here and we are still going."

I appreciate you all and thank you for your support and your prayers.

Many Blessings!!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Ok everyone, here is a mini-documentary I did for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship here on the campus of Chico State. Here is just the intro to give you a feel for what the camera can do. :)

Intro for IV Doc from Micah Smith on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Test Footage

Hey folks! Ok so here is some test footage I put together with our new camera. Youtube does not do it justice at all, but from what I've taken this camera shoots beautifully, I love it!! this camera rocks! Enjoy,

Monday, March 24, 2008


The DVX100B came today and it is SUH-WHEEEET! Here's some photos for your viewing pleasure:
The first Look:
Micah: Main Camera Man
And Me:

Well thats it for tonight. Micah has taken the camera back up to Chico to get further acquainted with our new addition. He is going to post test footage as soon as he can so stay tuned!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

New Partners!

We have had many people express interest in helping out in any way that they can. More than we could have ever expected. It is quite overwhelming in a fantastic way. Micah and I would like to take a moment to personally thank a few organizations who have decided to give tangibly to the project.

The first is the company that I work for, Eyecandy Marketing. Eyecandy has offered to build the projects companion website which will be used to distribute the film on a global scale. Eyecandy is also providing us with some of the equipment that we will need during production.

The second is Crescent Lake Christian Center in Missouri. After much prayerful consideration, they have decided to give a monetary donation to the project. We are planning to use their gift to purchase the 35mm lens adapter that was mentioned in the previous post.

We are blessed beyond words. Thank you.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


We bought our primary camera this morning!!!!!!!!!!

Its a Panasonic AG-DVX100B and it ROCKS!!!! If you are interested in more details on the camera itself then click on this link:

It has already been used to film some very notable documentaries. One being the highly acclaimed "Iraq In Fragments."

The camera should be here within the next 5 to 7 days and we cant wait to get our hands on it. After we get the camera, our next big purchase will be a 35mm lens adapter which will take the film to an even greater level of professionalism! We will begin posting test footage as soon as we can.

We also would like to give a huge THANKS to everyone who is supporting us through prayer as well as financially.

May God bless each and every one of you.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Q & A

I have received a few common questions lately in regards to our upcoming adventure so I figured I would address them on the blog:

Q: When are we going?
A: Some time around the end of July. That is the best time for Agape to have us come. We are currently researching the best fares and should have our tickets in hand soon.

Q: How long are you going to be there?
A: Two weeks. We are going to be filming machines!

Q: Is it dangerous?
A: There is some danger but we will be working with people who are familiar with the area so it will be minimal.

Q: How can we help?
A: PRAYER!!!!! If you feel led to help out in a specific way then go for it. God knows our needs more than we do and we trust Him completely.

Q: Are you sure you know what you are getting into?
A: Not in the slightest, but thats where the fun begins!

Hope those help! I will post official dates when our flights are purchased.

Cambodias Recent History (The Roots of Child Sex Slavery)

On April 17th, 1975, the Khmer Rouge, a communist party in Cambodia led by a man named Pol Pot, captured Phnom Penh and took control of the entire country. Pol Pot brought with him a reign of terror that would last for the next 4 years. Pol Pot immediately ordered the detention and execution of all people in the country that were considered to be enemies of the party. These "enemies" included Buddhist monks, Western-educated intellectuals (apart from themselves), educated people in general, people who had contact with Western countries or with Vietnam, people who appeared to be intellectuals (for example, individuals with glasses), the crippled and lame, as well as ethnic minorities like ethnic Chinese, Laotians and Vietnamese. The only people who were not considered to be enemies of the party were the uneducated peasants.

The new regime led to the death of roughly one third of the countries entire population (estimated between 1.2 to 3 million people) through either starvation, overwork, disease, or murder. Many were tortured to death. The most notable place of torture was a camp simply known as S-21. An estimated 17,000 people were tortured to death at this camp by a variety of means including removing toenails with pliers, suffocating a prisoner repeatedly, and skinning a person while alive. Only 12 people out of the 17,000 are known to have survived this camp.

To keep the urban population from reverting to capitalistic mindsets, Pol Pot ordered the evacuation of every town into the country side. The goal of the Khmer Rouge in this was to effectively drive the country back to a completely agrarian society. Pol Pot believed and announced that only one to two million people were needed to form a new agrarian utopia. All other people were considered a liability and more than expendable.

The urban evacuees, known as "depositees," as well as many others, were marked for death by the new government. They were placed on starvation rations, forced to dig their own mass graves, and then, because "bullets were not to be wasted," were either beat to death with iron bars and hoes or buried alive. These mass graves have come to be known as the "killing fields."

Conflict with Vietnam grew and eventually led to Vietnam's invasion of Cambodia in 1979. Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge were forced to flee and the regime lost control of the country. Phnom Penh was a ghost city when the Vietnamese found it. Money, which had been made completely useless by the Khmer Rouge under the new "utopia" littered the streets. The entire country was dying of starvation. Due to a very complex political climate, Western governments drug their feet in sending aid due to the very complex international political climate surrounding Cambodia. The only nation making any real attempt at providing aid was that of Vietnam but its resources were limited. Hundreds of thousands continued to perish.

Rebel forces kept the country in a constant state of turmoil through the 80's and into the 90's. In March of 1992, the United Nations engaged in its second largest peace keeping mission to date with nearly 17,000 troops and 5,000 civilians. The region finally began to stabilize in 1993 with two of the three main rebel factions putting down their arms to become actively engaged in the political process. In the midst of this shift towards normalcy and peace a new humanitarian crisis was quietly growing. It was at this time that a small number of western peace keepers began to pay the locals to have sex with their children and the seeds of child sex slavery were born. This may not have spelled disaster for many other countries, but Cambodia's economical, social, and ethical climate made it particularly susceptible to this new cancer.

The children who grew up during Pol Pots reign of terror, and after, knew nothing but starvation, disease, torture and murder.. They grew up in a system that was worse than immoral, it was amoral. The only virtue that they knew was that of surviving by any means necessary. It did not matter what happened to other people as long as "you" survived. It is these same children who now comprise the majority of the countries current day fathers and mothers. It is no wonder that they lack even the slightest concept of remorse for selling their daughters (and sons at times) into the sex trade. The average annual income is less than $350. A family can receive up words of $500 for their daughters virginity from a westerner. Many families give their children to the brothels and share the profits on the continual rape of their child. Young children are subjected to torture day and night and the downward spiral of violence continues to evolve in Cambodia.

To truly bring positive change to this country will take more than increased raids, prosecution, or political pressure on the Cambodian government. The entire country needs a social and ethical enema to put things lightly. How can you tell a mother and father that they can no longer make the best money they have ever seen by selling their child into slavery while not, in turn, offering them the opportunity to support themselves just as well through ethical means? How can you convince a mother (or father) who grew up in an environment saturated in murder and torture to care if it happens to somebody else, even if it is her (or his) child? That is the battle that Agape is fighting every day. That is the battle that Agape is slowly, but steadily winning.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Why Cambodia?

A friend recently asked me, "Why Cambodia when there are so many other horrible things happening in the world?"

I thought this was a good question and it has been bouncing around in my head ever since he asked. Sure I could go to Darfur and chronicle the atrocities. I could fly to Tibet and film how communism has crushed that countries cultural heritage. I could sneak into Iran and take footage of the oppression that the people live under. There are any number of options and those are only the first few that come to mind.

I know that things are bad in numerous regions of the world and personally, I don't really have any solid answers for what I can do to bring change. But in Cambodia, I believe that we truly have a chance to make a significant and lasting impact. That is because we will be coming alongside of, and supporting, an organization that is already producing results. They already have the structure. Their main hindrance at this point is awareness of what they are doing and funding. Thats where something as simple as a video documentary can make a world of a difference. If we play our cards right this project has the potential to bring in millions and millions of dollars in support to help fund a program that is already working.

I already have a rough working model in my head as to how this all will work out. Some ideas I may share with you in subsequent posts while others I may keep secret until they are ready to be fully introduced. I don't want to let all the cats out of the bag just yet. Besides, its a working model and will inevitably be different three weeks from now anyway.

Anyway, back to the original question. "Why Cambodia?" Well I guess the answer is simply that "I gotta start somewhere, so why not start somewhere that I already have connections with people who are already making a difference?"

Our aim

What can really be said? I often ask myself this question when I think of the horrible atrocities that are happening over in Svay Pak. So when faced with such a horrible outlook, there is only one hope, and that is Jesus Himself. All other means of resolution to this problem are temporary and fruitless. With this said, I wish to say that doing a documentary is not the solution in itself. It is my hope, and Seth's, that we "document" what glorious things that Christ is doing; primarily in the lives of the girls rescued from brothels and the actions of those partnering with the Lord in ending this madness. I don't know how this all will turn out, nor do I think that a media success will by any means end sex slavery, but purely the powerful hand of God. I say with sincerity that whatever the outcome of this project may be, it is my desire that Agape be strengthened in their ministry and that God would work miracles in their midst. I can't wait :)


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Good intentions are not "good" enough. We need success!

I had the opportunity to watch the MSNBC special about the child sex slavery in Cambodia today. It was interesting to watch. The unfortunate thing is that it did not offer any solutions to the problem. The special showed how the government and police forces were compromised by corruption that served to clandestinely support and aid the child sex slave industry. You can not trust the police because many of them receive payoffs from the pimps and pedophiles. They also interviewed a center that rehabilitated young girls who have been pulled out of sex slavery. The worker sadly estimated that over 40% of the young girls brought to the center will run away and go back to prostitution. At first I thought this was outrageous, but after talking with Clay I have a better understanding of why so many girls might run.

Most of these girls come into the centers with drug addictions that have been forced on them by their pimps. They are in a very bad mental state and do not trust anybody but themselves so even though they are in a loving and caring environment, they do not perceive it that way and many will try to escape. The Restoration Center that is operated by AIM has had girls run away as well, but thankfully, all of them have come back. Agape attributes its success to Gods grace and not to their own credentials. Clay also told me that there is a strong connection between all of the centers out there which I did not know up until this point. He spoke very highly of all of the centers and even relayed a story to me of one man who "spent 3 days without sleep trying to find one of the girls that ran away after she had threatened to kill him and his staff."

There was also an American pedophile that the MSNBC special confronted with video evidence of him confessing to raping 14, 15, and 16 year old girls in Cambodia. The video should have been more than enough evidence to convict (as was stated by Colon Powell in an interview) and yet at the end of the program we find that the man still has not been brought to justice even though he is currently in the United States. The special just gave the feeling of hopelessness. There was no real answer to bringing any lasting change.

In a recent update from Clay, I found out that he recently had the opportunity to represent AIM at a UN summit on child sex slavery in Cambodia. Apparently there were many well funded and educated organizations that are working to end sex slavery at the summit. Each one stood up and, like the MSNBC special, sadly announced that in spite of their best efforts, they are not seeing any progress. Now, in stark contrast to the hopeless reports from MSNBC and the UN workers, Clay let me know that the only organizations at the UN summit to give a "good" report of progress were the few that are led by Christians. It is the Christians who are making an impact. The world has good intentions but no real answers when it comes to combating such evil. It's not that others are not doing their best, its just that there truly is only one answer and His name is Jesus!

I see this all as exciting news. It is becoming more apparent that we have an opportunity to not merely bring awareness to the horror that is being forced on these beautiful children in Cambodia but also to offer hope that this horror can be stopped. That will be the difference that makes this film project worth every minute.

Saturday, February 9, 2008


Micah has now been added as a contributer to this blog so look forward to reading posts from him soon.

We have narrowed down the date to fly out to the first week of June so hopefully that will work. There is a possibility that we may push the date back to some time around August but I am hoping and shooting for June. We will see.

I have also added a link to Agape International Ministries website to the blog for your enjoyment. Check out "The Beginning of Rahab's House" link on the News page for the story behind the former brothel that is now an outreach center in Svay Pak.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Catching you up to date.

A good friend of mine (Clay) has just flown back to Cambodia. This time to stay for the better part of two years. He is working with an organization called Agape International Missions to bring an end to the rampant child sex slavery that has destroyed so many innocent lives in that country.

Before we dive into that though, lets rewind back about eight or nine months in the past to the point where I inadvertently become involved. Clay had just finished telling me what he had decided to do with the next few years of his life. He had recently met with a man named Don who is spearheading a philanthropic organization in Cambodia. Don runs a restoration center for young girls who have been rescued from the sex industry. He is also supporting a network of over 500 Churches throughout Cambodia and is training them to effectively attack the sex trafficking industry at its heart. How they do all this will be an explanation for a later date. While Clay is describing what he is planning on doing, a crazy thought enters my head. "Can I come out and visit you?" I ask. "I don't see why not," Clay replies. Immediately I begin thinking about what I could do to help out while I am there. This would not be a vacation. In fact, far from it. The likely options run through my mind at first. I could bring medicine and other supplies that are needed, or I could just make myself available and do whatever I can to help the organization while I am there (ie. paint walls, sweep floors, whatever). None of these benefits that I offer though seem to make my trip out there worth it when compared to the distraction that I might cause to Don and Clay. Then it comes to me, "I could bring a camera and video tape what you guys are doing! That way you have something to show people who are interested in supporting you guys" (now I am in no ways a professional videographer, but I do know how to hold a camera so why not give it a go). Clay likes the idea and we leave it at that.

Now fast forward about five months or so. I had been thinking about the possibility of going out to Cambodia and I just could not get it off my mind. I was currently visiting a friend (Micah) and I started to tell him about the idea. He is a film major at Chico state and a talented one at that. I decide to ask him if this might not be something that he would be interested in. He says he would think about it. A few weeks later, he is on board 100%. I email Clay, and to my surprise, the organization was already very excited about me coming out to film a "documentary" on what is going on out there and what they are doing about it. Apparently things had grown to be much larger than I expected. I had no idea that this would be received so well on their end. Micah and I began to write up a rough outline of what we want the film to be and discuss equipment needs and options.

Fast forward again, about four more months. It is January 08 and Micah and I are hammering away at Clay with the questions that we have over dinner. Some friends and family are present as well. We discuss scenarios and options and it is becoming apparent that this thing is actually going to happen. We have enough money for the first camera and our flights have already been taken care of. Our tentative date is set for sometime between the end of May and the beginning of June this year.

Now we are finally back to the present. Clay has just arrived back in Cambodia and the NY Giants have just routed the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. All I can think about is this documentary (part of this is probably due to the fact that I am procrastinating from my "curriculum and methods" course homework). I have been watching documentaries on sex trafficking in Cambodia and it is apparent that we are attempting to do nothing new, except in one way. The documentaries that I have watched so far have great content and most do a terrific job of communicating what is going on in the region (or so it would seem with my current understanding). There is just on problem. None of them offer a lasting solution to the problem. Most only tell you how awful the situation is and leave you miserable at the end. All they seem to hope for is that greater public awareness will influence foreign policy and put pressure on the Cambodian government to crack down. There are a few films which have taken a crack at offering a way to fix the problem but their methods are poorly thought out and ineffective. They encourage purchasing girls out of the trade and then releasing them, which is about as sensible as buying up all the drugs from a drug dealer so he will not be able to sell the drugs to children. This does nothing to end the problem and actually ends up inadvertently validating the pimps by acknowledging their perceived right to sell these girls in the first place. The pimps will just go out and get more girls, just as the drug dealers will purchase more drugs.

The situation in Cambodia is complex and is deeply rooted in the countries more recent history. There is no "quick fix" and one should not be duped into thinking that there is. This blog will serve as a reference point for me to write out my thoughts as we prepare to film Agape International Missions campaign to bring about a sustained decrease in Cambodian sex trafficking that will lead to its eventual (I pray to God) elimination. Some posts will be short updates on unfolding details, whereas others will fall more in line with this one as we continue to mentally and emotionally process what we have gotten ourselves into. Stay tuned.