I’m sitting here in my living room reminiscing on the beginnings of our film project, so I thought I’d give you the background on how Scars of an Orphan was born. Several years ago I approached the outreach pastor at my church and asked when he was planning the next trip to Ukraine. Our church supports an orphan ministry in the city of Dnipro about 500 kilometers south east of Kiev, and we periodically had sent teams of people visit. My wife and I have had an interest in Ukraine for about 25 years, but have never been there personally. He responded by recruiting me to lead the Ukraine ministry, and once I accepted, invited me to join him on a visit to the country.
Soon after we returned I attended the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) summit in Orlando, FL. I was eager to go and learn more about orphans and adoption, and as I settled into my seat for the opening session of the conference, I was intrigued when I saw that the opening would feature a woman who had been an orphan in Ukraine. I couldn’t wait to hear her story. Little did I know how this moment would impact my life.
As Diana Prykhodko was being interviewed by Dennis Rainey, host of the Family Life Today radio program, I was blown away by her story. I literally sat in my seat and wept as Diana began to describe an unbelievable story of survival, abuse, and life on the streets of Kiev, Ukraine. It was a beautiful story. It captured and broke my heart at the same time. As the session ended and I began walking to the next seminar on my list, I couldn’t shake the idea that had begun forming in my head – Diana’s story must be told – in a movie!
I’m a filmmaker and love to tell stories, especially stories that matter; and this was one that really mattered. The plight of orphans in Ukraine and around the world matters! I wondered if I should go and try to find her, but thought that was crazy because there were thousands of people there; and why would she want to talk with me? But I couldn’t shake the idea, and finally got out of my seat and began walking across the large campus, knowing that finding her in a crowd this size wouldn’t be easy.
Then, as if it was a pre-arranged meeting, I looked up and right there in front of me was Diana coming my way. I introduced myself, thanked her for sharing her incredible story with us, and told her what I was thinking – “I have a crazy idea; I want to make a movie about your life.” Diana looked amazed and said she had been thinking about this for a while. We decided to stay in touch, and since I’m a praying man, I told her I’d pray about this idea and see what happens.
I knew a project like this was going to be huge, and that I couldn’t produce it on my own, so I reached out to my new friend, Brittany DeVries, a producer out of Panama, and Jim Pennington, from DUO Productions. Brittany and I had connected on Twitter about a year before and had just met in person at the CAFO Summit. Jim and I had known each other for a number of years, and had been wanting to work together on a project. When I pitched the film idea, it didn’t take long for both Jim and Brittany to be all in!
We’re excited to be working together on this film. It’s a long process, and at times frustrating – especially when funding is slow – but we’re all committed to make it happen, and we can’t wait until we hear the director call, “Action!”
Conrad Weaver is an Executive Producer for Scars of an Orphan, and the owner of ConjoStudios, LLC