Dec 3, 2014

Rising stars in Phoenix

“You know, if I had to describe what the goal of Horyzon Pictures is, I would have to say that we want everyone who views our films to come in and not only enjoy our entertainment, but be able to take home a feeling of being a part of something larger. Something that makes them think about what their purpose is. We want our films to focus on stories that really emphasize and explore that idea because if you really think about it, that’s what life is all about – finding your purpose”    Andrew Stokich

Andrew W. Stokich is a born and raised Antiochian Orthodox Christian from Phoenix, Arizona. He and his two partners, Cody J. Carlson, & Andrew J. Peterson are the three filmmakers who founded Horyzon Pictures in the Fall of 2013. Horyzon Pictures is a premier up-and-coming film and multimedia company based out of Phoenix, Arizona. So how did this young film company come to be? To understand the full story you’ll have to go back one year prior.

The three friends & partners met in the spring of 2013 while working on a school web series. After forming a bond from working on this series the trio was asked to produce a short film that was to be screened at Campus Movie Fest in Hollywood, CA.

"When I was approached to work on the Campus Movie Fest project we didn't have much of a crew going in and I wanted to make sure that the project that we were creating would stand out from everyone else's in the festival, to do this, we decided to really focus on the technical execution of the story. Which is why I brought Cody, and Andrew onto the project, they are by far some of the most talented filmmakers I've ever met, and their main focus when creating a film is on how the technical aspect of filmmaking can be used to emphasize the story rather than dominate it."    Andrew Stokich

Andrew J. Peterson, at Campus Movie Fest 2013
It would be in Hollywood that the trio would first experience the taste of success. In the city of a million shining lights, the team would take 2nd in the nation. Upon returning back to Phoenix, the three filmmakers were hungry for more and wanting to take on a project that would push them to a level they had previously never been before.

"When we returned back from Hollywood the three of us decided that we all worked extremely well together and wanted to continue working with one another. That's when we formed Horyzon Pictures and began working on our next project which ultimately would be known as “Faith”. “Faith” not only ended up solidifying the three of us as partners, but also opened up new opportunities for the three of us to continue to make films.”    Andrew Stokich

Cody J. Carlson In Central Park
Faith is the largest project that Horyzon Pictures has currently worked on. It tells the story of Johnathan Morrison who is a veteran who has returned home only to fight an internal battle of guilt-ridden PTSD. The film picks up with Johnathan self-medicating himself through alcoholism inside an empty church. It is here that the story of Faith unfolds before us, allowing us to witness what brought Johnathan to this point in his life. It's a beautiful story that actually mainly takes place within the confines of Andrew's home parish of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, in Phoenix, Arizona.

"The original concept for "Faith" was literally a story about two people having a conversation and how that could actually be something that would visually be interesting. It was then myself and the other writer, Matthew Branscome, decided we should have the story take place inside a church, and I knew that St. George would be the only place we could shoot it, due to the unique architecture that can only be found in an Orthodox Church."   Andrew Stokich

Now with Faith's festival run coming to an end, the trio has begun work on formalizing the production company. Currently they have three film projects that are in pre-production, and aside from working on their own proprietary content, Horyzon Pictures offers its videography, photography, and sound work to individuals who are in need of such services. They recently signed a contract with vocal group to produce their next album as well as film four music videos for them.

“You know this is our first full year of working together and we're excited to see where we go with all our projects. We're thrilled with what we've been able to accomplish thus far, but we're not a company happy with being complacent. Even our name states it, Horyzon Pictures, we're always looking on towards the next Horyzon!"    Andrew Stokich

Edited by Kyriaki Fuss

Horyzon Pictures & Photography


Nov 28, 2014

Picture. Word.

Irene Koronas is an Orthodox poet, painter and poetry editor at Wilderness House Literary Review. She has spent her whole life capturing the very essence of life and its extra-ordinariness of even simple moments.

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My life begins with lots of people, relatives, apartment dwellers, neighbors from all parts of the world, store keepers selling penny candy and stray cats. Mother let us have kittens. Because we lived on main street the kittens were often run over by cars. We never owned an automobile and TV came after everyone else seem to have one with nic-nacs on top. Scarcely a day went by without mother saying we can't afford 'that'. I spend time alone, listening to classical music. Mother bought records on sale at the grocery store. Creative seeds were planted early. Music, icons in church, books from the library, father's radio in his cobbler shop tuned to rhythm and blues, all lent to my early drawings of trees.

Our formica table top became a desk until supper was served. Bread began the meal. Salad with fetta cheese ended the meal. Grandmother always blessed herself three times before and after eating. Her two fingers and thumb together touched her forehead, stomach, right shoulder, left shoulder. For me prayers were done as I lay on my bed waiting to fall asleep.

When I was about eleven years old mother took me to Far Rock Away New York to visit her cousin who was very sick. The adults sat in the warm kitchen talking. After their usual conversations mother brought me into a small bedroom. Cousin lay on her bed propped up with pillows. Her room glowed. Red and orange glass with votive candles on small alters or hanging brass candle holders hung from the ceiling. The incense swayed me. I felt transformed. My head swayed. I swooned. Icons. Small icons surrounded the entire room. Darkness became light. I remember the whispers between mother and cousin while I stood in wonder.

From that day, colors found a place on my canvases, and on paper. I tried to write about what I saw but it took years before I could express the image. Holy saints and Jesus depicted in written form. I fell in love. Poetry took shape when I turned twelve. Mostly I pleaded on paper.  Human love. I didn't know how to write about anything but myself. There is little about myself that could satisfy even a fly but I keep trying to form a poem.

Being an Orthodox Christian helps me to be accountable in my creative endeavors. An endless flow comes from the creative nothing that I am privy to and blessed by. I consider each painting on paper with pen and various other materials, my prayer work. Not extemporaneous prayer but Patristic prayer, in that the abstractions follow tradition. The abstractions depicted on the clothing on an icon, allows freedom to exist within the boundary lines. Writing poetry with an ear toward the music found in our psalms:

wheat berry memory

my knees sore from repentance
an immense distance carries all I have been
every place purchased or taken

exaggerations planted in dung heap
I fail at simple gestures
because the living room has no couch

old kitchen pots cooking down asparagus for soup

wet dresses pinned on line

my whimper in Wind

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Poetry books
Portraits Drawn from Many, Ibbetson Street Press
Pentakomo Cyprus, Cervena Barva Press
Turtle Grass, Muddy River Books

Follow her blog


Nov 23, 2014

FEAR AND ILLUSION: Christopher Nolan’s "Interstellar"

"Interstellar" is an ambitious project by Christopher Nolan and, without a doubt, one of the biggest Hollywood movies of recent years. Other than its grand special-effects, the film is a curious exploration, a snapshot, of the contemporary post-Christian era.

Beginning at the turn of the 19th - 20th centuries, the search for so-called "new religious consciousness", designed in the form of a surrogate to quench the spiritual thirst of the Western world, led to a two hundred year obsession with rationalism and materialism, which exploded during 1960s youth counterculture, followed by the creation of numerous Orientalist sects. Through repression of Christianity did not suddenly begin in the twentieth century, but its grand scale is the reality of our times.

Nolan tries to satisfy the needs of modern man’s unconscious with a “miracle”, relying on "New Age" ideas of absurd, quasi-scientific theories as justification for "mystical insight". In this sense, "Interstellar" moves within the cultural mainstream, so popular today promoting the idea of individual empowerment through technology, which, among other things, attempting to acquire all the features of a "spiritual" journey.

The film sends out a message, rooted in the Western mass consciousness: the joyful anticipation of the "new era", the desire to step beyond the bounds of what is permitted by God and the fear of losing our most loved, such as, family and home.

In the first scene the audience is faced with a possible future: total destruction of Earth, the result of natural disasters. But for the Christian consciousness it is a sign of approaching the Last Days and the need for repentance from the "New Age".

Hollywood, in pursuit of providing audiences a spectacle, offer lukewarm spirituality, unable to provide answers to questions about the meaning of life. The question of God's existence does not arise in the film, even though throughout the film the hero (Matthew McConaughey) frequently cites Scripture and even the spaceship is named "Lazarus".

It is no wonder the film’s spiritual foundations are shaky and confusing: it expresses the most hodgepodge of ideas and concepts, which is equivalent to modern society’s mass consciousness in the complete absence of moral hierarchy and need for God. Modern man constantly feels threatened by unseen and physical forces (terrorists, natural disasters) and inside his own passions. He longs to escape, but does not want to make even the slightest effort, nor does he wish to blame himself, instead looking for an answer in dark superstitions, scientific theories and space itself.

The fact that today spiritualism (as dealt in the film) seeks the theme of outer-space shows the futility of modern civilization not wanting any reason to turn its gaze to God. Flying in space, passing through "wormholes" and "black hole", the cold glow of interstellar space, landing on the wrong planet are all attempts to satisfy the craving of modern man for something beyond himself. But it is this unbelief which makes him spiritually hungry.

It is interesting to think looking back on history, the alterative sub-cultures of the 1960s were completely void of fear because their existentialist, hedonistic lifestyles prevented them from realising damage being done to the world. Yet today we are experiencing the complete opposite: people are afraid of everything, but God.

Original article: Fear and Illusion: Reflection on C. Nolan’s “Interstellar”, Alexander Popov, 18 Nov 2014
Translated and edited by OFA using GoogleTranslator.


Nov 22, 2014

Music Composer

Need some music for an event, film or concert?
Look no further than Anastasia Pahos.

Read an OFA review of her work


Nov 21, 2014

The Moving Icon: Episode 17 – ‘You and Me’ film project

Jacob Clark is an actor from New York City. After several years of appearing on stage, Jacob now wants to move into movies.

He’s recently launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo for a romantic comedy called You & Me which he wrote the screenplay. Jacob needs $2,000 USD to make his film happen.

Having converted to Orthodoxy when a young boy, we also discuss how his Faith and his acting career intersect and impact each other.

To listen to this podcast, click the show’s logo:

Jacob’s campaign will expire on 4th December 2014
Please make your pledge


Nov 20, 2014

103/104 – Vespers Psalm of Creation: Nick Papas

Byzanfest 2015 is extremely grateful for the support of Nick Papas from NP Studios as a Festival Supporter. Please take a moment to read about an upcoming exhibition of Nick’s work.

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The creative works for this year’s event are based on and inspired by Psalm 103/104.  Sometimes called Psalm of Creation it is also the Psalm of Vespers.

Nick’s work will be presented twice: 22nd Nov 2014 & 6th Feb 2015

Both exhibits will take place at NP Studios (Houston, Texas):


Nov 18, 2014


The ultimate Balance Board for Surfers!
GoofBoard provides the closet experience to riding a wave. Armin Brown, founder of GoofBoard and Orthodox Christian, explains how his passion has turned into a growing business.

‘My two favourite hobbies are surfing and guitar…“surf” guitar to be exact.’  His Southern California existence lends itself well to all things surfing related.  As a self-employed entrepreneur of many years, Armin always believed he would end up creating a business related to surfing.

These worlds collided in 2008 when he stumbled upon a concept and design improvement over existing balance boards already on the market.  The rail-to-rail balance board motion Armin envisioned was not being done by anyone else.  Other boards commonly relied on a “rocking” motion with the roller perpendicular to the length of the board.  The rail-to-rail or “surfing” motion found in what was to be called the “GoofBoard” results from its roller placement being parallel to the length of the board.  To Armin, this riding orientation felt truer to the surfing experience both in look and in feel.

GoofBoard started off as a side business. Armin’s primary business is a small company that manufactures engine gaskets for vintage American cars, typically from 1930s to the 1960s.  As that business grew, and with an eye towards dedicating more time on GoofBoard, he decided to hire a general manager.  This manager executed his job so well that Armin decided to have him run the day-to-day gasket business so he could dedicate himself to his Goofboard passion!  Then in 2010, GoofBoard operations moved out of the gasket shop and into its own commercial building.

To keep things simple and avoid chasing receivables, sales are 100% online, that is, consumer direct.  The GoofBoard design is clean and simple, with lots of birch wood grain showing.  Rollers are made from recycled materials.  GoofBoard has been awarded two patents from the U.S. Patent Office.  The original GoofBoard, now named the “Classic,” rides exclusively in the “surfing” motion and has lots of room to walk to the nose.  The “Freestyle” rides in either “surfing” or “rocking” orientations and offers removable stops to open up further trick possibilities.

Although Armin has hired part-time help off and on, most of the time he works alone with the help of some automated woodworking equipment.  Except for the wood milling, much of the manufacturing handiwork can be done in relative silence.  In a small way, this has created an almost monastic work environment where, more often than not, Armin prefers silence over music or other audio “filler.”  Ancient Faith Radio podcasts also supplement the silence for a spiritual backdrop to the work day. The GoofBoard business offers him a unique opportunity for meaningful work and quiet focus.  “I pray that I make good use of this time at work in spite of my fallen, wandering mind.”

The GoofBoard has received stellar reviews from surfers and sales have been healthy, albeit modest.  The primary audience has been surfers and those with interest in surfing.  In order to gain a larger future audience, GoofBoard will soon be releasing a new model with the general population in mind.  The new model will be less extreme than the two existing models and will provide safer riding with an easier learning curve.
“With the help of a friend who is both an experienced surfer and workout trainer, we will soon begin testing the viability of GoofBoard classes.  Who knows…the next big thing?”

Music: “9 Miles to Stuckeys” an original composition by Armin Brown, performed by his band, The Torquays.

Interview edited by Kyriaki Fuss