A Look Behind the Lens

Rebecca Lang

Coffee, cameras and chronicles with our video team

The first time I met Fernanda Salviano, it was a Monday night service. I don’t remember many details, but I do remember her enormous smile, bubbly personality and thick Brazilian accent. It was her first visit to Northland, but she had been worshiping online with us while working on the tech team at a church in Brazil.

“I always watched Northland online from Brazil,” she shares. “While I worked at other churches, I implemented a lot of video projects. I made my volunteers in Brazil watch the Northland videos and aspired to deliver that same quality.”

After talking with her for a bit, I knew I needed to connect her with our worship team, so I sent her contact information to Bradley Nolff.

“Within a week I had a tour, met the team and began volunteering,” she recalls. “A little over a year later, I was hired as an associate video director, and the rest is history.”

Dave DeVries, also known as “the dude,” remembers his first day volunteering as history making in the life of Northland. “I started groundbreaking weekend. The entire congregation came out at the end of the service, and we had a groundbreaking ceremony and a prayer circle pretty much on the spot we’re sitting on right here.”

Dave had visited during Northland’s young adult service on Wednesday night several times, but it was far from where he lived, and he was very busy working at Disney as an audio engineer. Dave had been working with Steve Groves, our technical director here at Northland, at Disney. Once Steve left Disney and began working at Northland, he recruited Dave to volunteer for special events. Once Dave started volunteering, he was very impressed by the level of excellence and forward, innovative thinking of the Northland team. Despite working at Disney, arguably a place on the cutting edge of audio and video technology, he felt called to come and work at Northland.

“The Christmas of 2004 we held our services at the Orlando Arena, and it was amazing. I was intrigued! Steve asked me to volunteer in 2004, and by 2005, I was working full time at Northland as an audio engineer. In 2013, I transitioned to the video team and became the senior video engineer.”

Marcus Rhoads is one of the quietest people I’ve ever met, but his work speaks volumes to the creative skill and expertise he possesses in the area of video arts. As the senior video director, he leads his team to produce content that helps people grow in their knowledge of who God is and what He has done for us.

Marcus grew up in a church-loving family in Oklahoma. After being recruited here by Marty Taylor, former creative director at Northland, Marcus fell in love with the diverse talent and creative culture that exists here.

“There is such a diverse group of people we work and serve with,” Marcus says. “God is teaching me how big He really is. He created all of us to be unique, and yet we can use our skills to engage people under one purpose and vision.”

There’s no doubt you’ve seen the work of this incredible team, which is greatly supported by volunteers and part-time associates, including graphic and content managers, camera operators, photographers and video editors. Everything from the opening video for our “Fully Alive” series, to Advent videos, to the Digging Deeper companion study video, to slides during service and so much more, the video team dreamed it, built it and produced it!

About the goal of their work, Marcus shares, “What gets me excited about work is being able to create moments in worship that are memorable and that draw people closer to God. It may be through a song, an art piece, a sermon illustration, a video or another expression. No matter what medium, it takes a team effort, and being a part of those moments that really touch people is amazing!”

He goes on to say, “Being able to be creative is so important for people like us. Right now, in the life and story of Northland, there are so many ideas, and there are open doors to being far more creative than we’ve ever been. We’re in a place where we’re willing to take some risks, and it’s a really exciting time for our team.”

Dave adds, “What I love about the job are the problem-solving and creativity that come with it. In this new era we’re in, there’s a freedom to express a lot of creativity. It’s almost overwhelming in a good way.”

Creativity is a key component to their team strength, but they also have a tenacious teamwork mentality. When you consider the enormous amount of work their team generates for worship, specific ministries, weekly studies, social media and more, it goes without saying that they have a healthy balance to approaching workload. On top of the many work demands they juggle are their personal and family needs that exist. Among them are six kids, numerous pets, freelance work and the everyday pulls of life.

Fernanda told me she thought she was going to be fired two weeks into the job after a very funny, but unfortunate, mishap. “I was brand new, and Marcus and I did a shoot with Joel and Becky. I was supposed to edit the video, and I went to the bathroom and I flushed the SD card. We had to go back to Joel and Becky to reshoot it. Marcus didn’t even tell Joel and Becky that I had flushed the card. It was the supreme example of having my back. I jokingly said to Marcus, ‘It’s been a good two weeks,’ thinking I was going to get fired.

“The cool thing about working with a team you totally trust: You know they got your back, and you never doubt that they are by your side. It’s really comforting, and if you can’t come, you know things aren’t going to fall through the cracks,” shares Fernanda.

Marcus adds, “What I love about working with a great team is that when you work with people long enough, you learn each other’s habits, skills and strengths. The team gels over time, and you grow stronger and have a richer impact.”

One thing well known about the video team is their love of coffee, Fernanda especially. At one point, I counted at least three different types of coffee-making mechanisms in the Communications team office. Your standard cup o’ joe does not apply here. You have a Nespresso, a French press, an AeroPress, a Chemex, fancy pods, and more. Sunday call time is at 6:30 a.m. for the techs.

“First thing on Sunday, we only speak one word to one another: ‘Coffee?’ Then we talk,” says Fernanda.

There’s a clear and obvious alignment on the mission these three share. They work in tandem to enhance the experience our congregation has in worship, in their small-group study or even on social media. That mission is to help others see and know God in a more complete way.

“We want to help our congregation engage more freely and easily through our work,” Dave says.

Fernanda adds, “We are really here to serve our Northland family, and we put their needs first and above everything. We give up our personal comfort and our time using the filter of what is best for them. It really is a servant leadership role. We’re always analyzing every little thing so they can have the best experience both in the sanctuary and online.”

The team members are impacted by their work as much as the people who get to experience it.

“God has really grown me and shaped me through this role,” says Dave. “He’s used my time here to reach people I normally wouldn’t reach and challenged me to step outside my box and engage with people I wouldn’t normally connect with.”

For Fernanda, it’s been about God revealing His plans and purpose. “He’s showing me that everything really has a purpose. In this new season, there’s a lot I don’t understand, and that’s OK. In time God will reveal to me why things are the way they are, and I just need to pray and trust that my gifts will be a part of a bigger purpose and that they will be fruitful. I thought I was going to be fired so many times, and yet God still has me here.”

Every week, people experience the amazing work of this team. With Christmas right around the corner, their talent will be on full display, helping us celebrate the Advent season through incredible video support in worship and online. They’re already in the planning stage!

Marcus wants to hear what you have to say. “We welcome feedback. And if anyone wants to volunteer, please let us know!”

You heard it here. Let them know how they’re doing, and then join the team to help make it better!

To share your story or feedback, or to explore serving with the video team, contact Marcus at marcus.rhoads@northlandchurch.net. He, Fe and the Dude are always looking to grow the team. One requirement: You must love coffee.