2016 | The Phoenix: Hope is Rising

Facing demolition of their facility, zoning challenges, and a lack of volunteers, a scrappy ministry startup is changing how the community interacts with the homeless.

This film began in a cardboard box on a cold night, in the streets of Champaign. Phil Gioja of Center Street Productions attended a fundraising event called One Winter Night 2014 in an effort to help local homeless outreach C-U at Home raise funds for their drop-in center, which came to be known as The Phoenix, a name carried on from the bar that used to be in the building many years ago.

The next year, Phil partnered with fellow filmmaker Isaac Musgrave to shoot video during One Winter Night 2015, and Isaac also caught the vision. In the summer of 2015 the two filmmakers began working on this project in earnest with the goal of having something to show during One Winter Night 2016.

Originally the idea was to share the genesis story of C-U at Home – how it was imagined and how it actually came to be a real ministry. However, Phil and Isaac quickly discovered the story was much bigger than that. The impact of C-U at Home and The Phoenix drop-in center has been felt across Champaign and Urbana and they felt they needed to dig deeper.

In the midst of production, it came to light that The Phoenix building was scheduled for demolition. Suddenly, it was unknown whether or not the ministry itself would become homeless.

Facing the imminent demolition of their facility, zoning challenges, and a lack of volunteers, Phil and Isaac followed this scrappy ministry startup to find out how they were able to change the way the Champaign-Urbana community interacts with the homeless.

The Phoenix: Hope is Rising was shot primarily on two cameras, a Canon XF300 and a Sony A7S. This is the first documentary project by Center Street Productions utilizing drone footage, using a custom built drone with a GoPro and a DJI Phantom 3. The Phoenix: Hope is Rising won a third-place award at the International Christian Film Festival in Orlando Florida for Best Documentary.