Conocidos shares life stories of a Bible study group in Mexico City.
Published on: 10-20-2023
A new television series will soon be released on Hope Channel Inter-America highlighting the story of several characters who meet and get to know each other through a Bible study group.
Called Conocidos (“Acquainted”), the eight-episode TV drama/comedy series takes place in Mexico City and presents independent stories and subplots that intertwine while exploring the relationships and experiences various characters face. From eternal rivals to a language teacher from Haiti, a couple expecting a new baby, a rebellious teenager, or the stranger in the group, the characters reflect a wide range of personalities and lifestyles.
“People in large cities live alone and many times without a support or social group,” said Melchor Ferreyra, personal ministries director of the Inter-American Division (IAD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and an executive producer of the series. “They lead very busy lives, working hard, and this pushes them into depression or too often seek the wrong group of friends, which leads to social problems that complicate their lives.” The series was created to point to a network of healthy friendships that can be experienced through a small group.
“What we have seen across the Inter-American Division is that small group ministries can help emotional and spiritual needs in a positive way not only for church members but people in the community,” Ferreyra said.
This is the first television series in this genre in which the IAD has invested. It was created to challenge church members and others to engage in ministering in small groups with their friends and acquaintances, Ferreyra explained.
A Launching Pad for More Productions
The television series has been a collaboration between IAD and Hope Channel Inter-America and one that promises to be a launching pad for similar productions for the media network’s three channels.
“This production, in partnership with the [IAD] personal ministries department has created a model that is not limited to enriching the channel’s programming with good productions and excellent stories, but also provides education and useful resources to share our Adventist faith, values, and beliefs in a friendly and accessible way,” Abel Márquez, executive director of Hope Channel Inter-America, said.
“I’m so very proud of this Conocidos project and the fact that it can be a contribution to inspire more people in the Inter-American Division territory and the world church,” Ferreyra said.
The plan was to work on a movie that would encourage small group ministry among church members. When Hellen Castro of Creativo 115, a creative agency run by lay Adventists specializing in cinematography, development, and marketing campaigns, presented an idea for a small groups project, it merged with the vision the department was looking to, Ferreyra said.
‘The Church Grows When It Gets Smaller’
Castro said she heard a phrase that jumpstarted the writing of the script on the subject: “The church grows when it gets smaller.”
“It’s wonderful to see how small groups can turn into the heart of the church, to turn strangers into true family members who accept, support, and love each other,” Castro said. “The idea of exploring characters so different in age, culture, and occupations in the same space seemed fascinating to me.”
Conocidos touches on issues of domestic violence, generation gaps, the seventh-day Sabbath and one’s job, and immigration, among other topics.
Castro, who also directed the series alongside production director Raquel Ramos and the support of a crew of 15, spent four months doing preproduction and casting and two months in rehearsals. “We have an international group of very talented actors. Some are from Venezuela, Peru, and Haiti,” Castro said. The filming, which took place earlier this year, took 15 days to complete.
Amid countless challenges in meeting deadlines during filming and all that it entails in the production, Castro said, it was a blessing to work with fellow Adventists but also meet people from other faiths, which became a wonderful opportunity to connect and establish friendships. “We became like a family and have missed being together since filming,” she added.
Final editing is underway, and a special onsite premiere in Mexico City will take place on November 13.
Valuable Impact of Small Groups
Castro, who has worked on several projects for the IAD and other secular projects, said it was an unforgettable experience to highlight the impact and valuable ministry that can be accomplished in a small group.
“My greatest wish is that everyone who views the series can identify themselves with the characters and be inspired to generate more community, draw closer to their peers and friends, and create stronger support networks,” Castro said.
Conocidos is part of a three-part initiative that includes a series of Bible studies that go with each episode and a guidebook for small group leaders.
It’s all about using the method of Jesus in mingling with friends, neighbors, family members, co-workers, and relatives to establish strong friendships that lead to spiritual growth, Ferreyra said.
Conocidos will premiere online on Hope Channel Inter-America before the end of November. English and French versions of the series will be available in May 2024.