Seventeen-year-old Caitlin McInnis has made a short film with a strong pro-life message called The Letter.
She proves that creativity, talent and a message that goes to the heart don’t need a multi-million-dollar budget to reach a receptive audience.
The last time she checked, the video had more than 5,000 viewings on YouTube.
The Letter “deserves to be publicized far and wide,” said John Jansen, the director of Generations for Life, the youth outreach for Pro-Life Action League. Both organizations linked the video on their sites because they wanted it in the public eyes as much as possible.
Pro-life leader Jill Stanek also linked to The Letter on her website.
Monica Miller, director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, said the filmmaker “shows promise in using her skill in films and video and putting it to the cause for life.”
The film is reaching a wide audience
A pro-life activist from Slovenia asked if he could translate the film by adding Slovenian subtitles to share with his country.
Next, a man in France offered to translate The Letter into French, so McInnis now has French (and English) closed-captioning available with the movie.
“It’s been an amazing experience to connect with people across the world regarding the pro-life issue,” McInnis said.
Movie-making has always interested her. “It’s a hobby of mine,” she said. Then came a particular inspiration.
“I was always pro-life, but after watching Bella, that movie really started me thinking and doing research,” the teen explained.
After researching the pro-life cause, attending the March for Life in Washington with her mother’s encouragement, and seeing Live Action’s pro-life work on YouTube, McInnis “was so inspired I felt called to do something similar,” she says.
A home-schooler, she added an outside class in filmmaking at Madonna University in Michigan to learn how to use a camera and edit.
For a class project she made a surprisingly touching short video on a shoestring about a solider whose life was saved by a Rosary. She fleshed out and dramatized a short true news story from a newspaper in England, too.
McInnis got the idea for The Letter while researching another project. Randomly, she clicked to an unfamiliar site, where she happened upon this deeply personal story.
Her first reaction? “I had to make a film about it,” she said. “I think it was God who gave me The Letter to make. I think he really clicked on it (the site and link) for me.”
To make the film, she imagined a woman writing a letter and filled the video with close-ups like a woman’s hand writing a letter to her unborn baby, the letter itself, and other images, including flashbacks dramatizing the story. A woman’s voice-over narrates the letter.
McInnis shares that she “didn’t want to include graphic imagines. Our imaginations are so powerful we can imagine what is going on.”
That philosophy is not only good filmmaking but is the approach she believes in for her other pro-life efforts. She posts comments, for example, on websites and blogs where a person is asking about abortion or wondering what to do about a pregnancy.
“Just posting comments may not seem like you’re making an impact,” she said, “but you don’t know who’s reading that and is in that situation. Putting the comment out there in a charitable, kind way is really going to be impacting pro-life, I hope. Being aggressive on blogs is not the way to convert people.”
Her thought-provoking video is making an impact.
Generation for Life’s John Jansen said that, in comparison to the many videos they see and that are sent to them, “This one was very definitely a cut above the rest. This girl really knows what she’s doing and has talent as a videographer and pro-life activist.”
Besides the requests for translations, she has been contacted by some organizations that do post-abortion counseling or want to protect unborn children through showing her film in a class situation. Women who had abortions have spoken to her as well.
“Basically, they thanked me for making it because they don’t want other women to experience the same pain they felt,” McInnis said.
What does McInnis plan next? After going to the March for Life in Washington with her church youth group, she wants to enter The Letter in the Life Fest pro-life film festival in May, attend
Thomas Aquinas College in California, and then pursue a filmmaking career.
“I really feel God is calling me there for whatever reason,” she said.
After all, divine providence led her to the story for The Letter.
Joseph Pronechen is the Register’s staff writer.