12 Apr Community Health Care 2013 Fundraiser Video
It was mid-March, I get a call from the marketing department over at Community Health Care, a Pierce County-based, non-profit health care organization. They want to hire me to produce a 3-5 minute video for their fast-approaching annual luncheon fundraising event taking place April 3rd. The ultimate goal of the video was to inject awareness of CHC’s overall operations and yank on the ol’ heartstrings of the viewers to… well… open up their pockets a little more generously when it came time to donate funds for the non-profit. Going into the first meeting (I think the next morning), I got a really amazing informational overview of the organization, and even was taken on a tour of one of their medical facilities. Another reason I love my job, my assignments usually involve discovering large amounts of information to effectively capture the subject matter, things I wouldn’t ever come across or learn otherwise which I think is pretty cool. The gist I got from their marketing team and the organization is that CHC is practically a full-circle health care provider.
CHC provides medical services from pediatrics to elderly, as well as dental and optical care, and a number of their facilities have all of these services under the same roof (which is pretty fantastic). This exponentially increases a patients overall care since all of the health care staff are aware and have immediate access to other services there. Ex – if you go in for a basic physical exam, a doctor will take the extra second to look in your mouth, and if they notice something they will set you up for a dental appointment which is just down the hall. So you can see how all of this cross-care access benefits the whole system and keeping people healthy. CHC also services a gigantic economic demographic, pretty much everyone. They provide service to both the insured and noninsured, with sliding scale costs influenced by an individual’s income. In other words, no person is turned away because of their financial situation. Something more and more people I’m sure are thankful for, with how fewer and fewer people are able to pay for rising health care and insurance costs. Just one sobering statistic for ya… did you know that the overwhelming majority of missed schools days are from dental related issues? That one shocked me. Ok, so that’s the lowdown on CHC. Maybe a bit of information, but kinda important in understanding our mission with this video production.
So, with my head full of newfound information about CHC, I spent the evening thinking about how I could make an effective video with an informational, heartfelt presentation. Oh, and did I mention we had roughly two weeks to get this concept polished, filmed, edited, and in the hands of CHC for the fundraising event? Oh boy, here we go. To cut this last minute project even closer, I presented a rather ambitious video concept the next day. I loved the idea of how “full-circle” the care at CHC was, and how they catered to just about every age and issue a person could have, and I REALLY wanted to show that. The kicker beyond that was my concept would have not a single spoken word either. Imagine sitting in a room with the three marketing professionals from CHC (who wanted an informational, impactful video) and telling them your video idea has no spoken words. You see, the night prior I was thinking about this whole idea and how it could be a well-rounded story. I decided right then and there that it would either have to be a video centered around people talking the ENTIRE time to get the message across or no talking at all. If you have someone talking, you have to pull the background music down so they don’t get drowned-out, but when you eliminate dramatic music, you lose your viewer. Then the person is done talking and you pull the music back up, simple process. Well, it’s like a roller coaster for the ears if you are constantly doing this. It’s like that annoying kid who found the volume nob on the stereo and thinks it’s hilarious to take the music to just barely audible to super loud over and over again. In a 3-5 minute video that would be filled to the gills with speech, that’s effectively what you’d have. So the other route was no talking at all, and accomplish the whole message through visuals. In my experience, the pieces of video that are always the most powerful are those with no words spoken, visuals are displayed in front of you, yet you understand the story and you are left to fill the lack of words with your internal emotions. No voices to fight with your visual experience. The best way to pitch the story to the marketing team was to have them think of the opening sequence in the movie ‘Up.’ A brilliant 5-minute piece of film where you see a loving couple’s entire life play out, no words spoken. They liked it, and as Yoda would say, “so began the project did.”
No words, 3-5 minutes, pull on the heartstrings and inform the viewers. Got it?
We put together a series of very short stories, each would run 20-30 seconds, and each would cover a different kind of medical service with a different aged person. So by the end of the video we would have covered all of the CHC services (roughly) and we’d cover the rainbow of ages, from babies to the elderly. More importantly, the video couldn’t be just scenes of people getting “fixed.” We go to the doc to get fixed so that we can go out and then enjoy long, happy lives, so that’s what we did. Half of each mini story was them at the doc, and the other half was out in the real world. See where my idea, with only a two-week deadline, was a bit too big of a bite to chew? The scramble was on to find a actors. We first set out to schedule doctors and real patients who wouldn’t mind us doing some filming, and then if the patients were kind enough, we’d ask them to spend 5 minutes with us shooting their “real world” scenario. Sometimes it worked the other way around – we’d have a person who was available for our real world scenes, and then we’d have them come in and stage a doc appointment. Of course, you couldn’t be picky with such a deadline. In a couple of the stories, we had different actors play the same characters, and I had to shoot it in a way that you couldn’t tell we had did an actor swap.
Filming took place over a week and on 4 different days. I couldn’t be more honest when I say that this whole project was shot from the hip. We had a rough idea going into the facility, we’d get a patient to be ok with the filming, we’d have the doctor come in and do their thing. There was no “oh, can we redo that,” “can you guys wait for one second,” or “can you look this direction?” Every shot you see here were one shot, one take. I often had no idea if shots were out of focus, shaky, etc. It was shoot and move. We were often working with real patients and doctors on schedules with rooms of patients waiting to see them. I think the longest I ever had with a doctor was 5 minutes, that’s no exaggeration. Luckily, I’d been doing a bit of filming the weeks prior to this project ramping up, so my head was still fresh with quickly deploying and shooting my gear in video mode, as well as the muscle memory and body mechanics to get smooth panning shots. Russ, one of the CHC marketing guys, worked closely with me in coordinating the appointments at the facilities. You know you are running a production at a dizzying pace when the people who are there with you have a permanent concerned look on their face. And that was Russ’ face, for about a week. It was probably the same expression on my face too. In fact, two of the shoots we didn’t even have time to setup a rig or tripod, so I shot it completely handheld. It turned out to be a good touch, giving it a more realistic, intimate feel for particular shots.
With two days until the deadline, I dumped all the footage on the computer with just about zero confidence, having NO idea if I had botched the few windows of opportunity for good shots or not. In the moment I opened up Final Cut Pro, it felt like I was just forcibly sat down at a grungy table in some back-alley slum to play a game of Russian roulette (with 4 out of the 6 chambers loaded). To my utter amazement, I laughed out loud when I saw that the bulk of the footage was usable. I cut like a mad man, fortunately with a storyline already laid out, all that remained was some last minute creative ordering and timing editing decisions, things that would help the story flow better.
The day before the deadline I scheduled a meeting with the team to do a review, giving me about 12 hours to make any final revisions they saw fit. Of course, on the drive in to town, I stopped and shot the very last piece of film we needed (a little girl running into the street). I then parked my car in front of the CHC building, edited the last piece in on the laptop, and grabbed the elevator to make my appointment 3 minutes late. The draft was very well received, and only some minor tweaks were made over an hour or two.
So, that’s my story about this little project! It was crazy, fun, fast, informative, and a great overall experience. Every single person from Community Health Care were absolutely amazing, and I truly mean that. The CHC admin staff were fantastic to work with, and the doctors who gave us some time were such nice, genuine people. So, yes, Russ, I’m open to doing this project next year, but… let’s start just a tad bit sooner, eh?! Sit tight, much more coming to the bloggeroo.