The video is aimed at boosting awareness amongst Australians about dementia, and has received over 21,000 views over the duration of Dementia Awareness Month. In a mini-documentary format, the video follows the experiences of three people who are currently living with dementia and gives insights into some of the challenging aspects of this disease. Video co-creator Stephen Burge from Alucinor Productions said, “Our central idea behind this project was to try and give a voice to people who have dementia, as opposed to just using actors. We wanted to give the issue an honest human element that we had not yet seen in this area.” He adds, “We were very lucky to work with a client who trusted us a great deal throughout the entire process.”
So far the video has received very positive feedback. Alzheimer’s Australia CEO, Glenn Rees, said, “The video is beautifully crafted and professional, from planning through to execution. It is wonderfully insightful in its portrayal of life with dementia.”
Sharon Akinyi, the Communications Coordinator who managed the project at Alzheimer’s Australia adds, “It was an absolute pleasure working with Alucinor Productions on this project. They took the time to really understand what our message was and this showed with the quality of the finished product, and the amazing response the campaign received not just in Australia but globally.”
The video tops off a very busy month for the crew at Alucinor, with Director Dean Butler having his first self-funded short film receive official selection at Vancouver International Film Festival.
And below is a look at our step by step approach to making this campaign video for Alzheimer’s Australia. Part corporate video, part short documentary.
I’m only going to discuss my work in relation to the production of ‘The Unspoken Impact of Dementia’, not the writing and content planning side of the video which will remain a mystery…. Oooooooh…
I didn’t storyboard the whole video but did draw key shots and decided on the approach to framing and camera movement. Shane (who lit the interviews) and I discussed quite extensively how we wanted the interviews to look in a way that would feel right when quite dark and difficult things were being discussed as well as work for more inspiring parts of the video. So it couldn’t be too ‘high key’ light n fluffy nor too dark.
Early on I storyboarded the ‘motion portrait’ close up shots of Glenda, Keith and Graeme. This was our way of introducing them to the audience and symbolically bringing Alzheimer’s into focus.
Although I didn’t draw every shot, I did plan what we were going to film. I made a shot list of important footage to get for each person (not the specifics of the mise-en-scene or shot type) but what it was. E.g. Walking in park, standing contemplative in the kitchen, gazing out the window etc. The key to getting everything we needed (well) was having a realistic schedule. Pivotal.
We started the production shooting the video in Perth over two days. We used the first for interviews and ‘motion portrait shots’ and used the second for additional footage of Glenda and Keith. The next day we flew to Port Macquarie in NSW and filmed Graeme’s interview first, then filmed shots in his home and down by the water (which you see towards the end of the video).
Shane and I took more time than usual to make sure we were happy with the interview shots – the lighting, positioning, the background etc. There’s still room for improvement but we are happy with how it turned out. Once the shot was setup and he and I were happy with the lighting and angle Stephen would finally be able to do his sound check and we’d launch into the interviews.
It was quite a powerful and emotional experience for us. What Glenda, Keith and Graeme showed was a level of courage, tenacity and appreciation for life that really made us stop and re-evaluate our own priorities and worries. Personally I’ve never had a more simultaneously inspiring but also saddening experience working on a documentary. Their passion for educating and for life was undeniable and I hope it just beams through in the video.
Sharon Akinyi from Alzheimers Australia has been our contact person and really a co-producer / manager of the production. She flew over from Canberra to be with us in Perth and despite having to spend two days with us here, followed us across Australia to NSW for another two days. She was a fantastic person to work with. She trusted us to do our job but also helped guide the project from start to finish.
After the week of filming I had about 4 1/2 hours of interview footage and about two hours of additional shots (much of which was shot in slow motion which is one of the reasons there was so much).
This was my process:
I watched it all and scribed the interviews highlighting what I thought were really great bits of dialogue. I scanned and sent this to Sharon so she could see what was there too. It was quicker for her to read through dialogue (with selective highlighting) than watch the interviews in their entirety.
The first draft (just with interview content) was five and a half minutes. After discussions with Sharon I scaled that down and added a few as yet unused comments that Sharon liked from the transcription.
Once we were about 90% there I started adding in the other footage (and we let go of a few more lines). We were just trying to strip it back as much as we could, hopefully without losing any punch.
Editing this production was about finding the story, how it flows as a whole as well as between Glenda, Keith and Graeme. Telling it as well as possible – using the footage to help support points being made without laying it on too thick. And finally and simply, fulfilling the brief.
I’ve heard it said there’s three films in each film you make. The one you write (or in this case plan), the film you shoot and the film you edit. That’s definitely true at least to a degree. With each stage the video evolved and changed just a bit. It’s still recognisably the plan on paper but as we went on we ‘discovered’ what it actually was and made that, rather than trying to force it to strictly be something totally preconceived.
The colour and music were the final touches. For the colour grade (as always at the moment) I used FilmConvert and Adobe Speedgrade. One of the guiding principles in the grade was that it should start off a little ‘darker’, less saturated and become more colourful as the video progressed.
The importance of music on a video production like this cannot be overstated. For a while I had what I thought was “it”. But the feedback we got was that it was perhaps a little too dark and dramatic. Fair call (though I still liked it). Fortunately Sharon found another great track on themusicbed that nailed it. Thanks for doing my job Sharon 🙂
This video is close to our hearts (myself, Shane and Stephen). It was a powerful life experience making it, made even more so by our experiences with family with dementia in our own lives.
If you feel so inclined, please share this video on social media. It’s an important message that needs to spread as far as possible.
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