Behind the Scenes of a Narrative Video: ACS St. Louis, Hope Lodge
Updated: Oct 28, 2019
Once in a great while you find yourself working on a project that sums up all the challenges and joys of your craft at once. That’s exactly where we found ourselves on a recent project for the American Cancer Society of St. Louis. Here’s a no-holds-barred look behind the scenes at a recent 24Frames narrative video.
We’ve had the privilege of working with the American Cancer Society of St. Louis in years past, telling the story of the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge of St. Louis. The Hope Lodge offers cancer patients and their caregivers much more than a place to stay; it’s a nurturing environment in which community and quiet reflection alike are supported during treatment, and where emotional needs are catered to as attentively as medical care.
When we shot their 2018 gala video, we showed how the Lodge helped an individual and his family. This year, the ACS wanted to tell the story of the Hope Lodge from another angle: how might we show what would life without Hope Lodge would be like? We decided to approach the story as a before-and-after to highlight the difference.
Writing started in June of 2019. Locations were chosen and scouted, with principal shooting taking place during July and August at a hospital, a small festival taking place in St. Louis, in a residential setting, and finally, at the Hope Lodge itself. Our customary crew was augmented by hired talent.
Any project comes with challenges, and this one was no exception. However, you learn something when you’ve been shooting for 17 years — not least that each challenge, when approached right, presents opportunities.
Nonprofit organizations, by their nature, are often working with small budgets. Since we couldn’t hire a cast of thousands, we settled on four talented individuals and integrated them in settings with other people, both during a summer festival and a gathering at Hope Lodge. This helped the actors blend into their settings and make the story more believable.
All that talk about a picture being worth a thousand words aside, there are some things that even the best actor can’t portray by demeanor or a well-chosen facial expression. While the actors shone when the time came to portray the isolation and internal struggles that too often accompany a serious illness, we realized that another common concern (namely, the serious financial consequences of cancer treatment) would have to be addressed through narration and dialog.
One of the scenes in our story showed all four of our actors riding a Ferris wheel at the summer festival. We had only three days to shoot (Friday through Sunday), with our actors available on only one of those days on what turned out to be a terribly rainy weekend. Since you don’t get a do-over on a festival, we had no choice but to work what we had.
Those dark clouds turned out to have a silver lining; the overcast weather made for even light that tempered the August heat. With our Canon C200 cameras’ 4K RAW capability, we were able to change the white balance in post to turn the gray into a sunny summer day.
Post production took place in September, adding music and some narrative grace notes, finalizing our editing, and resulting in the video you see above. Thanks to our client’s input and willingness to take chances on a different kind of narrative, the dedication of our crew and talent, and our own experience, we delivered a video that we could be proud of. The challenges we face during these journeys make the end result that much sweeter, especially when we have the honor of telling the story of a nonprofit organization with whom we’re proud to have worked over the years.
Narrative video storytelling is powerful whether you’re furthering the mission of a nonprofit organization, highlighting an aspect of your community, or introducing your business to a new audience. Find out how 24Frames can help you tell that story by getting in touch today.