I want to share this back story because although I had the idea in August, the way it came together in under 2 weeks, with virtually no planning (well I had it visualized in my head from the beginning), in one day of shooting, with the amazing kids and staff at CHaD was kind of miraculous. It was MAGIC and an humbling experience for me. Thank you CHaD for collaborating on this and helping bring this vision to fruition.
Read on if you are interested and THANKS for watching and sharing!
That eventful August night of the 2013 VMAs, it wasn't the earlier song I cared much about (you know the one) but the last performance of Katy Perry that immediately got my mind cranking out an idea.
I had been working with the CHaD Hero for several months on branding and creative direction so the event and the kids were on my mind. My family was also planning to run the race and fundraising was on the brain. I am a sucker for a good pop ballad and lip sync (I have been doing them my whole life) so Katy Perry's "Roar" hit the mark and had an empowering message that I knew would be perfect for CHaD and their big race on October 20th.
I emailed my brother (we'll call him Nate) with the very rough idea the first of September. He is my creative twin but also happens to work for CHaD in their community relations department. In an email I said, "Dude, you need to get Katy Perry to give you (or me) permission to make a video to her new Roar song. It would be perrrrrfect for some CHad kids running around roaring because they are champions. How do we make this happen? I'm serious. Go pull some strings ;)" He loved the idea but a lot was going on for them as they geared up for their upcoming race. I also emailed my friend and videographer, Jared, to see if he'd be game. I've pulled him into our inn holiday videos every year. He had one month of school left and said that October would work better for him so I cooled my jets and put it all on the back burner but I couldn't get it out of my head as Katy released her video and the song was everywhere. I really wanted to make this video before people were over the rush of the ballad. I was also sent the video of Seattle Children's "Stronger" which is awesome and the video I had in mind was similar in spirit.
October came and I figured it wasn't going to work out and I was already thinking that maybe next year we could do it but by then the song's powerful rush would have been used for every reality TV segment (it nearly already has) and the world would be over it. Then I got an email from Nate on Friday the 4th asking if I could film it on Tuesday the 8th. What??!! My idea had choreography, crane shots, not to mention lots of kids at the hospital.
So back story.....earlier that day, a women (we'll call her Holly) who works as a child life specialist at CHaD and is passionate amazing had emailed Nate's boss telling her to listen to the song and asked if they could make some kind of video because it would be perfect for CHaD. Nate heard the song coming from her office and went it. She told him about Holly's idea and Nate said, hold the phone, my sister sent me a video idea for that same song. BOOM! SLAM! Serendipity? Word.
So, I went into GO mode and emailed Jared with the idea. He thought I was INSANE to try and film it so soon AND get it ready for a pre-race event. But he's awesome and came around. I headed over to the hospital that very afternoon to get some location ideas and start to visualize what we could do. We were still a little iffy if we were going to make Tuesday work but Holly gently urged us and said they'd have a lot of kids there on Tuesday that would be perfect (I had no idea...)
Monday night I stayed up late coming up with a shot list as specific as I could (without meeting anyone or knowing totally what we had to work with) and working up some pretty top notch choreography. I filmed it thinking I could send it to Holly to show people but the files were to big, blah, whatever.
Tuesday came and I was so excited. I listened to the song in the shower and all the way to the hospital. I had a meeting with Jared, Holly, and Nate to show them the shot list and the choreography. They looked at me with WIDE eyes but we got right to it. Holly had organized the day meticulously. She prepped everyone what was going on so doctors, nurses, patients, parents, janitors, everyone knew what we were up to.
I was BLOWN AWAY at the enthusiasm and energy. We never had much time (it is a working hospital) but we did our thing and they did their thing and it was MAGIC. I would go into a patient's room and ask if they could sing a line or a few words and they would sing the verse. The kids knew this song really well! I loved seeing them get into it and watch their eyes glow, their smiles. Daaaaang, it is awesome.
Dartmouth-Hitchcock is BIG and we sprinted back and forth to meet patients, nurses, doctors, admins in different units at different times and even had 5 minutes with the president of the hospital who was so into it-everyone was. It was MAGIC- I know I said that, but it was. In fact, during a pause in an elevator I said what I felt, "This was one of the best days of my life". Creatively, it was.
One of the last patients I worked with was, M. She is the girl in the tie dyed shirt through the chorus. She has cystic fibrosis and spends 2 weeks in the hospital twice a year. She was admitted that very day and was not in the best of moods--who would be? She later asked quietly "What do you want me to do?" I asked her to sing a couple lines and what you see on the video is what she did. BAM! Just like that. In a couple takes. Perfect every time. No prompting, no persuading, just BAM.
She is just one example of the enthusiasm and energy of the kids. Each one was brilliant. The staff was brilliant. The smiles were real and even though I really really wish I had a dolly and a crane so I could get some of the shots I had in my brain, what we managed to achieve in one day in short shots (never more than 15 minutes in one spot), with no budget, and very very very little planning was just pure awesomeness.
I got home and immediately got to work on the edit list which I passed onto Jared. I had promised him there was no deadline to get it edited by but of course he got it edited right up. In the meantime, The University of Minnesota posted this video to "Brave". It is another perfect performance and I wanted to get ours out too! saw the first edit over the weekend and although it was super rough I was pumped. Long boring part of the story short, after 4 more edits, we have what you watched above.
It premiered to a captive audience Saturday night (captive because there were there for a pre-race gala and they didn't know they'd be watching it) but it was the perfect kick off for yesterday's race which raised over $650,000 dollars towards their $775,00 goal. All that money goes to help the kids at CHaD. Some kids have chronic diseases, some are tiny, some are big, some have accidents, some are quiet and some are loud but they are all HEROES as are their parents and caregivers at the hospital. Our tie dyed girl was at the gala and watching her watch herself was so so so so (and one more) so sweet.
A special shout out to Holly for coordinating all of that at CHaD. It would not have worked out without you and you made our work so so so much easier by having everyone primed and ready to go. Jared for filming and editing and being awesome. Nate for helping it even happen, filming, assisting, and brainstorming. Mike for being my number one support person and my kids for listening to the song on repeat for a month. I'd also like to thank Katy Perry's people who gave us permission to use the song. These kids love this song and seeing them smile is priceless. I hope after all the media dies down from your record launch you can take a minute to give the kids at CHaD a shout out. That would be radical-seriously the bomb diggity.