During the winter of 2009-10, we were contacted by the Algoma Residential Community Hospice here in Sault Ste. Marie — affectionately known as ARCH around town — asking us to produce an Impact Video for them. They’ve been on our minds lately, for whatever reasons, and so it’s time to blog about the experience we had working on this piece. The video production process for this particular piece still stands out in my mind because we met such amazing people during the work.
A Little Background
ARCH was founded in 1999. For years, Helen Ross and other supporters campaigned for funds to build the hospice. At times it must have seemed like it would never come to fruition. It must have seemed like the ten-bed health care facility would never be built.
Since then, the stunning building has been built.
Composed of beautiful stone and woodwork, situated on beautiful tree-lined acres, with huge glass windows to let in the sun, the facility has room for up to ten dying persons and becomes a home away from home for them and their families.
ARCH is a Feeling
Above all, there is a special feeling you get when you walk into the home. Something about the gentle, unhurried pace of the place, something about the kindness of everyone there, something about the gravity of the forces that brings these people together — in one home they share during such a time of endings. You might think hospices are about dying. But ARCH, on the other hand, seems to be about living.
They finally had to take down the birdfeeders. They were attracting bears. One of the residents insisted they put the feeders back up so she could look out her bedroom window at the bears! Now that’s living.
Behind the hospice when you follow the path to the side, you come to a beautifully designed cedar arbor, sheltering visitors from the sun.
Many days see residents outside here, lying in the gentle breezes that drift here, out of the sun’s harmful rays, living beautiful moments. These days may be some of their last ones, but the residents of ARCH, those who want and art able, like to pass the time out here during the warmer months.
The People Make the Place
It’s so true. The people you meet at ARCH will remain in your memory long after the time has passed. There is something about sharing difficult times, times when we are all in need of support, that brings us together. On a deeper level than most interactions would allow. Words of support are spoken freely here, and hugs are given too. Everyone understands what everyone else is dealing with, and people act accordingly.
And that’s something that is hard to capture in video.
We needed to capture it all. In a high definition Impact Video. The architecture, the grounds, the beauty. But above all, the feeling. The sense of what it is like to walk through those doors, to enter that place. All this needed to be encapsulated in the video, and not just through lip service. Rather, we needed to create the same feeling through the viewing of the Impact Video.
ARCH needed the Impact Video for a very serious reason. Oftentimes, potential residents are too sick to visit the facility before making a decision whether or not to move there. The needed an Impact Video to take out into the field that could be seen by potential residents that would give them a real sense of the place. Something that would really stand out in subtle ways, that would alleviate all kinds of anxieties that a potential resident might have.
With that in mind, we set out to produce the video.
We waited for just the right moment to shoot. Since we were shooting in winter, we decided that we wanted to shoot during a snowstorm, thereby lending a sense of comfort and coziness by the footage. It took 2-1/2 months that year to get a good snowstorm, so as it turned out early January of 2010 had us packing our gear, backing out the drive, and slapping the wipers on high so we could drive through the storm that early Saturday morning. We began shooting a little after 9:00 in the morning.
The staff of the palliative care facility was incredibly helpful. We needed an escort throughout the facility, and so one of the well-informed volunteers helped us with that. The fireplaces were all already lit, and the light falling through the huge sitting room windows was soft and diffused through the falling snow outside. We were trying to be as unobtrusive as possible, and so there were only two of us on this shoot. One of us shot while the other searched around each room looking for other angles and areas of interest for the footage. We finished shooting soon after lunchtime, and so returned to the office to download the footage.
We worked with Aaron Meza, a voiceover artist based in Hollywood, for the voiceover track. He did an amazing voiceover, and the artistry of his talent and creativity is really obvious in the raw voiceover files he sent to us for editing. It is a real pleasure to work with talented, professional artists on so many levels in this business — and Aaron was no exception!
In the End
The final video was completed mid-February of that year. Since then, the professionals at ARCH have used this video in the field to allow potential residents to understand the space a lot more than they otherwise might.
As Helen Ross, Executive Director of ARCH said,”the photography was beautiful and the overall presentation captured the essence of hospice care. It was a pleasure to deal with friendly professionals who were respectful of our special needs for confidentiality, resident and family privacy and still were able to provide an artistic presentation.”