Gluten Free For Life – Video Production Blog

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Gluten Free for Life / Coeliac New Zealand
Video Production Blog

Coeliac New Zealand is a local non-profit organisation, committed to helping people with Coeliac Disease live full and healthy lives through community support, advice and help maintaining a gluten free diet.

Back in January this year, via connections of connections, we met with Dana Alexander the General Manager of CNZ for a little chat and learnt that what they could really do with was an emotive, engaging and evocative video to premiere around their annual conference in June. Funnily enough that was something right up our street, so we offered our help on a pro bono basis during the traditionally quiet summer holiday period.

We wrote a treatment for the video with 4 sections: Individual case studies / Medical opinion / Coping in the real world / Coeliac New Zealand’s support. Now it was down to the nuts of bolts of production and finding our subjects.

The Faces of Coeliac New Zealand

This felt like a project where we could really help some people feel better. When many people are first diagnosed with Coeliac Disease, they feel a sense of dread that they’re never going to be able to live a normal life without embarrassing chronic bowel problems. They think that they’ll be on a diet of lentils and water and can never taste a slice of fresh bread again.

Fortunately for them, that’s just not the case and in time for this years conference CNZ have secured the help a three inspiring new ambassadors to help get the message across. The experiences of Insurance Pro Sam Richards, Junior WRC Champion Dave Holder and NZ Commonwealth Weightlifter Charlotte Moss became the starting point for our video.

We visited each of them in their homes and work places, to interview and observe how they cope with the disease. Their past experiences and approach to a gluten free life and are truly inspiring.

Sam Richards
Dave Holder
Charlotte Moss

Being a pro bono project, we had to keep our internal costs down, small cameras and lights and often just a single person crew was the order of the day.  This was a challenge mostly for the few interviews where there was one person acting as interviewer, camera person and sound. Having the right camera set up became important in order to keep an eye on the video monitor and also have a personal conversation with the subject at the same time. A neat little rig holding the GH4 4k camera and all we needed was assembled, mounted on a steady tripod and away we went.

The Kiwi Family

Sam, Dave and Charlotte are individuals with Coeliac Disease, but how does the disease affect whole families? Does everyone sit there eating corn flakes and white bread around the breakfast table, except for the one left out who has Coeliac Disease? This is what I wanted to explore next and so we were introduced to the Walter family: Jude, Sam and their kids Sophie and Oliver. Both Sam and Sophie have are Coeliac and the whole family has made the choice to support each other and go completely gluten free. There are practical reasons for this but it’s also about emotional support, normalising the situation for them all.

After spending an afternoon filming the kids with Jude, running up and down the aisles at Countdown and shopping for GF items from a surprisingly large selection, I went to their home to interview and film them cooking dinner. From this I really started to get a little understanding of how well anyone can adapt to a gluten free life in 2018. It’s not so bad at all and companies like Countdown and My Food Bag are really making living gluten free so much easier. The Walters story made a perfect counterpart to the stories of Sam, Dave and Charlotte.

Jude, Sophie and Oliver Walter

The Medical Expert

So now the video had a great opening with lots of positive reinforcement for individuals. It had a great ending with some really good advice and tips on family life. But we were kind of missing our middle.

Next, we needed to know a bit about the disease, a kind of ask the experts section and a voice of reason. This led to an introduction to Dr. Helen Evans, Paediatric Gastroenterologist at Starship Children’s Hospital.

Helen is a very busy lady and a bit of a TV star already as TV3’s go-to Doctor for anything gastro. Nevertheless, she made time in her schedule for us to interview and film her going about her day at the hospital. Steadicam in hand we filmed her walking the wards, doing tests in the O.R and analysing the results. Special thanks go to Sarah Bakker at ADHB for her help in getting us access around the hospital.

The result was the perfect middle section describing the disease and highlighting the very real importance of testing and early detection. All in a warm and friendly manner completely in keeping with the tone of the video. Who said Doctors and hospitals were scary??

Dr. Helen Evans

So, we’ve got a video in three acts now, perfect!… Not quite, we want four.

Last thing we needed was a clear call to action to anyone out there suffering symptoms or newly diagnosed with the disease. Coeliac New Zealand is here to help, and the member numbers are growing. What better way to say this than by its General Manager, Dana Alexander.

To say Dana wasn’t too excited about being on camera is an understatement. But she understood why I wanted her there, she wrote a great closer to the video and performed to camera like a true pro, ending the video in the best way possible.

So, now we have a finished video right? Pretty much yes. A little bit more time finessing the edit on the Avid, some graphic design for titles and then a colour grade in DaVinci Resolve to make the image pop, all finished off by a great audio mix from Frank Marinthe at Melodic Juice and the video is complete.

Gluten Free for Life was launched online to a very positive reception and will have a live screening at the Coeliac New Zealand conference in June 2018.

Check out the video here:

Gluten Free for Life

And for more about Coeliac New Zealand visit

Coeliac New Zealand