Making A Cancer Video: Goombay Bash in Chicago

I’m not going to lie.  This was tough.

There was a moment, as happens in the best of times, when everything clicked.  In my head the idea formed.  I knew what it would be, I knew how we’d do it–or really how we’d get there, to a final product that would, of course, be more detailed then this idea at this moment.

But that was the kicker, I knew the path was going to be raw.  Somewhere I hadn’t gone before.  Not professionally.  Not even personally.  Which was maybe the hardest part: how can I understand the hardships these people have been through, how can I make their stories incite action in others?  I was going to need help.

The first help: a client who said “I trust you. Go. Just do it.”

I was shooting bigger than was asked.  “Go big or go home.”  Right?  I mean if you’re going to make a video to cure cancer, then you need to really fucking try to make a video that can cure cancer.

2nd help: a team of producers.  Now I had to explain what I wanted.  The technical.  The emotional.  These are guys (at Launch Digital Marketing) that we work with to make funny videos.  We do ironic, we do cool and sexy.  We don’t do heart-strings.  Can we even try?  We had to plan out what we would ask the fathers who watched their sons die of cancer…while actually being fathers with sons.  So yeah, there were tears.  Tears in conference rooms.  The kind that come on hot in the eyes and without sound.  The kind you hope no one really noticed, but how didn’t they because you sure saw them crying too.

The real help arrives when you “cast” the video.  There is a profound perverseness to this.  (What we need is a man whose dad died young.  We need some siblings who lost a brother.  Oh!  A mom whose son died!)  This is a soul-wrecking kind of detachment.  This is not what we should wish for. … But they came.  They were there, still standing, punch-drunk with a grace unimaginable.  Every one of them.  And they were giving us their stories.  They were giving us their sorrow because this is what we wanted.  They were giving us hope, because this, this is what we needed.

And so in the end: we made a video about cancer.  We made a video about people.  We made a video about loss and survival and love.  1 in 3 people will get cancer.  I have 2 kids and a wife.  Do the math.  Cancer is personal.  So let’s find a cure.   Let’s find a cure for everyone.

For The H Foundation’s Goombay Bash.  Please donate.


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