• Lucas Chambers - Director

Chagas disease documentary for the World Heart Federation

This week’s update is a bit heavy, but well worth the read/watch. If you haven’t ever heard of Chagas disease, as many of us at SmartCuts had not, then you’ll find this video enlightening, if disturbing. The World Heart Federation, for whom we do lots of video production and animation, came to us with a real challenge: a 45min documentary with elements filmed in 4 countries to be edited, done and dusted in just 4 weeks. Say what!?

At first we really considered saying, “Thanks, but no thanks.” It’s always tricky for agencies like ours to decide whether a mandate is a challenge or a recipe for disaster. And even though clients may well know that what they’re asking for borders on the impossible at the time of the brief, by the time deadline rolls around, they’re so focused on results and so full of hope and expectations that, if you let them down for absolutely understandable reasons, they still can’t help being let down and disappointed with you. We hate to set ourselves up for failure, and to throw our production crews into the Piranha Pool. But this time around, after much hemming and hawing, we decided it was doable, and we did it! We had a lot of help from our friends, it has to be said. The WHF Communications Team was astounding in how fast they picked up on how to act as Producers and do jobs they had never had to do before. The short timeline and the tight budget made this imperative, and they rose to the challenge commendably. With a few tricks of the trade, such as shooting on black background to make sure we had a consistent look, despite having to hire video production crews in four different locations, on the fly and without being able to send a Producer on location, we managed to get quality rushes in record time for post-production to begin.

Our network abroad helped a lot, as did having prior experience of these things, which allowed us to send very clear instructions to foreign videographers for them to align and deliver. A big thanks to them too, though, because it’s one thing to have good, clear guidelines. It’s another to follow them competently. A hearty thanks, too, to Ana Ferreira, Bolivian photographer, whose work appears at the start of the film and who has done much to document the ravages of this silent killer. The end result is a compelling compilation of heart-rending testimony about those who know Chagas all too well, some of whom will sadly not live much longer.