Portfolio Description

Client: Arthritis Ireland

Year: 2021

Timeframe: 1 month

Main Service: Video Production, Client outreach, Personal Journeys

Filming Location: Loughlinstown, Dublin

Working within the confines of someone’s home can be a real challenge for filmmakers and videographers. But with some informed preparation, every hurdle can be overcome. Our most recent project with Arthritis Ireland posed this very challenge.

For three decades, viola player Ruth Mann entertained audiences in Ireland and around the world as a member of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the BBC Northern Ireland Orchestra, and the Ulster Orchestra. Being a professional musician was a career, but it was a lot more than that; playing music was her great love.

However, during the last 10 years of her playing life, Ruth experienced the devastating effects of osteoarthritis (OA) in her neck and hips. At the age of 53, Ruth was forced to retire and could no longer play, not even for fun. Now in her 70’s, Ruth had agreed to allow us to capture her story on behalf of Arthritis Ireland.

The StreamFox team was asked to capture Ruth Story on location at her home in Dublin. Our brief, courtesy of Arthritis Ireland, was to establish Ruth as a lifelong musician and to capture as much of her story as we could. But we would only effectively have one day to work with and we would need to film in Ruths sitting room.

Working in people’s homes is a real challenge. It may be surprising for readers to learn, but most people do not reside in a 5 bed showhome in Balbriggan. In fact, you are more likely to find that your subject lives in a 3-bed bungalow in rural Cavan. And their homes are unlikely to look like a fresh build on Grand Designs and more likely to look like they are actually lived in with all of the usual clutter that humans accrue over a lifetime. This makes bringing a camera crew in, surprisingly difficult.

The reality is if you are going to be bringing in cameras, lights, stands, tripods, and associated crew, you are going to need to turn whichever room you are in upside down in order to make it all work.

You nearly always need to move their furniture around, which can be both labor-intensive for the crew, and stressful for the homeowner; who may be concerned about items being knocked over or damaged. Furthermore, you need to consider who needs to be in the room and who can work outside of the room, and that’s just our crew. You also need to consider the client organisation’s representatives.

StreamFox crew filming with Ruth Mann
Working with the confines of someone’s home can be a challenge | Image: Stephen Lee

Before we can even begin worrying about all of that, the first thing we needed to do, was to set Ruth’s mind at ease. This meant establishing a plan as early on in the process as possible.

Prior to the first pre-production meeting, we asked Ruth if she could send us some images of her home. Thankfully she was happy to oblige, and from those images, we were able to determine the best location for the interview and establish what we would need in terms of lighting and grip.

This allowed us, during the very first meeting, to explain to Ruth roughly what would happen when and by whom. We also explained that the first task when we arrived on the morning of the shoot would be to photograph the room layout prior to moving anything. This ensures that everything goes back where it came from at the end of the day.

All of this planning is great, but there is always a sneaking concern that on the day the homeowner may become overwhelmed when they see a reem of flight cases being loaded in while their sofa passes them in the hall. Therefore the first role of our communications officer on the day is to invite our interviewee, and anyone else present, to go with them into another room to prepare for the interview.

This allows the rest of the team, the time and space to move quickly to get everything rigged and ready to go, being careful to document everything that is moved or changed in any way as they go.

This is precisely how it went with Ruth. We arrived on-site and whilst our Communications Director Conchubhair invited Ruth into another room to go over the questions and assist in structuring her responses, the rest of the team quickly rearranged the room and established the frame on both our A & B Cams.

By the time Ruth returned it was merely a matter of sound recordists Dean micing Ruth for audio whilst Adam tweaked the lighting and we were ready to go.

When all is said and done, despite working in one of the most confined space we have ever filmed in, we are happy with the results and really enjoyed capturing Ruth’s Story.

This is just a small insight into some of the preparatory work we do here at StreamFox to prepare for these ob-doc-style case study shoots, which we absolutely love.

Are you in a similar situation, trying to figure out how to capture a real-world case study and still give it some of these filmic elements? Why not get in touch with our team and see how we can help to tell that person’s story.

Portfolio Details

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