During the month of July, I had the pleasure of producing a documentary film called The Hero Within. The work is a profile of Dr. Kay Sornmayura, a Hepatitis C expert who originally moved to the United States from Thailand in 1989. After years of working at multiple hospitals throughout Miami and ascending through the ranks in the world of nursing, she became a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) working at the Schiff Center for Liver Disease at the time of production.
Not only did I get to spend time learning about Dr. Kay’s unique yet classically American story of reward through hard work, I also got to spend time talking to one of Dr. Kay’s patients who showed me just how difficult it can be to go through Hepatitis C treatment. The patient (whose name nor face are shown in the film to protect her identity) had nothing but good things to say about Dr. Kay’s caring attitude and perseverance in seeking a successful treatment; words which served only to solidify the value Dr. Kay lends to the nursing profession and making me feel incredibly proud to have the opportunity to profile her professional career.
“This woman saved my life,” Dr. Kay’s patient said. “I would’ve been gone … but she saved my life.”
From a production perspective, this piece definitely had its challenges. Creative freedom was restricted, for example, due to being unable to film in most of indoor areas of the hospital facilities that Dr. Kay works in. Additionally, working around Dr. Kay and her colleagues’ busy schedules while still balancing the full-time gig that I have right now was a circumstance I would’ve rather gone without. This, of course, is a reminder that the more I pursue this kind of work, the more likely I’ll be able to do it exclusively without having to have another gig to pay the bills. A man can dream, right?
This production also marks my first experience shooting exclusively with a DSLR; specifically, a Nikon D3200 with one telephoto and one standard zoom lens. I can describe the experience in one word: terrible. SLRs may be great for getting cinematic video of very specific subjects or places, but for the run and gun shooting that I do, there couldn’t be a worse contender for the job.
I predicted this going in, of course, but since I’d never actually done it before, I wanted to give it a shot and see how it stacked up against my years of shooting with prosumer camcorders like the Sony PD170 and Canon GL2 in the standard-def days and the Sony HVR-V1U which I used to shoot recent pieces like Sasha and The Cat. A very picky focus, terrible onboard audio and an inherently unstable form factor were three big gripes; you can work around all of them, sure, but doing so makes you wish you had the right tool for the job to begin with.
Overall, however, this was a very positive experience that I’m looking forward to duplicate moving forward. Hopefully I’ll go back to having my preferred shooting tool and also have some more creative freedom next time.
That being said, the honor of profiling such a hard working individual’s story is something I wouldn’t trade for anything. Getting to know peoples’ life stories is something I’m really into and producing this documentary was an opportunity to do just that.
‘Til the next one! Hope you enjoy and if you have any comments, questions or concerns, make sure to leave a comment either here or on the video itself!