In honor of the recent Gold Telly Award win for the Soteria, three, and Wolfson Children’s Hospital teams, we wanted to share with our audience an interview we recently conducted with the project Creative Director, Jeremy Estroff. Below, Jeremy tells us about his creative process and the struggles that come along with it.
1. Who are you? Where do you work? What do you do?
My name is Jeremy Estroff. I’ve been a part of the creative team for over 13 years at Three in Atlanta, Georgia.
Three is a boutique advertising, marketing and PR agency that delivers great work across a spectrum of mediums for a wide range of clientele.
2. When you first began conversations with your client at Wolfson about the project “Hope Starts Here”, how did the idea of documenting young patients come to life?
We have been extremely fortunate to work with Wolfson Children’s Hospital. I think when you work on an account like that, you have to keep asking yourself, “how do we continue to evolve the work?” This year, we made a major jump from telling successful patient stories where we produce a story that has already unfolded – to telling stories where the outcomes were yet to be decided. It took an unbelievable amount of courage from these patients and their families, as well as from the client side.
There aren’t many film crews that get to film open heart surgery on a 2-year-old little girl or nuero surgery on a 9-month old baby.
3. What were some of the concerns that were expressed about a project showing the lives of young patients with serious illnesses?
This question hits me right in the heart. The risk. It’s definitely out there, we see it every day. It was something we all addressed before we started on this process. In the previous documentary we produced for Wolfson, we filmed three patients, all with very serious medical issues, and I will never forget the day when we lost one of them. I cried my eyes out because we spent a lot of time with the patient and their families. We are in their homes, we are beside them in their hospital room. We form friendships. These families let us into their lives at a time that’s sucks for them. We are forever grateful they allow us to share their stories with us and the people that can really help make a difference for so many additional children.
4. Can you describe the creative process going forward once you got the green light from your client for this year’s documentary?
It all started with an incredible client. Our client has developed the necessary relationships to help us gain access to not only the patient and their families but within the WCH campus as well. From there, we were boots on the ground with Shane, Amylyn, Kelle (Soteria) and the rest of our team.
5. Describe to us the most challenging scenario in the filming stage.
Our most challenging scenario is that our stories are all unfolding in real time. And as great as that is for storytelling,it can definitely be a challenge in film making. Most documentaries are a retelling of an event or are more investigative in nature. Here’s an example, If a child is scheduled for open heart surgery at 7 am tomorrow morning, but has a fever today at 3 pm, the surgery is postponed. We just have to be ready for any scenario. But, these projects are successful because of just how authentic they are. So we embrace the challenges.
6. What was the most rewarding aspect of working on this project?
When you hear that the patient you are filming only has a 20% survival rate, but fights with so much courage and ultimately survives. When you come to understand that a toddler has been suffering from over 100 seizures a day but hasn’t had one since you filmed him having his brain repaired. When you interview parents who were told to abort a pregnancy only to fight the most incredible of fights and you finally see them home with their beautiful little girl.
And most importantly, to know that this work ultimately helps to fund the survival of thousands of children, it just doesn’t get more rewarding than that.
7. What was something you discovered about production or documentary style projects from this project?
I discovered just how much I love working on this style of project work. I’ve always been one to want to get my hands dirty. In larger broadcast productions, everything is so buttoned up and detailed and scheduled. I find it annoying. This is extremely difficult work. But I take it on because I feel like we have been given an incredible opportunity and responsibility to tell these stories and to give them everything we have to insure their success.
8. Can you talk about the relationships you made during this project?
The key ingredient for sure. The relationship we have between agency and production is also vital. We put a lot of trust in the Soteria team and for good reason. These type of projects live extremely close to each of our hearts. We cry together and we laugh together. We go home from long weeks of shooting and hold our own families as close as we can.