What if you couldn’t speak and were trapped in a body you couldn’t control? Rett Syndrome is a disability that can effect children in such a way. This film is a short promo for the charity Rett Education who are trying to raise awareness and education concerning the disability.

Rett Education held a conference in July 2014 and approached us to create a short film to promote the event and to show at the conference itself. The film was intended to inform as well as move people to care, so we approached the film with those 2 goals in mind.
We were also in the process of filming a feature length documentary about Rett Syndrome, so we had the advantage of being able to integrate the filming for this promo as part of a bigger project.
We interviewed Susan Norwell, a lecturer and education practitioner, to talk us through some of the general symptoms and challenges that the girls (with the disability) and their families face. Susan is fantastic and we feel that she communicates perfectly to the intended audience; professionals and families. She strikes a perfect balance between being informative (without using medical jargon or being too detailed) and being passionate about providing care for those affected.

We filmed with 5 different families and found that a big part of the process was building relationships and trust (especially important with disability). 1 of our core values at Vanilla Bear is ‘Making Friends’, and it was a real honour to be invited into these amazing people’s lives and to find out about their stories.
Because of the nature of the disability, everything was shot documentary style, capturing the family’s lives as they went.  We used a one-man camera set up; using a Canon DSLR, sound recorder, tripod and slider. It served us well being able to pick up and go whenever we needed to, whilst also being a little less conspicuous to encourage more natural behaviour.

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Aside from the technical set-up, we tended to focus on the girls themselves and leaned towards capturing close ups to get a more personal feel. Our primary goal was finding the emotions that we wanted to draw out, so we would hone-in-on the challenges that the girls faced (like the difficulties of communicating and moving), as well as their victories (when they were able to walk, smile, or use the technology); with hope being a key emotion that we wanted to portray in this film.

We’re really happy with how the emotion in this film comes across and builds throughout, whilst also giving the viewer a little bit more information about Rett Syndrome. We were incredibly blessed by the people we met through the process of this project, getting to know and spend time with such loving, humble and self-sacrificing people, really was a pleasure.