“A Teachable Moment” Documentary

LAI Video normally does the short-form, corporate video stuff, but we suddenly and somewhat unexpectedly found ourselves completing our first feature-length film, A Teachable Moment. The documentary is the product of hours of research, interviews and tedious animation — a company-wide and pro-bono effort to help survivors and the general public cope with and prevent suffering from this debilitating disease.

A Call to Action

LAI Video is owned by Leading Authorities, Inc., whose President and CEO, Mark French, suffered a stroke in 2015. A Teachable Moment is the ultimate realization that video and film can make a difference. But to produce a feature-length documentary that definitively describes stroke, captures its grueling aftermath and outlines preventative lifestyle choices, we knew that would need help. LAI Video reached out to the American Heart Association, the American Stroke Association and MedStar Health to consult on the film. Together, we identified other survivors to make the film relatable and experts to keep the film credible. 

Casting a Real Life Story with Real Life People

After reviewing many amazing survivor stories, Tori, Favata and Loizou rounded out the cast by selecting DC lawyer Anne Dailey, family man Lee Stroy and the uninsured, self-made symbol for recovery Roderick Dunston. After a series of phone calls and preliminary interviews, production began. Favata took the helm as Director with Tori as the film’s Producer. Jun served as Director of Photography. Over the course of the next eight months, our crew would visit the featured survivors at home, at work and other places of significance. We would befriend their loved ones as we asked them to relive some of the hardest moments that any family has endured. 

Two Teleprompters, One Intimate Connection

While the medical experts and caregivers were interviewed with a traditional “off-camera” approach — positioning our interviewer next to the cameras — the featured survivors all made direct eye contact with the camera. Utilizing a two-teleprompter system, Tori was able to speak to the survivors as if they were on a Skype or FaceTime call. As they spoke to their stroke experiences and struggles with recovery, the viewer could make direct eye contact, as if these stories were being shared with them very plainly and powerfully.

Expert Animation

While A Teachable Moment’s primary narrative rests on the four stroke survivor stories, the film is punctuated with a chorus of medical experts that illustrate the science behind stroke, available treatments and controllable risk factors. After interviewing each doctor, we storyboarded original animation to very literally bring their remarks to life. Tiffany established an art direction that was elastic in nature to be both playful and medically sound. Rob and Dan animated this “textbook” treatment and turned retro diagrams on their head, inviting a self-aware design and humor that disrupts the otherwise soulful and somber mood of the documentary. 

Always Teaching Moments

Never has a single project demanded the collective efforts of an already really large and ridiculously talented team, becoming a metaphor unto itself of the extraordinary change that we can make when we all come together. As the documentary plays through the film festival circuit in search of broad distribution, we encourage individuals and groups to host private screenings and make a difference in local communities. A call to action for everyone, A Teachable Moment seeks to empower viewers with the knowledge that strokes are preventable, treatable and beatable.