Client Profile + BTS: Les Turner ALS Foundation
April 05, 2019
By Michelle Maslanka • Producer

Our latest project with long-standing client, the Les Turner ALS Foundation, wrapped up about a month ago, and it took us on an emotional journey like no other. This marked our fourth “Hope Through Caring” project together, and we wanted to create something different with just as much impact. One of the Gala’s honorees, Mindy Evans-Williams, was to be featured in the video. Her incredible, unique story and the theme of “paying it forward” inspired an approach we had not taken on past projects.

Hallie Kobylski, Marketing and Communications Associate at the Foundation, joined us from the beginning of the project and was there every step of the way.

“While we intended to follow the same process and style of our previous Gala videos, without missing a beat, the team at Motion Source came to us with a bold new direction. Instead of our usual interview-style production, they pitched a documentary-style project that highlighted two longtime Les Turner ALS family members, Mindy Evans-Williams and Steve Heronemus, both 20+ year ALS survivors.

This new direction, completely unscripted and reactionary, allowed for us to capture the raw emotions of Mindy and Steve’s story and the role they played in each other’s journey with ALS. And not even a polar vortex could keep the Motion Source team from our filming dates!”

- Hallie Kobylski

Yes, it was absolutely freezing outside, but there was so much warmth within each of the homes we visited. The two families welcomed us with open arms, and shared with us both heart-wrenching and heartwarming details of their journeys with ALS. It is never easy to go into someone’s home and ask them to divulge such personal information, yet everyone trusted in us and the process, and that makes all the difference. It is because of them, we have the video we do today.

I would be remiss not to mention Laurie B. Fieldman, MS, LCSW, the Director of Social Services at the Foundation, and her role in the video. Her special relationship with Mindy and her bubbly personality made her the perfect person to help tie the whole concept together. We enlisted Laurie’s help to carry the storyline through its chapters.

In keeping with a very common documentary technique, we opted to capture some of Laurie’s portion through a drive-and-talk interview. Not only did this work well with our overall concept, as Laurie needed to drive to Mindy’s house, it also allowed for Laurie to talk freely without the constraints of a standard interview. It kept the story engaging and moving forward, and brought the audience along for the ride.

Production BTS: Director Jeff Bruninga conducted the interview from the back seat while monitoring audio and Director of Photography David Gall captured the interview from the passenger seat using a Sony a7S with a DJI Ronin-S.

Adding a surprise element to a project creates a new layer of complexity. Keeping certain people in the know and others in the dark can be challenging to coordinate. We imagine how the scene will play out, but, once rolling, we are left to watch it organically unfold, hopeful that genuine, human emotions surface. And they did.

The 2019 Hope Through Caring Gala took place on Saturday, March 9th at a new venue, Rockwell on the River, which added to the excitement of the evening. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend the event and experience it firsthand. The buzz amongst the attendees was undeniable. 21 people living with ALS were in attendance, including Mindy and Steve.

The video premiered at the Gala and captivated the crowd. There were tears, smiles, and even a few laughs, thanks to Mindy’s wicked sense of humor!

“We shared the video the night-of right before our paddle raise. After raising a record-breaking $243,500 from the paddle raise alone, it’s safe to say the video was a smashing success. And it was truly special since both Mindy and Steve were in the audience to share in the experience.”

- Hallie Kobylski

The evening raised over $620,000 in total, so it is without a doubt that Mindy’s story inspired others to pay it forward.