A TV series documenting the work of the Make-A-Wish Foundation went on air this Ramadan. The 30-episode series showed an episode every day on Abu Dhabi TV during the holy month. Vibhuti Arora brings you the details The UAE chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation grants the wishes of children who suffer from life-threatening medical conditions. […]
A TV series documenting the work of the Make-A-Wish Foundation went on air this Ramadan. The 30-episode series showed an episode every day on Abu Dhabi TV during the holy month. Vibhuti Arora brings you the details
The UAE chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation grants the wishes of children who suffer from life-threatening medical conditions. The foundation was set up in 2010 by H.H. Sheikha Sheikha bint Saif bin Mohammed Al Nahyan and has since then granted the wishes of more than 700 young children. During Ramadan this year, Abu Dhabi TV aired 30 episodes of the Make-A-Wish series to showcase the work that the foundation is doing to make a difference to the lives of terminally ill children in the UAE.
The series was commissioned by Image Nation, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Media to a freelance production crew. Headed by Majid Alansari, the Executive In-Charge of Production at Image Nation, the team chronicled the work of the Make-A-Wish foundation.
Hani Alzubaidi, CEO of Make-A-Wish UAE says that by granting their most cherished wishes and letting the children have a day of fun, the foundation brings magic and joy to these childrens lives. This is an experience that the children look forward to, often holding on to it to get through tough times.
“There are some wishes where we go out and travel with the child. We have recently granted a wish for a child who wanted to visit Sir Bani Yas Island and see the animals. And so we quickly organised a trip for him and his family; he was able to see the animals and participate in other activities such as horseback riding, biking and kayaking. We also organised a surprise visit from Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to spend some time with the child,” says Alzubaidi.
Freelance DoP Kamil Roxas was roped in to produce a series on some of the wishes that were granted so as to inspire viewers to extend their support to the foundation.
“Each year in the UAE, children are diagnosed with life-threatening medical conditions. The idea of the show is to document how Make-A-Wish UAE steps in to assist these children and their families by providing an avenue for hope and strength,” says Roxas.
The series included 30 episodes of seven minutes each, which were aired throughout the holy month of Ramadan. The show featured 30 different children and their families. It took about three months to film the episodes that covered family interviews and the day the wish was fulfilled.
Two Canon 5D MkIIs and two GoPro Hero 3 HD cameras along with Canon 17-40 F4 lenses were used to shoot this series. Other key lenses for the shoot included the Canon 24-70 2.8, Canon 24-104 F4 and the Canon 70-200 F4. Besides this, the Glidecam HD2000, the Glidetrack, and the Zacuto shoulder rig were key elements of the shoot.
The production team comprised a core crew of six people including George Trummler, the producer; Kamil Roxas, the director and DoP; Steve Erana and Ihab Mokayed, the two camera operators, and Meral Niazi, the coordinator and translator. Shine TK took care of the sound.
While the production mainly took place in the UAE, the team also travelled to Qatar, Ajman, Saudi Arabia, and the Philippines among other places to shoot the occasions when the wishes of various children were granted.
Filming was not as easy as it sounds. How, for instance, do you capture the simple joy of a child who wanted to visit Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi or just wanted an iPad. In such cases, Roxas says, the team had to bring in some creative ideas.
“We would create a scenario like a red carpet setting and a beach lunch or we would bring in a celebrity whom the child liked and would have appreciated being with. This added an element of drama to the show and made it more interesting to watch.”
The schedules of the children posed yet another challenge as there were significant restrictions on what they could do due to their health conditions. The crew needed to work around these issues. Permissions had to be sought from the respective doctors ahead of the shoot.
Although the interviews were conducted in a controlled environment, the crew had to stay in the background on the actual “wish day”. This clearly meant less control over the environment and the use of natural light most of the time.
“We would just have to let the day unfold and stay in the background,” says Roxas.
“For instance, if a child wanted to be at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, wed pretty much have the camera on the glidecam and the sound man running along.”
Then there was the language barrier, which posed a challenge for the crew as most of them were not Arabic speakers. The Director relied heavily on the Arabic translator in the production and the editing stage.
The filming of the entire series took place over a period of three months between May and July. After filming an episode, the files were transferred to the editors who transcoded them and prepared them for editing and post. The file transfers were mostly done between two different shoots.
Each episode generated about 80-100 GB of footage, which were transferred using two Macbook Pros on the road.
The editing and animation were split between Kamil Roxas and Brent Spence. Two Pegasus Raid R4s were used for storage and Final Cut Pro was employed for editing. The colour correction was done using Apple Color.
The music was added using Pro Tools TDM hard disk recording system, and a Behringer 24-channel digital mixing desk. Music supervision was handled by Hussain Spek Yoosuf from PopArabia.
Several individuals and production houses came together in this project. For instance, the sound design and mixing was handled by John Kochanczyk from Mile Studios. Mango Jam Studios worked on the Intro logo sound composition while the voiceovers were undertaken at CreativeForce. The rough cut of every episode went to PopArabia for musical scoring; each episode consisted of about four to six original music cues before it went to Mile Studios for the final mixing.