“Remember that time when I couldn’t make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich because I couldn’t see it?”
The Blind Cook. This is a project I worked on from concept to delivery, and it is close to my heart. How could it not be?
Hearing Christine’s story of struggle and triumph reminds us all that we’re human, and she’s a no different. An expert at facing the challenges in life, Christine has more insight than many will have in a lifetime. From losing her mother at a young age (I can relate, I lost my father at a young age) she powered through one of life’s biggest challenges to find herself with a very serious condition, Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO) an optical and spinal nerve disorder. From being fully paralyzed, to a loss of vision – I can’t even imagine what she has been through. My worst fears. Of course, she didn’t choose to go through it – was their any other choice? No. And that’s how life goes. We all have our stories, and that’s why this one is close to my heart. Christine and her husband John are some awesome people, and they’re no different than you or I. The power to succeed over struggle is within all of us.
“When I first went to college, I didn’t even know how to steam rice in a rice cooker.”
It all started with a GoPro Awards submission from John, Christine’s Husband: How The Blind Cook.
On the back-end at GoPro I saw the submission, intrigued, I looked up the name… “The Blind Cook – Christine Ha” … wait. Rewind to years and year before. Master Chef. Season 3. I watched the entire season and remember rooting for Christine to win. After all, it’s quite amazing to watch someone who’s blind just crush her competition. Here I was with a great opportunity to connect with Christine (something I could have never imagined back then) and provide GoPro with a great opportunity to not only highlight the challenges of the physically challenged, but also women, and the cooking industry.
Christine and John were humble and welcoming from the beginning. A month later myself and my Producer, Phil Matteini were hopping a plane to Houston.
The shoot went well, we ate some great food, and also learned that Christine and John are still just normal people. We all like beer, good food, friends, and relaxation. We had a great time, (Well except maybe Phil.. who, at a random restaurant ate a bad crawfish and ended up hugging the toilet most of the trip!!). When we were in production, her resturant was under construction so we couldn’t shoot there – but it’s open now. So if you’re in the greater Houston area – go checkout The Blind Goat – tell em Alex Hogue sent you!
Going into this project, I knew the most important part was telling Christine’s story. I wanted to make sure it was truly authentic. As the director and editor I wanted to be sure not to bend the truth. My goal was to create an inspirational / motivational video that cultivates and tells the journey that Christine has endured. I wanted her stamp of approval on it, knowing this is her life.
Because of that I knew the interview would be hugely important. I wanted her to tell her story to the world. No scripts, no staged lines. This would be the backbone of the entire video. So I prepped questions and her responses often brought tears to both our eyes. This is where the post-production had to start. Log the footage, take note and markers on what is said. This was the foundation for the video. But it’s important to not just tell it from a talking head – it was important to capture the raw moments, the interactions between her and John, and real world moments (grocery store, mail etc).
I wanted the viewer to walk away seeing how the blind live, and use her success story as a thread to inspire and overcome.
It’s worth noting that Christine is an incredible speaker. She’s given TED talks, and speaks all over the world to large audiences. Going through the interview yielded so much incredible content that it made it very hard to choose what moments to include, and what had to stay on the cutting room floor.
The project continued to progress over time and various internal screenings. Above you can see what a (nearing final) timeline sequence inside premier would look like. Color was done in DaVinci Resolve. Sound was mixed by our (GoPro’s) sound wizard, Nicholas Johnson via Logic.
The biggest challenges with this piece was keeping it moving. Cooking is not the typical GoPro audience, but that doesn’t mean we have to put ourselves in a box. Cooking, and indoor content isnt typically always very exciting visually. I knew this video was all about the power behind the story. I wanted to make it different than a ‘cooking video’ but not just a talking head.
For a bit more behind the scenes, checkout GoPro’s Inside Line post with some more content from Christine. A special thanks to GoPro for allowing me this opportunity.
I think everyone can walk away from this video with a truer self. A reminder that everything you have may not be there tomorrow. Post your thoughts, questions, and comments below. Then go book your ticket to Houston and visit The Blind Goat.
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