Sep 11, 2017

Loudspeaker Films, founded by Kelly Amis, travels the world, capturing the places and faces that illustrate the defense of social justice, through independent films and documentary shorts. Recently, a small team from Loudspeaker traveled to rural Haiti to document some heroic healthcare professionals offering care at St. Boniface Hospital. The team incorporated GoPro into their tool kit, and found it vital to their cause. Below, Amis talks a bit about their jounrey, as well as how you can get involved.

I’d always thought of GoPro as the go-to camera for sports and action shots, but when I was planning to travel to rural Haiti and film surgeries at an amazing hospital named St. Boniface, I immediately thought of GoPros. And the company was gracious enough to donate both a HERO5 Black and a HERO5 Session to our small-budget project.

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The five-hour journey from Port au Prince confirmed what an awesome job the GoPros could do in situations where big, bulky cameras are impractical, allowing us to capture some great footage as we careened through a colorful jumble of people, cars, motorcycles, “tap tap” busses and the occasional donkey. We also got some good shots of our subjects: visiting U.S. surgeons Dr. Pierre Theodore (who organized the trip) and Dr. Hobart Harris, Chief of Surgery at UCSF, and St. Boniface President & CEO Conor Shapiro.
Once there, having unobtrusive, easy-use cameras in hand (sometimes in both hands) meant that my Director of Photography Sergei Krasikov and I could respond quickly to opportunities to film surgeries, do interviews on the fly and grab b-roll wherever a big set-up wasn't feasible, getting three or four angles of a shot with just the two of us. We used the GoPros from the operating room to the roofs of buildings (turns out Sergei is a big fan of roofs. Whenever I couldn’t find him, I eventually learned to ‘look up’).    

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The St. Boniface Hospital is an oasis for people living on Haiti’s southern peninsula, where access to any medical care whatsoever is hard to come by. It was founded in 1983 with one room, a dentist’s chair and a “parking lot of donkeys” according to Conor. Today, thanks to generous donations and in-kind support, it is a multi-building facility with a maternity ward, one of the country’s only neonatal units, a spinal cord injury rehabilitation center and a new surgical center. And they’re still building. Working with Building Health International, they’ve recently installed solar panels that will redirect $100,000/year towards more medical care.

We filmed six or seven surgeries at St. Boniface, including, on the last day, a Cesarean procedure, which was an intense and awe-inspiring experience. After the birth, Sergei stayed to finish filming the surgery while I was able to follow the newborn—now safely ensconced in a nurse’s arms—out of the operating room and into the neonatal unit without drawing attention or getting in anyone’s way.

Thank you GoPro for helping us show this beautiful place and tell its story with respect and courtesy to the staff and patients.

To contribute to St. Boniface Hospital Foundation, go here. To learn more about our work at Loudspeaker Films, go here.