Type-1 Diabetes from a Documentary Filmmaker’s Perspective…

J.D.was in a Bible study of mine when I was living in Minneapolis last year. He had told me his love and passion for telling other people’s story through the eye of a camera lens. Because I was looking to have a new speaker’s video created…he shot me some ideas. As a lot of you know, the final product was a video that now has had almost 8,000 views in just a few short weeks. In a recent conversation with JD I asked him if he would guest post on my blog about what he learned about someone living with type-1 diabetes from filming this short project with me. Here are his fascinating responses below…..

By: J.D. O’Brien

I’m a documentary filmmaker because I love to tell stories, and I believe that everyone has a story worth hearing. This job allows me to hear people’s stories, and then help shape and craft them so those stories can be shared with lots of people.

J.D. O'Brien

J.D. O’Brien

For each video I produce, I look for a scene that the subject and I can create together that will create a break from seeing a talking head for the duration of the video, but also show the audience another angle of the subject’s character and personality. For Quinn, figure skating was a natural fit. She had competed into her teen years, and so it’s something she’s been passionate about for a long time. From a filmmaking perspective, it’s a graceful, beautiful athletic skill that was easy to capture on video. But the setting of the pond also helped establish Quinn as a small town girl from Minnesota, and it also showed that she’s a very disciplined and determined woman, and that showed equally in the moves that she accomplished flawlessly as well as the ones where she ended up on her backside.

I actually learned a lot about type-1 diabetes from making this project. The biggest thing I learned was the lack of choices involved for those with the disease. While type-2 is often preventable, type-1 strikes completely at random. For most of us, if we have a similar lifestyle of discipline and determination like Quinn showed us in the video, it’s because we’ve chosen that lifestyle. We made conscious choices to eat healthier, or stop accumulating credit card debt, or a whole host of other things. For Quinn, and others with type-1 diabetes, they either needed to develop that determination and discipline as children, or they would die. There were no other options.

I hope that all of my films create an opportunity for the audience to walk a mile in the shoes of someone else. In this case, the shoes of someone living with type-1 diabetes. I hope that they walk away with a greater appreciation for the struggles of those living with type-1 diabetes. I also hope that for the portion of this audience that does live with type-1 diabetes that they can find empathy, hope and solidarity from Quinn’s story.

Here’s the final product: