A guest post by: Laine McDonnell, Digital Communications Manager at ProKids
Sharing the stories of the children we serve is one of our favorite things to do here at ProKids. Every year we assemble a cast of talented community actors and get to demonstrate how we speak up for a family of children in efforts to break the cycle of abuse and neglect.
This year we wanted to let you all come behind the scenes to see how this video gets made. And this year, for me, it was very personal. You’ll see why!
Our very first scene! Our school scenes were shot at Freedom Elementary in West Chester. And our talented actress who plays “Angel” got right into character.
This year my husband played the her teacher. He played the principal in last year’s video, but we only showed him from the neck down so we were able to convince him to come back and do it again for us!
And the school therapist was played by mother, who in real life is….. an actual adolescent therapist! She was great with our child actors. She’s explaining right now how I’m her “kid” to “Angel” who is not buying it.
Our camera man, Ezra Paul Grundy, is able to get some of his great shots by using a camera drone he controls using his phone. We used the drone a lot this year to get sweeping scenery and dynamic location shots. (look for drone shots at the playground, dentist, and some other spots too). Note: it’s really hard to get kids to act and not look at the drone.
The actress who plays adult “Shandra” is so convincing because she’s a caseworker who works with adults experiencing similar situations to her character. She put together her own costumes and blew us away from the very first take.
The actress who plays “Monique”, the woman who adopts Angel and Lucas, is the real life mom to the actress who plays Angel and aunt to the actor who plays Lucas. It was great to be able to shoot them together as a pod during pandemic restrictions. She is also an accomplished local singer and performer.
The home we used for their forever home is – my house! That is a real ficus tree in the corner. And I had no idea just how large a Barbie Dreamhouse was when I signed up to procure one for this scene.
I just love this action shot of “Lucas” jumping on the bed in the hotel. We shot the scenes with the kids completely separately from the scenes with Shandra and the caseworker to keep everyone safe. Even through they look like they’re in the same hotel room, the two halves of the cast never even met!
Our caseworker isn’t a caseworker in real life. But his wife is one of our CASA Managers! He is also a very talented actor. His wife played herself in our 2019 video. One of these years we’ll get them to star together…
Our last shot with the kiddos – it was really hard to get such happy amazing kids to play children who go through so much heartache. But they worked very hard and truly did an amazing job.
A special thanks to staff member Raynal Moore for finding our adult Shandra and to staff member Brenda Gray for finding a family that contained every single other member of the cast including our brave 3-year-old Shandra!
And now you can watch the whole story knowing the whole story: