On a sunny winter’s day video creator Josh Janssen set out to capture the story of Hearth founder Justin Scanlon’s passion and commitment.
But the day delivered much more for Josh and everyone involved with the shoot – thanks to Justin’s son, the spirited, indefatigable Tristan Scanlon.
First came the learning.
“Tristan has Cerebral Palsy,” Josh explains.
“Cerebral Palsy is something I had little exposure to – I still have to use spellcheck every time I type it out. And my lack of knowledge in the area extended well beyond its spelling.”
Josh’s experience isn’t unusual.
Even though Cerebral Palsy is the most common physical childhood disability in Australia with an estimated 700 new cases each year, there remain gaps when it comes to understanding cerebral palsy. This is not just in the broader community, but in the specialist world of scientific research as well. So, the work there continues.
For Josh though, meeting Tristan and his dad Justin, and bringing to life on screen a special Australian story resonated strongly. It tapped into his passion for sharing stories with the public which he has done for over ten years.
“In my job as a video creator, I’m lucky to be exposed to new people and places on a regular basis. The camera is a unique tool that opens doors and people; it provides permission to ask questions that I normally wouldn’t feel comfortable asking,” Josh said.
To be fair, it was the way the warm natured Josh and his chilled out sound engineer Fabrice engaged Tristan which probably made for perfect chemistry throughout the nine-hour shoot.
The exchange was certainly picked up by one of Tristan’s favourite carers Nellie who has known him since he was 6.
“The way he [Tristan] connected with Josh and by extension the camera. There wouldn’t have been the same level of engagement had he not connected with the person on the other side of the camera,” Nellie pointed out after the shoot.
Josh took the time away from the camera to get to know Tris, and this made Tris excited and engaged with the process of filming.”
“The great thing was that there was nothing unnatural about shooting the video. Tristan and I go out for bike rides for hours at a time on days during the holidays, so it was a really natural way to capture Tristan as a person. Even when the cameras weren’t on him he was laughing and enjoying the experience,” Nellie said.
It made sense. Throughout the entire day, Tristan was in control as the crew moved through his stomping grounds – along the railway tracks, past his school, across the main shopping drag – all the while greeting neighbours as he cycled through.
Even at home, after a few hours of cycling, he was entertained during the interviews which followed.
When asked what the highlight of her day was, Nellie was emphatic in response.
“Definitely watching Tris bounce up and down on the couch while I was being interviewed outside. I knew he was watching me giggling and laughing throughout the process which made it hard to concentrate!”
For Josh, it was clear that there wasn’t just an endearing story to be told. There was purpose.
“The ‘why’ [of the video] was clear; Justin wanted to provide support to families just like his. Families who need reliable, personal care for their loved one,” Josh said.
“I am very grateful that Tristan and his family invited my sound-o Fabrice and me into their home to tell their story.”