SMILE Program // Documentary Film
The Oakland County Friend of the Court provides services to parents who are going through divorce. Through their SMILE (Start Making it Livable for Everyone) program, an Oakland County Circuit Court mandated program, all parents with minor children who are divorcing or involved in a privately filed paternity, custody, or support case can learn how to co-parent during and after a divorce is finalized.
The SMILE program had a brochure and a training DVD produced in the 90s. Since the video was first produced, a lot of the material taught in the program needed to be updated. So, they hired us to produce an updated video! In looking at the material that needed to be taught and the intended audience, we brought up the idea of producing a documentary-style, interview-based video. The plan was to film interviews with several families who were going through divorce so that viewers could learn from those experiences and see how those families successfully navigated the co-parenting process.
Pre-production phone interviews were conducted with many families. In coordination with our client, three families were selected to appear in the documentary film. Over the course of three days, we filmed nine interviews, b-roll, and also various scenes with actors. It was a busy three days while our crew filmed around Detroit and the surrounding suburbs.
During filming, we were able to meet a lot of interesting people. One of the people we featured lived in her car for a period of time. She handed her daughter over to her ex-husband during this time because she didn’t want her daughter to live outside in the freezing car. To illustrate this scene, we filmed an actor living outside near the abandoned Packard Automotive Plant in Detroit, MI.
In addition to all of the ground footage we filmed, we also flew our aerial drone to capture video of various landscapes around Michigan.
Post production included logging many hours of interviews and b-roll footage. In addition to the longer documentary film, we also produced a shorter version and segments for in-class training. Closed captioned DVDs were made and distributed to various stakeholders across the State of Michigan.