The Migraine Trust tells harrowing true story with message of hope
The moving film was directed and edited by Great Guns’ Karel van Bellingen.
The film narrates the true story of van Bellingen's sister Yasmine, alongside genuine footage from her life. Having suffered from migraines from age 11, Yasmine was greatly impacted by the illness over the years, from endless appointments to feelings of isolation, finding her only escape and comfort in horses. Amazingly, antibody treatments have now changed Yasmine’s life, and we learn that she has since raised children, taught fellow riders, and trained horses, all thanks to research and support from the Migraine Trust.
Having witnessed the evolution of his sister’s experience of migraines, director Karel van Bellingen was in the perfect position to deliver on the Migraine Trust’s brief to convey a strong message of new hope. As horses and Yasmine’s illness were always so intertwined, it didn’t take long for Karel to form the idea of integrating that old family footage alongside contemporary imagery into the campaign, shaping the piece into an ode to her journey - with the new CGRP monoclonal antibody therapies providing a natural end.
Unlock full credits and more with a Source + shots membership.
As both director and editor, the two processes were tightly linked for van Bellingen when crafting this film. Piecing the narrative together in his head from the very beginning of the project, van Bellingen carefully considered the pace and mood of the editing when visualising the end result, as well as the way the flow of the shots should feel. The end result distils two decades worth of footage down to its essential parts, presenting the story in a truthful yet cinematic way.
In creating the tone of the film, van Bellingen had to strike the delicate balance between its ultimately uplifting message thanks to the arrival of new medications and the harrowing suffering that preceded it. Determined to do the story justice, van Bellingen interviewed his sister at length in order to shape the essence of her experience into an honest narration. Needing to address the severity of a monumental subject in a mere few minutes, van Bellingen was careful to offer enough weight to both the new hope and years of pain within the time frame, ensuring that the overall feeling is one of positivity without glossing over the negative.
One of the main challenges of the process was filming with the horse. Shooting in the middle of summer, the DOP had to run around it with a stabilised camera in temperatures of up to 36 degrees. With the horse feeling lethargic in the heat, the team also struggled to capture the energetic display they had seen it put on before. To allow ample time to retry the next day, they decided to get started at 4.30am, offering the combined benefits of the horse feeling fresh and playful, as well as the light being exactly where they wanted it to be. In the end, the vast majority of the footage that made it into the film was shot in the span of an hour.
Karel van Bellingen comments: “It was a real joy being able to combine all these different draws: the personal history, the dense narrative, the truthfulness and the cinematic style with a real sense of purpose in terms of the cause and the audience I was making this for. I had great collaborators in Harry Reavley, bringing his eagle eye to the camerawork, and James Locke-Hart, whose sound design never fails to elevate any piece. I can only hope the piece draws some attention to the new and effective options for life improvement that exist now for any migraine sufferers out there, and the work being done by The Migraine Trust.”