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Improving neonatal care in Ethiopia - A short film production

Updated: Jul 2, 2021

Voluntary Service Overseas commissioned our video production agency to produce this NGO / charity short film and photography. The aim was to raise funds and awareness to support VSO's project.


In Ethiopia 240 babies die every day due to a lack of the right medical care. Hospitals are limited in number, underfunded and understaffed.

When British Volunteer Nurse Miriam Etter arrived in Ethiopia she knew that to help save more babies' lives they needed to set up a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

The new NICU was created and the transformation has been incredible. Miriam, volunteering for VSO, led the setup of the NICU and trains the local neonatal nurses.

Ethiopia is a financially poor but beautiful country, with the people warm and welcoming. During this production, we witnessed the struggle for life many infants face, with some of the babies we filmed dying shortly after production due to a blackout at the hospital and a failed backup generator.

With no staff to monitor the blackout and react, some of the babies were starved of supplemental oxygen and didn't make it through the night.

It was quite a difficult situation to experience, and an honour to tell the stories of the dedicated and industrious nurses working to save babies' lives.

Our short film highlights the difference the NICU has made to the lives of mothers and babies in Ethiopia:

The Shoot:

Paul of Mandolin Media reprised his usual role of Director of Photography for this film, Photographer and Post Production Editor. He undertook all of the filming, audio, lighting and photography for the project on location, and post production back in the studio.

We used a Canon 5D MIII for this shoot, gimbal/stabilisation equipment and handheld shots, a range of lenses and DJI Phantom drone for the aerial shots.

The interview set up comprised portable LED light panels, sennheiser lav mics, and a single camera setup. As Paul filmed as a solo shooter, this set up was designed to be portable but able to capture a variety quality footage and photos.

Meryl Westlake of VSO worked as producer on the the trip and led the interviews, and was a great all-round help and fun to work with!

The filming and photography took place over three days in Suhul and the nearby area.

Paul edited the photos and footage, and worked with feedback from the client to produce the completed short film.

To find out more:

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