Help us tell Michelle's story of hope for diabetes
$7,310 raised
3% of $250k goal
45 contributors
22 Days running

Meet Michelle.

Michelle is afraid to go to sleep for fear of not waking up. She is afraid to collapse and fall down the stairs. She worries about driving her car and walking to work. She is a wife, a mother, a daughter and a friend, and hypoglycaemic crashes are a constant, unpredictable and life-threatening reality in Michelle’s life. At 27, she was diagnosed with Type 1 MODY (Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young) and has been managing this disability for 12 years now.

We need to tell this story...

We want to make a documentary film that will chronicle what it is like to live with diabetes and follow Michelle as she undergoes a transplant surgery pioneered in Alberta called the Edmonton Protocol, that has the potential to change her life. Michelle's story of resilience and courage will inspire and remind us of just how precious life is, all while asking us about our responsibility given that knowledge.

The purpose of the “Michelle’s Hope” film is to educate people about diabetes and the Edmonton Protocol surgery, but moreover to inspire people to live their best life, despite the hand they were dealt, and to show people it can be done, with a little bit of hope. Tapping into this emotion, the film can then be used as a tool to raise funds for diabetes research.

... and we need to do it right

To make this film right, we are raising money to pay for a professional film crew. Professionals will provide a film that is engaging and emotional, and that has longevity. We are asking you to contribute money to the making of the film, so that it can be used as a fundraising tool for many years to come.

It takes many people to organize, execute and deliver a professional film that has value. Your contribution today will go toward paying for the following services:

Producer team

The Producer/Directors are the glue. They spend countless hours creating the concept, developing the story, raising funds to pay for the production, hiring the right crew, organizing the moving parts, managing the paperwork, dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on insurance, accounting and legal matters, overseeing the advancement and marketing the project to all stakeholders; investors and crew alike.

Production crew

It will take around 30 days of filming to represent Michelle and her story with the right depth, accuracy and sensitivity. Many of these days will require more than one camera to capture the essence of what is being filmed. Not only do we need a Director of Photography, but also a second Camera Operator and an assistant to aid in managing equipment. On top of the visuals, a good documentary film employs a Sound Technician, to ensure all interviews have clean, clear audio to tell the story.

The edit process

The editor reviews 30 days worth of footage and condenses it into an hour long finished product. This is no small feat. He weaves the elements and tells the story. He combines the audio recordings with the video footage, and then masterfully adds music to draw emotion out of the viewer.

Other costs

  • Equipment rental
  • Insurance
  • Accounting
  • Travel costs for the crew to go to Edmonton with Michelle
  • Music composition/soundtrack
  • Still photographer for marketing
  • Marketing strategists
  • Advertising costs
  • Film festival entries

Our timeline is tight.

Michelle's operation is scheduled for May 2018. We need to secure $78,000 to even begin filming. If we do not reach that target, monies will be returned. Please support us today to not only reach this financial goal, but the full budget, so that we can tell Michelle's story, and the story many people with diabetes go through every day. Together with your financial support for the making of this film, we can celebrate Michelle’s journey and raise awareness for diabetes. Join us by making a contribution today and make this film a reality.

But with your help, our team can make it happen!

As former colleagues in the education industry, Michelle thought to call Jillian Lee, of In Through the Window Productions, to help her tell her story. Jillian recently left education to go back to her previous career in video production and the timing was perfect. Humanitarian-focused, people stories are right up Jillian’s alley so this project was an automatic yes for her. Jillian and Michelle have partnered with Leader Productions to bring Michelle's story to life. With the guidance of Executive Producer Michelle Gayse and Director of Photography Al Leader, we know we have the perfect combination of ingredients to create a powerful and inspiring film. All that's missing is you! 


Michelle grew up in the Maritimes (NB and NS) and moved with her husband and 2 daughters in 2012 when he was transferred to Calgary. Leaving ALL family behind in the Maritimes to move to an unknown city meant that they suddenly had to manage all on their own. Today, despite Michelle’s family being 5000 miles away, they have found that they still get lots of help and support. They have found a community in Calgary and Michelle’s mom flies regularly across the country at the age of 70 to help out.

Michelle went to Dalhousie University and received a BA, with a major in Spanish, her 3rd language after English and French. She then went on to Mount Saint Vincent for a BEd and after both her children were born, returned to MSVU to complete her Masters in Education. She now works at a K-12 French immersion school, that also teaches Spanish. Michelle loves spending her summers back on the waters of Nova Scotia with family. In the winter, many weekends are spent in the mountains, snowboarding. Yes, she gets the best of both worlds!


Executive Producer - Michelle Gayse

With a passion for storytelling, Michelle Gayse began her diverse media career nearly three decades ago. Michelle worked in newsrooms across Western Canada as an Anchor, Producer and Reporter until 2002. She excels as a journalist, host, production coordinator, producer and director. Michelle is the co-founder of Leader Production Services, along with Director of Photography Al Leader. She is also a proud member of the Alberta Media Production Industries Association. Her work includes producing and directing for broadcast clients such as Discovery Channel, NHL Network and Vice TV, and corporate partners including Enbridge, ATB Financial and Shaw Communications. Michelle is also sought-after for voiceover projects and as on-camera talent for television commercials. Michelle has been recognized as an accomplished storyteller by AMPIA and the Houston International Film Festival.

Producer & Director - Jillian Lee

Jillian is a Storyteller, and Agent of Change, delivering multi-platform, inspirational content. She believes sharing our personal stories will connect & unite us, and in doing so, make the world a better place - that's why she founded In Through the Window Productions. Her very first project ever as a Director was to write, produce and direct two videos for Kira’s Day; a fundraising event for the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation. Jillian then went on to write, produce and direct several web-tv corporate videos, and was Assistant Director of two episodes of YTV’s Prank Patrol; one of which was nominated for a Gemini Award. Jillian soon went on a 6-year hiatus from video production, though, to raise her 2children. She took a job at their school, eventually heading the school’s Library & Information Technology efforts, specializing in Advancement & Innovation. In 2017, Jillian left that position, to go back into documentary filmmaking, and pursue her dreams. She is most recently credited as Assistant-Producer and Production Coordinator of the web series Being There - Helping Caregivers See Their Place in the Story.


Director of Photography - Al Leader

Al travels the world telling compelling stories. His travel experience reads like a National Geographic: Antarctica, China, Argentina, Indonesia, Croatia, USA, Bolivia, Yemen, UK, Nigeria, Cayman Islands, Australia, Ecuador, Panama, Japan and Vietnam, to name a few. Al brings 27 years of professional experience as a DOP / Director and visual storyteller in the television and film industry. He is a member of the prestigious CSC- Canadian Society of Cinematographers, Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, National Press Photographers Association and Alberta Media Production Industries Association. His work has been recognized by professional organizations such as the Academy Awards, Canadian Screen Awards, Canadian Society of Cinematographers, National Press Photographers Association, Houston International Film Festival and Alberta Media Production Industries Association Awards.


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As a very special thank you to those who contribute $5,000 and over, your name or organization will be featured in the film's closing credits.
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