How to Change a Life: Give to United Way of the Columbia-Willamette

For the third year in a row, United Way of the Columbia-Willamette reached out to Studio Kate to write, produce, shoot and edit their annual campaign video. Every year we do something special, and this year the kids made it rock. If you've ever wondered about the impact of your donation, this video will make it very clear: your generosity changes lives. Enjoy!

I could not produce this top quality video without my rock star crew and local Portland companies:
Director/Producer/Writer: Kate Raphael
Director of Photography: Kenny Allen
Sound: Alison Grayson
Grip/Gaffer: Travis Stanton
Production Assistant: Josh Winsor
Editor: Josh Williams/Fourpoint Media
Motion Graphics/Illustrator: Jotham Porzio/Fourpoint Media
Studio: Picture This
Soundtracks: Licensed through Marmoset Music, "Graham Oaks" by Marmoset Music & "Drivers" by Belvedear

History in the Making

Today, Oregon made history. Here at Studio Kate, we're doing a little dance, because we kind of love being a part of history (and we've had to keep this project a secret for so long!). Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) raised $500 million in less than two years to trigger a $500 million match by Phil and Penny Knight; that's $1 billion for research dedicated to early detection of lethal cancers, right here in Oregon. The OHSU Foundation selected Studio Kate to produce the video story celebrating the occasion, and we share their joy in the result. We are thrilled to finally be able to share the celebration with you! Take a deep breath, turn up the volume, and bask in a story that will make your day, just as it has made ours.

We dedicate this story to the members of our crew and our partners at the OHSU Foundation who have beaten cancer, and to our family and friends fighting it today. We are also forever grateful for our time working with the incredible, unstoppable, undaunted Bryce Olson and his lovely daughter (who joyfully consumed a whole lot of cereal during the shoot!); you'll soon meet them in this video. He is a role model for us all, as are all of the people fighting cancer who participated in this video. 


More than 10,000 donors joined together to meet the match. Meeting the Knights’ $500 million fundraising challenge marks the largest documented challenge pledge to succeed, according to researchers with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Executive Producer/Director Kate Raphael
Director of Photography Randy Sellars
Assistant Director Matt O'Connor
Production Coordinator Natalie Walker
Sound Brian Mazzola
Editor Slater Dixon
Composer Jessy Ribordy
Sound Design DigitalOne
Camera Operators Kenny Allen | Tom Hanson | Will Walle
Camera Utility Scott Uyeda | Gary Sadler | Steven Rogers
Stylist Melanie Clark
Production Assistants Lane Clark | Jeff Hammond | Magda Serpa | Beth Sherlock
Props/Graphic Design Sean Roney
Props/Printing Stevens Integrated Solutions
Talent Extras Only
Equipment Rental Picture This Productions




I considered giving pears as client gifts again this year. I settled on pears a few years ago because I love giving local — I order pears from Harry & David’s, based in Medford, Oregon — and pears are so, well, holidayish. But for some reason, pears feel too mundane right now. Pears won’t change the world, and it seems like, right about now, the world needs some changing.

Then I read Nicholas Kristof’s column, Gifts That Inspire (New York Times, 12/6/14). Kristof writes about ‘presents with meaning.’ He lists seven nonprofits in the United States and around the world making a positive impact. This got me thinking about an alternative to pears, but I found myself hesitating. Studio Kate is a growing business, so our gifts to clients and partners are heartfelt but modest. What can my donation really do?

Kristof read my mind: 

We want to help out, but the problems today, from gang violence in America’s inner cities to disease in India, seem so overwhelming and unrelenting that we often turn away. What possible good could one measly donation do?

The truth is that in recent years it has become clear that modest sums can help overcome disease and ease malnutrition and that innovations allow organizations to become more effective in saving lives and attacking the cycle of poverty.

Don’t…scorn a ‘drop in the bucket.’ That’s how buckets get filled, that’s how lives are changed, and that’s how opportunity is created.

There was something uncanny about his list this year: each organization listed is tackling the same, big issues our clients are tackling. Often, our clients feel alone in the fight -- the fight to bring health care to remote parts of Africa, the fight to provide quality preschool free of charge to children who have never held a book, the fight to provide innovative loans to entrepreneurs who have been shut out of the system for generations. This list, culled from Kristof's firsthand knowledge of national and international organizations, is proof you are not alone. With this gift, I want you to know we are all connected. I like to think there's a movement afoot. 

To my clients and partners: look for a card in the mail from Studio Kate. In it, I’ll explain which of the seven organizations from Kristof's list I made a donation to on your behalf, and why.

Photo by Sol Neelman

Photo by Sol Neelman

Kristof's list:

We will continue to fundraise for each of our clients through film production and distribution and through bragging about their amazing work on this site. However, right now -- in this moment in time -- I am going to redirect money spent on our gifts of appreciation from pears to people: organizations working on our same issues both nationally and internationally. I want to lift my view above the horizon, connecting -- for a moment -- all of our incredible efforts into a movement. I don't know about you, but I think it's high time for a good movement; it will take our support to get there, one drop at a time.

Watch our short video of Nicholas Kristof here.

There are so many organizations doing great work. Whose bucket are you working to fill? Why is this organization close to your heart?

Save the Date!

On Friday, January 9th, 2015, each of the five businesses selected for the inaugural class of Oregon Story Board will present a story about his or her business. It's a cross between Back Fence and the tech world's "demo day." You'll hear a story about a new way for creatives to fund projects, a new online magazine and meeting place for Oregon's entrepreneurs, a new interactive Web tool through which audience members can provide feedback, a new game company prioritizing interactive stories over shooting, and Studio Kate's new approach to telling and distributing stories that need to be heard.

If you love hearing about the trials and tribulations of the entrepreneurial life and being on the cutting edge of cool things happening in Portland, Oregon, then this event is for you! We hope you can join us.

Friday, January 9th, 2015
Exact time still to be decided, but hold your afternoon open
Hollywood Theater
4122 NE Sandy Boulevard

Come join us! It will fill up, so send me a note and I'll put your name on the list. 


Email me here >>

Two of the smartest people in the world.

Do you believe adversity makes you smarter? 

June and Pete are two of the smartest people I have ever met, and it is not because of an advanced degree. In fact, there is no class for this. It is because they are facing a challenge and are survivors. 

Our whole crew learned so much in the hours we spent filming Pete and June. About six years ago, each learned of a cancer diagnosis. Since then, they have been going through treatment at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). In spending a day with each of them, we learned how adversity readjusts your lens, focusing you on what you care about in the world. You really care about your husband or your wife, your children, and your dog. You really care about your friends. And you really care that you are given this day, and the next, and the next. So you choose carefully how you spend those hours. 

By the end of the day, we were each sharing our own stories of adversity. Each of us has a story, and we realized that it was in this moment of intense personal challenge, when our boats capsized, that we righted ourselves and sailed closer to our true calling: Pete as a coach; June as a research advocate at OHSU; me as a collector and Director of personal stories that need to be heard.

Here, we offer two of those stories. 

Living isn’t just having a heartbeat or an inhale or exhale of air. To live? Well, to live is to have a life that we look forward to each and every day – a life that our families and loved ones look forward to sharing with us each and every day.
— Pete Julian

Do you need a small dose of perspective today? Take a minute to meet Pete and June.

What challenging moments have made you smarter? I want to hear your story, too. 

With gratitude,


P.S. We are so grateful to the Oregon Business Association for hiring Studio Kate for the third year in a row to produce and share stories that celebrate the best of Oregon at an awesome event at the Convention Center every October. This year the honorees were Phil & Penny Knight and the Knight Challenge. The Knight Challenge, when met, will provide $1 billion to Oregon Health & Science University for cancer research. Thanks, Ryan and Gina, and thank you, Phil and Penny Knight.

P.S.S. Like all of our stories, we produced this short documentary with a rock star team:

  • Director of Photography: Randy Sellars
  • Second camera: Kenny Allen
  • Grip/Gaffer: Tom Hanson
  • Sound: Brian Mazzola
  • Production Coordinator: Julia Oliver 
  • Editor: Margaret Andres
  • Motion Graphics: Josh Balleza
  • Music Composer: Nick Lambert & Jessy Ribordy, Osiander Music Studios