When filmmakers Chris and Krista Francis got diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this year, they decided to make the best of a sour situation.
They filmed their illness and recovery, and the result is a documentary called “Making Lemonade: Our COVID-19 Story.”
Chris has been running his video production company, Rosedale, for 11 years. He was busy with video projects in March before the pandemic brought their business to a halt.
“Everything changed so quickly,” he says.
Then right after lockdown, they both got sick. Krista got sick first with a loss of smell and taste. Then Chris had a sinus infection, headache, and coughing. Both tested positive for COVID-19.
Chris was bored during his isolation and decided to document their illness and recovery process. “It’s what a filmmaker does,” he says. They started filming guerrilla style with their iPhone 11 Pros. Slowly they started to use their professional equipment, which had been locked in a shared office space. Over time, friends were able to drop off Chris’ cameras, lighting, and other equipment at the couple’s San Diego apartment.
The first edit of the documentary was 13 minutes. But then the couple started doing medical research and documented that process as well. The finished film is 46 minutes.
The film was always about making the best of the situation. A while after they chose their title, “Making Lemonade,” Chris realized the name was “serendipitous” because when he donated plasma, he noticed when it was separated from the blood, it was yellow and looked like lemonade.
“We couldn’t control getting the virus. We couldn’t control what it was going to do to us,” he says. “But we could control how we were going to respond to what happened to us. And we really wanted to do as much good as possible to help other people.”
They’ve participated in over 20 volunteer medical studies. Krista is participating in a year-long study at UCSD; Chris donated plasma; and both participated in a serology test. They’ve documented the whole process.
Recovery has been slow for both of them. They consider themselves long-haulers with Chris’s cough still persisting. Krista’s sense of smell is coming back, but her sense of taste is lagging.
While the pandemic took away business opportunities for the couple, it also opened up the possibility of pursuing passion projects — something Chris has wanted to do for a while.
“I’ve been wanting to transition into original content for a long time,” he says. “It’s just never been a good time to turn down paid client work for five or six months to tackle a passion project.”
Their film, which is now available on Google Play, YouTube, Vimeo on Demand, and Tubi, has received five film awards. Feedback has been positive with viewers saying it’s funny, hopeful, informative, and inspiring.
The couple is eager to move forward and rebuild their careers, with a new focus on producing original content. Chris is grateful to focus on filmmaking instead of office work.
“I’m the one that makes sure we get paid,” says Krista, who has a 9-to-5 job and handles accounts management for their production company.
They credit Wave — free financial software built for entrepreneurs — with helping them streamline their business and manage their money, including sending and tracking invoices. Wave also offers a no-fee bank account for small business owners, Wave Money, that manages bookkeeping automatically.
Many other entrepreneurs are ready for a fresh start too. Wave wants to help small business owners move forward and rebuild post-pandemic.
“Our goal at Wave is to remove obstacles so entrepreneurs like Chris and Krista can focus on what they are passionate about, without worrying about the back-office tasks that can make running a small business feel daunting,” says Kirk Simpson, co-founder and CEO of Wave. “Chris and Krista are the best example of entrepreneurial drive in the face of financial and health challenges. They turned what could’ve been a crippling situation into a new business venture, and it’s stories like theirs that motivate us to do everything we can to help entrepreneurs run their business with ease and make room for innovation.”