A multi-platform documentary project by Hop To It Productions
in collaboration with the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation.
IBS: A Pain in the Ass is a multi-platform project about the complex condition called “IBS” (irritable bowel syndrome) that affects millions of millennial women. The symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and gas which can be extremely embarrassing and debilitating. According to the US National Library of Medicine, Canada has one of the highest rates of IBS in the world at 25.2%, particularly Ontario. 65% of the cases affect women. The typical age of onset for IBS is between 21-35 years.
This project explores what is known and not known about IBS the latest and best ways to cope through characters, content and platforms that resonate with millennial audiences including TV, digital videos, podcasts, humour, Pinterest and Instagram.
Currently in development, IBS: A Pain in the Ass is an intimate one-hour character-driven, point-of-view documentary that will follow three primary characters who suffer from IBS. During the course of our filming the characters will be experiencing symptoms and/or undergoing a diagnosis and/or exploring treatment and coping strategies for IBS. We are currently casting our characters with the assistance of the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation (CDHF).
Through our character’s on-camera actions and experiences, the audience will learn first hand about the causes and effects of IBS and its impact on their friends, family and life. There is no definitive cure for IBS yet, but our characters will be learning about four main “therapies” including stress reduction, diet, medicine/supplements and the microbiota. The first-person coverage will draw in the audience so that they connect and relate personally to our characters and what they are going through.
We’ll film our characters in their day-to-day routines, getting up in the morning, preparing a meal, meeting with family and friends, heading to work, shopping, relaxing and/or going out in the evening, as well as with doctors and experts. We will conduct at least three interviews with each of our primary characters over the course of the filming period, getting to know them better over time and seeking to establish a sense of intimacy and to capture their innermost thoughts and reflections about living with IBS.
All three main characters talk about the isolation and anxiety they experience resulting from this mysterious condition. They talk about the effects of the stigma and the need for greater understanding. They are all seeking different treatments (of which there are many). During the filming phase, we will devise techniques with extra cameras and/or cell phone recordings to encourage them to share their innermost thoughts when they are suffering.
Additional minor characters will be filmed in shorter increments to paint a wider picture about the possible causes, the physical and socio-cultural effects and many possible therapies or coping strategies for IBS. These characters will include IBS patients, advocates, doctors and/or experts.
Through the lives of our characters, viewers will learn about IBS and what is – and is not – known about the complex condition and treatment.
The TV documentary will act as a centerpiece to activate the rest of the IBS: A Pain in the Ass multiplatform project. It will engage, create awareness, start a conversation and drive audiences to our other digital channels for further information, and vice versa.
More About IBS
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a complex functional bowel disorder of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract characterized by recurrent abdominal pain and discomfort accompanied by gas and alterations in bowel function (diarrhea, constipation or a combination of both). The definitive cause of IBS is unknown and there is no actual disease, just a collection of extremely unpleasant, often highly embarrassing, debilitating symptoms.
A diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome has been reported by up to 20% of adults in North America. Canada apparently has the highest rate in the world (over 6 million cases). It affects twice as many women as men on average, often between the ages of 20 and 49. Research suggests that Irritable Bowel Syndrome is one of the most common functional GI disorders and is one of the most common reasons for consultation with a primary care physician or gastroenterologist (over 3.5 million yearly visits). It is often strongly associated with another millennial epidemic, anxiety, but the exact relationship between gut, brain, hormones and stress is not clear.
Despite IBS showing to have a significant negative impact on quality of life, it is a very poorly understood condition. Most people suffer in silence, too embarrassed to talk about symptoms. It is estimated that as few as 30% of people with IBS symptoms seek medical attention. There is still a stigma associated and it has frequently been dismissed as “all in women’s heads”.
There is no magic cure yet but there are definitely effective strategies for coping and reducing symptoms. The primary recommendations are usually “avoid trigger foods” and “reduce stress”.