Act3’s film on health disparities wins AIGA St. Louis design award
ST. LOUIS, APRIL 20, 2012 – Act3’s short film, “This is Bill. He has Diabetes.” has been selected for inclusion in the AIGA St. Louis Design Show 17.
The film places a fictional St. Louisan’s struggle with diabetes in the context of public health care challenges facing the city and nation. It was produced for the St. Louis Beacon to promote Worlds Apart, their ongoing series on health disparities in the St. Louis region.
“We knew that we needed a layer on top of the reporting to help draw out some of the connections between the concepts and data points, to help people see their intersections in a new way,” explained Nicole Hudson Hollway, General Manager of the Beacon.
The challenge was to “take a very complex set of ideas and circumstances, and deliver those to an audience—regardless of who they were—so that there was a global human quality to it,” said Act3 principal Ben Kaplan, who directed the film and voiced the narration. “It was important that there was an emotional center to the piece, which comes from Bill and his personal story, but also that there was an intellectual layer to it, which comes from the data and showing the relationships between the data and real people.”
Sally Altman, the Beacon’s Health and Science editor, was thrilled with the result. “Act3 took what was an incredibly complicated story, and told this story through Bill, a single individual, from the beginning of how it happened to why it matters to each and every one of us. And it’s brilliant. It really is a terrific summary of health-care issues in almost any area of our country.”
When she shows the film, Altman said, “Everybody says, “Oh, it’s so clear! Oh, I get it! Oh, what a great summary of such a complicated problem! And it’s not political, that’s the other terrific part of it.
“But what’s best about it is, it’s a summary of the problem, but it’s also the starting point for a lot of discussion,” Altman continued. “It doesn’t stop the conversation. It encourages conversation.
“I've shown the video to many different groups, and in every case, it's stimulated passionate and intelligent discussions of health care issues in our country. And not, 'should there be universal health care?' but rather, why it matters and how deep and how complicated the story is.”
Since its release in November 2011, the film has been screened before numerous audiences with an investment in public health issues, including the faculty and staff of the Washington University Institute of Public Health.
After watching the film, one of the physicians in the audience, a general surgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospitalwho was completing post-doctoral training to get a Master of Public Health (MPH), told Altman, “This is an incredible summary of our health care system, and it should be shown to every medical student.”
Reyna L. Jones, MPH, Public Health Communications Consultant, echoed this doctor’s sentiments. “I was blown away with how you took such a complex topic and simplified it to perfection. Anybody watching that video should get an honorary MPH because they would then be able to accurately articulate the social determinants of health and health disparities.”
The piece has proven tremendously valuable for the Beacon. “The Beacon is really distinguishing itself in addressing the underserved and public health community concerns in health care,” Altman said, “and this video supports our efforts and our reputation in that regard.”
Altman plans to continue to use the piece in the coming year, as part of the Beacon’s collaboration with the Washington University Institute of Public Health to reach into the community and address issues of obesity and diabetes at the neighborhood level.
While Kaplan said he’s surprised by the overwhelming response to the piece, he attributes its success to the process used to develop it. “The process we used for this was the process Act3 uses for all of its clients. It’s about understanding the stories that we tell each other and that we tell ourselves about these problems, and the question is, ‘How do you reframe this story so that a wider audience, the audience we're trying to reach, connects to it?’”
The opening reception for the AIGA St. Louis Design Show 17 will be Friday, April 20, at 7:00 pm at the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission, 6128 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, Missouri 63112-1204.
Act3 is a strategic and applied storytelling firm that applies the principles and tools of storytelling to help organizations solve their most complex problems. To learn more, visit http://www.thisisact3.com/.
About the St. Louis Beacon
The St. Louis Beacon is a non-profit news organization dedicated to creating a better St. Louis powered by journalism. Learn more at http://www.stlbeacon.org/.
About AIGA St. Louis
AIGA St. Louis is the St. Louis Chapter of AIGA, the professional association for communication design. AIGA is committed to furthering excellence in communication design as a broadly-defined discipline, strategic tool for business and cultural force. Learn more at http://stlouis.aiga.org/.