Creative Blog

Issues important to discern and creatively explore!

The Clemson Ring, The Bataan Death March, & Col. Ben Skardon

Col. Ben Skardon - Class of 1938

There are days when you are not sure what is going to cross your path…but then there are days when think you are prepared for a good story. Today was a combination of both…one of anticipation yet one of amazement.

I just finished a project telling the story of one Clemson’s most precious graduates, one who has experienced so much, and one that has so much to share. Col. Ben Skardon is that man, class of 1938 and served in World War II. Not only did he serve, but he was a prisoner of war where he did something that seemed so insignificant but has left a tremendous legacy.

As a prisoner of war, he took part in the Bataan Death March:

“Which began on April 9, 1942, was the forcible transfer by the Imperial Japanese Army of 60-80,000 Filipino and American prisoners of war after the three-month Battle of Bataan in the Philippines during World War II. All told, approximately 2,500–10,000 Filipino and 100-650 American prisoners of war died before they could reach Camp O’Donnell.”

“The 80 mi march was characterized by wide-ranging physical abuse and murder, and resulted in very high fatalities inflicted upon prisoners and civilians alike by the Japanese Army, and was later judged by an Allied military commission to be a Japanese war crime.”

But what makes this story so fascinating  is that his Clemson Ring was the one thing that helped saved his life. He used that ring while a prisoner of war to “buy” food in order to survive. He traded it for rice, the nourishment necessary to stay alive.

The only thing he has left from that experience was the spoon he used to scrape food together, his dog tags, what was called a “chop” that was used as currency, and the identification card that was made after he was released.

I am have embarked on a project to tell his story and finally I can share…one that I will remember for a lifetime. A few years ago, I sat down with him to capture the first part of his story, here is the completed project…in his own words.

*Reference information from Wikipedia.

Our students are following that passion…

It was just the other day…I received another note in the mail from one of my students. I love it. They always let me know how they are doing, where they are going, and the dreams they are chasing.

There is this massive debate…how can we take South Carolina’s educational system and turbo charge it, innovate, and move ahead of the pack.

I think it is pretty simple…quit teaching and start inspiring. Move away from the regurgitative learning process and aim towards engaging conversation. If we want to create change, build a brighter South Carolina…why not inspire students to do more than just be students.

Institutional learning has it’s place…but there is a new student emerging in South Carolina. More and more students I work with in higher education…the more I realize there is an underlying need to take part in social justice. These students want to be a part of the solution…they want to create not only “their” tomorrow but also solve age old problems.

It seems so simple…but this is so hard to execute. Why, we have to change the way we think, we teach, create curriculums, the way we grade, the way we prepare these students for industry, and on and on. But what do we have to lose…nothing!

We have so much to learn from this new class of students…we should take off our teacher hat and put on our student hat. We should start learning from those who are inspired to learn. That is why I am sharing the video above…I learned so much from Riley Csernica.

Riley had a few dreams:
1) 3 degrees by the age of 23
2) Start a business in South Carolina

We educators, business people, legislators have a lot to learn from the Riley’s of the world. We better get out our note pads, take some notes, because her class of innovators will be leading us into the next century.

Here is a story from the GSA Business concerning the first MBAe Class at Clemson. Riley was one of those students and I had the tremendous pleasure working with…each of them were extremely special!


From GSA Business
Clemson students recently finished competing for $40,000 in seed funding to launch their businesses.

First place: Brenda Morris-Wilson’s received $20,000 for her company to continue developing a clothing line for baby boomers residing in assisted living and nursing home facilities.
Second place: Riley Csernica of Tarian Orthotics received $6,000 to further commercialization of a more mobile and functional brace for those with shoulder dislocations.
Third place: Team Dabble, comprised of Carlisle Kennedy, Brendan Lopes and Josh Lopes, earned $4,000 to help expand the team’s mobile application from Clemson to other universities across the Southeast. The app aims to connect college students through events.

The students had to apply to the MBA program with a business concept in mind. The yearlong program aims to equip them with the resources needed to launch their concept. The students will graduate in August.

“The goal is to help these young people launch a successful business,” said Gregory Pickett, the director of Clemson’s new MBA program. “Each student comes into the program with an idea that gets them started. Throughout the year, they evaluate that idea and refine it, or pivot from it.”

Students learn from business people, both in and out of the classroom, about software and app development, intellectual property laws and financing, for example.

Students also work to secure capital and build on their business plans. They put the MBA concepts into practice, getting a head start on their startups while earning their degree.


Sustainability of the #Hashtag – Who Is Making Fun Now?

It is here…it works…and it is not going anywhere. I just received my latest edition of Fast Company magazine and I was reminded why this community technology is continually transforming the way we converse.

Even this article #UNPLUG surrounds the conversation of turning off electronics so we can “power back up.” An oxymoron that is using the hashtag technology to connect people and conversations meant to fuel the need to disconnect digitally. The irony…using hashtags to fuel conversations about disconnecting from the mere technology fuels connectivity.

That is my point…the hashtag platform is beyond flexible…it is now integrated across multiple social technologies.

It was Spring 2011 and I was meeting with one of my clients as we were planning a series community events. A part of the strategy to aggregate and engage conversation, I recommended using a branded hashtag to engage regular Twitter chats.

I remember sitting across the room from another vendor who was coordinating this event. Their statement…no one uses hashtags and it will not work. They actually made small chat with comments under there breathe making fun of the idea. Then…they looked at me and asked about my contract with the client. I guess they had not been watching all the #TEDxGVL events. This Greenville community was engaging in conversations during these TEDx events…chatting from the event on Twitter along with those watching from the live stream.

That same year…that same month in 2011…regular chats from health care to blogging were powered by Hashtags connecting millions of people. From #BlogChat, #HealthCareChat, and even Major League Baseball’s #postseason chat…people were connecting, engaging, and sharing conversations.

Now...Google Plus is using Hashtags as a way to connect and engage conversations. Have you used Google Plus lately…well, I have and it is amazing the difference a few years has allowed this community platform to grow and innovate powerful conversations.

Take a look at Facebook’s announcement integrating hashtags into status updates, creating conversation portals.

Hashtracking.com has now moved out of beta and provides a powerful tool for monitoring and measuring the conversations during and after hashtag chats and conversations. They are placing metrics on the number of tweets, engagement, reach, most influential, and more.

I look at the hashtag as another technology connection people and providing a platform to record the documentary of the community conversation. We can now watch conversations evolve; see videos, pictures, and links shared based on a time stamp.

I wish I was back in that meeting from 2011…I would love to give the group of naysayers a simple lesson: don’t make fun of what you don’t understand.

Remembering Ruth Bell Graham…I love her words!

I remember working on this project over seven years ago…before Mrs. Ruth Bell Graham passed away. I never had a chance to meet her, but had the pleasure working on a series of projects to tell her story.

I liked this little video we put together over seven years ago. We found an old video tape where she was telling her story. We took her words and put it to pictures. It is short because it was meant for a small part of television show sharing Billy Graham’s legacy.

She died six years ago this past Friday, so I thought I would pull it out and watch again.

I love her words.

we need storytellers…photojournalists…

I just received the latest edition of News Photographer Magazine in the mail. It is the May 2013 edition. I have subscribed to this publication probably since 1998, my early days as a news photographer at WSPA-TV.

I opened…flipped the pages…and I was overtaken by the powerful images captured in the month of May. The Boston Bombing, The George W. Bush Library Dedication, and even some images from the last year including a funeral from the Aurora movie shooting…powerful stuff.

I have no words to describe the images, the feelings, the emotion behind these images as they take us back…remind us. That is my point…these images reveal the unspoken language from these memories that we all sat back and watched.

These images were taken by experienced storytellers, photojournalists who risked so much to capture these images.

We see groups like the Chicago Sun Times fire their whole photography staff. I am not sure the motives behind this business move…but the numbers do not add up. This is a common trend in the industry. One of the main reasons why I am self-employeed…we photojournalists have a unique skill set that does not fit inside any job decription. We pay the bills with our passion to capture a story…the story as we view it…through our lens.

Michael Borland, President of NPPA, wrote in this edition his message titled “NPPA By The Numbers.” A few of these numbers stood out.

There membership is down roughly 3500 people resulting in a revenue short fall of about $374K. Is this because more and more news organizations are reducing photo staffs and those loosing jobs are not re-engaging in the organization in a post-news profession. I wonder what the percentage of these numbers are independent/self-employeed individuals like myself?

Am I a news photojournalist…no. But the organization I have been associated since 1998 is one of the few that provide the guiding principles for the way I run the creative side of my business.

Photojournalists bring life to our magazines, television, iPads, iPhones, video screens, and movie screens. We capture the slice of life that many forget to capture…those moments in time that help us remember. These images create change, provide a voice, give context, help us make decisions, and create a platform for public servants to advocate.

So let me ask you…the next time you are funding a project, do you want just a picture, just a video, just an image? Or do you want a story. Do you want an moment in time captured so when it is time to sell/adovocate with your next pr/marketing campaign…your audience connects, engages, and sees the story through “your” eyes.

Time to start investing…in the forgotten South Carolina

We have a chance as businesses, entrepreneurs, health care leaders…to continue to push! Push the needle. There are so many faces across this state from the uninsured to the those who are looking for jobs. The working poor…those workers that we depend on…we have to find more ways to invest in their future.

We as business owners, advocates, citizens…it is our state and all of us are citizens of this place we call home.

Thanks to Doug Pardue and Chris Hanclosky of the Post & Courier for taking on this production and bringing this message to us!

life, business, entrepreneurship…give me those 2 outs…

my life…my journey…my approach has been surrounded by what people said i could not do. from the earliest days as a child…i was so shy. i was so scared…timid…worried what people would perceive.

i remember being that kid in high school that was that kid who did everyone’s algebra homework. i was more of a creative kid, taking private art lessons and going to one of the first summer governor’s school programs.

when i found myself in the middle of college athletics working my way through school…i learned about fighting for everything. i learned about determination and the will to succeed.

it was the summer of my sophomore year and i was about to fail out of school. yes…my grades sucked. my parents were getting a divorce and life had no focus. i had people telling me that i was not going to graduate from college. it was that day…i grew a backbone. i gave them the middle finger and proved them wrong.

i got my act together and with the help of clemson athletics, i got back on a great academic path, earned my degree, and found my first job.

i remember getting into television because i loved technology…i also found my creative passion of telling stories. i remember starting out as video tape editor for a weekend newscast…small job, long hours and i wanted more. i was told i would not get to the big markets.

i worked my way up into the photojournalism staff and landed a job at one the best photojournalism stations in the country…KPHO-TV in phoenix. i gave those nay sayers the middle finger.

off i went to the wild west to prove to myself and others…life is full of opportunities.

i remember being told i would not win a lot of awards…i would always be subpar in my profession. i just love proving people wrong. one year i walked away with some of the most awards in my region. i had to buy a large suitcase to fly home with all of those shinny statues. i gave the nay sayers the middle finger.

i remember being told i would not go to graduate school…mainly because of my lack of focus during my undergraduate years. i earned my masters in one of the toughest programs in the country…one that has changed my professional life. once again…i gave the nay sayers the middle finger.

i was told i would not own my own business or work for myself…i would fail. i did…and i failed and i succeeded and i failed. but….i have found my niche…getting back to my roots and telling stories. i am following my passion and getting paid for it! and again…i gave the nay sayers the middle finger.

i do not know Warren Morris…but here he is with the weight of his program on his shoulders. i am sure many were saying, screaming into the television screen…he is going to strike out.

from nola.com
“Morris’ story deviates, just slightly, from the popular fantasy in one crucial aspect. While children around the country may typically hit their fictional winning homers with a 3-2 count, Morris crushed the first pitch he saw.”

“All I was thinking is, ‘I’m going to go into this aggressive,’ which is probably why I hit the first pitch,” he said. “More than anything it was good for me that is was the first pitch, because I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it.”

it was 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th…

“Morris didn’t have much time to react to the pitch. His coach, teammates and the thousands in attendance weren’t given much notice that the game had ended. As Morris caught it low in the strike zone, the ball took a fast, low-flying trajectory toward the right field stands of Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium before disappearing just a few feet into the crowd.”

2 outs…first pitch…history was made…national champions…clutch

sometimes we should approach life the same way…treat it like there are 2 out and freaking swing for the hills…prove to all those nay sayers and give them the middle finger.

life is to short to listen to the nay sayers and sometimes our own conscious…just swing away!

Storytelling is about advocacy – stretching the emotions…

If you have not laughed, cried, cussed, or just gotten plain mad…then you need to check yourself at the door. Storytelling is about believing in something…standing up and allowing the emotions, the passion of the story to dominate your ability to articulate.

To bear the burden of an emotion…the emotion of crafting a story…you must take a position. You must advocate and see the life of the prose through the eyes of the story.

It must stretch you, make you shift in your seat, keep you up at night, and help you question why you chose to explain this reality.

When we craft…we share…we share something inside that is dying to escape.

We advocate…because we believe the words we write, the images we capture, the sounds we produce…they will help those feel the inner advocate we strive to share.

When we find, craft, and tell stories…we are advocates for a theme that needs an audience.

It needs to make those who receive *this* message share the same reaction when you were struggling to bring voice to that very story. We want our audience to get mad, happy, cuss…shift in their seats, stay up at night…so they can continue the mission we set out to achieve…to advocate.

Good stories creates powerful advocacy…stories of sharing. That is powerful word-of-mouth. That is powerful storytelling.

stories make us cry…

For some reason…I shed some tears this morning. I saw this picture posted on Facebook and I could not help myself…my eyes filled.

I was about to run out the door, but had to stop, click and read more. I remembered this picture below.

I remembered the emotion surrounding this tragedy and how that moment in Boston opens old wounds from 911. I just returned home from New York. Sarah and I visited the 911 Memorial. We remembered that day when we were both in grad school. As we walked around the memorial, we did not say a thing.

We even noticed we could not even hear the city of New York, the sounds of cars, trucks, horns, etc.  The hustle and bustle of this large metropolitan city was drowned out by the southing sounds of the waterfalls fill the holes where the towers once stood.

We remembered. And so I clicked around…more. I even Google’d “Jeff Bauman First Pitch Boston Red Sox”. When I saw this picture…I remembered the picture above when Carlos Arredondo helped push Jeff Bauman in a wheelchair to safety.

Now Carlos was pushing him out to the pitching mound to share the first pitch, both now smiling as “we” looked upon them as white doves bringing peace to this day of baseball.

Stories…sometimes make us cry…for no reason other than we have no other reason…but to cry.

I hope you enjoy this video.

Image Credits: WCVB.combleedingyankeeblue.blogspot.com, and USAToday.com.

Remember…we have to reach our audience.

Distribution…Distribution…Distribution…it is just as important as the content we create.

Harvard Business Review Blog just posted a “The Rise of the Mobile-Only User” and says:
“The rise of smartphones means that more and more people are going online from a mobile device. According to Pew Internet, 55 percent of Americans said they’d used a mobile device to access the internet in 2012. A surprisingly large number — 31 percent — of these mobile internet users say that’s the primary way they access the web. This is a large and growing audience whose needs aren’t being met by traditional desktop experiences.”

I was just sitting with a client talking about all the content we had created over the last three years, and we were thinking through new ways to leverage this content for a few upcoming campaigns. All this video content is great but has no impact if it does not reach the intended audience(s). A part of that strategy is more than just a content creation strategy…you have to distribute the content.

Especially with video…there so many ways to meet the needs of the campaign/initiative which should include distribution. If you look at the numbers above, it is stating the obvious…more and more people are dumping traditional computers (laptops and desktops) to consume and share content. We have to think past these paradigms.

HBR blog goes on to state:
“Google reports that 77 percent of searches from mobile devices take place at home or work, only 17 percent on the move. Meeting the needs of the mobile-only user also doesn’t mean sending them to the desktop website on their smartphone.”

Yes…we must think message and audience…but we have to think about distribution. You can have great content but if no one is engaging with the message, the content is worthless.

Start asking real questions…

I have been following the Facebook posts of a friend who lives in Moore, Oklahoma. She has experienced first hand the devastation of the massive tornado that ripped apart the city she calls home.

I met Julie in Phoenix, Arizona in 1999 when I worked for KPHO-TV. She is probably one of the most talent photojournalists I have met. I still remember some of the amazing stories she produced. I am not sure if she remembers me, but she is one the many reasons I came to Phoenix. It was my hope to learn from talented professionals like Julie and many others that worked in the Phoenix market at the time.

Her recent posts this Memorial Day weekend had me thinking and reflecting:

Facebook Post from Julie Jones (Moore, OK) – May 26, 2013
“Businesses along 19th at Telephone Rd are starting to reopen. The 19th Starbucks (not the one across from Target that I shared earlier) opened late afternoon yesterday. The Tide group are finally getting people with the laundry. And the PR producers/photogs are finally getting real people to talk to.

Finding it hard to relate to you my observations about press coverage except to say – we really do ask stupid questions. A kindeogardemer (sp? iPhone thinks that is right) flatly told me years ago — after me asking what was happening — “don’t BE silly!”

She said it so strongly and condescendingly I had to walk away and sit for moment. True story.”

In the next Facebook Post from Julie Jones (Moore, OK) – May 26, 2013
“I am struggling to find the right advice for asking questions — cuz we have all witnessed, via the news coverage, all the sappy attempts to get emotional responses that the local, regional, and national press have used.

Really there only seems to be a few questions in my mind that should be asked of the people affected (I refuse to call us victims – we are far from victims):

The jones standard: what is _____ (fill in with “today, this event, this block etc”) and what does it mean to you?

Where is your house and how is it?

What are your steps today to move forward?

And, maybe, what is the thing you witnessed that caught you the most?

And off camera – what do you need? Most likely we just need info – where do I get my mail? Where are the FEMA trucks? Do u know if I have to stay at home for FEMA to find me (that has been my question as I search for Wifi)?”

As I was reading her thoughts…her observation and reflection as just applicable to my daily life as they are for press/journalists.

This thought makes me go back and look at a video I remember her posting the day after the tornado struck. More importantly, her Facebook post that coincided with this shared video.

Facebook Post from Julie Jones (Moore, OK) – May 21, 2013 4:18am

I think Julie has shared something most revealing, and more importantly, something storytellers should use regardless of our assignment, client, deadline, or purpose when capturing the moment…we should listen. We should listen with more than our ears, we should listen with our hearts. We should also listen and ask questions that are most natural, not ones that have the ulterior motive of sparking an emotion. The emotion is already there, it is our place to learn to listen *and* allow those emotions to fill the space when it is appropriate.

Thanks to Julie for this reminder.

Here is a little more about Julie, her career, and her work.

Julie Jones is associate professor at Gaylord College, co-founder of OUStormCrowd, national chair for the National Press Photographers Association News Video Workshop, and, in 2012, was one of ten professors nationwide named as Kappa Alpha Theta’s Outstanding Faculty. Jones earned her doctorate at University of Minnesota in 2010.

A former television photojournalist and producer, Jones brings a wealth of professional experiences to her academic work. Her research is focused on the participatory nature of online news and visual platforms. Her work has been published in New Media and Society, ACM publications, PBS MediaShift, and she is an active member of AEJMC’s Communication Technology division.

Marissa Mayer: Defining The Profession of Photography

The profession of photography took a huge hit on Monday. Well…let’s just say that highly acclaimed Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer clearly defined something I have been pondering for a long time.

If you look at the picture above, she said these words exactly during a press conference on Monday. Yahoo made a few announcements specifically the acquisition of Tumblr and the release of the new Flickr. Tumblr is a popular blogging platform and Flickr is a popular photo sharing social outlet.

Below is the response from a question posed by a Fast Company writer during Monday’s press conference:

There’s no such thing as Flickr Pro because today, with cameras as pervasive as they are, there’s no such thing, really, as professional photographers when there’s everything that’s professional photographers. Certainly there’s varying levels of skills but we didn’t want to have a Flickr Pro anymore. We wanted everyone to have professional quality photo space and sharing.” – Marissa Mayer, May 2013″

Here is the video to listen to the response in context with the question posed from Fast Company.

I get it…we live in a age of cameras everywhere. I just returned from my vacation in New York and I was surrounded by people all around me taking pictures with iPhones, Droids, professional digital SLRs, pro-sumer digital SLRs, and so on. We live in a time with the pervasiveness of capturing and sharing pictures.

I did not take my professional Canon camera to New York. I did not want to carry around a bulky camera while walking with my wife all over city. My iPhone 5 did a wonderful job capturing images then allowing me to immediately upload the images to Flickr.

Here is one of those images:

It looks great and I think I am going to have it printed and hung in my office. Is it perfect…no! Could I have done a better job with my DSLR…yes. We have access to these technological tools and a price that allows the masses to capture beautiful images. Am I a professional photographer or videographer, well…yes. But…no. I do not consider myself a photographer, videographer, or any term that connects me directly with technology. I consider myself a photojournalist.

I was a journalist at one time working for news outlets all over the country. The I feel word photographer defines a person based on the technology used to capture images. I want to move away from that stigma…I want to associate with the idea of craft…the craft of capturing and telling stories regardless of the technology used to achieve that goal.

As I was standing on the boat taking the picture above with my iPhone 5, there was a guy with a Canon 1Dx. As I was watching him capture his images, I could tell…he was an individual that had not spent a lot of time around a SLR or DSLR. He had over $7000.00 in his hand as he was running around madly holding the shutter down to capture the same image everyone else was capturing with their iPhones. He was holding the shutter and pointing…you could tell there was no clear thought process by the way he was framing the image. Because he has an expensive camera, does that make him professional? Does it make him a professional photographer? Does it make him a photojournalist?

Should we as professionals that use our cameras to perform our jobs and run our businesses take offense to Marissa’s statement? Maybe or maybe not…if you term yourself a professional photographer? If you just take pictures and feel your space is compromised by those who access to these same tools including iPhones…then maybe this will piss you off. But if your craft is to tell stories…you should like the fact the Flickr just extended your account storage to 1 Terabyte. Then, sit back and watch everyone else moan and grown.

If anything…her statement is a statement of the changing in times. The fact more people have access to professional gear and professional editing software brings more value to what I do. There are many that take pictures and capture video…then there are those that believe in a craft of telling stories.

By the way…there has been a lot of backlash online from her statement, here are a few tweets surrounding this conversation:

*Photo credit to SLR Lounge

Stories Impact Conversations: Angelina Jolie’s BRCA1 Story

It was just last week, Angelina Jolie announced her radical mastectomy after learning she carried the BRCA1 gene mutation. Her OP-ED appeared on NYTimes.com titled, “My Medical Choice.” Her story was one that brought tremendous media attention and awareness to an issue that is hard for many families to even discuss.

Over five years ago, my wife Sarah lost her mother to breast cancer…a very aggressive breast cancer referred to as triple negative, metastatic breast cancer. Her battle was beyond tough, creating many deep conversations and heated discussions after her passing. One of those conversations included the genetic testing for BRCA1 gene mutation.

The term “breast cancer” is one of the biggest marketing engines in the world of large hospitals, cancer treatment facilities, and organizations that raise funds for research. Families of those who lost a loved one to breast cancer even resist the marketing engine behind “breast cancer awareness” including the pink ribbon, cause marketing initiatives, and other marketing engines that leverage the conversation for their own gain.

Sarah is one of those women who has resisted for years not buying anything that uses the color pink to further the organization’s bottom-line. We focus our giving to organizations who can make direct financial for breast cancer research. Sarah even resists the conversation of being tested for the BRCA1 gene mutation. Why?

To many of us, the genetic testing is a no-brainer. But imagine being the daughter of a woman who died from one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer. Imagine being mother-less on Mother’s Day or even trying to figure out to raise your first child without your mother. Having “the test” is entering pandora’s box of finding out your “death” sentence, then not knowing what to do next. It seems so simple.

For the first time, we have a story that has brought mainstream attention to not only having the BRCA1 test but taking action after the test. Angelina Jolie lost her mother to ovarian cancer close to five years ago. This means “the idea” of being tested has been a part of Angelina’s thought process for some time. We know her mother did not die recently and we know she did not make the decision to have this surgery as a “knee jerk” reaction. She pondered, processed, and prepared for this decision over a long period of time.

Angelina explains in the NYTimes.com OP-ED:
“The truth is I carry a ‘faulty’ gene, BRCA1, which sharply increases my risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer. My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman. Only a fraction of breast cancers result from an inherited gene mutation. Those with a defect in BRCA1 have a 65 percent risk of getting it, on average. Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could.”

It is a huge set of hurdles Angelina faced. First, loosing her mother…then making the tough decision to be tested. After learning that she carries this specific gene mutation, making the decision to have a surgery that ultimately changes her visible appeal. A visible appeal that makes her one the most beautiful women on the big screen. Imagine the series of decisions she had to make. Now we are learning she will further her resolve by having her ovaries removed in the near future.

Her story has become a tangible path for many women to connect. Regardless of how she is viewed…we see the human side of Angelina and how she can empower others to to face this tough decision. Her story has given us language…given us context to frame the conversation.

Stories of courage bring paths of positive movement. These stories pave the way for women to not only make tough decisions but also impact the way women and families view medicine, technology, research, and the power of making healthy decisions.

As a male, it is hard for me to even begin to fathom this decision. But as a storyteller, it brings me tremendous empathy for those women who are faced with this decision everyday.

These are the stories that bring change, advocacy, and hope for the future of health care. May we all have the courage to make tough, healthy decisions that not only impact us personally but those that surround us…including the ones we love.

Case Study: AccessHealth SC – Communicating A Healthy Conversation

Access to quality health care here in South Carolina has consumed the public conversation over the last few years. From the Affordable Care Act to hospitals seeking to find new and innovative ways to deal with the growing needs of the uninsured…we are surrounded by the groundswell of health care discourse.

For the past few years, I have been working with the South Carolina Hospital Association to find and tell the stories of the uninsured. Initiatives like AccessHealth SC are special, focusing on those uninsured individuals to not only provide access to quality health care but also a continuum of care.

Over the last 5 months, we have been capturing stories of the uninsured across South Carolina. We have also been working with AccessHealth SC providers and administrators explaining how this healthy initiative can be a model for health care reform.

Purpose of the Video Project (from AccessHealth SC):
“The motivation for capturing AccessHealth SC client and provider stories was two-fold. The primary purpose of the video was to communicate what exactly we are doing through AccessHealth. The idea of collaborative networks of care for the uninsured and underinsured is a bit cumbersome; it doesn’t slip neatly into conversations or presentations and the evidence-based, logical model can get lost on people. This project allowed us to really unpack what it is our networks do and the good sense that they make. A model of providing medical care that addresses social needs makes sense, but when you package it up in a few words with little explanation-lights go out.”

“The project also allowed us to highlight the human impact of our work, the individuals who are using medical services more appropriately, who are better able to manage their chronic diseases, and who are living healthier lives. Even more than putting a face to an outcome, it provided our clients an avenue to share their stories and their hope restored; as cliché as it sounds, this video was an opportunity for them to be heard. As we work to promote dignity and respect in the services our networks connect to, this was vital.”

As we were developing the story line (along with crafting the script), we began having this conversation whether to include statistics and numerical information explaining the economic impact of the program. In the world of video production, many times it is hard to visually showcase information in a compelling manor.

We used graphic animation to bring the numbers to life. You will notice the following video is a smaller section of the video above. We felt this could stand alone as a simple explanation of the AccessHealth SC model and the value it brings to the State of South Carolina.

Purpose of this Information Video (from AccessHealth SC):
“Communicating the economic impact our of our work was important to us because of the stakeholders we are/were hoping to engage. Most often, the individuals within organizations in communities that have the push or say to actually catalyze change speak in numbers and outcomes. Not only was this speaking their language-but drawing their attention to significant results.”

These videos have been launched online and for internal presentational purposes. AccessHealth SC will use these videos to share the visual context of their mission as they present to stakeholders, hospitals, community groups, legislators, and other individuals interested in building a healthier South Carolina.

These videos will also live on the AccessHealth SC section of the SCHA.org website. Our goal, to educate and advocate to those searching for information concerning programs like AccessHealth SC. We want to be a part of the digital paradigm as people search for content related to health in South Carolina.

Lean Forward: Listening for those non-verbal cues

Interviewing individuals in the world of documentary video production is a journey…it is a journey that many times cannot be scripted or predicted. Starting a new project with a new client is often times sharing a philosophy. The interview process will shape the overall production.

Interviewing someone is probably one of the most rewarding parts of the production, but can be the most challenging. Sometimes these interviews leave the producer exhausted and mentally drained.

I am in the middle of a project for the Family Effect and I just finished a series of interviews with teenagers who are going through a drug rehabilitation program. The goal, to find and tell their story…their path, so those who donate will find value in their potential donation.

I typically work with the organization to pre-screen the interview subjects. I like to review their background information, understand their path which ultimately leads to the context by which they are tied to the story.

When I sit down with the individuals…I first have to build trust. Trust is a huge barrier…especially when you have the camera, lights, microphone and all the other production equipment that builds a wall around the interview subject.

Building trust is more than capturing the story, it is allowing the person to fully trust you as the gatekeeper. You have the power to capture and share that story! Yes…we carry that ethical burden. So we have to build a relationship with our interview subjects so they not only trust you to listen…but to capture, edit, and craft their story in a way that brings a larger meaning to their life for others to view. If not…you might as well not even try to ask the first question.

We carry this burden, find this tension between seeing and feeling the story…but keeping a critical distance so we can share it from our exterior perspective.

Reading those non-verbal cues many times is a critical path to gaining that trust. As I was interviewing one of the individuals for the Family Effect project, they started with their arms crossed as they leaned back. This barrier took a while to break down in the interview. The more we chatted, the more we shared, the more the camera and lights were forgotten.

The conversation moved from simple pleasantries and canned questions to open-ended conversation sharing rich details of life choices, courage, and failures, and goals, and hopes. The story emerged as trust was building…and before I knew it…we were both leaning forward talking face-to-face.

When we listen…we have to move away from just using our ears. We have to read those non-verbal cues as a path to build trust. Trust is critical to breaking down walls to find the inner core of the story.

Disrupt Hackathon Got Hacked – Own Your Media

Ownership of our media is something that I have been exploring and researching. As I was reading Techcrunch, I found these videos. Todd Bonnewell took to the stage to share his thoughts…that we must reclaim ownership of the content and media we create.

Todd Bonnewell took to the Disrupt Hackathon stage and hacked the 60 Second Pitches with his own pitch. This stage is typically for individuals to share new apps or concepts, but instead…he had a message for the audience of hackers, not for the judges.

Here is his interview after his message:

You can find him online at https://twitter.com/madeopen

Here is the link to the original article on Techcruch: CLICK HERE