Course Schedule

Instructor: Jonathan Smith

Week 1

Introduction – The promise of film in public health: What is the Visual Epidemiology Project? Why is it important in today’s public health measures, and how can we use visual media to our advantage? What is the difference between an ‘informational video’ and a narrative film? Students are assigned to groups and projects.

Week 2

Film as knowledge production in public health:How can film act as an analytic tool in scholarship? What kinds of subjects take the most advantage of the analytic possibilities of the film medium? How can we leverage this to our advantage in overcoming public health issues?Lab Focus: What is “B-roll?” Students practice filming b-roll, live capture audio, and other b-roll basics.

Week 3

Kick Starting the Student Film and Public Health Topics: Discuss student film projects, research topics, and associated issues. Design narrative and structure. Students work in their respective group.
Lab Focus: Equipment Training – How to use the provided video and audio recording equipment.

Week 4

Public Health and Visual Media: How is visual media and storytelling already being used in public health contexts? What are the pros and cons, what works, what doesn’t? Why?
Lab Focus: The Interview – How to conduct an interview on film for public health issues, including setting lighting, designing interview questions, and mastering audio.

Week 5

Story Structure: The importance of storylines as a component of research. Discuss how to create a compelling storyline using three-act structure How does a story relate to epidemiology, and what importance does it have in public health? How have stories been used in the past?
Guest Speaker: Jim Hanon, Founder and filmmaker of Minus Red

Week 6

The Strength of Data + The Power of Stories: How do we translate data-driven epidemiological reports into a story-driven narrative? How do we accomplish this without negating one or the other?
Guest Speaker: Valarie Kaur, JD, Yale Visual Law Project at YLS

Week 7

Combining public health research and film: Targeted discussion on student’s research project, discuss how film can integrate and compliment the research. Students work in groups to write, identify, and strategically plan their project’s film.

Week 8

Two tracks to storytelling in public health: How to create an audio narrative that compliments the visual narrative on public health issues? Why is this important, and what role does audio play in evoking emotion as it pertains to public health issues?
Guest Speaker: Sharat Raju, Founder and filmmaker at New Moon Productions, Yale Law School Fellow

Week 9

Linear vs Nonlinear Understanding. Data and epidemiological reports are a very linear way for us to understand the breadth of an epidemic. Film allows us to approach the same topic in a nonlinear fashion – to show someone as opposed to tell someone – and allow them to draw their own conclusions. What are the advantages and disadvantages to both? How can we combine the two?
Lab Focus: Aesthetics in Filmmaking – Creating aesthetic images and cinematography. How can aesthetics play a role in making a compelling a public health argument?

Week 10

Ethics in filmmaking and research: What are our responsibilities to our film subjects? To our research subjects? How do they differ?
Guest Speaker: Lisa Russell, MPH, founder and director of Governess Films

Week 11

Turning an epidemic into an emotion: What is the importance of combining emotion with data-driven studies? Why should we care?
Lab Focus: Techniques in extracting a powerful emotional storyline using visual and audio aesthetics, and powerful narrative arc.

Week 12

Getting it out there: Using social, print, and other media to reach a wide audience with the project and topic. Strategies and analysis.

Week 13-14

(Reading week) Free time for finishing film

Week 15

(Finals Week) Final film deadline