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Our film work - get involved online with our Midweek Movie

23 Mar 2016 | Lisa Garnham

We aim to encourage and facilitate the idea of film as a catalyst for discussion, which was a major theme arising from discussions at the film event.

Part of this work now includes a ‘Midweek Movie’ on the last Wednesday of the month where a member of our team picks a short film to watch and then have a structured discussion around what we can learn from the film in terms of our own practice. 

#GCPHfilm – get involved online with our Midweek Movie.

This month we'd like to invite people to get involved on Twitter and contribute to these discussions using the #GCPHfilm hashtag. We’ll post a link to the film we have chosen online and you can watch along with us and tweet your thoughts to add to our discussion. We will then blog on the film and post some of the key points from the discussion.

The next event will take place on 30th March at 3pm when we’ll be watching two films which use people’s stories to show the lived realities of poverty: one made by the Guardian, I live in real poverty, and it's not what you think, and one from the Poverty Alliance, Benefits: a lifestyle choice?  (Both are embedded below).

We'll be tweeting throughout and having a short discussion around what we can learn from these films to help our own work.

We’ll also be using #GCPHfilm to collect suggestions of films to add to the collection which could potentially be the next Midweek Movie so if you’d like to suggest a film that has relevance to public health that would be ripe for discussion, please let us know.

February’s Midweek Movie

For February’s Midweek Movie I chose two very short films – each less than five minutes long, in fact. They are both animations that deal with complex concepts, but are about completely different things. The first is about the biological effects of stress on the brain and the second is about some of the ways in which statistics can be misleading, and therefore suggest different conclusions, depending on how the information is processed.

I chose these films for two reasons. Firstly, the information they provide is highly relevant (and interesting) to us as public health professionals. Despite their relevance, however, both films consider difficult concepts that are sometimes poorly understood among those working in public health.  These films provide an excellent overview of both of these core concepts, without skimping on important details or bypassing the necessary technical language. In combination with the fact that they’re short and engaging, this makes them excellent tools for disseminating information about key ideas to a public health audience.

This brings me to the second reason I chose these films. When dealing with specialist and in-depth knowledge and technical language, it can be a challenge to communicate our ideas to audiences effectively. This applies to a spectrumof audiences, including the public, other professionals as well as those in other specialisms within the public health profession. There is always a delicate and tricky balance to be struck between clarity and complexity.

Communicating complex ideas is one of the most difficult but also one of the most fundamental and important aspects of what we do every day. We need to be able to communicate our research findings to a variety of audiences at the end of our projects (and beyond) in order to ensure we have impact and influence. But we also need to be able to communicate what our research is about, why we are carrying it out, what it is for and what its benefits might be before we even begin. This is key to enabling us to get access to the data we need to do our work.

These films provide excellent examples of some of the ways in which we might successfully emerge from that struggle between clarity and complexity in our communication. In the discussion we had following the film screening, a number of strengths of these short animations were highlighted:

  • The use of examples was very helpful, especially the use of multiple examples drawing on different contexts and aspects of the concept being explained.
  • Simple images were used to illustrate or symbolise concepts once they had been explained. This supported the flow of the narrative, without losing the explanation and use of technical terms, or having a narration full of technical language.
  • The tone of the narrative ‘voice’ was friendly and inclusive but informative. Its underlying tone gave the message that the researchers and animation producers found the content as interesting as they hoped their audiences would – this was a learning experience for all.

These are principles we can strive to adhere to in whatever medium we are trying to communicate, whether it be written reports or briefing papers, posters, fliers, exhibitions, verbal presentations or, indeed, films.

Follow us on Twitter @theGCPH and use the hashtag #GCPHfilm if you’d like to suggest a film for our Midweek Movie, or watch along with us on 30th March at 3pm.

Films are below:

I live in real poverty 

Benefits: a lifestyle choice

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