Lately I have had the opportunity to reflect upon how my training as a scientist did not really prepare me for trying to convey scientific findings about tickborne disease prevention science to the public. We really do need to engage members of our local communities in order for prevention to be successful. Last year, we received a grant from the US EPA to create some story-based educational videos to help families make informed about backyard tick control. I was like, "YES! OUR COMMUNITIES NEED THIS!" and "YES! WE CAN HELP DISPEL SOME OF THE MYTHS SURROUNDING BACKYARD TICK MANAGEMENT!" and "YES! AND MAYBE WE CAN ENGAGE PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT EVEN INTERESTED IN THIS TOPIC!" I imagined fancy film sets on location, with perfect-looking actors, hair and makeup, etc. And then reality set in, and after much debate (and with quite a limited budget), we decided it would be best to put OURSELVES into the videos, as "experts in the field," to help tell the story of what evidence-based prevention science looks like. After all, scientists are just regular people, too. Right? We have to make prevention decisions for ourselves and to protect our own kids, right? Right. And so off we went...
Well, it has been a long road of filming, line-memorizing, re-takes, many loud pronouncements of "CUT," and some painful moments of having to watch footage of myself (does my voice REALLY SOUND LIKE THAT?!). But finally, tonight we completed the filming of our final video in the series. It has taken A WHOLE YEAR to plan and film the footage needed for just five 3-minute videos, and I am looking forward to everything coming together this winter. If in the end we can provide some understandable information that can help people make informed choices about a confusing and sometimes scary topic, then it will be a success. But remember how good George Clooney was so good and so natural at playing Dr. Ross on the show ER all those years ago? Well let's just say that I hope I am a better scientist than I am an actor, because "good" and "natural" would not exactly be the best words to describe my current work as a thespian. Luckily our wonderful volunteer actors/community members from around the region gave stellar performances, and for this I am very grateful!
Our Spray Safe, Play Safe project will roll out the video series with our "Movie Premiere" event taking place this spring. Check out our project webpage for updates about the videos and the event!