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Medical Drama

Shooting ER: Clark College – Cultural Awareness Video Project

I was recently hired by Clark College in co-operation with Southwest Washington Medical Center to create a series of medical dramas.  The videos involve diverse locally represented cultures facing medical situations which are handled poorly.  The videos are designed to be discussion starters as part of an online cultural awareness course for doctors and nurses throughout the county.

Southwest Sym Lab used as Location

In one story, a woman who has been beaten by her boyfriend is brought in on a gurney comatose and accompanied by her daughter who is deaf.  Talk about drama!  It takes a while before the nurses realize the girl is deaf and an interpreter is brought to the scene.  In another video, a Russian man is having a hard attack … the Doctor later tries to explain to him and his traumatized daughter that he needs to have an angioplasty.

This was a great project to work on because the drama allowed for a lot more creativity than the usual corporate video.  It was just like making an episode of ER.  Of course, planning a project of this size is quite an undertaking.

Step 1 – Planning:

Tools that help in the planning process include solid scripts from which one can generate a character list for casting, a set list for location scouting, a prop list and determine costume and makeup requirements.  From there you can find the locations, cast your actors, create storyboards and use those to develop an equipment list and production plan.

After the scripts are close to being locked, I began scouting locations with project manager, Mark Gaither.  We found great hospital ER locations at the Southwest Washington Medical Center sym labs and were eventually able to find the rest of the locations at Clark College.

During a scout I take lots of pictures and plan out where the action will take place and measure and draw a set diagram.  Using the pictures and set diagram along with the scripts I can start on the storyboards.

The storyboards are a set of pictures or frames that represent what will show up on the screen when the video is done.  They include all the shots and dialog and are a critical planning tool.  Once I have the boards, I can create a shot list (list of all shots I need to take) and start on camera schematics (where I will place camera in the physical location) and I can start on a production schedule (a timeline for what we will shoot, and in what order).

Next I meet with my DP (director of Photography) and we scout locations together.  We examine the storyboards, review camera schematics and plan in detail how we will shoot the videos and what equipment we need to order.

All our plans, storyboards and the production schedule are run by project manager, Mark Gaither as things move smoothly through each stage.

Clark Kitchen dressed as a set

I generated prop, set design and costume lists, but the gathering of all those elements was expertly handled by  Pam McDonald.

Of course a critical part of planning and perhaps the biggest challenge was the casting.  To learn more about that look for our next entry.

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