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Behind the Lens newsletter. State/Territory Underage Drinking Prevention Videos Project. Keeping you informed, inspired, and up to date.
In Your Words Map of the United States

Diane Litterer, M.P.A., CPS
Executive Director, New Jersey Prevention Network

Diane Litterer How has New Jersey benefitted from its participation in the State/Territory video project?
This project provided us with an opportunity to show the strong collaborative efforts that New Jersey has implemented and the commitment of key stakeholders regarding the issue of underage drinking in NJ. We have strong prevention leaders within the nonprofit sector and effective advocates within the public sector. NJ also has a vigorous network of coalitions, agencies, and youth and community members that are working on the local level to implement environmental strategies that effect positive changes in this area.

Through this video, we can promote the strategies that we have successfully implemented statewide, and we can showcase the powerful support structure created within our State to prevent underage drinking. Additionally, we knew from a statewide survey that NJ teens believed that a parent’s opinion regarding drinking is a significant influence in determining whether or not a child will drink underage or binge drink. Our Planning Committee recognized that there was a lack of videos geared toward parents. This video project gave us an opportunity to fill that gap.

How has New Jersey used its video, and how are you planning to use it in the future?
The first screening was for key prevention leaders within the State. The group included some new prevention coalition leaders, which allowed us to introduce them to successful NJ initiatives addressing underage drinking. Moving forward, the video will be shown at Town Hall Meetings and other community events to get the conversation started about underage drinking.

Thinking about the video production process, what did you learn that surprised you?
We were pleasantly surprised at the high level of cooperation from so many different organizations when asked to join forces around a common issue. It was impressive how dedicated people were to the process and how accommodating they were with scheduling interviews within a short period of time. Overall, it was a reflection of how truly passionate they are about the safety of our children and concerned about the dangers of underage and binge drinking. The other surprise was how committed everyone was to making the best use of our time and Federal funding by creating a product that would be timeless, far reaching, and have a lasting impact. Suggestions by the SAMHSA media experts, as well as our own experience, guided our video committee away from shock or scared-straight-type messaging or a tragedy-focused video as these approaches often lose effectiveness rapidly. Instead, we moved toward an educational message that would inform parents about underage drinking here in NJ, the physical and health risks, NJ laws and legal consequences, and some of the solutions and programs that are happening right here in our State.

What advice do you have for other States that are in the early stages of preproduction on their own videos?
Develop an advisory committee that includes members of the target audience. We found this was very helpful in targeting parents with the right message. Next, vet the process. If you reside in a politically charged State, as we do, it is important to vet this process with as many appropriate stakeholders as is manageable. It is much easier to redirect efforts and make necessary changes to the plan before shooting than once the action starts. Also, listen to the video crew. The video production tool kit that was provided was a great roadmap for the project. Following the step-by-step process broke it down into manageable pieces that ended in an effective story board.

The best advice I can offer is, the more you put in the more you get out. Carefully mapping out the timeframe, interview and shooting sequences, identifying who is speaking on which topic, and communicating this information with everyone involved will help to make the most of the time. When it comes to the actual days of shooting, make it easy for participants by providing a convenient and comfortable location for shooting. Send them driving and parking directions, with clear timeframe and advanced questions. We also arranged the final shooting day to happen during a large community event as a “catch-all” so that we could interject an interview or stage a shot that was previously missed.

Lastly, we identified a lead organization for this project that has strong State and local connections so that the outreach would be comprehensive and inclusive.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for the opportunity! The New Jersey Prevention Network (NJPN) was honored to be asked by Donald Hallcom, who is New Jersey’s NPN [National Prevention Network] representative, to coordinate this project. NJPN is lucky to have two amazingly dedicated and talented staff, Lisa Daly and Rob Lightfoot, who took the lead on this project and did an outstanding job.

Tips from the pros
A senior producer shares insights

A senior producer shares insights on making a video even more effective.

“When putting together your field production schedule, always keep logistical concerns in mind. The crew will typically need an hour to scout out each location and set up. Afterwards, the crew will need 30 to 45 minutes to break down and pack up the equipment. If you plan for multiple locations in one day, be sure to account for travel time. Remember, it’s always better to plan too much time for any one location than not enough!”

State/Territory Videos Project producer

Overcoming Obstacles
Image of students

Challenge: In Tennessee, the planning and review team wanted a video that incorporated scripted scenarios and interviews. With only 2 days to shoot, the video crew simply wouldn’t have enough time to drive to all the places where the interviewees lived or worked and conduct interviews.

Solution: The planning and review team created the most efficient field production itinerary by scheduling all of the interviews on the same day at the same location. Not only did it eliminate travel time but it also allowed the crew to set up the equipment just once, allowing more time for the interviews.

Spread the word
Students at the capitol
Here are some ways States/Territories are getting the message out:

Michigan used its video project as the catalyst for a new social marketing campaign against underage drinking, called Do Your Part. As part of its video, the Michigan team created several public service announcements highlighting how different members of the community are doing their part to prevent underage drinking and encouraging others to do the same.

Furthermore, the Michigan Department of Community Health held a press conference on March 21, 2012, to highlight the video as well as a series of Town Hall Meetings taking place throughout the State during Alcohol Awareness Month in April.

Whats New

Completed videos for four States and one Territory were recently added to the “Underage Drinking” playlist on the YouTube channel of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Check out new videos for Arizona, Michigan, Montana, Oregon, and Puerto Rico by clicking on the hyperlinks in this sentence! [Note: Puerto Rico has produced two public service announcement videos, both in Spanish.]

Status Check

Recently completed:

  • Idaho
  • New Jersey


Currently in postproduction:

  • Alabama
  • Indiana
  • Tennessee
  • Washington, DC

Currently in preproduction:

  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Ohio
  • South Carolina
  • Wisconsin
On The Horizon

The following States are scheduled to produce videos in 2012:

  • California
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Maryland
  • North Carolina
  • South Dakota


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