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Fall 2011

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

Interview with Walter Davies, Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws state coordinator, Bureau of Prevention Services, New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services

Walter Davies New York’s video, Underage Drinking Prevention: Taking Action in New York, is broken up into six distinct segments. Why did you choose this approach?
We had a lot of topics we wanted to cover, and we wanted an efficient tool we could use in a variety of settings like THMs [Town Hall Meetings] and in formal training with law enforcement officials. Working with the producers, we broke down our 16-minute video into segments that could be used separately or as a whole, and we ended up with a versatile, manageable resource that lets us target specific messages to a wide variety of audiences.

How has the State of New York benefitted from participating in this project?
We shared the video with our State partners, with State police, and with prevention professionals. Because New York is so big, the video is a great way to show professionals and coalition members across the State what we’re doing to reduce and prevent underage drinking and explain how we’re enforcing underage drinking laws. It also helps people understand how environmental strategies can be applied in their region and discover other ways of dealing with the problem that they may not have been aware of.

As a novice to video production, how did you find the experience?
It was a very positive experience. We knew what we wanted to say but didn’t know how to say it. We learned how to conduct interviews, how to ask the right questions, and how to be patient during each phase of production! It really helped that the production team was fantastic. They took our ideas and helped present them in a way that would tell our story by helping us craft the message, figure out the order of information, and decide what to emphasize.

What advice do you have for other States that are in the early stages of preproduction on their own videos?
Make sure you have a contact list of key organization representatives who are involved in underage drinking prevention in your State, and get them to the table early to develop a consensus. To sum it up, we’re very proud of our efforts. The whole process showed that a coordinated, comprehensive approach can really help combat underage drinking.

Tips from the pros
A senior producer shares insights

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

“The importance of B-roll—the supplemental footage we use to show what’s being talked about in your video—can’t be overstated. For example, if there will be talk in your video about compliance checks, we’ll need arrangements made for us to shoot a mock compliance check. If parental responsibility will be covered, be sure to set aside time for us to film teens and parents engaged in a variety of activities. Without B-roll, all you’ll have is a string of ‘talking heads,’ which won’t hold your target audience’s attention.”

Video producer and State/Territory videos project coordinator

Overcoming Obstacles
Image of students

Challenge: Oregon wanted to make a video that could serve as an underage drinking discussion starter in middle school classrooms. For the group of adults planning this video, the challenge was how to make sure the message would resonate with students.

Solution: The State reached out to Oregon Partnership, a local group that works with youth on both prevention and treatment issues. This collaboration created the opportunity to conduct several informal focus groups with middle school youth, who said that the most effective prevention video for them would be brief (3–5 minutes), feature high school youths (a demographic they look up to), and be built around real-life testimonials. You can see the result here.

Spread the word
Students at the capitol

Public service announcements (PSAs) are a great way to spread your message about underage drinking prevention. Several States have created PSAs while making their State videos and then worked with local media outlets to broadcast them. If you want to make PSAs part of your plan, be sure to talk with your producer early in preproduction.

Take advantage of local and national awards programs. A Delaware public relations firm submitted Time To Re-Think: Teens and Drink, the State’s underage drinking prevention video, to the 2011 Communicator Awards, and it won the award of Excellence! Consequently, the award brought Delaware and its underage drinking prevention efforts a lot of positive publicity. Check with your production team for information about awards.

Whats New

Oklahoma’s State videos were instrumental in getting a new underage drinking law passed! Cody’s Law, or Oklahoma’s House Bill 1211, was recently signed by Governor Fallin and will go into effect November 1, thanks to the tireless efforts of Serena Greenhaw. Greenhaw lost her 16-year-old son Cody to an alcohol and drug overdose at a party where parents were present. In the video, she talks about the tragedy and her fight to get social hosting laws passed. Her younger son also spoke movingly in a youth video about the impact of his brother’s death.

Status Check

Recently completed:

  • Arizona
  • Michigan


Currently in postproduction:

  • New Jersey
  • Puerto Rico
  • Washington, DC

Currently in preproduction:

  • Alabama
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
On The Horizon

The following States are scheduled to produce videos in 2012:

  • California
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • South Dakota
  • Wisconsin


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