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Telling a story about research through visuals.

When the Magee Womens Research institution asked us to make a video for their 9-90 Research Summit we wanted to take an approach that didn’t rely on b-roll of people “doing” research. How does one make a video about groundbreaking research without explicitly showing any groundbreaking research?

The core of the 9-90 Research Summit is to bring together the best scientists in the world of women’s reproductive health and award a million dollar prize to the most groundbreaking research. The goal is to help fund and draw attention to an area of women’s health research that is underfunded or unnoticed. Armed with this, it was easy to answer Magee’s challenge. The summit is not about the research itself but rather about women, children, and the benefit to society as a result of years of exhaustive and extensive hard work of researchers.

We wanted to appeal to the viewer in an engaging way that helped people understand the long-term benefits of improving women’s reproductive health. Taking steps in this positive direction for women will create a positive future for all of society. We set out trying to capture bits of real life, and real people; not actors or extras. We knew the only way to do justice to the story was with authentic, unfabricated, imagery.

We had great footage and beautiful shots but when piecing them together in the edit we knew we needed to add a little flavor to the story. The climbing footage provided exactly what we needed. We thought back to what we learned in school about storytelling with a 3 act structure, a beginning, middle, and end. We layered the b-roll together with a common thread of climbing footage that would be 3 acts. In climbing, you prepare by looking for your path, once you are on the wall you struggle to make that next step, and finally, you end at the top. The climbing shots would symbolize the journey of research. Research has to start somewhere. It can be a long, strenuous, process. But each step and each grip helps to build upon the last, elevating understanding and discovery, with the ultimate goal of reaching the proverbial…Summit (pun intended).