Utah students create video and posters for campaign to promote vaccinations

Spy Hop Productions is teaming up with the Salt Lake County Health Department for the “Vax to the Max” campaign.

(Spy Hop Productions) This poster is part of a public health campaign, created by students at Spy Hop Productions of Salt Lake City in partnership with the Salt Lake County Health Department, to encourage people to get vaccinate against diseases. The campaign includes a short film and an interactive video game.

This story is published jointly by non-profit organizations Amplify Utah and The Salt Lake Tribune, in collaboration with Salt Lake Community Collegeto elevate diverse perspectives in local media through student journalism.

Old music plays in the background as a housewife in a dress greets her clean-lined husband in a 1950s-style kitchen.

As they sit down at the kitchen table, the husband falls into a fit of coughing and a narrator pops up in the background: “What Johnny doesn’t know is that he has contracted poliomyelitis. It only takes one person infected with the polio virus to bring the disease into your home.

The film – created by students from Spy Hop Productions’ Kahlert Youth Media Arts Center – serves as an allegory for vaccinations in the time of COVID-19, while reminding audiences of the diseases that have been nearly eradicated through vaccinations in over the decades.

“Vaccines were safe back then; they are safer now,” the video concludes. “Vaccines are the world’s greatest asset against disease.”

More than $74,000 from the CDC Foundation – a private, nonprofit organization that partners with the private sector to promote public health – funded the production of the film, posters and an interactive video game by the students of Spy Hop.

To share student work locally, Spy Hop has partnered with the Salt Lake County Health Department, which plans to share the film, posters, and game through social media, community partners, and at events. local awareness.

“In public health communications, we see art as a tool that helps us turn hard information and data into stories and images,” said department spokesperson Gabriel Moreno. “It’s important because we can leverage digital arts and media to create a common language…to reach and engage our audience.”

With $2.5 million in national funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC Foundation has awarded grants to 30 arts organizations nationwide to build trust in their communities against COVID-19 and the flu vaccine.

“This tool is especially important for us in public health communications when trying to increase trust and uptake of the COVID vaccine,” Moreno said.

The students completed the projects as part of Spy Hop’s “Vax to the Max” project. With the help of professional mentors, the students worked in different fields – film, music, audio, graphics and game design – and were able to gain experience within their respective media spaces.

The students in charge of the PSA video, for example, were filmed on location in the basement of a Sandy hotel. They had a day to shoot, which required them to work efficiently.

“It was a very tight space,” said audio student Soraya Wainwright, who recorded the sound during filming. “Having 20 people in a small room was great, super busy. It was crazy but really fun.

(Cristian Martinez | Amplify Utah) Mentor Jose Manzo, left, and student Crew Simpson color the film for Spy Hop’s “Vax to the Max” project.

As the script for the video went through changes, the film students said, the idea came to focus on the 1950s and polio. The concept was originally to feature a brief throwback to the 1950s, but they decided to expand it to draw parallels with a virus that primarily afflicted older generations.

“We had to figure things out on the fly,” said student Ceci Davis, a casting producer on the film.

Students from Spy Hop’s audio and music program also wrote the film’s score, making the project collaborative across all Spy Hop disciplines.

“We listened to music from the 50s, and then…we found different melodies and beats,” Wainwright said. “We recorded guitar, drums and piano in the studio.”

Design students illustrated the graphic poster, William Wainwright coding a desktop video game from scratch using the Unity game engine. The game, published on game hosting site itch.io, allows players to act as an antibody vaccine and neutralize pathogens in their path.

As of July 7, 62% of Utah residents were fully vaccinated and 29% had received a booster, according to the Utah Department of Health and Human Services.

“I hope [our work] can provide people with more education,” said film student Abigail Tello.

Spy Hop – at 208 W. Harvey Milk Blvd. (900 South), Salt Lake City – will showcase the film, poster and video game on Saturday, July 16 at its monthly block party, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Spy Hop will also provide food and drink, as well as free and trial vaccines.

Cristian Martinez wrote this story while a journalism student at Salt Lake Community College. It is published within the framework of a new collaboration including associations Amplify Utah and the Salt Lake Tribune.

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