Annalise Tahran thinks back to her freshman orientation and Healthy Panther Initiative, an educational program for incoming Chapman students, and remembers people being distracted, laughing and not taking the public service announcement videos seriously. That’s why she’s working hard to make sure that her video grabs the audience’s attention when it is shown as part of Healthy Panther at the beginning of the spring and fall semester.
“Even if it’s a very well-done video, if there’s one part that’s unrealistic, people are totally taken away from it,” the senior television writing and production major said. “Film is a great way to get a point across, that’s what makes it a really cool project that we can work on. It’s something that, if it’s relatable enough, freshmen can actually be like, ‘Oh wow, my friend went through something like that.’”
Tahran is one of many Chapman students who are working on public service announcement videos to be integrated into the Healthy Panther program. She is part of the cinematic fraternity, Delta Kappa Alpha, which will produce the third Chapman Public Service video to be released at the end of the semester. The video’s purpose is to educate about sexual assault on campus and encourage students to protect their peers by speaking up when problems arise.
Through public service announcement videos, Creating A Rape-Free Environment for Students (C.A.R.E.S), Delta Kappa Alpha and other students and alumni are working alongside Dani Smith, director of health education at Chapman, to fight against sexual assault and decrease the number of sexual assaults on campus.
In the last two years, Smith has started helping students produce new public service announcement videos to be used in Healthy Panther because she finds them to be much more effective when they’re filmed at Chapman, which makes them more relevant.
Last Monday, Smith previewed the second Chapman-made public service announcement video, “It’s On Us,” as part of a new member Greek life education program. The video, which was made over summer, is expected to go online soon at chapman.edu/peers.
“It’s On Us”
Chapman created the video as part of President Barack Obama’s “It’s On Us” campaign, which aims to teach students that it’s their responsibility to prevent assault through intervention. Taylor Aronow, a junior integrated educational studies major, worked collaboratively with Smith and other students to produce the video.
“It helps the students understand what they can do — that they do play an important part, even if they’re not the one committing the assault,” Aronow said. “(Students) can always do something to protect their fellow Panthers … and to help protect themselves.”
As Smith’s assistant and a member of C.A.R.E.S, Aronow spent her summer watching other “It’s On Us” videos and compiling a final script.
“Through the ‘It’s On Us’ video, we’re hoping to give Chapman a sense of accountability,” Aronow said. “It’s our responsibility as students at Chapman to hold our friends — our peers — accountable for their actions and keep them in line and try to prevent more assaults.”
For the latest public service announcement video, Aronow and Smith are working alongside the film fraternity Delta Kappa Alpha to recreate the #WhoWillYouHelp video, which aims to teach students not to be bystanders.
“Students know that they can help. A lot of people ask, ‘What should I do? What are different ways that I can do that?’ — it’s not always common sense,” Aronow said. “(WhoWillYouHelp) kind of gives people the tools … the ideas on how to speak up when they see something going on (as opposed to being the bystander).”
Tahran became part of the production of the upcoming video remake through Judie Muhrez, a sophomore screen writing major, and Delta Kappa Alpha member.
The fraternity has worked together to create an improved script that will be filmed on the weekend of Nov. 7. The new video will include both alcohol and drug coercion scenes played out by men and women, demonstrating that both sexes can be perpetrators.
“She wanted us to make it relevant to college and we ended up rewriting most of it,” Tahran said. “Just because some of the situations it showed, we didn’t really like some of them or some of them were outdated.”
Judie Muhrez, a sophomore screen writing major, said that the fraternity worked together to take all the relevant aspects out of the #WhoWillYouHelp video and put them into a Chapman party scene.
“The video shows sexual harassment portrayed in different scenarios that are applicable to all kinds of people,” Muhrez said.
Who Are You?
For the last two years, Healthy Panther has used a remake of the “Who Are You?” public service announcement video, created by Chapman alumnus Brandon Wade, who got his B.F.A. in directing ’10 and editing M.F.A. ’12.
Made in 2014, the video aims to help educate about sexual assault and the power of bystander intervention for incoming freshmen.
“By showing the outcome of no one intervening, the hope is that the audience gets a sense of sorrow that they couldn’t do anything,” Wade wrote in an email. “But by reversing it back and showing each moment when someone could have helped, it creates an environment of action.”
Wade knows the message was important, but also a delicate subject, so it needed to be portrayed in a relatable way that students wouldn’t find preachy.
“I set out to create something that would actually feel cool and empowering to new students,” Wade said. “I wanted to make heroes out of average people, showing that they could be the difference, even if they didn’t think so.”
Wade hopes that the video prompts viewers to be more alert in situations, especially when alcohol and drug use is involved.
“In real life we can’t turn back time, but that’s the magic of film. This is primarily a teaching experience, a lesson learned from a series of mistakes,” Wade said. “You may not think of them as mistakes as an ‘innocent’ bystander, but the truth is you would feel bad looking back if you found out someone was raped and you could have intervened.”
The night that Wade was filming, Nicholas Bustamante, a senior screen acting major, got a text from his friend saying that Wade was shooting a public service announcement at his house, and needed someone to act in it. Bustamante wants to be able to play any role, so he accepted.
“The director was very passionate about his vision and the message, which I felt connected to. At first he told me I couldn’t play the part because I’m such a nice guy,” Bustamante said. “However, I almost feel the tone of the film is completely different because I’m the predator in it. I’m definitely nothing like that in real life, and the girl I worked with was very professional so it was essentially just playing.”
Bustamante thought that “Who Are You,” was a very interesting film to be part of.
“I’ve had close friends who have seen it approach me and talk about it,” Bustamante said. “So if the director was trying to provoke and raise awareness, I believe he succeeded.”
To read more about sexual assault on campus, click here.