Discovery Learning Alliance (DLA) seeks to help people across southern Africa understand how TB is contracted, how it affects the body, how drug resistant TB develops, and how TB can be cured. In doing so, DLA will empower viewers to make better health decisions.
DLA will do this through the writing, production, and distribution of The Lucky Specials, a film set in the dark, wet mining shafts of southern Africa. These crowded spaces allow TB to spread more quickly, devastating local communities. Through dynamic characters and a captivating storyline, The Lucky Specials will replace misconceptions about TB with facts, and will use state-of-the-art animation to bring the unseen world of TB to life, heightening understanding through visual storytelling. Utilizing its expertise in creating and distributing educational media for marginalized audiences in the developing world, DLA will bring together the best of fiction and non-fiction storytelling and a close working relationship with South Africa-based Quizzical Pictures to produce a film that is personal, practical, and memorable. Critical health information will be presented in a context that reflects southern African life and values, and audeiences will walk away with facts to replace long held myths and misinformation. Viewers will also discover what they can do to protect themselves, their co-workers, and their families.
The writing team has worked closely with a global team of technical advisors (scientists and public health experts from Africa, Europe, and the U.S.) to develop a story and script that addresses the social stigma of testing and educates on the importance of doing so. The script also includes state-of-the-art animations that depict the science behind TB transmission. TB public health workers will also review each scene dealing with treatment, testing, and counseling. Focus groups have also reviewed drafts of the script and will review rough cuts of the film to ensure messages and information are being understood and absorbed by the audience.
While the film will be screened thousands of times in dozens of countries, Management Sciences for Health (MSH) will be involved in select screenings in South Aftrica, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe to lead audience evaluation activities which will include pre- and post-screening interviews. Dr. Laura Helft of Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) is helping to further develop this plan as well as a final monitoring and evaluation strategy that MSH will execute. In addition to these select screenings, MSH will also carry out additional screenings at which health professionals will advise viewers about local voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) options, connecting viewers to resources that allow them to act on their newly acquired information.
DLA will implement a proven distribution strategy that includes major premiere events in Africa and the U.S., theatrical releases in Africa, television broadcast, DVD distribution, and other grassroots outreach strategies to make this one of the most viewed pieces of media ever on the African sub-continent. This strategy will be based on that of Inside Story, which had premiere events in Johannesburg, Lagos, Luanda, Nairobi, and Washington, DC; was broadcast on over 40 networks; and continues to be distributed through DVDs as well as screened in community centers across Africa. DLAs goal is to reach 325 million people with this film.
1Q 2016 Pre-production and Principle Photography
Deliverables include: final script, locations, cast and crew locked, production to take place Feb. 3 Mar 5, press release announcing film on World TB Day (March 24), initial website design and social media profiles created
2Q 2016 Post-Production and Animation
Deliverables include: string cut and first rough cut for review (science, public health and target audience focus groups), storyboards and animatics for animation, website launch and social media engagement, facilitator guide draft 1
3Q 2016 Post-production, Animation and Delivery of Final Film and Ancillary Materials
Deliverables include: fine cut and final cut including animations, facilitator guide final draft, broadcast license deals in place finalized
4Q 2016 Film Release
Deliverables include premieres, film festivals, broadcast distribution, grassroots distribution, M&E activities
TB is one of the most deadly infectious diseases worldwide, and a leading killer of HIV-positive people as a consequence of coinfection. Over 95% of cases and deaths are in developing countries, and in 2014 South Africa stood out as one of six countries with the largest number of incident cases. In the same year, the continent of Africa as a whole experienced 281 cases of TB per 100,000 population, compared with a global average of 133 (World Health Organization, 2015).
Globally, however, TB infection and death rates have fallen by an average of 1.5% per year since 2000 and an estimated 43 million lives were saved through TB diagnosis and treatment in the same amount of time (World Health Organization, 2015). TB is a treatable and curable disease, but many at risk dont know that and dont know how to prevent multiple drug resistant TB. However, with proper education and engagement paired with community health programs, the global community should be able to reach the goal of ending the TB epidemic by 2030 as outlined in the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals.