News and Events

SWAT Students from Marion County Contribute to "Who is the Target", a Short Film on Youth Tobacco Marketing
April 24, 2013

Students from six counties in North Central Florida joined forces to write and produce "Who is the Target", a short film that focuses on the use of flavored products as a youth marketing strategy by tobacco companies.

Fourteen students from Alachua, Clay, Dixie, Gilchrist, Levy, and Marion Counties were asked to contribute facts and information on the issue of flavored tobacco products that are not currently regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. The students then recorded the information at a make-shift studio. Marion County SWAT students Keyon Young, Bailey Horne, and Courtney Battisti participated in the project.

"I thought the experience being in the commercial was very inspiring to younger people, being that I’m only twelve," said Bailey Horne, a 7th-Grade student at Howard Middle School. "The SWAT club is a very amazing club, it teaches the effects of tobacco while I get to hang out with my friends.  I feel like a better person knowing that I have opened the eyes of kids about big tobacco’s influence and the negative effects on your life."

The Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation helped produce the film, setting up a temporary studio at their office in Ocala, Florida. The staff converted a spare office by suspending a simple blue screen from the ceiling. "It is the same technique used by your local weatherman," said Dr. Barry Hummel, who directed the film. "It allows us to put graphic information behind the students during the editing process to reinforce each point they are trying to make."

"The students were real pros," added Dr. Hummel. "Picture yourself standing on a blank stage and sharing information while imagining what images might be swirling behind you. This is exactly what these students did, which is all the more impressive when you consider that they ranged in age from 12 to 18."

Once the footage was shot, it was catalogued by Dr. Hummel, who then was tasked with cutting the film together.

"Using the material provided by the students, I had to string together the information to try and tell a linear story," said Dr. Hummel. "Once that was established, the film was populated with numerous pictures of the tobacco products that are being used to aggressively target teenagers."

Courtney Battisti on set

"I thought that speaking in the video was very fun," added Courtney Battisti, who also attends 7th Grade at Howard Middle School.  "I really hope my comment made people think twice about tobacco.  In the video, I loved the way it was set up.  I think that it was easy to understand and what the people said was very educational and important."

Dr. Hummel also hopes to use the material to create a number of shorter 30-second and 60-second public service announcements. "With a little luck," he added, "we can get some local media outlets to run a few of these to get the word out on this important problem."

"There are so many benefits to a project like this, besides the obvious impact of youth speaking out against Big Tobacco," said Jessie King, the SWAT Coordinator in Marion County. "Students are able to interact with SWAT members from other counties -  a reminder that what they are doing in their individual schools and communities is part of a larger mission.  For a couple of students, this was their first experience sharing the SWAT message outside their schools, and to have their work shown to decision makers throughout the state is empowering.  Additionally, in sharing the video in the schools, we are able to create excitement for participation among other students and further spread the message."

The finished project, "Who is the Target", was made available to the public on April 24, 2013. You can view the film in its entirety here: