Annette Frahm’s video, “Palliative Care: Helping Patients Improve Quality of Life,” has won two national awards: a Clarion Award from the Association for Women in Communications (AWC) and a Videographer Award of Distinction. The Communication Leadership alumna and independent communications consultant produced the video for UW Medicine as an independent study for her Master of Communication in Digital Media (MCDM) degree. Comm Lead faculty member Alex Stonehill recommended her for the project—and also served as her faculty advisor—after Frahm’s videography interests caught the instructor’s attentions in his MCDM Advanced Multimedia Storytelling class.
Frahm is no stranger to tough topics. Tackling a serious illness in her early 20s catapulted Frahm into an active lifestyle and passion for health. Watching her friends experience age-related health problems renewed her interest to explore, understand and help raise awareness of various wellness issues. Comm Lead classes gave Frahm the space to do so. As part of a class assignment, she launched The Boomer Athlete blog and even ventured into a new storytelling medium by filming stories about baby boomers’ struggles to stay active as they age.
“I don’t have a large block of past video projects,” Frahm says. “The program helped me discover a passion for digital video, and taught me the skills I needed to get started in the field.”
So when Comm Lead alumna and UW Medicine Media Relations Manager Elizabeth Hunter needed someone to tell the story of the hospital’s Palliative Care Center of Excellence, Frahm was the perfect fit. Her final video synthesized the voices of patients, loved ones and the physicians who care for them into a raw emotional narrative, which explained the essence of palliative care and made the need for its individualized support for people with serious illness abundantly clear.
Creating the story had its challenges, with both the topic and the physical condition of its subjects at play—one of Frahm’s interviewees had a thundering artificial heart which made audio recording quite difficult—but the payoff was well worth it.
“I believe that stories are what connect people to an issue, help them understand it more deeply, and may inspire them to take action,” Frahm explains. And inspire it did.
Not only did Frahm’s video lend a humanizing and educational element to the Center’s homepage, but the project landed her at a UW Medicine Service League board meeting. There, Frahm and the palliative care team screened the film and described their work, convincing the board to allocate some of its funds to comfort items used for palliative care.
The AWC and Videographer awards are just icing on the successful independent study cake. It’s not the first time Frahm’s videography has been officially recognized: her past projects with fellow Comm Lead student Rodika Tollefson also received accolades, with “Shout on Every Corner” winning second place in the Healthy Aging PartnershipFilm Festival and “Bugs Appetit!” becoming an official selection of the Seattle True Independent Film Festival.
“I am thrilled with the recognition,” Frahm says. “I hope that winning national awards will help open doors in my fledgling video career.”