Thursday, January 31, 2013

Documentary: The Waiting Room

I saw The Waiting Room documentary film Sunday night at the Cinematheque Theater for a Journalism assignment. It was my first time to go there, and what better way to watch it than with CreComm classmates (who were watching it anyway)? So off we went.

Set in the waiting room in Highland Hospital, Oakland, California, the film portrayed the U.S. health care system. Even if it wasn't part of the assignment, I couldn't help but compare the Canadian health care system to the U.S. system while watching the documentary.

Patients at the emergency room had to wait for hours. There was one patient who waited for seven hours for a Tylenol. They had no appointments, so they had to wait the whole day because "there's just no place for everybody," (said by the nurse in the waiting room). They all had to wait. The patient who had a bullet in his leg. The young girl with tonsillitis. The patient who had a stroke.

I felt bad for those who had to wait. But then, it's the same case here in Canada too. I had to wait an average of three to four hours with my GP (that's why I rarely visit my doctor unless I'm really, really sick.)When I went to the emergency room summer last year, I waited for two hours (or maybe two and a half? I forget.). I was surprised that I only waited for less than three hours because I thought I had to wait long. It was Thursday afternoon, and there weren't many people in the waiting room. There was even a screen on the wall that indicated the number of patients in the room and the least and most wait times that day.

According to a report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, 1 person in 10 waits for eight hours or more. While the "average length of stay is longer than four hours." The report was released November 29, 2012.(1) So I guess I was lucky that day...? (Even though I was unlucky because I was at the emergency room. Oh well.)

The Government of Canada have been improving this flaw in the system, when Health Canada established the "Patient Wait Times Guarantee" where there patients have access to a clinical or medical service with "a defined timeframe", and "access to alternate options of care (recourse) should that timeframe be exceeded."(2) However, this initiative doesn't apply to emergency rooms. 

But I guess it works? Bacchus Barua and Nadeem Esmail conducted a research study called "Waiting Your Turn: Wait Times for Health Care in Canada, 2012 Report", where medical or clinical treatment wait times have decreased between 2011-2012.(3) Their research reported "a total waiting time of 17.7 weeks between referral from a general practitioner and receipt of elective treatment." 

The biggest issue that stood out for me in the documentary was that most patients didn't have insurance to pay for their medical bills. Patients had to pay at the end of their treatment. The hospital staff mentioned that Highland Hospital has two options for patients who couldn't afford the bill: Charity Care Program and Patient Pay discount. If the patient qualifies for the Charity Care program, the hospital covers 60% of the payment and the patient pays the rest. The bill is split between hospital and patient for the Patient Pay Discount. Even though they have these programs, I don't think a person with very low (or no) income should pay for hospital fees.

I felt really bad that they had to pay for their hospital fees because when I went to the emergency room last year, I didn't pay at all (because the doctor just observed me and asked me questions. Hahaha). My dad didn't spend anything either when he had a foot surgery (except for medications and prescriptions, but they're covered by insurance at work anyway.).

I'm glad that people are treated equally and fairly in the Canadian health care system. It is the primary objective after all: It is hereby declared that the primary objective of Canadian health care policy is to protect, promote, and restore the physical and mental well-being of residents of Canada and to facilitate reasonable access to health services without financial or other barriers.(4)

I understand that there are long wait times in the emergency room, but sometimes I think that I'm grateful that I don't have to pay for anything when I visit my doctor or when my friend had two complicated surgeries in her spinal cord and stomach. Because coming from the Philippines, surgeries cost a lot. And public health care there is terrible. Very unsanitary. Anyway, I'm just grateful with the Canadian health care system despite the flaws.

Now, despite the controversial and relevant topic, does the film work as a documentary?

The first 20 minutes was nice. The story began showing the patients waiting in the waiting room. It showed nurses and doctors assisting and talking to the patients. They were the narrators of the film. However, after 30 minutes of showing patients waiting, getting angry, and narrating, I've had enough. There was no story. I didn't understand what director Peter Nicks wanted to tell the audience.

(If I looked deeper into it, I think it's a metaphor--the Americans were waiting for someone (or something) to change their health care system.)

Anyway, the documentary only showed one side of the argument (i.e., the state of the U.S. health care system). For the Americans, the film offered nothing new because they already know how it is. Maybe it offered something new but little information to the non-Americans, but it wasn't controversial.

The setting was excellent; the audience got a glimpse of what it was like to be in the waiting room in a U.S. public hospital. I liked that most of the shots were close-ups because it made the people seem closer to the audience. The shaky camera showed the reality, instability, and vulnerability of the people. The rack focus was executed nicely in shots where two patients were talking and the camera would focus on one person, blur the other, and vice versa. For the editing to work, there had to be a story. And there was no story.

The background music was played three times (beginning, middle, and end) to show more sounds produced by the people to make it realistic. But sometimes were was too much talking, too much telling, and less showing (which brings me back to the editing and lack of story again).

The documentary let the people talk (but not too much) and let them narrate the story. If there was a story. If there was a story, it would've been a lot better. The patients would tell their story and show their story through their emotions (because emotions are more powerful than words). Then it's up to the production team to create an overall story through proper editing and sound.

The documentary had so much potential. It featured an interesting, controversial, and relevant topic, but it would've been so much better.

Sources (linked in post and here): 

(1) CIHI News Release. Nov. 29, 2012.
(2) Health Canada. Patient Wait Times Guarantees. Feb. 24, 2012.
(3) Barua, B., and Esmail, N. Waiting Your Turn: Wait Times for Health Care in Canada, 2012 Report. Dec. 4, 2012. Fraser Institute.
(4) Canada Health Act. Justice Laws. Jan. 30, 2013. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Narrative Ads Part III: UNO Fog bar

This week's ad is a series of ads for UNO fog bar, a hair styling product. The ad has no story, but the series is connected to one big idea.

As I mentioned in my previous posts, it's very common for Asian actors to appear in advertisements or commercials. They don't just endorse big name brands unlike in North America where Hollywood celebrities rarely appear in ads. I would never understand why an actor would not want to appear in an ad especially when these companies pay a lot. And personally, I would buy something that my favourite actor would endorse (depends on the need of course) because that person is selling it. It's not right, I know, but... it's an ad. 

This ad from Japan is one of my favourite Japanese ads. This CM (aka advertisements or commercial in Japan) is for Shiseido UNO fog bar. It features Japanese actors Eita, Oguri Shun, Miura Haruma, and Tsumabuki Satoshi. 

uploaded by X0xKAONx0X

uploaded by pippi3lam

Similar to the two previous posts, this ad appeals to the target market because of the actors. The target market is not limited in Japan, but in other parts of Asia or the world. Another market this ad targets are the fans of the actors. These fans have seen the actors in Japanese dramas (or doramas in Japanese) so they are already familiar with them.

Also, the ads have "one big idea" and plays a catchy music that grabs the attention of the viewers. 

The second video where the four are standing in a set and change coats is my favourite because it's simple and creative. It probably took them hours to perfect each scene, and they probably saved a little with the use of the set and clothes. Or just put the budget in the actors' fees because these four are very popular in their country. 

That said, at the end of the day, it's all about whether these ads were effective or not. And seeing that the ad appeals to the audience with the use of the actors, it works. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Narrative Ads Part II: Toyota Camry

Lee Min ho is one of the most popular actors in South Korea. His popularity rose after he starred in Boys Over Flowers. Boys Over Flowers is the third Korean adaptation of the popular manga, Hana Yori Dango, by Kamio Yoko. 

Because Boys Over Flowers already had a steady following before the Korean adaptation, it was not difficult for this show to get a new following. Especially when the Korean F4 looked very similar to the manga characters. After the show, Lee Min ho became a household name in Korea.

Toyota released this four-part web series in 2011 for Toyota Camry 2012 The One & Only campaign. Word of warning: Turn off your brain because none of the episodes make sense that you'll only use your eyes and ears. Or you can skip the car sequences and shots because they're just everywhere (which is understandable, because this is a Toyota ad).

Now you understand why I hate it? Seems like the ad only focused on the visuals (cinematography and Lee Min ho) and main actor that the team didn't consider the plot and (horrible) script. I followed this web series two years ago and I remember that they released one episode per week. It kept the audience on their toes and they anticipated when the next episode will be released to know what happens to Lee Min ho's character (because at the end of the day, it's because of Lee Min ho why this web series has views).

Despite the confusing plot and nonsense, cheesy script, this ad appeals to the target market. Why? Because of Lee Min ho. It's very common in Asia for well-known actors to appear in ads. Actors in washer and dryer ads, hair styling products, fastfood restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, and instant noodles. It doesn't matter what the product is, as long as the actor is in the ad. 

And while I was doing my research for this blog post, I discovered that Toyota released a second season (!). I didn't expect that. Although, maybe I shouldn't be surprised because it was up to Lee Min ho's contract with Toyota. I know it's not Min ho's fault because it's his job, but ... I just can't. The script. The acting of the second leads and extras. 

So here's the first episode of The One & Only Toyota Camry Season 2 if you hatg ro :

And of course I'll watch the rest of the season. I'll still cringe because of the cheesiness and terrible script and acting, and then that's it. 

So what do you think about actors featured in ads that one would never see in Western ads? 

Next week, I'll write about my favourite hair styling product ad endorsed by the most popular actors in Japan.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Narrative Ads Part I: Nestle Philippines

Because I watch YouTube videos everyday, I come across related videos where some are interesting while some are boring. I rarely watch television these days so good thing there's YouTube. If it wasn't for YouTube, I wouldn't discover ads from Asia that run for five minutes or more on tv. 

This month, I will feature advertisements from Asian countries that has a narrative. They may also be a series of ads with a theme or story.

This week's ad is from the Philippines.

Two weeks ago I was looking at YouTube videos of my favourite Filipino artist (i.e., Up Dharma Down). One of the related links on the sidebar was a Nestle Philippines ad. I became curious so I watched the 12-minute video. It was worth it. Some were longer than 10 minutes, while some were shorter. Some where cliche, while some were funny. Some were heartwarming, while some were fluffy. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Obligatory New Year Post (2013 edition)

If I wrote this post a week before the new year, it would be all sappy and emotional. It would be just like any typical blog post about the new year. So I'll keep it short and simple. No new year's resolutions (because I don't really have one) and no reminiscing of the past year (because I've done it already).  

Thank you.


This is going to be a great year.