#ISurvivedEbola – Foday’s Story

Filmmaker Q&A with Producer Sean Southey

What motivated you to make your impact video?

The Positive Deviance theory – What could we learn from those who were surviving Ebola? I thought these voices would be able to break through the fear surrounding the epidemic.


Please provide a brief description of the work or organization featured in your video:

The #ISurviveEbola campaign featured the voice of people who had survived Ebola to share health messages, inspire hope, and reduce stigma against survivors.


What have you learned about the value and impact of the project?

The impact of this project was beyond our expectations. The campaign had an audience of over 10 million in West Africa alone and an international audience as well. The stories (Foday’s was one of thirty) spoke to people from all walks of life. And the stories really helped people to be less afraid which made room for learning and less stigmatization.


What do you want audiences to take away from this video?

Surviving an epidemic is possible. It just requires the discipline of listening and asking for help. Ebola won’t be the last time we need to take these messages to heart.


Please list key points that should be covered in a post-screening discussion:

Our three discussion points are

  1. How did Foday communicate? How did this save lives?
  2. How did Foday protect himself and others? How did this save lives?
  3. How did Foday reintegrate? How did this save lives?


Please provide information on any recent developments regarding the issue or subjects of the video. How have things changed or not changed?

The Ebola epidemic has ended and now the focus is on making the health care systems in West Africa stronger so that the affected countries are better able to handle health emergencies and provide preventative care.


What opportunities are available for those interested in getting further involved?

We always asked that people share these stories. They are so powerful. Visit #ISurvivedEbola.org to learn more.


Please provide any additional resources (websites, links to additional videos, forms, articles, etc.) relevant to the context of the issue discussed in your video:



Is there a particular video, film, campaign or filmmaker that had a major influence on your career?

I am deeply inspired by the work of Soul City.


Please tell us what camera(s) you shot with primarily – and any other special equipment that you used and why you used it.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III


Please share a personal story about your experience making this impact video.

When the videos began broadcasting, I went on the radio in Liberia to talk about the campaign. The callers were amazed. There were so many people who at that time thought surviving Ebola was impossible. It was amazing to be able to offer realistic hope.


Please tell us about any special styles or techniques that you used during the production of your impact video to help tell your story. 

Adobe Premiere color correction effect filter


How did your story evolve from day one, to the very last day in post? Is your story what you thought it would be?

From the moment Foday started telling his story, it was clear that he had so much to share. It was always the story we expected in that it was Foday’s story, not ours.


Please describe the most rewarding experience you had while making this impact video. 

It’s been so rewarding to see Foday’s story continue to evolve. He’s an advocate in his country for a strong healthcare system and continued care for Ebola survivors.


What advice can you give to other impact filmmakers?

These powerful stories already exist. They don’t need to be “told” so much as delivered with love.


What’s your favorite part about the filmmaking process and why?

My favorite part about this film making process was Foday having a place to process these unbelievable things that had happened to him, his family, and his country,


What’s the one item you always take with you when working out in the field and why? 

Tiny flashlights. They’re useful and make great gifts.



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