Thursday, September 5, 2013

John Snow, the movie: Visualizing disease

It's not a secret that John Snow's cholera map is my favorite visualization of all time. I wrote about it in a recent long article, and I showcase it —and explain its story, which is much more fascinating than what most popular accounts make you think— in many of my presentations, classes, and workshops.

In the article I mentioned an indie short film about Snow, made by director Isaac Ergas (website). I'm in the mailing list Ergas uses to announce updates. I just learned that the film is available in Amazon, and Ergas is writing a feature-length screenplay. He will soon start looking for funding to bring it to the screen. I really hope he gets what he needs.

Read the message below. And get the DVD or rent the movie through Instant Video. It's worth your time.

Hello everyone,
As the film Snow keeps chugging along, there are few updates that I would like to share with you:

1. Snow is now available on to purchase or rent for personal use and institutional licensing. If you see or have seen the film, and liked it, PLEASE help us out by leaving a POSITIVE review on Amazon!  (no purchase necessary to leave a review). Click here for personal use. Click here for Institutional licensing.
2. The feature length screenplay for the film Snow is nearing completion and soon will begin development and fundraising, so stay tuned for that.  If you like, you can read the feature synopsis at the end of the email.
3. Along with several other USC short films, Snow has a new distribution agreement with Shorts International ( and will soon be available for viewing on ShortsHD ( both domestically and internationally.  Snow will also soon be traveling across Australia with the SCINEMA, International Festival of Science Cinema.
4. For you public health types, if you do not already subscribe to the Epidemiology Monitor, please check them out at , they are on the cutting edge of Epidemiology and have done a great job covering our film.
Hope everyone continues to be well and thank you for your continued support!


It is 1854 and as England prepares for war on the Crimean Peninsula, London is drowning in a sea of death and disease.  This story examines the lives of those affected by the notorious cholera outbreak, which decimated the squalid yet vibrant London neighborhood surrounding Broad Street.   As hundreds fall, we track the renowned investigation by the meticulous Dr. John Snow and his pursuit to prove his unpopular waterborne theory of disease.  His investigation is both aided and hindered by the interconnected stories of several other principle players.  Henry Whitehead is a gregarious and sociable parish priest, who in his effort to disprove Snow’s theory becomes one of his greatest allies.   Thomas and Sarah Lewis are a loving husband and wife, who must survive the outbreak and unknowingly contribute to its resolution as well as their own demise.  Benjamin Hall is an ambitious and newly appointed president of The Board of Health, who makes a well-intentioned but misdirected attempt to bring change to the horrid health conditions plaguing London.   Tabitha Black is a fallen woman, who is forced into prostitution on the eve of the outbreak and in coming to terms with her new reality makes a timely acquaintance with a heroic nurse named Florence Nightingale.  William Eley is an eccentric businessman, who is determined to seal a lucrative contract with American gun manufacturer, Samuel Colt, but must keep his factory workers alive long enough to do so.  For a brief moment in time, their lives are interwoven by a mysterious disease, which sets the stage for an exceptionally rare opportunity to advance the world’s understanding of an illness that has thus far claimed millions of lives.