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Meth program earns prestigious Emmy

"Breath of Heaven, Life of Hell - An Account of Methamphetamine in North Dakota - can add 'Emmy Award' winner to its growing list of accolades.

The 30-minute educational DVD focusing on the perils of methamphetamine use took first place honors at the National Television Academy Upper Midwest Chapter 2006 Emmy Awards and Silver Circle Presentations held Oct. 21 at the Graves/601 Hotel in Minneapolis.

Officials of Results Unlimited, the Minot-based marketing and advertising agency producing the video, made the announcement at a press conference Monday in West Fargo. Senior Editor Robert Lindee served as co-producer, editor, photographer and narrator, while John Gorman was co-producer, writer and photographer, bringing home the Emmy honors.

West Fargo Police Department Sergeant Detective Greg Warren played a lead role in developing the video which not only defines the mental and physical anguish of the debilitating drug, but also offers insight into both preventing and overcoming its use with intimate accounts offered by three local meth victims - a juvenile female and a young adult male and female, all presently in out-treatment status. Warren was also instrumental in the airing of the program on local over-the-air and cable access television, a criteria for Emmy competition.

Needless to say, Warren and officials at Results Unlimited were thrilled as Emmy recipients at the gala event that saw winners in 36 categories, with the DVD up against five other staunch competitors in "Public/Current/Community Affairs,' including KSTP and Northwest Community Television.

"It was pretty stiff competition, involving a variety of entities representing Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota," Warren noted. He and his wife, Brenda, were in attendance, along with Lindee and Results Unlimited partner Rod Wilson.

"We are certainly proud of Robert and John," Wilson said. "They are part of a great team that continues to produce award-winning video and graphic production projects. It was a concept idea on how to educate young people about meth and it turned out it was one of our best pieces."

Wilson also commended the involvement of the West Fargo Police Department and the cooperation of other local law enforcement agencies. "This project would not have been what it is without the involvement of the West Fargo Police Department."

"The video has certainly gone beyond our expectations," Warren agreed. "Everyone did a tremendous job. You talk about being proud when they announced Results Unlimited at the Emmy presentation. It was a short but intense screaming session. It was really, really satisfying to see North Dakota and Results Unlimited earn this praise for their work with the project."

Gorman was ill and unable to attend the ceremonies, but he said afterwards he was thrilled not only with the honor of winning the award "but for having had the opportunity to educate others on a subject as serious as methamphetamine."

Lindee described the Emmy as a great accomplishment. "Being awarded an Emmy is something all video producers want to accomplish. To be able to reach that goal while working on a project as important as this, and producing it with the people I worked with, is simply icing on the cake."

Work on the DVD got off the ground early last year after discussions with West Fargoan Tom Sumers, Sales Executive at Results Unlimited. Filmed locally in West Fargo and the Fargo area, the DVD begins with a plea by local law enforcement officials to heed the dangers of meth, before showing an enactment of an actual 'bust' of someone under its influence, as well as informational accounts by doctors, nurses, and other professional personnel, explaining the ill effects of usage on the body's central nervous system and brain. The accounts of the three users are interspersed throughout the presentation as living testimony to the fact that meth "can and does ruin lives."

Since the video was introduced in February of this year, it has gone statewide in North Dakota and into some points in Minnesota as people request it. "It is appropriate for all ages levels," Warren said. "We have distributed it to churches throughout the state and through a variety of law enforcement agencies it has gone to several schools."

So far, the video has played an integral role in creating awareness. "We have a terrible meth problem out there but it is hidden," Warren said. "The public doesn't really see it. The problem is a little better than it was three years ago, but it just kind of runs in streaks."

"I think the old saying goes "people won't quit making it unless people quit using it," Warren said. "That's what we are trying to accomplish with this video - to discourage people who haven't tried meth from doing so. The biggest downfall is what it does to the body and brain, and we want to provide a better understanding about what it does to you when you take it. The people involved in the video do an excellent job of conveying this educational message."

He admits that it has been a huge challenge getting everyone to take this message to heart. "We haven't accomplished that yet entirely," Warren noted, "but law enforcement is doing everything they can to fight the drug and the sale of drugs. We need to get to the non-users and make sure they don't use. That's where we need to chop it off."

All in all, Warren said response to the video has been overwhelmingly positive. "What we are hearing back from those who have seen it is that they like how fast moving it is and how it really hits the core of the problem. We are getting excellent feedback on how it affects the people who watch it. It is definitely hard-hitting. We were hoping the public would grab onto it and I think we hit a grand slam."

Copies of the video are still available to the public upon request. Warren said he is also more than happy to personally preview the video and do an accompanying presentation for anyone who would like to offer it as a program. DVD's can be picked up at the West Fargo Police Department at 800 4th Ave. E; or more information is available by calling 433-5500. The West Fargo Public Library, in the Lodoen Community Center, 109 3rd St. E., also has several copies available for viewing or checkout.

Total production cost for the "Breath of Heaven, Life of Hell" DVD was $36,000, paid for by a variety of participating sponsors.

Inquiries about services provided at Results Unlimited can be made by calling their Minot office at 701-837-4949. They also operate a satellite office serving the Fargo area. More information is also available on their Web site at www.results-unlimited.com.

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