The Love Competition

Image © Adam Westbrook

On a Saturday morning, seven volunteers gathered at a hospital in San Francisco, California. One by one they removed any metallic items and then lay down inside an MRI machine. Their job was simple: love someone as hard as they could for five minutes.

Where did the idea for The Love Competition come from?

Am I being too simplistic to say it’s using a love story to make science more digestible?

[Scientists] are in a very tough spot, because they can’t suggest opinions or anything like that without being torn apart by other scientists who want the funding instead of them! It’s a good place for me to be because I can tell the stories that they can’t.

Is this something producers should be trying to do more?

How did you find the contestants?

In terms of the structure was there anything going on with how you designed the story?

One of the most interesting characters, Peter, has his own journey through the film.

Narratively does that have an impact?

Two other characters — Kent and Marilyn — the magic is in the way you’ve set it up. You don’t reveal they’re a couple until the end.

It makes me wonder whether by withholding information then dropping it in later you can create this reveal. It almost goes against what many documentary film makers might think you should do.

But it works because it’s a dramatic reveal.

Is there a running theme behind what you do?

Are we in a renaissance for science storytelling?

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Video artist working at The New York Times. I write a weekly newsletter about visual storytelling and creativity. https://adamwestbrook.substack.com/

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Adam Westbrook

Adam Westbrook

Video artist working at The New York Times. I write a weekly newsletter about visual storytelling and creativity. https://adamwestbrook.substack.com/

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