Q&A: Healthcare content producer Jon Cody

One of Cody’s latest projects is a docuseries, “A Life Worth Running,” about Peter Kirk, an acute myeloid leukemia survivor and CEO of Sermo.

NEW YORK: Jon Cody had spent almost 15 years working in television and video streaming for companies such as Fox and Hulu when in 2021 he launched a movie company focused on a niche: health and healthcare.

"There's so much information and misinformation out there [when people search for information on the internet]," Cody said. "If you did find a video that was interesting, it was often very clinical."

His goal, he said, is "to bring Hollywood storytelling into healthcare."

One of Cody's latest projects is a docuseries, "A Life Worth Running," about Peter Kirk, an acute myeloid leukemia survivor and the CEO of Sermo, which provides a social network for physicians. Only about 30% of U.S. adults with that cancer survive more than five years, according to Yale Medicine.

The three-part series tells the story of Kirk almost dying from the double whammy of leukemia and double lung pneumonia, receiving a stem-cell transplant and deciding to run the New York City Marathon. We also see Cody, now cured of the disease, reach out to his donor and meet him.

PRWeek conducted a phone interview with Cody to learn more about the series and his company.

What made you decide that there was a need for a company that offered Hollywood storytelling to healthcare companies?

Part of why we started it is personal. I have two sons who are on the Autism spectrum. Everyone starts healthcare with Dr. Google, and you're running down a YouTube rabbit hole of stuff where you don't know if it's good or bad.

The more that you can plain-English health and healthcare, and the more that you can get beyond a simple doctor to trusted sources like nurses, like caregivers, like patients. We felt like it was a more powerful message to people seeking information."

How does your company's business model work? Do healthcare organizations or companies pay you to produce films?

Yeah, they do. Some pay us just to do what they want to do. Some will pay us on the sponsorship of things that we want to do as a studio, and then there's that middle ground, like with Sermo, where it's a pure co-production, where we are developing intellectual property together and co-owning the story and the ancillary content. You can imagine a story like this could be a scripted feature film.

What do you think a film like this does for Sermo or Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center? (Kirk recovered at Sloan Kettering and committed to donate $1 million to the hospital).

We want to bring a little more awareness to who they are. It does raise the brand, and a lot of what we said to Sermo and Memorial Sloan Kettering is that you want to activate your talent. You actually have talent within that building. And, yes, some of them are on TikTok, but a lot of it is activating those people in a way where they are actually produced. And there's kind of a third angle: how do you use video for research purposes? You see a lot of public health grants go to medical research institutions, but they haven't yet used storytelling and video to improve outcomes.

Is there a particular skill set or technique that is required to make healthcare films as compared to films about other industries or other sorts of entertainment movies?

You need the appropriate people to make sure that there's medical accuracy, although that happens even on a show like "House." There are always consultants who play those roles, but I think ultimately the difference here for us is the voices of healthcare. A patient can speak in plain English, but you want to make sure that a medical professional — I don't want to say dumbs it down — but speaks on a level that the rest of us can understand.

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