Neil Dogra ’21 is proof that anyone with a passion for change can make a positive difference in their community. The University School of Milwaukee senior has recently released “The Faceless Killer
,” a documentary film he made using his iPhone and computer, about the opioid crisis in Milwaukee. It is his third documentary film, and it has been selected to screen at the 2020 American Public Health Association Annual Meeting and Expo
later this month.
Dogra was unaware of the opioid crisis until his freshman year at USM, after hearing a statistic on the radio that an individual is more likely to die from an accidental opioid overdose than from a motor vehicle crash. “When I heard that I just thought, ‘How is that even possible,’” he said. “I didn’t even know what an opioid was, so it really stuck with me. I wondered how I had gone so long without knowing about the crisis, and I wondered how many other kids didn’t know about it, either.”
He thought that film would be a great way to spread his message, so he began working on a script and collecting interviews the summer after his sophomore year. When the pandemic hit in March, he found himself with extra time on his hands, allowing him to complete the post-production process of editing, piecing together interviews, and doing voiceover work.
Filmmaking involves many different skill sets, which Dogra finds challenging and interesting. “I’m writing a script as if it’s a persuasive English essay, or I’m refining it and voicing it over as if I’m performing in a theater production, there’s just so much going on,” he said. “It’s really awesome how it all comes together in one single piece.”
In addition to filmmaking, Dogra has been giving peer advocacy talks in Milwaukee Public Schools since his sophomore year, speaking to students in 7th through 10th grades. In an effort to spread his message to more students, he worked with a curriculum specialist at MPS to write an opioid lesson plan, which was distributed to MPS schools. “I took my presentation and broke it down into several components, and I designed a plan where students work in groups and research just one topic of the opioid crisis. By the end of the lesson they present their topic to their peers, so they are practicing peer advocacy, which is really important to fight the crisis.”
Dogra was elected by his peers to serve as one of six 2020–21 USM prefects, and has also earned several awards
for his research on the corrosion properties of ductile iron piping.