LEWISBORO, N.Y. - Tired of the 24/7 news cycle and its contradictions, divisive political banter, and grim headlines?
Wear a mask.
That’s the premise behind a 30-second public service announcement created by a team of experienced advertising professionals. Steven Grskovic and Eric Warzecha, who make up half of the four-member team, live in Lewisboro.
Four weeks ago, Grskovic was listening to one of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s daily press briefings on the coronavirus when the governor announced a face mask PSA contest. The winning submission, which had to show a face mask being properly worn, would by used by the state.
“I called a couple of people and they were kind of interested,” said Grskovic, whose made commercials for companies like American Express, Dunkin Donuts, Miller Lite and T-Mobile. “I just gave myself an hour that night and a couple hours the next day to concept and then it was pencils down.”
He workshopped the idea with Rick Knief, a Scarsdale resident, who agreed to direct the PSA from his apartment, with Knief’s girlfriend starring. Knief took shots of his apartment and sent them to Grskovic to review. Grskovic then created a storyboard. He then looped in Alejandro Delgado, an editor from Harlem, and Warzecha, a sound designer from Lewisboro.
The short film begins with a woman waking up and scrolling her phone. She goes about her morning routine as the news plays in the background. As she makes coffee, the news gets louder and louder. The sound continues to increase in volume until she prepares to go out and puts on her mask, followed by immediate silence and two lines of text: “Silence the virus; wear a mask and help slow the spread of COVID-19.”
“The one that we produced, I thought was the simple and also emotional, Grskovic said. “It’s this simple idea that if you put on a mask, it’s going to wipe all this noise out that we’re hearing.”
The PSA, which was easier to fast track without corporate involvement, came together in just over a week.
“We’ve been doing this for a while,” Grskovic said. “We just went with our guts.”
Competing against hundreds of other submissions, including some from major ad agencies, they did not win the New York contest. The winning spots were more inspirational or humorous, while Grskovic’s had a more severe tone.
“The way I viewed it, this was a pandemic,” he said. “You can’t really sugarcoat this. We haven’t left our houses in a long time. When I was writing, I dismissed a lot of ideas that were New York pride and had humor. We need something emotional that gets to the point.”
Though it did not win New York’s contest, Grskovic’s PSA was also submitted to the Bowery Film Festival, which this year is showcasing shorts about COVID-19 on its Instagram page (@boweryfilmfestival). The Top 5 films with the most likes on Instagram will be screened at the festival in August.
The Lighthouse International Film Festival, based in Long Beach Island, is hosting a drive-in film festival in June. The festival will show the PSA between every screening.
“It’s been really a mental game to be productive work wise [during the pandemic],” Grskovic said. “I kind of did it to do something productive during this time. I felt like, I think I can do this successfully and get the message across.”
View the PSA on Grskovic’s Instagram page (@gres_co_vick).
To our Beloved Community: During this crisis, we can’t continue to operate entirely as we have been doing when we are only earning a fraction of our previous advertising revenue and still have to pay 100 percent of our payroll. Without that payroll, we would be unable to serve the community with the news and important information you have come to expect. If you feel that we’ve made a positive difference in your town, we ask that you send us a contribution to keep your community newspaper alive and strong by pressing on our PayPal button HERE.