In 2015, California was in the middle of a years-long drought. During this time, I came across a joint Request for Proposal from The Santa Monica Bay Foundation and the LADWP, looking for a team to produce three short humorous PSAs to educate Californians about smart water use, including conservation, and alternatives to excessive lawn watering. I actually came across it twice in two days, once searching for opportunities on my own, and once because it was sent to me by someone in the environmental field who knew I was looking to make this type of content.
I had worked with Ryan Maples of Xlantic before on some crowd-sourced spots for companies like Nokia, Hearos Earplugs, and Coca-Cola, and knew he would be a great partner to ask for help. He had more solid experience than me as a director, and was always good helping to narrow down the 100 or so ideas I always came up with into a few manageable possibilities.
So we talked, we moved forward, and we came up with two spots, “Desert Delivery” and “Pretend”, that won two out of three pitch openings. Exciting!
Ryan directed, and I produced. I learned a lot, and to tell you the truth I made a few mistakes. For “Desert Delivery”, the more complex of the two spots, we rented an RV for transportation to the desert and I had a fender bender with it (fortunately, insured). At one point the fire marshall came by – yes, all the way to the desert – and dinged us for not having a fire extinguisher in the RV (and I spent three hours driving into town to get one, because all our PA’s were needed on set).
But we also did a lot of things right, including figuring out how to legally rent the right plot of land in the middle of the Mojave and get a cast and crew of 30 out there safely and all paid. We hired the right actors, and we told a good story. “Desert Delivery” ended up winning a W3 Award for “Best Online PSA” that year, and it was shown on the big screen at Angels Games, before a few movies in local theaters, and on TV stations.
I’m proud of these spots because they combined three things I value into one package: educating the public about the environment, humor, and telling a good story.
As an added bonus, musician Moby came on board to do a bonus appeal video. So I got to mic up a man who may know more about microphones than I ever will.