Hard-hitting PSA...

Hard-hitting PSA

Found while looking through a friend’s old Broadcasting 101 notes: ‘The proverbial challenge of the public service announcement is to heighten awareness without preaching, offer valid information without getting lost in statistics and get people’s attention without being flashy. To quote a great historical figure: `A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.’ ‘

HmmmÉsugar-coated psas.

Interesting concept.

But the Circle Productions (Vancouver) psa for caveat (Canadians Against Violence Everywhere Advocating its Termination) is anything but sweet.

It hits you – hard.

This is the non-profit charitable organization’s first television spot in its educational and public awareness campaign for a more accountable justice system.

The 30-second psa features a Man (we are told he murdered a child seven years ago) being taken from his prison cell down a maze of corridors and stairwells before stopping before a fence-like door.

Employing a variety of cinematic devices – chiaroscuro lighting, ominous shadows, severe and tilted angles and a moving camera – director Rob Turner and cinematographer Ron Williams create a heightened atmosphere of confusion, chaos and imbalance throughout the sequence. The viewer is bombarded with a barrage of quickly edited images: handcuffs, shackles, prison doors, guards, the Man.

This ‘attack’ on the viewer is disconcerting. We’re not quite sure where the Man is being taken. He is likened to an animal behind bars, restrained in shackles, roaring just before the fence is opened. Is this death row? The copy reads, ‘Thanks to Canada’s justice system he’s about to get exactly what’s coming to him. His freedom.’ The spot ends with the Man exiting the prison and walking towards a taxi.

Turner’s eerie visuals, accompanied with a just-as-eerie sound track of echoing footsteps and prison doors opening, creates a skewed reality – one that suggests the inner landscape of a criminal and the injustice of a system that seems more concerned with protecting criminals than the public.

Although there has been ‘a lot of interest’ from broadcasters, an airdate for the psa has yet to be confirmed, says Carlo D’Ercole, producer at agency SMW Advertising.

Also for smw, Michael Paul and David Sharpe take creative director credits, Ken Morgan was the art director and Bill Parker was copywriter.

At Circle, Tom Murray executive produced and Rod Bellamy produced. Post-production was performed at Vancouver’s Poste Haste/Coast Mountain/Wave Productions and Toronto on-line supervision was handled by The Daily Post. JL