April 28, 2020

We were recently tasked to produce a commercial for the New Jersey Education Association that tells the story of Martha Garcia, a Jersey City art teacher still committed to teaching her students in the midst of a global pandemic.

Like everyone else, The New Media Firm has been forced to adapt to the new normal under COVID-19. We’re working from home. Editing remotely. And doing more than our fair share of Zoom meetings.

But conducting video shoots in far-flung locations – that’s a tougher nut to crack with everyone in lockdown.

Normally, we’d travel up to New Jersey and hire an entire film crew to shoot Martha’s story – camera, lights, sound, makeup – the whole shebang.

But under social distancing, no one wanted to risk the close interaction between multiple people that would’ve been required for a shoot like this – especially in the tight confines of a one-bedroom apartment.

So we were forced to get creative: if we couldn’t get a crew in to film Martha, we’d have Martha film herself.

First, we wrote a script for Martha to read about her experience teaching remotely during quarantine.

Then we recorded her voice over narration on her iPhone, directing her via a Zoom meeting. To get the audio as dry and echo-free as possible, we had her record in her closet, using her clothing as makeshift soundproofing.

Next we conducted a virtual location scout via Zoom, with Martha carrying her laptop around to help us figure out all the camera angles we’d need to tell her story.

After the scout, we wrote up a detailed shot list, and with just an iPad propped up on a stool and a stack of books, Martha captured every shot we asked for.

And did it all on her own, setting up each camera angle before running around to perform the required action.

The end result is an ad that, while not technically perfect, tells Martha’s story in a heartfelt way that feels true to these times.

We can’t wait to get back out to shooting in person. But in the meantime, we’ll keep looking for creative ways to adapt.