Seniors, MCTV celebrate completion of public-safety spot

Courtesy photo
MCTV Executive Director Karen Hayden, right, works with volunteer Seth Graham editing the footage of the “Is Your Number Up?” commercial.
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METHUEN — Accomplishing a goal can be cause for celebration, and when that deed is a successful public-service commerical, it justifies having a party.

And that’s just what Methuen Community Television and the TRIAD Council — a partnership between law enforcement and senior citizens through the Essex County Sheriff’s Department — did on Aug. 23 when they held a premiere party at the Methuen Senior Activity Center for the “Is Your Number Up?” commercial, which will air in September on MCTV.

“This is a great public service that we’re able to provide,” said MCTV Executive Director Karen Hayden.

“Is Your Number Up?” is a statewide program to ensure that each residential home and business has a visible number from the street to assist emergency personnel in quickly locating the right address.

The TRIAD Council approached Hayden about doing the commercial in January. Filming for the project didn’t happen until April 26 because Hayden first had to write a script, and then resources from both the Fire and Police departments had to be secured.

“I think when you’re first sitting down and getting the idea in your head, it’s a great feeling,” Hayden said. “But then to see it completed, it’s even better because you have something to show for (all the hard work).”

On the day of filming, Hayden and MCTV volunteer Tom Gradzewicz took two digital cameras and several wireless microphones to Orchard Avenue to begin shooting their footage.

The commercial features Methuen resident Shirley King calling 911 for help because her husband is having a heart attack, with the ambulance crew of firefighters Ryan Fortune and Tim Smith having to inspect every house on the street because none of them has visible numbers. King eventually has to run out into the street to flag down the ambulance.

The end of the commercial has Police Sgt. Jack Walsh and Fire Capt. Mike Buote explaining how having a visible, 3-inch number in contrasting colors on your home can help save lives.

The problem isn’t simply in Methuen though; other communities are having similar problems and Buote hopes this commercial will help.

“I hope this program does catch fire with the other communities,” Buote said. “The problem seems to be getting worse instead of better. It’s just too much for one or two people or a group of people to get done.”

Filming may have taken place in one day, but the editing was a whole different story.

“There was over two hours of footage cut down to two minutes and 30 seconds,” said MCTV volunteer Seth Graham. “For every second represented, there was at least a half-hour’s work behind it.”

The editing didn’t stop there; the station realized it could not always run the long version of the commercial, so Hayden and Graham had to re-edit the commercial to 60 seconds.

“That was hard,” Graham said. “You have to separate yourself from the work you’ve already done, and cut what can be cut (without changing the message).”

Hayden said editing of the project started in May and was not completed until June. “I’m still tweaking the audio,” Hayden admitted.

Whether or not tweaking is needed, the commercial sends a very important message.