Local Ad Puts Production Staff to Work with Memphis Music, COVID Message

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — You might have noticed a new commercial airing on News Channel 3, featuring classic Memphis dancing and a public health message.

But there’s more good coming out of it as well. It’s also putting people back to work.

The Memphis and Shelby County Film and TV Commission, like so many other nonprofits, got CARES Act funding from the city this year. But to use it they had to do something related to the pandemic, so they got creative.

Memphis jookin — and reminders to socially distance and mask up — take center stage in the new commercial.

‘’We really have high hopes this is going to change behavior in a positive wa,” Film Commissioner Linn Sitler said.

But in a way, Sitler said she knows it’s already making an impact, on the people who put it together.

They’re hiring nothing but local people and local companies, and paying them well, she said.

The spot cost about $30,000, all coming from a city grant of CARES Act funding, which has limitations.

That explains the subject matter, but it also explains Sitler’s motivation for spending the money to hire.

“We did have a time at the beginning of the pandemic when there were no project,” Sitler said. ‘We made sure no one was jipped. I didn’t argue about any prices. As a matter of fact I increased a ocuple of the rates.”

Bart Shannon of Via Productions is part of the local production team that filmed and put it together, said he’s “just grateful to have this project.”

“It’s been a hard year and, glad to have the work,” Shannon said.

He says his business has rebounded, thanks in part to this project. They’re just as busy now as the beginning of the year.

Despite all this, Sitler says they don’t have enough funding to continue operating the commission into the new year. She said she’s hoping to find a solution in the new stimulus bill.