Not Camping Day | Drug-Impaired Driving PSA
00:00-00:01 The opening shot of this PSA is at an extremely low angle (almost ground level), and the camera is static. In the foreground we see an early-mid-30s black man on the floor rolling up what looks to be a yoga mat of some sort. The room is within a suburban or rural home, due to the lush green trees seen out the window. There is also an Ikea-looking shelf in the room, and an exotic plant in the corner– this is an upscale living space.
The most eye-catching element within this frame is the plume of smoke coming out of the man’s mouth, brilliantly illuminated by the sunlight coming from the window. This is likely marijuana smoke.
00:01-00:01 This shot contains a quick pan down of the camera, front face to hands, of a new subject: A white man, also in his 30s, wearing a flannel shirt. The man is preparing a large duffle bag of sorts on the floor. The home decor looks very reminiscent of that in the first man’s room. The filmmakers may be telling us that this is the same upper-class suburban home.
The filmmakers cut from the previous shot of the other man to this shot to show us that these two guys are both preparing and packing for something. The closeness of cuts tells us it is likely the same thing.
00:02-00:04 Hard cut to a low angle, seemingly down the stairs looking up. The same white man is now seen walking down the steps with the yellow duffle bag around his shoulder from before.
Illuminated by sunlight is a familiar plume of smoke coming from the man’s mouth.
00:04-00:05 Cut to a black woman, around the same age as the other guys, walking up to what looks like a glass door. We can tell that this is a porch from the white columns seen just on the edge of the frame.
The shot was composed in a way that could possibly be a POV from INSIDE the house, looking out the door window. This tells us that someone may be about to answer the door and let this woman in.
Most notably, the woman lets out a puff of smoke just as all the other subjects did. It seems the filmmakers are showing us that each character so far has engaged in some sort of drug activity.
00:05-00:06 A shot now from over the woman’s shoulder as the white man from the stairs shot stands in the doorway and greets her. His face shows us that he was definitely expecting her arrival and is pleased to see her. He steps down from the doorway and we catch a glimpse of the orange duffel bag he was carrying down the steps.
00:06-00:06 We get a quick, yet very insightful, insert shot of the orange duffel bag being thrown in the trunk of an SUV.
The filmmakers chose to have the trunk filled to the brim with supplies such as a cooler, blankets, sleeping bags, etc., to show us that this is a group camping trip.
00:06-00:08 Cut to a tracking shot of both men from before, the black guy and white guy, carrying more bags to the back of the trunk. Seeing them walking together for the first time shows us they were likely getting ready in the same house, possibly roommates.
The exterior background confirms that we are indeed in an upper-class suburban town. The cars and houses behind the subjects look to be expensive.
00:09-00:10 Here we get introduced to a brand new character, a white girl in her 30s who has now joined the group in the loading up of the SUV outside. She walks across the yard centered in the frame with the camera moving and shaking with her.
The sun magnificently illuminates a puff of smoke coming out of her mouth as she walks. The filmmakers are obviously illustrating to the audience that each and every one of these characters has recently been smoking, presumably marijuana.
00:10-00:11 Quick insert shots of the trunk being closed and all 4 doors shutting, with the characters all inside– this tells us the SUV is packed and the group is ready to leave on their trip.
00:11-00:24 The longest shot in the PSA is filmed from the car-windshield POV.
We see that the black man is sitting up front in the passenger seat, and the rest of the three are sitting in the back seats. The driver’s seat is empty.
The man up front gestures to the man in the back, curious about something. The man in the back seat then passes the curiosity to the woman next to him, and after she shakes her head she passes a look of curiosity onto the final woman in the backseat. She shakes her head, and they all look around at each other with confusion and concern. It’s assumed that since none of them are sober from smoking, none of them want to dive.
The man up front then faces forward, and his confusion turns slowly to a grin. The characters in the back also lighten up at this same time.
The filmmakers directed their cast to do this to convey how the group was definitely inconvenienced by this, yet they found it humorous right away and no one got angry.
The people then grab the handles for their car doors and take off their seat belts.
00:24-00:26 The group, now all outside the car again, opens up the trunk of the SUV. They are all smiling.
00:26-00:30 Cut forward in time a lot, the group has unpacked all of their belongings from the SUV and has made a makeshift campsite out of the front lawn of this house.
The characters are all happy and content. The filmmakers are showing us how we can adapt and make compromises in situations instead of making bad decisions- such as driving while under the influence, which each of these people was shown to be.
The shot is static, and above the characters sitting and enjoying themselves appears a text graphic: “If you feel different, you drive different.”
I believe the filmmakers behind this PSA executed perfectly this anti-high-driving script. Their use of fast-paced cuts going from character to character, showing each of them smoking, relays to the audience that without a doubt each of these people has just used drugs. The warm and flowing cinematography makes this scene feel natural and not staged, furthering the idea that this should simply be the natural reaction any group has to this situation; it’s not staged.
Ethos: The credibility is established in this PSA through the ages of the characters, and their average-person qualities of living. These seem like normal adult people which broad audiences can relate to, and this connection makes the characters’ decision against driving high seem more like something EVERYONE should do, including me the viewer.
Logos: The logical appeal expressed by the filmmakers is especially present in the interior car scene. When the characters are going around trying to decide who will drive and find that everyone is under the influence, they IMMEDIATELY decide against anyone taking the wheel. There is no contemplation, no hesitation, and the decision is made naturally. This communicates to the audience that this should be part of our common sense and is completely logical and without dispute.
Pathos: The Pathos of this piece is the strongest communicator in my opinion. The emotions the characters express are consistently positive even when faced with a troubling problem. I believe when trying to change someone’s ideas, and also preventing their minds from feeling attacked, positive emotions often trump negative ones. When the 4 characters decided against driving, their reactions were not of disappointment or anger, but acceptance and continued happiness. They adapted from the problem and responded to it in a positive way: making a campsite in their own front yard. The audience sees how accepting an unfortunate truth (we’re all intoxicated, no one can drive) doesn’t have to be a cause for negativity.
Soundtrack: Improves/Weakens Effectiveness
The soundtrack definitely adds to the piece. In the first half, it remains mostly unnoticed, with just minor sound effects and light background music. However in the second half, where the characters are in the car debating whether any of them should drive, hearing the dialogue definitely adds to the comprehension of what’s going on.
Nice work, SinatraMan. You’ve captured the essence of the scenes. I’ve labored some of your classmates to provide endless detailing PLUS speculations about what’s to come AND critiques of the video’s effectiveness. You’re most welcome to peruse all I’ve had to say to them. More than one other has chosen this same video.
I’d like you to try something different. First do something like Shazammm has done at the end of her post, creating sections for Rhetoric and the three Aristotelian argument divisions:
Then, do a “post-listening” analysis of your “smokers” video WITH versus WITHOUT the enhancement of the soundtrack. Does the video actually work without sound? Or does it depend on the dialog, especially in the windshield POV shot. The cuts are already tight. Is there anything the artists could have done visually to enhance the storytelling, maybe so that it wouldn’t require audio at all?
Just a challenge I think you’re up to, SM.
I added to my post a “Rhetoric”, “Soundtrack”, & “Ethos/Pathos/Logos” section.
Would I be eligible for a regrade? Anything else to add?
Always, to both. 🙂