Amusing Monday: Salmon says … smile!

Coming out of the recent legislative session, People for Puget Sound wanted to create some kind of video for Earth Day. But the group didn’t have much money for production costs. So staffers approached the folks at Visual Media Group in Seattle.

“We get really serious about a whole lot of stuff,” said Mike Sato, communications director for People for Puget Sound. Everyone began thinking that it might be time to offer something humorous, and folks at the VMG were willing to help.

“They came back with a script, saying it is going to be light, but it is going to have a point,” Sato said.

After a few minor script changes, everyone was on board, and producer Rich Rudy began working on casting, costumes and locations.

If you haven’t viewed the video, called “Salmon Says, Fight Pollution,” please do so now (by clicking on the video player below). Then read on for more information about how this video came about.

It was Cheryl Isen, a marketing and public relations expert with connections to both People for Puget Sound and Visual Media Group, who suggested the two groups work together.

“We were all too happy to throw in our time and do this PSA (public service announcement) for them,” Rich Rudy of VMG told me. “We are trying to give back to the community, and we had free rein over the creatives.”

The actor in the salmon suit is Dartanion London, a standup improv comedian who works in the U. District while attending college. He also donated his time to the cause.

“We sent the script to him with the basic idea. We call it an emotional map that he was going to improvise around,” Rich said.

The production was more complicated than you might think. Every location was approved with officials, from the Westlake Fountain to the Pike Place Market to a pier owned by the Port of Seattle. Bystanders in the video are volunteers who offered their services, mostly folks associated with People for Puget Sound.

A costume was designed, put together and scheduled for delivery on the day of the shoot. Then the seamstress called Rudy in tears. The fish suit was gone. She had placed it in the backseat of her Mercedes, and the car was stolen.

In a kind of gallows humor, the joke became: “If anyone sees a guy in a fish suit driving around in a Mercedes, be sure to call 911,” according to Rich Rudy.

It turns out that another environmental group, Save Our Wild Salmon, had a suit for its mascot, Buster — the wild Snake River sockeye. In fact, there were extra suits available, and so the shoot was back on.

Some of the greatest moments occurred when the human-sized fish became engaged in dialog with a salmon at Pike Place Market. Unfortunately, one of the street musicians had been watching and began singing as soon as the shooting started. The music drowned out the dialog and most could not be used.

There is some talk about going back for another try at the fish market. A video from the numerous funny outtakes also is in the works, organizers say.

Of course, everyone hopes the PSA will appear on one of the local television stations. But that will be up to the various PSA coordinators who select which pieces to run in the various time slots.

3 thoughts on “Amusing Monday: Salmon says … smile!

  1. Thanks, Chris. While it’s all in the execution, I think we know that ‘showing it’ is a lot more compelling than ‘talking about it.’ This latest piece shows that there’s a tremendous amount of talent and good will out there to save the Sound. This good work need not be done for free; it’s work the Puget Sound Partnership should be funding.

  2. This video rocks. It tells an important story in a contemporary and fresh style. “This is my house !” Kudos to Cheryl Isen and Dartanian.
    Every kid in our Puget Sound counties should see this one.

  3. Hats off to People For Puget Sound for getting the message out there in a way that’s fun and compelling and attention-grabbing!
    Nice work. Let’s hope people pass it on.

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