Relief Starts in your own Backyard

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In an uplifting wave of good will, ad industry folks around the country have rallied together to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Crispin Porter + Bogusky cancelled their annual summer bash, donating the merrymaking budget to the relief effort, while Buzz Management's Dawn Schiffman and Delores Hively sponsored a benefit at New York jazz club Fat Cat. On the West Coast, L.A.-based effects company Zoic set up a donations drop-off location at its studios, and in response to impassioned e-mails sent out by Zoic CFO Tim McBride and effects artist Blake Robertson, whose parents live in Baton Rouge, Backyard Productions co-founders Blair Stribley and Roy Skillicorn turned their own L.A.-based headquarters into a donations collection center. After both companies amassed 40 palettes of assorted goods, ranging from diapers to a pet-rescue boat, Backyard hired a five-ton truck and traveled cross-country to Covington, La., to make sure the contributions arrived safely. "It was great to see production assistants give directors advice on how to shrink-wrap a palette," observed Stribley, in a touching memoir he wrote about his and his colleagues' efforts (see

Meanwhile, others used their industry-related talents to pitch in. Backyard affiliate Transistor Studios' director James Price did an extra-quick turnaround on a colorful, inspiring promo for an MTV/VH1/CMT benefit concert, "ReAct Now: Music & Relief." Headquarters director Matt Ogens, while training as a relief worker for the Red Cross, serendipitously bumped into other cause-minded filmmakers, director/actor Charlie Haid, actor/producer P.J. Palmer and director John Logsdon. The four decided to put their cameras to good use documenting the Red Cross's relief efforts in Louisiana and other hard-hit states. "If you think about 9/11, instead of planes hitting the World Trade Center, it's like they hit every building in all five boroughs of New York City," says Ogens. The footage he and the others captured will be used by the Red Cross to analyze its relief work and possibly to go on its website and PSAs, but Ogens says he and the other filmmakers also hope to turn it into a full-length documentary.

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