PSA for Climb S.A.F.E.

Our final video project for MPC 6300 was to do a video with a professional purpose.  The assignment said “Make something for someone else.”  The instructors said they were looking for “… clean production and a clean message.”

I chose to make a public service announcement on behalf of the Christopher Markus Kirvan (CMK) Memorial College Fund.  This non-profit exists to create awareness about the dangers of free-climbing.

CMK awards a scholarship every year to a Roy High School senior as a way to keep Chris’s memory alive and help prevent another tragic climbing accident by educating students about the use of proper equipment while rock climbing.

Getting the Shots

The three-mile hike through Waterfall Canyon is listed as “strenuous” on the things to do page.  The trail is steep with lots of boulders to scramble over.  I strapped on my pack with two neoprene water bottles, the video camera, and a small tripod and set out to get images of the trail and cliffs.

There were a number of hikers on the trail.  I saw two student groups of at least 20 people each and several small groups.  Except for one trio of seniors I saw picnicking at the waterfall, all the hikers were  preteens, teenagers and  young adults.  These young people are the target audience for the PSA.

Emotional Challenges

The picture in the video at :25 – :29 of the two rock climbers was taken the day of the fall.  The picture was taken by Ben; the climber seen at the top is Chris and the one below  is my son Luke.  Shortly after the picture was taken, Luke decided that the climb looked “sketchy” and went back down.  The other two boys continued up.  When Chris fell, he landed close to where Luke was waiting at the bottom.  Luke and Ben spent 90 minutes trying to stop the bleeding from the back of Chris’s head where he had landed on the rocks below and giving him CPR.

The only other time I have hiked Waterfall Canyon was shortly after the accident; we all went up on what would have been Chris’s 18th birthday.  As I hiked up this second time, I couldn’t stop the tears.  I cried for Chris and his mom.  I cried for my son Luke.  I cried at the thought that it could have been Luke that fell.  By the time I got to the top and saw the cliff, I had to just sit for awhile on a boulder until I could wipe my eyes and see to get the shots.

The images of the waterfall at :22 – :25 were taken with the tripod sitting on the rock where Chris died.  I didn’t see the butterfly until I got back to the studio, but I like the image.


I recorded a number of shots that ended up on the cutting room floor.  I have several angles of the narrator, my daughter Susan.  I have shots of hikers on the trail, people enjoying the waterfall, flowers being placed on the memorial that is there, views of the valley, and so forth.  But as I tried to edit down to a :60 PSA, the visual clutter seemed to take away from the message and I didn’t want to detract from the main content.  One of my favorite architects, Mies van der Rohe, said, “Less is more.”

I also deliberately took out some of the color on several shots.  Using Final Cut Pro X, I selected Color Match and matched some clips to the photo of Chris and Luke climbing and a couple to other clips that had a lot of muted tones in them.  The idea was to give the piece  some color continuity as well as a slight nostalgic feel.  The acoustic guitar music was also selected to be slightly nostalgic and relaxing.  It comes from a set of royalty free pieces and only has as a title “Acoustic Guitar clip 25.”

The memorial fund and web site that Chris’s family set up is named with his initials followed by the year he was born and the year he died.  Chris loved being outdoors – hiking, swimming, football, basketball – and the foundation set up in his memory wants to encourage others to be active and enjoy sports, but to be safe doing so.  The letters in S.A.F.E. stand for:

S = Safety First

A = Awareness (Be aware of the dangers)

F = Friends (Always climb with a friend – never alone)

E = Equipment (Have the proper equipment)


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