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Advocacy News - PSA - Treatments

November 19, 2003

Television PSA treatments
Hayes Steinberg - Writer, Co-Director
Craig Brownrigg, Art Director, Co-Director

"Tolerance promoted as same-sex couples cope with daily life."
Headline, The National Post, November 20, 2003


"Parents" - Treatment

View the same-sex marriage television public service announcement "Parents"This commercial takes place inside a dining room of an above-average income home. The people who own the home aren't rich but they're comfortable/well-off. The dining room is Up Country: Table, Hutch, Overhead Light, accents. The time of day doesn't really matter. It could be late Sunday afternoon or after dinner on a Tuesday evening.

Two married couples, in their mid 60s, are sitting at the table. Neatly strewn across the table are books, magazines, paper, pens and fabric samples - all the stuff you'd need to plan a wedding.

Overall, their roles are stereotypical: The two women are more involved in the discussion than the men. The men are actively listening but their participation is limited to things like passing a magazine or nodding in approval.

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Each couple looks extremely real and believable. They should come from different socio-economic classes. Their non-verbal inter-couple interaction should give you the feeling that they have been married for over 30 years. But their intra-couple interaction should give you the feeling that they've only known each other for a year or so.

The couple with a higher socio-economic status is well-dressed. Dockers and crisp button-down for the man. Casual slacks and blouse for the woman. The other couple is a little more working-class. Flannel shirt (sleeves rolled up) and jeans for the man. Khaki pants and t-shirt/sweatshirt for the woman.

We can tell this isn't the first wedding planning discussion they've had, but it is the biggest one to date. The disagreement they're having is the result of some bottled up emotions/issues. They aren't yelling at each other but they're not holding back, either. The discussion is best described as two women, each stubborn, who aren't willing to relinquish control or give in to the other's self interests.

When the two men walk in carrying the coffee, sugar, cream and cookies, the two older couples continue their interaction. They don't stop their argument or sensor themselves just because their sons have entered the room.

The two men who enter the room are in their early to mid 30s. They are both casual, but well-dressed. As they enter the room, they acknowledge the argument between their parents with a subtle yet simple look to each other. They both sit down next to their respective parents. One starts pouring coffee. The other man lays out some napkins. They may exchange another glance, best described as annoyed with their parents' behaviour.


"Blanket" - Treatment

View the same-sex marriage television public service announcement "Blanket"This commercial takes place at three in the morning inside a couple's bedroom. It's extremely quiet. The only sounds we hear are the slow, inconsistent breathing of people in a deep state of slumber and the rustling of sheets when there's movement.

It's extremely dark. The only light in the room is from the street light coming through the window - just enough light to see two people in bed. The bedroom is lived in and completely normal, although we won't see much of it. We'll be slightly overhead so we can see the people lying in bed.

One: A man without blankets. Two: A body so covered with blankets that all we can make out is the shape of that body.

The man without blankets stirs a little. As he does, he realizes he doesn't have a stitch of covers. He looks to the other side of the bed and sees why. Motivated by revenge and a chill, he instantly, but not aggressively, takes hold of the covers and yanks them off the other person.

This is the first time we see the other person in bed. It's another man.


The sheets use in "Blanket" had to have their "fresh-from-the-store-folds" ironed away.

Both men are wearing what they'd normally sleep in. One might be in boxers and t-shirt. The other, pajama bottoms and a t-shirt.

Overall feeling: Real. Normal. Quiet. It's a found moment - the story will come to us.


"Bedroom" - Treatment

View the same-sex marriage television public service announcement "Bedroom"This commercial takes place inside a typical couple's bedroom. It's dark outside - we deduce it's bedtime- ish. The main source of light comes from the lights on the bedside tables. The secondary source of light comes from behind a closed door - the en suite bathroom. The room is well lived-in. The furniture is comfortable. Not too modern, not too upscale.

There's a shirt draped over the oversized armchair in the corner. There's a pile of change on a dresser next to a perfume bottle and a couple of framed pictures of family. There's some framed art hanging on the wall. The queen-size bed is made with comfortable pillows and a thick duvet.

We see a woman inside the bedroom. She's in her early to mid 30s. She's realistically attractive. She should feel very real. She's wearing her pajamas - comfy pants and a t-shirt. All these cues should help with the overall reality of the moment in addition to helping to set the time of day.

This woman - let's call her Jennifer - sits on her side of the bed, facing and talking to a closed door that we assume is the en suite bathroom. (We can tell it's the bathroom and that there is someone in it because we'll hear the sound of water running in the sink.)

Jennifer is focused on her thoughts. The extent of her action and movement is something like tying her hair back in a pony tail. She is full of anguish. She's not fed up, belligerent or irate. In other words, there's no yelling. She is, however, bothered and she needs to get this off her chest. She's having a one-sided disagreement.

As she speaks, the bathroom door opens. A woman walks out giving us the feeling of "I can't believe I'm hearing this conversation again - I won't even dignify it with a response." But very subtle. She walks over to her side of the bed, gets under the covers and picks up a book off her bedside table.

Still sitting on the bed, Jennifer watches her partner walk out of the bathroom with a look on her face like "I've just been talking to a closed door for the last 5 minutes. The least you can do is acknowledge something I've said." This is important because Jennifer should never come across as the psycho-jealous- [spouse] ...


The public service announcements were made possible thanks to the participation of:

Barry Parrell (Sesler & Company)


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