In the heat of August, the pool is a welcome retreat for many families. But with the relief of cool water also comes a high level of risk. A group of Carnegie Mellon alumni was behind this summer's public service campaign calling attention to pool safety.
The executive producer of the piece was Carnegie Mellon alum Renee Rosenfeld (HS'82), who is a vice president at Widmeyer Communications Ad Agency. But the Carnegie Mellon connection doesn't stop there, not by a long shot.
Rosenfeld hired alum Mindy Kanaskie (H.A.,CMU'05) as the producer, who then hired alums for costume design, art direction and production. Fellow alum Ming-Na — of Joy Luck Club and Stargate Universe fame — joined the team as a voice-over artist, along with other alums.
"I knew Renee was certain to put a fresh and contemporary look to this campaign that would really resonate with folks," said Kanaskie. "She wanted the message to be unlike what we know PSA's to look and feel like. Hers had to be simple yet sturdy and crisp, and it needed to be shot beautifully to get people to take a closer look, while getting the basic message of 'Pooling Safely,' out to the public."
Kanaskie, like many Carnegie Mellon alumni, says she prefers to work with alums because she is familiar with the School of Drama's "incredible faculty, coursework, and the amount of talent, perseverance and creativity a student needs to survive" the program.
"Yes, I just said 'survive,'" she joked. "It's rigorous and it prepares students for the difficulties and rewards of this industry. They come here prepared, willing and excited. And no matter how old you get, that philosophy never dies."
"This project is an example of Carnegie Mellon alums doing what they do best - and hiring each other, knowing they are hiring the best," said Kanaskie. "The CMU folks are an endless source of credible connections," Kanaskie said.
Although she is busy producing a number of other projects, Kanaskie didn't hesitate to make room for Rosenfeld's pool safety campaign.
Rosenfeld says while at CMU, she was continually exposed to excellence which has always served her work.
"This is particularly valuable in a public education campaign as important as the Pool Safely initiative where lives are at stake," she said. "When I made my first call to Mindy Kanaskie, I had no doubt that Mindy would bring the best of the best to the project -- and pull rabbits out of hats if necessary. That's exactly what she did and the result is sensational."
Rosenfeld was a student of Charlee Brodsky, whom she says was sensitive to her perspectives as a photography student because Rosenfeld wasn't studying in the College of Fine Arts.
"She taught me how to express my opinion through the lens; a foundation has been integral to my development as a producer and filmmaker."