By: Megan Roche
Everyone has felt the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and StrixMedia videographers Dan Gianfrancesco and Zack Ryan couldn’t just sit by and watch local business owners suffer. Gianfrancesco and Ryan created a call-to-action video, reminding residents about the importance of eating local. After the video, the duo was contacted by the Jeff Hagg (Morristown Stimulus Facebook page) and Leia Gaccione (owner of South and Pine).
While the pandemic raged on, Gianfrancesco and Ryan brainstormed with Hagg and Gaccione on how to continue bringing awareness to the local businesses in Morristown. After discussing things between them, the two videographers decided to construct 10 minute mini documentaries on all different businesses in town.
“The people who run the Morristown Stimulus group reached out to us to do one minute to two minute videos of all the business owners in the town. I put a spin on it and it originally started off as one long documentary, but we realized that it wasn’t a one size fits all story line, aside from COVID,” Gianfrancesco said.
In these mini documentaries, the viewer meets a local business and learns how it all started. The videos then pivot and talk about the struggles and issues they faced during the COVID-19 lockdown, before ending with where things stand now, a year later. For both Gianfrancesco and Ryan, it’s been eye opening.
“We wanted to remind everyone that there was more to Morristown than just restaurants. We get to interact with so many business owners every single day, COVID or not. To hear their stories and learn about their businesses, and how they function and their back stories, every part of a business is what gets us up in the morning,” Gianfrancesco said.
The team has met with different businesses, from restaurants, gyms, salons, to gift stores, and more. They hope to film about 20-30 different videos that make the community aware of how much all kinds of different Morristown businesses have struggled during the pandemic.
“I didn’t really understand what other business owners were going through when this first started. With all the uncertainty, from how the virus could be passed along to how PPP loans worked. There was so much change and these business owners have invested their life into their work. It was really eye opening to hear all of their struggles,” Ryan said.
The team at StrixMedia and countless volunteers spent weekend after weekend meeting with these small business owners. It takes the team about five hours to shoot the 10 minute video, but about a month to edit and piece together everything. Their dedication to showing how resilient these business owners are is powerful.
“To give these business owners a platform to share their stories and to humanize them and to understand the mental game behind owning a business, it’s great. A lot of people don’t get to see that side of running a business, so by giving them a chance to speak to their customers and their town, maybe the residents will remember to support local businesses more often,” Ryan said.
Both Gianfrancesco and Ryan have learned throughout this process just how much these small businesses support the inner workings of Morristown.
“One of the common grounds that we found was that no matter how much a business was struggling, they always tried to find a way to give back to the community. People were making masks or donating food and toys on their own time. It was kind of crazy to see how the town really rallied together to support each other and it’s been a really cool thing to hear the stories first hand from the business owners themselves,” Ryan said.
When all the mini documentaries are finished, the team hopes to hold a screening party at a local establishment to showcase all their hard work and support the local Morristown businesses in the process. Updates on the project can be found by following @StrixMediaNJ on Instagram, StrixMedia on Facebook and www.strixmedia.com.