Light Up Someone’s Holiday

Created and Directed by: Charlie Todd
Executive Producers: Alan Aisenberg, Justin Ayers, Juan Cocuy, Andrew Soltys, and Charlie Todd
Co-Producers: Aleks Arcabascio, Katie Young

Associate Producers: Oung-Jo “OJ” Yuh, John Backstrom, Mattheau O’Brien
Production Assistants: Jamel Francis, Gene Drikman, Dan Normile, Jose Bonilla, Brook Shafer, Chris Kelly, Rochelle Rose, Jonathan Portee, Matt Marsh, Alex Augustyniak, Alex Ocansey, Shilpa Ananth
Production Manager: Isabel Lopez
Locations Manager: Kristen Mink

Director of Photography: Justin Ayers
Camera Operators: Marius Becker, Michael Crommett, Christian Mortensen, Andi Obarski, Max Skaff, Chloe Smolkin, Spencer Thielmann
Assistant Camera: Brian Ansel, Brian Hall, Goran Mrvic, Jeremy Musher, Josh Riley, Zach Rockenstyre
Still Photography: Arin Sang-urai

Production Designer: Anthony Henderson
Art Assistant: Josh Rosati
Storyboard Artist: Ed Traquino

Illustrator: Elke Reva Sudin

Production Sound Mixer: Alan Kudan
A2: Artur Szerejko

Editor: Andy Bond
Assistant Editor: Ryan Connors
Post-Production Sound Mixer: Jordan Moser

Set Fabrication: ReadySet
Lighting: The Lighting Design Group
Holiday Lighting: Mr. Holiday Lighting
Additional Camera: TV Boy
Security: Securitas
Coloring Facility: Irving Harvey

Music by: Tyler Walker

Special Thanks:
Big Screen Plaza; Olga Ryrakhovsky, Dave Scala. LTH; Charles Di Stefano, Julie Garces. Birch Family Services; Sherlan Joseph.

For our latest mission, we created a custom-built set that allowed random New Yorkers to instantly deliver a card and light up someone’s holiday. Participants were surprised as Christmas lights lit up the plaza and their message was displayed on a 30-foot wide screen above.

This project is a collaboration with Hallmark, who provided us with an assortment of Hallmark Signature Cards for the project.

Enjoy the video first and then go behind the scenes with our mission report and photos.

This mission took place in Manhattan’s Big Screen Plaza, which really was custom built for an idea like this. As its name suggests, the plaza has an enormous screen. We were able to hide our cameras in the plaza’s event space on the 2nd floor, as well as on one of their roofs and in an office building across the street.

We were able to hide microphones in our custom-built set, and we hid a camera in the table lamp, giving us the ability to see the cards as they were being written.

In our control room on the 2nd floor, we had an illustrator who was able to re-create the messages live in a close approximation of the writer’s handwriting.

Our control room on the 2nd floor.

Since the plaza doesn’t get a ton of foot traffic at night and we were shooting on a cold evening, we did a little bit of advance casting. We put out a casting notice looking for people who wanted to surprise a loved-one. The people we cast were just told they’d be writing a card that would eventually be seen publicly. This prevented people from writing anything they wanted kept private. Other than that, the people we cast didn’t know anything else about what was going to happen. The people they were surprising were completely in the dark. We also had several couples throughout the night who just stumbled upon the table and decided to do it. The video is a mix a both types of couples.

It was awesome watching the moment people realized their card was going up on the big screen. It’s hard to really capture the size of the screen in photos and videos, but it looks enormous when you’re standing where our set was.

It was heartwarming to read all of the messages people wrote to each other.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this one, and thanks again to Hallmark for supporting Improv Everywhere and partnering with us on this idea!

Mission Accomplished.


Production photos from photographer Arin Sang-urai (photo credit for all photos on this page).