Lehman Students Partner With New York City Mayor’s Office on PSA Series

The series’ first episode follows a volunteer group in Queens as it puts on a pop-up event to raise spirits during the pandemic.

Nearly two years after COVID-19 shut down New York City and changed life as we know it, a new series of public service announcements created by Lehman College students for the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) is exploring how New Yorkers adapted, endured, and came together during the pandemic’s early days.

The series, “Shift NYC,” was shot and recorded by 10 Lehman students, working with a team of 11 faculty and staff from Lehman’s Multimedia Center and School of Arts and Humanities, over the summer. It debuted this month, with five episodes set to air in weekly installments on Lehman’s Instagram account through early December. The series can be viewed in its entirety on the Shift NYC website and the city’s website and will appear on NYC Life (Channel 22 on Cablevision and Channel 25 on other cable providers) and TV screens in New York City taxis.

Each episode takes place in one of New York’s five boroughs and, in just two and a half minutes, captures the resiliency and diversity of the city and its people during the pandemic. Viewers meet business owners, artists, and communities who found ways to support each other and thrive despite difficult and uncertain times, from a volunteer group in Queens that puts on pop-up events to raise New Yorkers' spirits (watch above) to a group of kids in the Bronx who use in-person gaming to stay connected, thanks to the non-profit New York Video Game Critics Circle. In Manhattan, we learn how costume designers for some of Broadway’s biggest shows kept their shops open after theaters closed.

The students were recommended for the project by Lehman faculty members and had the opportunity to earn academic credit for the experience. Under the guidance of Multimedia Technical Director Brendan McGibney and Lehman alum Keren Plowden, who served as producer and assistant director, the students worked on all aspects of the production, from photography to graphics to music composition, audio post-production, and social media marketing.

In addition, the students sat in on 10 master class workshops last spring, where they learned about working in film and television and marketing from faculty and industry professionals.

For Nathanial Gary, a senior film and TV studies major who was part of the production team and charged with taking behind-the-scenes photos of the crew, Shift NYC gave him the kind of experiential learning opportunity he needed to round out his education. “I loved being a part of the project because nothing has developed my skill more than when I work hands-on on sets and productions like these,” he said.

Indeed, faculty hoped students would leave the experience feeling that way. “The opportunity for our students to work with professionals in the field, as well as expert Lehman faculty, in creating a series of short films for public broadcast is a tremendous one,” said James Mahon, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities. “This is exactly the kind of training that we want for our students who are pursuing degrees in film and television, animation, computer graphics, and media, who will now be starting their careers with a professional credit in their résumé and the experience of working in the industry.”

This isn’t the first time that MOME has tapped Lehman’s Multimedia Center. In 2013, McGibney’s team produced “Best of the Bronx,” a series of vignettes showcasing some of the borough’s famous landmarks. The series won a New York Emmy Award and a Telly Award for Best Public Service Announcement.

The Multimedia Center has been contracted to produce another five episodes of Shift NYC for MOME by January.

For behind-the-scenes footage and more, visit lehman.edu/shiftnyc.