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Philanthropy Spotlight: India – The Great Before & After

Concepts is in the business of the before & after. We've produced hundreds of commercials and infomercials where we showcase the success stories from our products. Those before & afters tell the personal story of that product. For example, a new mother who lost the baby weight using one of our fitness programs or perhaps how a couple reignited their relationship through weight loss. But what about when the team at Concepts undergoes an entire before & after? Well, that happened when Concepts traveled to India to shoot a pro-bono advertisement for a girls school.

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Concepts is not only in the business of direct marketing, but we are strong believers in education and philanthropy. When we decided to fly a crew of 6 over to India to film an advertisement for The Kripalu School, a girls school in India. During our time in India, we had high hopes of creating change in the world. After all, education The Kripalu School is solely donation-funded and completely free for students to attend, positioning itself as a complete game changer in education in India. While creating video content to fundraise the school, we didn't expect that we would undergo such a strong before & after. We went over to India to change lives, and in turn, our lives were forever changed.

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Jon Calderaro, Senior Producer at Concepts, was grateful for the opportunity to bring light and awareness to such hard working women. He said, "I was very touched by the girls at the school and amazed at the level of commitment from the teachers and those in charge. They are amazing people that are doing their best to make a difference and from what I can see its working. I felt really blessed to have been a part of this project and I hope in some way my involvement will contribute to making a difference."

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Dana Conklin, Director of Production at Concepts, had a very personal experience while on set in India. She said, "one of the wow moments for me was when we were interviewing these young girls & we asked them what their favorite subject was, or what their favorite part of school was. This seemed to stump all of them ‚Äì no one had an answer. It wasn’t until one of the older Indian women told me that these girls don’t understand those types of questions ‚Äì because they do not have choices, and do not know what it is like to have a ‚Äòfavorite’ anything. Coming from a country where dreams come true ‚Äì this was hard to process. I knew when I was younger what my favorite subject was, who my favorite teacher was, what my favorite sports was, what my favorite lunch was, who my favorite classmates were ‚Äì but most importantly, I knew I had choices and that I could be anything I wanted. I had a terrible pit in my stomach when I realized these girls don’t know what it’s like to have a choice. I hope this school not only educates them academically, but educates them worldly - giving them the choices they deserve."

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In the brutal caste system of India, too many children are left uneducated, especially the young girls. All too often, these children don't have a choice of education. For the ones that attend The Kripalu School, they are making history. For once, these children are being educated to be able to make choices for themselves.

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One of the most impactful parts for me was when we watched the school children of The Kripalu School sing together in an assembly. They were all lined up together, united, and empowered. They sang,

"May we all have pure intellect,
May we always desire to be ethical.
May we not be sad and not make others sad,
May we always have love towards all the living beings.
May we show the right direction to the one who is lost,
May we never have hatred towards anyone."

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As the schoolgirls sang in hopes of an education, in hopes of a difference in their lives, in hopes of a better future, they in turn made the greatest impact on our crew. It was a gift to be in the presence of these girls because we know that with an education from The Kripalu School, they will change their lives. We went to India wanting to make a difference and left India having all had great personal change.

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The transformation that we all went through was palpable and will forever stay with us. Stay tuned to the blog to learn more about our journey and about The Kripalu School in our upcoming video.

Roamaroo travel and photography blogAll photos by Roamaroo.com

 

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Balancing Work and Travel Life

By Jon Calderaro

In the business of production we are constantly multi tasking and juggling many projects at one time.  Sometimes these projects bring us to different parts of the globe and force us to leave our home base in order to make the projects all they can be.

Working in New Jersey is great as we have access to amazing crews and talent.¬† What we don’t always have access to is great weather, for example.¬† Therefore we are sometimes forced to think outside the box on what location can help us achieve our visual goal.¬† Traveling for work can be great but it is also time consuming and sometimes affects our personal lives.¬† Its important to have a good balance and look ahead at projects to make sure we can keep up with regular work and life and still complete our projects with flying colors and with as little stress as possible.

Since rejoining the Concepts team in January I have already racked up a ton of airline miles traveling to shoots and networking events from California all the way to our latest project in India!¬† It’s just business as usual here at Concepts.¬† Being a seasoned traveler myself I am at ease on the road and embrace each new experience in its own way.¬† It’s always nice though to return home and put things in perspective until the next trip.¬†¬† These days there hasn’t been a whole lot of time at home to reflect but Im trying although finding that balance has been a challenge.

Here are 5 things that can help achieve that balance:

1. Healthy diet – An important key to maintaining balance is maintaining a healthy diet on the road. The road sometimes can be a place where anything goes diet wise but it is important to try to stick with good foods rich in nutrition and drink lots of water.

2. Exercise – Before going anywhere seek out if your hotel has a gym or a jogging route that can be followed. Then allow yourself time to get there before meetings or in the evening before client dinners.

3. Calendars – Keeping a calendar can help you remember important things such as birthdays and events of family and friends. Its easy to overlook these things when you are in a different city or country each week.

4. Vitamins – Remembering to take vitamins daily is another good routine that will not only help you maintain your health on the road but it can also remind you how many days you have left at your current location. I like to bring just the right amount of vitamins with me where ever I go.  As the vitamins dwindle down I know my trip will soon be coming to an end.

5. Sleep – Getting at least 7-8 hours a sleep a night is one of the most important things you can do for your body to achieve balance. Our bodies and minds need rest and when we are traveling we need to still allow ourselves time for proper rest even if it some of the sleep happens to be on airplanes!  Bring your favorite travel pillow and a sleep mask along with headphones and some music or podcasts.  I find I can block out the elements on an airplane with these items.

These are just a few things that can help achieve balance for the traveling employee…we must constantly remind ourselves of them!

REMINDER:¬† Flight 1765 now ready for boarding‚Ķ‚Ķ..Uh oh that’s my cue‚Ķgotta go!

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Philanthropy Spotlight: Concepts TV Heads to India to Film Pro-Bono Advertisement

Most of us have seen the advertisements on TV with doe-eyed children, staring into the camera, begging for your mercy and your help. Or perhaps you’ve heard the melody of Sarah McLaughlin and the dying breeds of poverty stricken animals around the world. These stories tear at your heart and beckon your soul to make a difference in the world; but two minutes later, you change the channel and go back to your life of normality, forgetting about the less fortunate and getting caught up in your own problems. Your boss emails, your significant other calls you, and you’re back into your own world, forgetting about all of those in the world that are less fortunate.

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Having been born in America was a lucky draw of the straws. We were born with running water, a roof over our heads, access to medical help, a loving family, and most importantly, a public education system that provided free schooling. We grew up being told we could be whatever we wanted when we grew up. For so many in the world, they don’t have that luxury. They don’t even have a chance or a choice. So many young children know a future of slavery, child-marriage, and poverty. As an American, that world seemed so far away to us, until we visited the Kripalu School in Kunda, India. That visit to the Kripalu School changed the way we will look at the world forever.

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We learned of the Kripalu School through work colleagues, who spoke of a school that was changing the way women are educated in India. We put together our television production team to fly to India and film a pro-bono advertisement to raise awareness and funds for this donation-funded school in India. We knew we were going to help a worthy cause, but we didn’t realize just how much this school was changing the future of the entire Indian populations for the better. We saw firsthand that an education and only an education would provide these women the knowledge, the safety, the empowerment, and the strength to end a cycle of submissiveness and despair.

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On our plane ride to India, we were all handed local newspapers. These newspapers were filled with stories of gang rape and other horrible acts committed on women of all ages, but what was most disturbing was that many of these women were very young. Unfortunately for so many women in India, they have no chance at a future. They have no chance at fighting back. Unlike in America, all too often, a woman in India is seen as a burden and a slave. The girls in India are not told they can be anything when they grow up. All they know is that their lives will involve being married off at a young age and becoming the slave to their future in-laws. There is rarely an education, and there is almost never a choice at a future. The women in India are so often place in the position of a victim, but The Kripalu School is changing all of this, educating women to become empowered and emboldened individuals in charge of their own lives.

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The Kripalu School takes girls from the tender age of four and educates them through college at absolutely no cost to the students. Because the school is run completely on donations, students from all caste systems and all parts of rural India can attend the Kripalu School. You don’t have to be blessed from a wealthy family to earn a good education. The Kripalu School is completely free for students, which means this gives them the opportunity to learn, to live, to help themselves, and to help their families. From the core studies of math, science, and language, to vocational studies such as cosmetology and computer science, The Kripalu School provides these girls with the foundation to build a life of their own, a business of their own, and a future they can be proud of. While most girls are sold to another family or married off in their pre-teen years, The Kripalu School is changing the entire presence of women in the country of India.

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An education not only helps the individual students of the Kripalu School, but it helps their families and villages as well. One student said that the education she receives is far better than the paid schools that her brothers attend so she is able to go home and teach her brothers the subjects she learns at school. As these girls learn subjects in school and also learn the ways that women deserve to be treated, they pass along these gifts to their own families and villages. Through this education at the Kripalu School, these girls are changing the lives of future generations to come.

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For the first time, girls have aspirations of growing up to be police officers, teachers, and doctors. These girls understand the gift of education that they have been given and they want to pass it along to future generations. They are the forward change in a backwards system. The students of the Kripalu School are not only changing themselves for the better, but also changing their nation for the better.

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Stay tuned for a full fundraising video we produced on location to learn how you can change the future of India.

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Animals, animals…and more animals!

By Rachel Leskanic

I will say that in my short time here at Concepts TV, if you consider 8 months being a short time, I have witnessed my fair share of animal productions. I used to watch these commercials and think, how the heck do they get these cats and dogs to do exactly what they need them to do? Now I know the secret…the secret is patience, diligence, and LOTS of treats.

Every shoot is different but adding animals to the mix makes it a whole new ball game. It is no longer about getting the actor to smile or cry and telling them what to press and when. Now, it’s all about being completely silent so that we don’t scare the animals and stocking up on spray catnip. Does this make our jobs harder? Absolutely. Does this make our jobs more fun? Without a doubt! There’s nothing like hours of work spent cuddling with cats and playing with dogs (I promise we do work in between the cuddles!).

For cat shoots, we have our very own in house cat whisperer (VP of Sales Kristy Pinand) who always comes prepared, and by that I mean she has lasers in her back pocket and a cat toy in her hand at all times. One of the biggest differences between regular shoots and cat shoots is that we bring a select few people to our cat shoots. We could never keep the cats calm and collected with three crewmen, four actors, and five Concepts TV members stomping around! Another perk of cat shoots is we get to travel from location to location, which can even include a cat shelter or two. Shelters are the best, because we can get the most cats in the quickest way possible. Plus, we get to donate to the shelter and help a great cause!

For dog shoots, it’s all me, the self-proclaimed dog whisperer, organizing the massive amount of dog treats and squeaky toys. These shoots can be both easier and more challenging. Most dogs we use are pretty well trained, they know their commands and listen to their owners. However, these dogs are also bigger and generally much more energetic! Give a cat some catnip and they’ll roll around playfully. Give a dog some treats, and they’ll run around like a maniac.

No matter how tough they may be, you will never hear me turn down a chance to be at a cat and/or dog shoot. With lasers, dog treats and cat nips in our pockets, it’s time for another animal shoot!

me and puppy