Asian-American, Black and Latinx small-business owners facing financial ruin amid the Covid-19 pandemic tell their stories in this stirring film from Droga5 and director Haley Anderson.
Shot in New York City, the piece introduces a Hennessy program that will make $3 million in relief funds available to struggling entrepreneurs:
Set to introspective piano jazz by Julius Rodriguez, the film initially provides quick, sad glimpses of once-thriving businesses, its moody visuals punctuated by owners' sobering statements.
• "Things started getting real bad."
• "100 percent to zero overnight."
• "Two months with no business is a long time."
• "I was restless, depressed."
• "I didn't know if we would be able to survive."
• "Every crisis lands on our doorstep."
Droga5 developed the "Unfinished Business" program to help preserve and re-invigorate independently owned companies and retail shops that often serve as the lifeblood of urban communities.
"When we embarked on the project, we were entirely focused on combating the effects of Covid-19," agency global head of art Alexander Nowak tells Muse. "But as the [racially charged] events of the last few weeks unfolded, our conversations with the business owners have led us to understand that there are even greater issues that we need to help tackle."
The aid will help fill short-term revenue gaps, but Hennessy hopes to provide "long-term support to ensure the relationship we form with these businesses goes beyond the initial $3 million," says Droga5 brand strategist Justin Clagette. Hennessy partners such as the Asian American Business Development Center, the Hispanic Federation, and One Hundred Black Men will select recipients and determine individual grant amounts.
At the end of the film, small businesses are invited to apply. And as the narrative progresses, its tone brightens, with owners voicing dogged determination and the spirit to soldier on:
• "We will have the strength to overcome."
• "To try to be the glue for this community…"
• "…so this community can thrive."
• "This is our mission."
• "I don't plan on going anywhere."
Droga5 tapped Anderson, a woman of color and a Terence Mallick protégé, to direct after agency producer Carlos Valdivia encountered her work on the festival circuit. Here, she deftly juggles hope and desperation, creating a visually compelling story that's unflinchingly honest but inspirational, too.
Anderson's sensibilities are well served by Rodriguez's edgy score. Improvised as the cameras rolled, his soundtrack adds emotional resonance. (Rodriguez, a young Black virtuoso, is affiliated with the Williamsburg Music Center, one of the businesses profiled in the video.)
"We have all seen a lot of Covid-19 films that take a societal view of what's going on, leaning heavily on social-media footage and press photography to tell their story," Nowak says. "Some of them have been very moving. But we wanted to create something different—to make a film that came from the perspectives of these business owners, living in the aftermath of having their lives shut down overnight."
He adds: "It's not just these entrepreneurs who have unfinished business. It is the entire country."
Hennessy :: Unfinished Business
Unfinished Business :: Integrated Credits List
Client Moët Hennessy North America
Campaign Unfinished Business
Title Unfinished Business
Agency Droga5 NY
Creative Chairman David Droga
Global Chief Creative Officer Neil Heymann
Co-Chief Creative Officer Tim Gordon
Co-Chief Creative Officer Felix Richter
Global Head of Art Alexander Nowak
Creative Director Thom Glover
Senior Copywriter Ted Meyer
Senior Art Director Jason Gold
Group Creative Director Dan Kelly
Associate Creative Director Joel Francke
Senior Copywriter Craig Gerringer
Group Experience Design Director Craig Wong
Executive Design Director Rich Greco
Associate Design Director Jen Lally
Experience Designer Owen DiRienz
Designer Adrian Koenigsberg
Chief Creation Officer Sally-Ann Dale
Director of Film Production Jesse Brihn
Associate Director of Film Production Ruben Mercadal
Senior Producer, Film Forrest Holt
Associate Producer, Film Connor Hagan
Senior Music Supervisor Mike Ladman
Director of Innovation Justin Durazzo
Senior Producer, Interactive Ian Graetzer
Director of Art Production Cliff Lewis
Associate Director, Art Production Bianca Escobar
Global Chief Strategy Officer Jonny Bauer
Head of Strategy Harry Román-Torres
Strategy Director Drew Simel
Brand Strategist Justin Clagette
Head of Communications Strategy Dean Challis
Group Comms Strategy Director Delphine Mckinley
Senior Communications Strategist Mariel Miller
Group Data Strategy Director Christina Fieni
Data Strategist Greg Berard
Chief Operating Officer Susie Nam
Group Account Director Lindsay Cole
Account Director Marissa Guerra
Account Director Jordan Cappadocia
Account Supervisor Mosito Ramaili
Associate Account Manager Vanessa Foinquinos
Project Manager Danielle Gibbons
Director of Business Affairs Dan Simonetti
Senior Business Affairs Manager Anne Marie Turbitt
Client Moët Hennessy
Chief Executive Officer Seth Kaufman
Global Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Michael Aidan
Chief Marketing Officer Vanessa Kay
SVP, Hennessy USA Giles Woodyer
VP, Consumer Engagement Jacqueline Long
Digital Director Seth Zaharako
Production Company Second Child
Managing Director Scott Chinn
Director Haley Anderson
DOP Jomo Fray
Producer Chelsea Greenwood
Photographer Paul McGeiver
Editorial The Quarry
Editor Jonnie Scarlett
Assistant Editor Jack Moore
Executive Producer Tor Adams
Post Production Framestore
Producer Henio Henning
Producer (Colour) Chris Anthony
Colorist Simon Bourne
Music Orbital Music and Sound
Composer Julius Rodriguez
Sound Wave Studios
Sound Design + Mix Aaron Reynolds