Opioids are as Deadly as a Scorpion

The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey’s (PDFNJ) newest video PSAs involved filming a live scorpion, which proved to be quite challenging. This week’s guest blogger, Collette Liantonio of Concepts TV, shares her experience working with PDFNJ (and the scorpion) to help us create this video.

To watch the PSA, please click here or on the image below.

All the best,
Angelo M. Valente, Executive Director of PDFNJ


"Deadly Scorpion"
by Collette Liantonio, Creative Director at Concepts Video Productions, Inc.

Until recently, I would have said the most challenging animal I’ve ever filmed was the cat.  Cats don’t listen!  But then our company was challenged to brainstorm an original concept for the 2023 anti-opioid campaign for the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey.

What is the most terrifying venom-filled creature that is the perfect metaphor for the toxins in the killer opioid fentanyl?… A deadly scorpion!

Filming of PDFNJ’s "Scorpion" PSA

The NJ creative team at Concepts Video Productions developed a “killer” concept certain to get the attention of parents and children alike.

Where did we find our “star”, the scorpion? Executive Vice President Jon Calderaro had lived in Costa Rica where scorpions abound, but our budget limited us to the environs of New Jersey, so he and producer Marissa Ciancitto scouted NJ Exotic Pets in Lodi, New Jersey, where they found an abundance of scorpions and other venomous creatures.

Thanks to the superb skills of scorpion handlers Megan Betracca and Salvador Galdamez, we were able to film a large scorpion on a white cyclorama and green screen in the Exotic Pet store. Stock footage was not an option given the need for movement following the storyboard created by art director Scott English. DP David Kaptein also filmed the scorpion under a black light for additional special effects.

Senior editor James Nolan was able to “cut out” the scorpion and graphically superimpose it on the tombstones containing the likenesses of the young opioid victims of the deadly toxin fentanyl.

The messaging, ”The venom from a scorpion’s sting can kill a child…  The venom from one ounce of fentanyl can kill every child in your neighborhood” was created by Concepts Video creative director Collette Liantonio in concert with Angelo Valente and Angela Conover from PDFNJ.

Between the detailed filming in an exotic pet store and the remote location of the Boonton cemetery, it was a most intense experience. Given the life-saving message, it’s one of the most gratifying ones.
And the scorpion was easier to work with than any cat.

Notice: This article reflects the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ). This information should not be construed as legal advice from the author or PDFNJ. Please consult your own attorney before making any legal decisions.

Blog Updates

Enter your email address and we'll send you an email each time we post something new.