New York City trip

My recent trip to New York and New Jersey

Mark in his trailer at commercial shootAs some of you may know, I was selected as one of the participants in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2015 Tips from Former Smokers campaign. So last week we flew to New York where we met Julia (another participant) and many, many wonderful people who work for the several companies involved in the project, including the CDC, the casting agency, the creative agency, and the video production and photography agencies.

First off, let me say that we had an absolutely fantastic time in New York. We’d never been to New York before so we got a New York Pass and took the tour bus around Manhattan (you can see my tour bus video here). We saw just about every landmark and famous building in the city. We took many great photos and met a number of wonderful people. I fully expected New York to be full of rude, angry people. What I found, however, is that most of the people were very courteous and friendly. Who knew? It was certainly a pleasant surprise and taught me not to pre-judge anyone.

New York Mark and Director ChrisAfter spending a few days with the family sight-seeing, I began working with the wonderful folks who are creating the video and print public service announcements (PSAs) for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last Tuesday I spent the day at a house in New Jersey shooting the video PSA. The Director, Chris, was charming, friendly and very good at his craft, as was everyone in the crew. The filming part wasn’t nerve-wracking, like I thought it’d be. I actually had fun and was sad when the shoot was over.

After a day rest I went to a new location for the “print shoot,” where they took a plethora of photographs for the print ads that I’ll be in. The house we were at was the same house that Donnie Brasco lived in in the movie of the same name. How cool is that? The owner is a retired firefighter and an all-around great guy. Once again the crew was absolutely amazing. There were so many friendly people in one place. It reminded me of being with extended family, to be honest. Once again the day ended too quickly and I had to say goodbye, at least until we meet again.

Mark and the crew on the print shootThis experience has been an absolute blessing on many levels. Having the opportunity to possibly inspire literally millions of people to quit smoking and get screened for colon cancer is beyond my ability to grasp right now. I hope that God uses my participation in this campaign to affect millions of lives. Whatever happens, I’m happy and proud to be a part of it.

The campaign kicks off around March of next year but please don’t wait until then to get screened. Do it now. And if you smoke, find a way to quit. You might literally save your butt.

Before you go, you can see a few of the photos I took during my trip. Enjoy!






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