In “Special Delivery,” a holiday commercial for the New York State Lottery, adorable forest creatures scamper over rocks, across streams, and through the woods to hand-deliver a lost scratch-off ticket to a park ranger’s home. While producers used CGI magic to create the animals, the gorgeous scenery was authentically Westchester County.
Location manager Peter Pyun scouted for the spot throughout the New York City region, checking out locations in Staten Island, Manhattan, and other areas of Westchester before settling on Sal J. Prezioso Mountain Lakes Park in North Salem and Ward Pound Ridge Reservation in Cross River. Though the locations are just outside the NYC “film zone,” the diverse terrain had much to offer in terms of production value, according to Pyun.
“Our director, Ben Smith, was looking for mountain-esque scenes. The two parks we selected in Northern Westchester had such a range of topography—as soon as we saw the views, trails, and rock formations, we were sold. The locations perfectly fit his vision.”
To tell the story, producers filmed scenes in both parks. The Ward Pound Ridge Visitor Center served as the ranger’s home for the closing shot. To capture the lottery ticket’s journey through the woods, film crews mounted a camera to an all-terrain vehicle at Mountain Lakes, later adding digital animals to bring the scenes to life.
The spot, filmed over two frigid days in November by Mekka Media, required Westchester County Parks to accommodate a crew of about 30 people, drone cameras, and a couple of newly constructed park props, including a new trailhead marker and wood fencing that now remain as permanent additions.
“We were happy to leave set pieces behind as a way to give something back for a great production experience,” says Pyun. “I give Westchester a 10 out of 10! The parks staff was hospitable, flexible, and open to whatever we needed. The permit process was easy and uncomplicated. My hats off to the film office.”
It may not be long until Pyun returns. “Everyone was so helpful,” he says. “Westchester is my go-to for locations.”