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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Local filmmaker highlights the heart of Essex

by Kyle Reid

Essex’s former Mayor Ron McDermott has once again lent his talents to film. This most recent project involvement was for Essex native Jakob Skrzypa, which ended-up being a contest-winner.

  Known mostly for his award-winning comedic work, including a hilarious four-part YouTube video project, “Yo, Ron?” which also starred McDermott, Skrzypa recently had Essex’s former Mayor star in a more heartfelt project, highlighting his hometown of Essex.

  The video, titled “Small Town, Big Heart,” is one of three grand prize winners in the Red Apple corporate contest. Winning the Canada-wide competition netted Skrzypa and his partner, Luke Mitchell, a $1,000 prize.

  The winning three-minute documentary-style short features the now retired former Mayor explaining why Essex is such a fantastic place to live, and what the town means to him.

  “I think Essex is unique because people are so friendly,” McDermott narrates in the video’s opening.

  For Skrzypa, there was no better spokesperson for the town than McDermott.

  “He just immediately came to mind,” Skrzypa said. “I thought he was the perfect candidate for the video.”

  The video, shot on the day of McDermott’s retirement around the end of the last term of council, showcases the small-town charm of the Essex community.

  “We framed it around his retirement, but we also framed it around what it means to grow up in a small town,” Skrzypa said. “The difference between living in a place like Essex and living in a place like L.A., or New York, or Toronto, where it’s so hectic and you don’t have that kind of small-town kindness.”

  Skrzypa is one to know the difference in culture between a small town and a big city. The Essex native and University of Windsor film program graduate has worked in L.A. for Comedy Central and is currently working in Toronto for Big Brother Canada. He met his film-partner, Mitchell, while the two were attending the film program in Windsor. The duo now owns and operates Luke and Jake Video Production Services.

  But despite working on such high-profile projects, the “Small Town, Big Heart” video was particularly special for Skrzypa. He and Mitchell shot the video specifically for the Red Apple contest, and were delighted when they found out they had won.

   “We put a lot of work in it,” Skrzypa said. “We were excited. We’re known for our comedy stuff, we do pretty much exclusively comedy, so it was nice to kind of prove to us that we can do other things that aren’t comedy and still have [it] looked at seriously.”

  A true team effort, Skrzypa edited the film, while his partner was in charge of the camera work. The video not only highlights McDermott and his story as the former Mayor, but also captures the beauty and uniqueness of the small town. The video is now available on YouTube.

  And, while winning the contest was icing on the cake for Skrzypa, the opportunity to highlight his hometown, and more specifically, McDermott’s passion, dedication, and love for his community, was the real driver behind the project.

“We love Ron,” Skrzypa said. “He’s just a really kind, great person.”

  To learn more about Skrzypa, log onto 

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