Iconic “bad guy” Tony Montana binging Netflix while ordering dinner for his family from his favorite local eatery. Two outrageous videogame characters engaged in an epic ramen slurp battle. Neither of these scenarios would turn up on the web were this not the Age of Corona. As it happens, content creator/filmmaker Warren Lam and creative director/publicist/comedian Hersh Rephun have teamed up to promote local restaurants struggling during the COVID-19 global pandemic. They note in a 5-minute video about the project that those who make and serve food are “the first responders to people sheltering in place.”

“Local restaurants have been hit hard, so my first instinct was to create a movement to show some love, support, and maybe raise money,” explained Lam, who spent years in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. “There’s an urgency to this situation, and at the same time, we’re going to be dealing with the resulting challenges for a long time to come.” First and foremost, the undertaking is a morale booster, but Lam and Rephun have created a web page for #ArtFeedsTheSpirit, and encourage user generated content saluting local eateries. They also include a list of nonprofits and relief funds to which viewers can make donations. 

“Making content keeps me sane,” said Rephun, whose initial reaction to lockdown was the formation of StandupStillStanding (@3xdailycomedy), dedicated to delivering the “minimum daily dose of comedy.” Well known as a writer and veteran publicist to some of the world’s top production and postproduction companies, Rephun is also a standup comedian who’s played gigs at The Comedy Store, Comic Strip Live, Funny Bone, Comedy Cellar, and more. 

In fact, “Scarface as a Comedian,” one of Rephun’s signature bits, appears in a branded content pilot directed by Lam, and serves as the inspiration for “Gangsters in Witness Protection Under Quarantine,” a series set in an alternate universe where hardened criminals like Tony Montana  confront these strange times. The piece was designed to support friends of Lam, Jimmy Johns franchisees, and emphasize their restaurant’s 5-mile fresh delivery during quarantine. The bit was extended for videos supporting Apres wine bar and bistro, and Yotopia frozen yogurt, both local faves of Rephun, who is quarantining with his family in Iowa City.

To promote Jinya Ramen in LA, Lam recruited actor friends Jessica Yang and Sean Humphries for “Slurp Fighter,” “This was an organic process,” Lam related. “I was watching a video of this opera singer in Italy leading a quarantined community in ‘Nessun Dorma’ from their balconies and I thought ‘Art feeds the spirit and nourishes the soul.’”

“As hybrid creators, we understand brands and know when to put entertainment first,” said Lam of the videos. “When we strip everything down the basics, no fancy shoots, we rely only on creativity which is also part of the fun and charm. ‘Gangsters’ was shot on an iPhone and ‘Slurp Fighter’ used Zoom conference to the extreme.”

So, what’s next? After all, there are only so many eateries these guys can promote on their own. Given that restaurants’ challenges have no geographical boundaries, the creators envision an America’s Funniest Home Videos-style series. Celebrities, athletes, influencers and more create content as a shout out to their favorite neighborhood restaurants, with brand sponsorships benefiting establishments featured on the show. Brands can also match donations made by viewers. Citing John Krazinski’s Some Good News as an example of celeb-supported inspirational content, Lam said, “The next step is to line up sponsors and celebrity hosts for a ‘feel good-do good’ series. For example, we’d love to have (Momofuku founder) David Chang on the show.” 

“Reality entertainment and UGC clip shows have enjoyed a good long run,” Rephun concurred. “There’s no reason the format can’t support a purpose-driven enterprise.” 

To support restaurants and restaurant workers now, visit:

About Warren Lam
Warren Lam is a content creator/filmmaker. His career experience includes time spent as a copywriter for agencies such as Leo Burnett in Chicago and Euro RSCG in New York. Accounts included Reebok, General Motors, Philip Morris, Pepsi Regional, and AT&T. He’s directed both short form and long form content in the narrative and documentary space. Lam has earned editorial credits on shows such as Deadliest Catch, The Curse of Oak Island and Skin Tight

Lam founded​ Creative Fugitives as a nimble content production company to tell stories across multiple formats. Lam recently completed the short Film, “F the Plus: Stories of Failed Asian Excellence,” and shopping as a cutting edge Asian content, and Moto Nostra, a self funded 5 episode sci-fi series.

About Hersh Rephun
Hersh Rephun has long served as a publicist for some of the most high-profile and awarded commercial production and postproduction companies in the world. On the creative front, he has led campaigns for fashion and footwear boutique Propeller 5. Hersh’s background in advertising and promotion, paired with comedy chops earned at standup gigs across the country, and screenwriting credits on cult films featuring spaceships, bikinis and Bruce Campbell (Assault on Dome 4) have contributed to an eclectic and entertaining portfolio. 

Hersh will next be seen in front of the camera on The Adventures of Inspector Gerard Rouge, a comedy-mystery web series written and directed by Boris Damast, shot entirely on lockdown and featuring Hersh in multiple roles. The series is produced by Damast, Hersh and Andrea Kikot.