(Note: You can skip to the video below, if you want to, but I’m guessing you’ll enjoy it even more if you read this first)
Super Bowl has been the most watched event on American television for fifty years. (For my non-U.S. friends, Super Bowl features a game played with a miniature zeppelin that only American’s [and a few Canadians, eh] call a football. Oh, and Aussie’s have their own funny version–but, then, they have their own funny version of everything.)
Super Bowl commercials are seen by more people than even the biggest Hollywood blockbusters. Hence, making a Super Bowl TV ad can be a shortcut to glory for filmmakers. So when a killer Super Bowl ad idea popped into my head, I ran with it!
Every year, Doritos sponsors a “Crash the Super Bowl” contest. The winner not only gets their home-made commercial seen by over 100 million people, they get a cool-ranch million bucks and a Hollywood contract to boot!
The only problem was that my idea was big—really big—and my budget was small—really small. Like. Non-existent. My Doritos commercial involved a British archaeologist in a mummy’s tomb and a royal entourage in an ancient Egyptian court. How could I possibly pull this off?
As soon as I’d hatched my idea about Doritos-loving Pharaoh Amenhochip (“Chip”) the 48th, I started calling movie biz friends in Cincinnati and very smoothly and persuasively…begging for help! Two key people came on-board: Jeff Barklage, an Emmy-winning director of photography, and Lynn Meyers, casting director for every Hollywood movie made on location here. Once they were attached…
Some of the region’s most talented people threw in: an in-demand editor, a brilliant costumer, a top make-up and hair designer, and a scenery-making genius who once built (for The Shawshank Redemption) a styrofoam wall that was indistinguishable from the rest of the 120 year old stone prison.
In addition, my agent found a gifted British comedian to play my over-the-top archaeologist and a popular TV actor to play Pharaoh’s long-suffering Royal Architect. Then, in a shameless act of self-promotion–and because I work for free–I cast myself as Pharaoh Chip. Everyone agreed to work for a share of the winnings—if we won.
There was one final hurdle: Where to shoot our mini-epic? Cincinnati is located on the Ohio River. But to say it looks like the Nile would be an act of (wait for it) denial (rim shot). In addition, there are very few Pharaoh’s palaces here. And then a friend told me that the Creation Museum—just 20 minutes away—had a full-blown Egyptian courtyard! And they said, “Yes!”
(Cue angelic choir.)
So for six very early morning hours before the museum opened, our cast and crew of thirty lit, staged, and filmed a golden age movie classic that lasts exactly 30 seconds (Note: this is actually the lavish 47 second Director’s Cut version). Well, what are you waiting for? Make some popcorn and watch it now!
Did we win? No. But we were one of the three most watched videos in the entire contest—out of more than 8,000 entries—receiving major kudos along the way, including “favorite” status from three previous years’ winners! Still, alas, the Doritos judges chose us not.
Will I make another Doritos ad?
I have this idea…
But either way, it was one of the coolest experiences of my life. Plus, it produced a gaggle of talented new friends, many of whom will be working (cue searchlights) on…
The new feature film we’re shooting this spring!