THE BROOKLANDS YEARS
This series of posts depicts the epic journey I’ve taken across the land of student filmmaking. From the deep-rooted plains of the 4:3 aspect ratio to the wonderous tundra of half-decent modern indie cinema, you’ll read about the trials I endured throughout my years of learning.
The wonderful adventure of non-compulsory education continues…
Okay, so this wasn’t strictly a college assignment that contributed to my college education but I did end up using all the equipment at my disposal, provided by the college. At the time, Doritos launched a Super Bowl ad competition targeted towards budding filmmakers and a huge cash prize of about £300,000 for the winning ad they picked. Now, the dormant cynical side of my brain should have seen this as more of an opportunity for the favoured crisp brand, rather than some dude in his late teens thinking he’s surely going to win more money than he’d know what to do with.
It was quite a genius business strategy by Doritos, one I believe they peddled for about 10 years. They literally own the rights to every entry including those that were not picked (mine) but it wasn’t like it we were all unaware. By now they must have decade’s worth of ideas that in the grand scheme of things, cost them hardly anything. You need only search YouTube for the copious amounts of diverse videos made by all sorts of filmmaking talents across the spectrum and a lot of them are true masterpieces. Comedy was the general consensus as far as genre was concerned and aptly so, because it’s quite difficult to paint junk food in any other light.
Obviously, I thought I had the best idea going and thought for sure I was going to win that money, just like now I’m sure I’ve purchased the winning lotto ticket. It’s hard not to dream but sometimes harder to accept the fact that it is just that, a dream. Anyway, I began to throw ideas around and eventually had something tangible.
They offered a really cool media package with logos, music and sound effects that could all be used to the creator’s advantage. There was a lot of variety to put it mildly and I was grateful for it considering I was a one-man crew. Honestly, the only real production value came from this package, other than the premises if I do say so myself.
If memory serves me, I shot it on a Canon XM2 Mini DV camcorder with onboard microphone. Didn’t have time to faff about with a boom pole wielding sound person because I was greedy and wanted that sweet, sweet prize moolah to myself. In a way this was my first solo project not mentioning the performers, which as per usual, were my reluctant buddies. An old friend of mine from school, Keval, between him and his family ran a newspaper shop in Chertsey called Chandlers at the time and it wasn’t the first occasion he had offered the place as an authentic backdrop. There was a student film production held there called Jimmy about a psychotic curly redhead axe murderer and his overzealous father. The film was given the Sin City treatment I way of grading but the only colour shown on the spectrum was orange. I actually assisted a bit on this production as we all come from the same friend group, even to this day just about.
The initial idea for the ad actually came quite quick to me but the final product was an evolution of that first spark. I wanted the ad to be about the Chilli Heatwave flavour to begin with, mainly because it’s my personal seasoning of choice. Anything hot and tangy is usually my jam when it comes to snack food so naturally, I wanted to pay homage to this beloved flavour. Throwing concepts around regarding hot stuff, red stuff and tasty stuff I originally thought of the jolt you get when you take a bite out of that first nacho. A jolt lead to a kick and then a kick lead to a punch. Boxers punch, and boxers wear boxing gloves…
Sooner or later I narrowed this mess of ideas down. It started with a man purchasing a 230g shareable pack of Chilli Heatwave Doritos, to later stepping out into a bright and cheerfully lit high street, opening the packet, taking that delightful first bite while basking in the sunlight, then BAM! A boxing glove erupts from within the packet and punches our unsuspecting crisp muncher in the teeth. Sprawled out on the pavement with crumbs and God knows what else on his chest. The image of a night out well spent. Some might say.
Not only was this a bit violent I thought, I tested it at home and no matter how small the glove was, it just wouldn’t pass through the bag’s opening. Luckily a couple of my housemates were into their taekwondo so I had a surplus of gloves to requisition. I had some crappy catchphrase put aside like ‘They pack quite a punch’ but it just wasn’t meant to be in the end.
It later occurred to me that not everyone likes the spice and perhaps a broader appeal was needed to win the hearts of the judges. So, I picked the cheese flavour instead but it meant changing my approach to the idea. I still wanted to take the comedy angle and I was still adamant to involve the packet in some way. Much like a boxing glove, it hit me, and the answer was obvious.
The story is simple. A young gentleman (my old mate Aaron) goes to his local corner shop, purchases a packet of Tangy Cheese Doritos and heads home to sit in front of the box. What’s he watching? Who cares?! He’s got a big bag of Doritos to keep him company and that’s all that matters to him. Those tasty triangles of powdered delight, the vibrant orange glow of the foil packet, a small moment of personal bliss…
But it’s ruined by a swift and unforeseen enemy in the form of the dude’s flatmate. Like magic this predatory guy (my old mate Matt) appears beneath our hero and snatches his prize, quite literally from under him. There are no more snacks left to snack upon, he is defeated and left hungry. ‘Settle the Craving’ felt like a natural slogan to superimpose over the end. It was a quick and quirky ad that I enjoyed making if anything.
Most people I’ve screened this to laughed at it and got the message and I stick by the concept like cheese dust on fingertips.