Posted in Misc
03/2 2015

Skyfall: Is Your Marketing Department Prepared for the Crash of the TV Market?

On February 19, 2015, The New York Post business section ran a story with this headline: Millennials Ditching Their TV Sets At a Record Rate

The article went on to make good on the headline: traditional TV usage has fallen at a rate of 10.6% among the 18-34 set between September 2014 and January 2015. This is on top of a steady loss-rate of 4% annually since 2012. Nielsen figures quoted indicate that an audience of 21.7 million viewers in 2011 is now only 17.8 million strong.

Ladies First? Late last year (November of 2014), AdAge reported a 13% fall among females in this age group – 17% for younger females (18-24) – during roughly the same time period (Fall 2014).

This is a market crash, right?
Sure looks like one to me. And so it appears we are now living in the midst of what can only be called an epic transition. With perhaps the exception of the NFL and The Oscars – the national / communal television experience is becoming a thing of the past. Reports that the NFL was in negotiations with Netflix for a package of Thursday Night Games have been quashed, but at this point, this feels like a stay of execution.

Nobody’s waiting – least of all Netflix. They’re projected to invest 5 Billion on content in 2016. They’re even raising $1.5BN in debt to finance it. That’s a huge bet and a major step to completely upending advertiser supported TV as we know it. Hey, they’re spending more than HBO, Amazon and Showtime did in 2014…combined. And as ESPN has just announced that they are going “over-the-top” – that is, straight to your lap – how long before the NFL follows suit? Set your iWatch…

Thus the money quote from the Post article: “If the TV as an anachronism trend holds, the implications for the media industry are huge, possibly causing a seismic shift in the $80 billion TV ad market.”

No surprise where these eyes are going – they’re going where Netflix, ESPN, and others are betting – investing – to move them. And why is it that the networks are so open to disruption? Perhaps it’s because of broadcast TV and broadcast TV advertisers unwillingness to do one simple thing: allow viewers to watch content on their own schedules.

The same is true in Hollywood. 2014 Domestic Box Office was lower than it’s been since 1995! Clearly, audiences aren’t interested in “window protection” – yes, absolutely, they’re interested in content, but not on your schedule.

This is NBC Universal’s audience research chief Alan Wurtzel – also from the NY Post story: “The change in behavior is stunning, the use of streaming and smartphones just year-on-year is double digit increases. I’ve never seen that kind of change in behavior.”

Less TV, But More Video: Wurtzel points out that the deterioration in TV viewing is happening at the same time that an up-tick of 22% in subscription viewing, via Netflix, Amazon, Hulu Plus, Vudu, iTunes and many more.

What’s A Brand To Do?
When you boil it down, there have always been only two ways content gets paid for: either a consumer pays for it, or an advertiser does. We don’t think the advertiser-paid / TV model will fade completely into the sunset. But it seems a certainty that profound change is ahead – and sooner rather than later. And with that inevitability, we’re guessing those who are planning, testing, and thinking about shaping rather than reacting to the new media environment will gain significant advantages in the immediate future.


Here are six steps we’re starting to see lots of brands talk about (and some even do!) in order to respond to TV’s  “Skyfall”:

1. Stop Saying “Digital” when you’re talking about your marketing plans and strategy. We’re past that, right?

2. Think Holistically — ads alone won’t cut it; Youtube’s “hero, hub, hygiene” and several other models help marketers grasp the thrilling (but more complex) opportunities beyond “this year’s new spot.” The link takes you to a great case study courtesy of Brendan Gahan.

3. Find Your Tribe: The better you know the interests and passions of your crowd, the better you can serve them. Social Listening services like Networked Insights can provide a depth of insight that can guide action and reaction. They help brands know what their customers are talking about, where, and how –and also how they’re talking about the brand.

4. Think harder about that 3rd W. (Where?) Put more money and time into researching your ideal venues — and think about venues in relationship to your holistic strategy.  By all means research and leverage programmatic capabilities – but use them to guide creative as well. Where you play should have everything to do with what you play, and vise versa.

5. More is More. Whatever your strategy is or becomes, a greater diversity and faster pace of output will almost assuredly be part of it. Gear up to create / sponsor / guide a lot more content. Look at platforms, partners…and look closely! And don’t be afraid to ask you tribe to help you create this content.

6. Action! Yes you have to think longer term, but you will learn more as you GO. Use the diversification of your markets and the fragmenting of audiences to increase your pace of experimentation. This is precisely the spirit that has put Netflix, Amazon and others in the driver’s seat.

Posted in Misc
02/23 2015

A Golden Touch: Brand Love, Oprah, and The LEGO Oscar

If you were watching on Oscar night, you saw one…and another…and then all of a sudden they were everywhere: LEGO models of the Oscar trophy.  Meryl Streep had one, Bradley Cooper…even Clint Eastwood!

And then there’s the picture above. Oprah — The Big “O”— two time topper of Forbes’ most powerful celebrity list, with a smile so genuine and so delighted it’s hard to imagine that even a seasoned pro like her could conjure it merely for the sake of the cameras.

Our guess is that the idea was born when The LEGO movie didn’t receive an Oscar nomination probably very shortly after (LEGO Movie Director) Phil Lord tweeted that he would build his own. LEGO artist Nathan Sawaya crafted the beautiful recreations — surely no small part of Oprah (and everyone else’s) delight was the fact that the prank was truly funny — but it also helps that the statuettes were works of art in their own right.

LEGO Turned Their Oscar Snub Into Pure Gold
If you’re a CMO or brand marketer, you had to be saying to yourself: “Wow…how did they do that?” If you aren’t either one of those, you may not have even noticed that, basically, LEGO pulled off the promotional coup of the century. Folks, that’s OPRAH up there! That’s the real Meryl Streep!!

Can you imagine Oprah (or Meryl??) posing for that picture with a can of Coke?

Flashing the keys to a new Cadillac? Sporting a new Samsung smart-watch?

In two words: no way. In one: never.

LEGO is in Rare Air
Evidently, making the world’s most powerful celebrity smile is the kind of thing you can do when you’re the world’s most powerful brand. It’s also a move you have the guts to make when you’ve doubled the net income of your company in a few short years, to become the number one toymaker in the world.

We’ve been lucky enough to have a ringside seat for LEGO’s transformation. And like everybody who comes into contact with LEGO, we’re not sure we did it by working or playing — as it has always felt a lot like both. Our community has helped them build their YouTube channel, and we’ve also been a player in their overarching strategy to open their brand up to encourage and celebrate the imagination and genius of their many fans. You can’t be any more real about that than LEGO Ideas (formerly LEGO Cuusoo) which allows fans to recommend a set for creation, gather support from other fans, and earn a share of resulting sales as a bonus.

We think it’s the openness of their brand is the ultimate key to the success of their Academy Awards coup. That openness was reflected in their ability to poke fun at themselves while also having a laugh at the expense of the Motion Picture Academy, and at awards-competitions in general.

You can see it all right there in Oprah’s off-the-charts smile.

Yes, today we’re just happy to call LEGO our cool friend.

They can totally take a bow.

Posted in Misc, Tongal Twelve
02/20 2015

Tongaler of the Month – Side of Fries

Introducing the latest Tongaler of the Month and one of our #tongies2015 nominees…Side of Fries! Jordan Allen and Luke Rocheleau are the fun, hardworking dudes that make up this team. Read on to find out about their unique approach, their passions and their funny casting sessions!

Izzy Francke: What’s your filmmaking/production background? Did you go to film school?

Jordan Allen: I actually started out by acting from the ages of 9-13 before making my jump to behind the camera. None of my friends growing up could edit, but they all wanted to make a movie so I, by default, took over that position with no concept as to how much I would fall in love with it. I continued to teach myself through high school and into college, eventually transferring to Chapman University with a major in film production. It was at this time Luke and I formed “Side of Fries” and something you need to know about Luke is that he is a very persuasive man, as he effectively talked me out of going back for my Junior year, telling me to save my money and learn on set! Something I never thought I would do, but I have to say it is the best decision I have made so far and for that I owe him a good ol’ tip of the hat.

Luke Rocheleau: Movies were such a big part of my life growing up, I think this was my first film school without even knowing it! Attending the cinema was like entering a dream chamber; anything could happen if you wanted it. In high school I learned about non-linear digital editing and started to make my own little shorts, which eventually led me to attend the Academy of Art in San Francisco. Looking back I’m glad I went but I would encourage younger kids to do their best to get on set and keep making their own films. It really is the best classroom and you’ll save a fortune!!

IF: Cool! It’s great that you’re both happy with your decisions. How did you find Tongal?

JA: I was looking for alternate ways to make money on the side to pay for school. I believe I entered and took 4th in a contest for Jack Links. I was so excited I began following all the jobs that would pop up. A little while later I met Luke on set. We hit it off and began brainstorming some potential shorts we could do together, blending his camera work and my post work. This is when the brain wave hit and we decided to collaborate on Tongal.

IF: It seems like fate that you two are working together, and we’re glad you found Tongal. What do you look for in a Tongal Project and what specifically attracts you to one when there are so many on the site?

JA: The biggest thing that attracts us to Projects are the brand’s goals. Luke and I try not to box ourselves in with styles or genres but we have a very specific sense of humor and always love it when that humor lines up with a brand.

IF: It’s cool that you have a keen sense of your filmmaking style and stick to it.  How do you guys divvy up your responsibilities as a team? What are your specific roles?

JA: Luke and I write and direct all our Projects together. Luke’s background involves being a steadicam op and Eagle Scout, so as you can imagine this brings a keen understanding of camera builds and lens types, along with a can-do will-do attitude towards all things physical. You see, the sun gives him strength; the sun and I, however, are not on speaking terms as my background involves spending far too much time in a dark room, hunched over a keyboard. So as you might imagine, I handle the media and post side, including visual effects.

IF: Sweet teamwork! Your VideoA Day in the Life,” which won first place for Shutterstock’s Lights, Camera, Action Video Project was intended for the Brazilian market. Do you guys speak Portuguese? What led you to Pitch for that market in particular?

JA: We do not speak more than two words of Portuguese between us, and one of those words is “no” so you can imagine how fun it was running lines for a Portuguese voice over! We just kept telling him “we are trusting you with this” and in placing first I think our “beg and pray” method worked out great for us, so we owe him a high five and a nice fish dinner. As far as why we pitched, Luke and I both love Brazil and wanted to capture a little bit of the city’s essence and rhythm. We had some connections in the city and thought we could make something spicy, so we just closed our eyes and swung for the fences hoping Shutterstock would catch that same vibe.

IF: Impressive! Plus, you definitely captured the vibe. Your Video “Childsplayfor the Pop Secret Video Projectis nominated for a Tongie for Best Broadcast Spot. The kids in this one are so funny! How did you cast for this Project? What was it like working with them?

JA: We love the casting process simply because it’s a time to play with our script and see what all the different actors bring to the different parts. For this one in particular Luke just had all the bullies insult me. And I’m sad to say this is not the first audition that’s happened. The really creative ones aka the ones who insulted me in ways I’d never dreamed of, were selected. As for working with them on set, they were all really well behaved, which is an obvious blessing when working with 20+ eleven year olds. Our main kid (the one being bullied) was especially professional and we even saw him chatting up one of the extras during a break. We thought we cast a little boy, but it appears we cast a little man.

IF: Hilarious – I wish I’d been there to hear some of his pick up lines! I also love your Video “Fuel Your Fun” for the “Kool Aid TV Commercial Project.” You do a great job of combining animation and live action. Can you tell us about that process?

JA+ LR: This commercial was a monster to plan due to the fact we only had one day to shoot it, and when working with children that day is even shorter than normal. So we just took a few days to prep, looked at what we needed for each shot, and most importantly, planned multiple ways to capture each effect in case one method failed in post. That is always our motto with special effects: cover your bases!

A fun fact about this spot, however, is that in the first draft we were told not to show the Kool-Aid man in any way, shape, or form, so we obliged. Later in the revisionary round we were asked to find a way to insert the Kool-Aid man into the commercial, which was an uh-oh moment seeing as we never game planned for it. So after racking our brains as to where we could put him, we decided to just stuff him in the wormhole which actually turned out to be a pretty significant upgrade to the flow of the spot and a great “Oh yeah!” moment. Sometimes things just have a way of sorting themselves out!

IF: You handled that situation very well, the spot turned out great! What’s your favorite work you’ve done for Tongal?

JA: My personal favorite is still the Pringles commercial. Any shoot where I get to see child storm troopers, a break dancing wookiee, and a mini sith lord is a shoot I will cherish forever.

LR: My favorite Tongal Project to date is the Gain Project. I loved how quickly things turned to go down the “weird” path on set and how we ended up with something not originally planned. I like to think we’re not afraid to chase off the wall or dark concepts. Some of my favorite stuff is dark and way out there and I still laugh my head off when he asks the girl in the laundromat: “You know what cake is don’t you?!”— it’s not for everyone but I enjoy it.

IF: Great choices. What would be your dream Project on Tongal?

JA + LR: If we ever got to work with Old Spice, I think our heads would explode.

IF: I think everyone at Tongal HQ would love to see you guys make an Old Spice Video! What are your daily must-reads?

JA: I’m not personally into reading when it comes to film so I can’t really recommend anything. Instead I try to dive into potential effects or concepts I’d like to master on the post side and do a little bit of research each day on specific methods of execution – which sounds boring having just read it out loud, but I swear it’s not!

LR: I’m a sucker for American Cinematographer. I love to see what the world’s best filmmakers are doing with lights and it helps me keep up on the ever-changing world of digital cameras. I also visit the SteadicamForum daily.

IF: Good sources, Luke. And Jordan, we definitely don’t think you’re boring – your research method has paid off! Tell us a fun fact or surprising hobby about yourselves.

JA: A fun fact about me is that, like most of us, I have always dreamed of having a home movie theater and just 3 months ago I am proud to say I completed it! It’s a blacked out room with theater seating, 7.2 Dolby surround sound, and 120” projection. It is the reason I have forgotten the feeling of sunlight.

LR: I’m a drummer and love to get in a jam session whenever I have time. I finally got a lock out space with a buddy that provides 24 hour access so I’m super stoked. It’s great to clear your head or just let off some steam.

IF: Both of those are super cool. By the way, team Tongal is totally up for a screening in your home movie theater…we’ll bring the popcorn and candy! Do you have any advice for other Tongalers?

JA: I would say that if you are just starting out on Tongal, be wise in picking your Projects. Find brands that really share your vision/style and just go for it. When Luke and I first started out on Tongal, all of our pitches were rejected, but we believed that they would “love it once they saw it” and gambled with our own money. We turned out to be right and to this day I’m so glad we didn’t lose faith in our concepts!

IF: That’s sound and helpful advice. What’s next for you, on Tongal or otherwise?

JA + LR: I believe the old saying is “Man makes plans and God laughs” so to be honest we don’t know what’s around the next corner but we are excited for whatever comes our way. In the meantime we are wrapping up a few commercials while in the process of bidding on more! We are also looking to branch further into music videos, shorts, personal Projects, and hopefully are around the corner from a first feature.

Sounds like you guys have an awesome year ahead of you! Team Tongal is so glad we got to know more about Side of Fries’ creative process and work…we can’t wait to see your next Tongal Project!

Posted in Misc
02/10 2015

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Time to break out the Sweethearts…Valentine’s Day is almost here! Whether you’re spending time with your special someone or celebrating another anniversary of being your sexy self this V-day, these Tongal Videos will give you some last minute date and gift ideas that are guaranteed to amp up the love this year!

Project: Sears Holiday Video Project
Idea: 9 out of 10 by Nathan Brown
Video: Safety in Numbers by Jeff and Noah
Sometimes a romantic dinner just won’t cut it. Take your relationship to new heights this year by booking a skydiving excursion! (Just make sure you check the safety rating or you could be breaking up…)

Project: Axe Nothing Beats an Astronaut Video Project
Idea: Juliet and Astronaut by Mindfruit Studio
Video: Living Single by Convoy Entertainment

You may have already found your own “astronaut” – someone who sends your heart to the moon and back. Spend time with them watching the classic Romeo and Juliet. Or, if you’re celebrating “Galentine’s Day” head to what’s sure to be the modern version, Fifty Shades of Grey.

Project: Speed Stick Handlebar It Video Project
Video: Dancing Mustache by David Brashear
Single and ready to mingle? Hit the dance floor this year!
PS: Dudes – if you sport a mustache and wear deodorant you’ll be irresistible, guaranteed.

Project: Spotify Story of Your Song Video Project
Video: Holding Hands by Patrick Muhlberger
Be brave and bold this Valentine’s Day! Ask your long time crush on a date and when the moment’s right, hold their hand. Pay attention to the music playing, it might just become “your song.”

Project: The Bouqs Viral Video Project
Video: Mother by Maggie Mahrt

It’s Valentine’s Day, gentlemen! Get your special person the beautiful flowers they deserve from the Bouqs. (Use the promo code “GENTLEMEN” for a 20% discount on your first order).

Project: Pretzel Crisps Give It a Twist Video Project
Idea: Awesome Pairings by Matt Sweeney
Video: The Pretzel Crisps by The Norman Invasion
Going to a concert this Valentine’s Day is perfect for a fun, casual date or a night celebrating with friends. Plus, you might meet someone there (at least you’ll know they have good taste in music!).

Project: Bod Man TV Commercial Project
Idea: Reminiscent by Spectrum Media
Video: Card Game by Meydenbauer Entertainment

Spice up this Valentine’s Day with a saucy game of strip poker…game night just got a whole lot more interesting!

Project: Discover Your Atlantico Rum Video Project
Idea: Discover Your Atlantico by Kyle Elliot
Video: Hiraeth by John–Michael Triana
Looking for a gift that’s fun, useful and delicious? Atlantico Rum will set the tone for a night that’s just right!

Project: Scope Social Courage Video Project
Idea: Sharing a Cab by Chase N Guys
Video: Hello by Yeah Buddy
For many of us, Valentine’s Day is about that awesome kiss –­­ so make sure your breath is perfectly minty fresh! You may want to go with a travel-sized bottle though…Tongal HQ isn’t so sold on carrying a full size bottle to bars.

Project: Axe Peace Video Project
Idea: Kissing by Jonathan Ficcadenti
Video: Kiss for Peace by Zoran Petrovski
This last one’s more of an inspiring, universal truth, rather than simply a suggestion for this February 14th. Remember that true love knows no boundaries or limits, so stand up for what you love this Valentine’s Day and every day!

Posted in Misc
01/30 2015

Tips from Tongal Pros: How to Cast and Direct

Lately we’ve been thinking about how integral casting and directing are to producing an incredible Video. So, we turned to Tongal all-stars, Brendan Beachman, David Brashear and The Norman Invasion to get some tips to help you cast and direct a winning Video!

Post a casting call
- Craigslist“For our quirkier comedy pieces, craigslist people are absolutely perfect.”The Norman Invasion
- LA Casting “LA Casting is a great resource.”Brendan Beachman
- Backstage
- actors access

Hold a casting session
- Rent a room at a casting office – “It’s usually pretty reasonable and the actors feel comfortable going to those type of places.” – David Brashear
- Hire a casting director – “I use a casting director for Projects with a lot of roles.” – BB
- Focus on actors with a solid reel – “…it shows that they are experienced and you can also get a good idea of their range.” – DB

Use your resources
- Film the casting – “…so you can go back and review performances.” – DB
- Cast your friends – “We cast our friends in most of our Projects.” – TNI
- Cast the same actors that your filmmaking friends do – “I will contact them to get the actor’s contact info and then I’ll email them to introduce myself.” –BB

Be selective
- Put in the effort – “…it’s worth it to find a great actor who not only fits the role, but brings their own ideas and creative energy.” – BB
- Narrow it down ­– “I can get upwards of 1,000 submissions [to a casting call]…I try to bring in 15–20 people for each role.” – DB
- Be resourceful – “It was worth it to me to find a cheap flight to have the perfect actor. When my instinct tells me a specific person would be the absolute best fit for a role, I do my best to make it happen.” – BB

Encourage creative freedom
- Let your actors make choices – “I like to sort of let them take the lead and just steer them along gently.” – TNI
- Improv – “I’ll usually have them stick to the script on the first read-through and then I’ll tell them to improvise.” – DB
- Be open to change – “…we’d latch onto a few funny things that came out of the improv and give them some direction to make it even funnier…it turned out to be our most successful piece.” – TNI in reference to their Video
The Cookie Air Diet for the Post Great Grains “I Am Nutrition You Can See” Project.

Think ahead and be organized
- Give your actors context – “I’ll give them context for what they are doing and give them actions to take in the scene.” – TNI
- Know what you want – “[An] issue I sometimes have is the actor will start trying to act funny. Wouldn’t you want that in a comedy spot? Not really. You want them to be the character. The humor will arise from the dialogue and the situation.” – DB
- Plan everything out in pre-production – “…so that you can set the frame, chat with the cinematographer and art director about what you need, and then turn the bulk of your attention to the actors.” – BB

Create a positive atmosphere on set
- Your actors should trust you to be honest – “…they are the people everyone will be seeing onscreen, so it helps if they know that you’re going to be honest with them, and that you are there to prevent them from failing.” – BB
- Don’t ignore your actors – “It’s easy to get wrapped up in the tech-related aspects in filmmaking, and as a result, ignore the actors.” – BB

We think David really hit the nail on the head when he told us that for him, “casting is one of the most important parts of the filmmaking process. It doesn’t matter how good your script is or how good your spot looks, if the acting isn’t there, your Video will most likely not work.”

Armed with that mindset and these awesome tips you’re totally prepared to cast and direct a great Tongal Video! Go get ‘em, Tongalers!

Posted in Misc, Tongal Twelve
01/20 2015

Tongaler of the Month – Visceral Content

Congratulations to our first “Tongaler of the Month” in 2015, Visceral Content! Benjamin, Craig and Shawn make up the team and these guys prove that great things come in threes. Read on to hear about their unique creative journeys, their incredible teamwork and their Spanish skills! ¡Ay, Carumba!

Izzy Francke: What’s your filmmaking background? Did you go to film school?

Benjamin Howdeshell: I didn’t go to film school, but my background is in postproduction and VFX. I had an idea for a short film exploring what it would be like for a daughter to make an impossible choice with her father, coupled with the intensity, tension and special effects of the zombie films I’d come to love. Craig helped me write the script, Shawn produced the short and my friend Dmitry Tokoyokov did the visual effects. We did it for very little money, calling in every favor I could. I put it on YouTube to see what would happen and 6 months later we were shooting the biggest budget web-series IGN/Fox had ever done.

Craig Dewey: I moved to LA one week after graduating with a BA in History and got a job as a post PA on Michael Mann’s Miami Vice. Getting coffees and lunches for editors and directors while sitting in on editing sessions and notes calls was my film school. I’m currently still working in feature editorial.

Shawn Wallace: When I was a kid, a movie was a transportation device to another world – I would go into a theater and be engulfed in that other time and place for 2 hours of my life. When I grew up I thought I’d build buildings so I studied architecture and construction management in college only to realize that what I really wanted to build was those transportation devices of my childhood. So I studied screenwriting in LA and NY, and produced a handful of short films (most that I’d never show to anyone). Later, I hustled my way into a job working as the assistant to a successful film producer from London. Funny thing is, putting together the pieces to build a 20 story building and putting together the pieces to build a $20M movie are pretty similar when you get right down to it. Each step of the way, from the dark theater of my youth to reading scripts for a producer, that was my film school.

IF: That’s great! It’s interesting to hear about your diverse backgrounds. How did you find Tongal?

BH: Don Broida.
CD: I had been Don’s PA back in 2008, and then I met Ben and Shawn and things started to take off in a hurry.
SW: Wait, how long have you known about Tongal?
BH: He told us about it 2 years ago.
SW: You’ve known about Tongal for 2 years?
CD: Yeah, I distinctly remember telling Ben about it.
SW: So we waited 1.5 years to do this?
BH: I know, I know…I regret not listening to Craig and Don right away.
SW: At least we are here now.
BH/CD: Agreed!

IF: Well, we’re definitely glad that you’re using Tongal now Thanks, Don! What do you look for in a Tongal Project and what specifically attracts you to one when there are so many on the site?

BH: I look for interesting campaigns and ideas that I feel are a good fit for my storytelling interests and where we can deliver something unique.

CD: I like to Pitch on the Tongal Projects where I immediately have an angle while I’m still reading the Brief. Then that passion and excitement comes across in the Pitch and the brands definitely notice the enthusiasm.

SW: I think we try to look for Projects where the product, the campaign, and our energy all come into alignment. We know where our strengths lie so our goal is to find the Projects where we really believe we can have the kind of impact that the brand is looking for. At the end of the day, it’s all about the brand.

IF: Your Video “Board Meeting” for the HP Datapass What Can You Do When You’re Connected? Project is beautiful, how did you go about planning that shoot? (Editor’s note: trust us, this Video is amazing, but we can’t link to it until the Sponsor’s big reveal!)

BH: That was an amazing shoot. We knew after we finished the Pitch that it was going to be awesome. We started scouting Leo Carillo immediately. I used to surf and Eric Leach (our DP) is an avid surfer so we knew the spot well. We chose each of the spots we were going to use and sent pictures to my favorite VFX Guru, Dmitry Tokoyakov of He mocked up our VFX so we would know when and where to shoot (see picture below). The actual shooting day was beautiful. Our first shot of the day was the sun coming up so we got everything ready at basecamp in the dark to catch first light. I remember sitting outside of a coffee shop in Malibu with Craig at 4:50am waiting for them to open. The morning sky was amazing. It was a great shoot and a lot of fun.

SW: The whole plan starts with the creative. We will always Pitch creative that we know we can execute at a high level given the resources available. So when we get together with Craig to bounce around ideas and craft our Pitch, it is always with planning/execution in mind. We know how to execute on a tight budget. This comes from having built a talented and loyal network of crew and an understanding of where we can get the most bang for our buck. We aim to put as much of the resources available on the screen with the goal of over-delivering.

IF: That sounds like a very cool experience! We also love Generations, your spot for the Montejo Beer Video Project. Can you tell us about the process of making that? Are you native Spanish speakers?

BH: I am a novice Spanish speaker, but the themes we were exploring in Montejo were universal. Family and traditions are important to me and we were able to express that through our commercial. From a technical standpoint, it was a very fun Project, the turn around was extremely fast so we had our DIT transcoding our footage as fast as we were shooting and I had our first cut about 45 minutes after we finished our last shot, as the crew was packing up.

CD: My amazing girlfriend is a second generation Mexican-American, and because of that we’ve often had conversations about authenticity, heritage and what it means to be Mexican-American, and those concepts fit nicely into the Montejo Project. I’m still an intermediate Spanish speaker, so she was instrumental in the translation.

SW: Siempre me he sentido atraído por la cultura latinoamericana, puesto a que es emocionante; llena de drama pasión; y un entusiasmo característico por la vida. Al principio…en la escuela, me gustaba persuadir a mis compañeros de intercambio de países extranjeros como: México, Centroamérica y Sudamérica para que me enseñaran palabras de su idioma con la finalidad de poder relacionarme con ellos de una manera que ellos apreciarían. Algunas veces negociaba el dinero de mi almuerzo por unas lecciones. Más tarde, me adentre a tomar varios años de educación formal del idioma Español. Así que cuando llegó el momento de preparar el terreno de juego y ejecutar la jugada, me quise asegurar de que puse particular atención en los elementos culturales de mayor importancia, detalles como la comida y el uso del lenguaje distintivo del país en temas importantísimos para los latinoamericanos como lo son la familia y las tradiciones.

IF: In case you don’t speak Spanish, here’s the gist… “I’ve always loved Latin American culture…at school I’d persuade my Latin American friends to teach me Spanish words (sometimes I’d exchange my lunch money for some lessons!). When I got older, I took more intensive Spanish lessons. When this Project came about, I wanted to make sure the Pitch emphasized the important cultural elements of Mexico, such as the food, distinctive use of the language, and the importance of tradition and family.”

IF: Impressive! I took French in school…so I had to Google translate that! What would be your dream Project on Tongal?

SW: We started out a little bit cautious in initially choosing a Project that we knew we could knock out of the park without “going big.” Now that we are off the starting line with a handful of Projects under our belt, the engine is purring and I’m ready to put the pedal to the metal. If Ben says he wants to “go big” on a campaign, I’m ready to go BIG. So if he says let’s do techno cranes, helicopters, camera cars, the works…I’m ready. In short, I’d love to do something for a major automobile brand – something that wows. If you look at our work on Project: S.E.R.A, you’ll see we can shoot cars beautifully with lots of energy and excitement. I am looking forward to the day when we get behind the wheel of an automobile campaign.

BH: What Shawn said. Plus, I’d love to do something sports related…something with athletes at the top of their game. I’m a huge fan of slow motion and there is nothing like watching a world class athlete perform at the top of their game at 120 frames per second.

IF: As they say…go big or go home! What are your daily must-reads?

BH:, and AdWeek. I’m also a YouTube and Instagram junkie. I’m much more of a visual person so I’m always looking for inspiration in photography, video games, short films and concept art.

CD: It used to be only Deadline and /Film. Now it absolutely includes AdWeek.

SW: I read the entertainment trades, the auto trades, and I read the NYT and LA Times.

IF: Sweet, lots of good reading materials! Tell us a fun fact or surprising hobby about yourselves.

BH: That’s a fun one… I’ve had a lot of passions along the way. Growing up in Wyoming I was the state champ in alpine skiing, then I was a professional dancer in NY, after which I went to college on a ballet scholarship, which was where I changed paths again and realized that I wanted to be involved in film. I was the first student in my school to learn the Avid, and visual entertainment has been my focus ever since. Now my need for physical activity mainly manifests in a mild obsession with Crossfit.

CD: Between full-time work and Tongal projects, who has time for hobbies??? Ben even has two kids, so I don’t know how he does it.

SW: Fun fact/surprising hobby…hmmm…I spent 2013 getting into supreme shape doing Crossfit but I’ve fallen off that lately. Ben, on the other hand, is in better shape doing Crossfit than I ever was.

IF: Love the variety of passions you have! Do you have any advice for other Tongalers?

CD: Getting started was the biggest hurdle. There’s an inherent reluctance to spend real money to create that first Wildcard Video. I know, because it took me nearly two years to finally do one. And it wasn’t my money! It was Ben’s. But seriously, that first step is the hardest part. I would look at the site and go “Man, if only xyz…” That “if only” will always hold you back.

SW: Check out the competition – not to be intimidated, but to be inspired. There are a lot of great filmmakers out there and more than a few of them are on Tongal sharpening their skills.

IF: That’s great advice! What’s next for you, on Tongal or otherwise?

BH: For Tongal, we are in post on a commercial for Bud Light Lime. I got an opportunity to work with one of my favorite models/actresses, Brittany Brousseau. The shoot was way too much fun and I can’t wait for everyone to see it. Outside of Tongal, we are working on a feature project. We’re about 2 months away from shooting a short film/pitch for it. Craig has created compelling/ strong/dynamic/tortured characters. I can’t wait to bring them to life. The lead character has such a distinct voice. I absolutely LOVE that moment when what is on the page comes alive on the screen.

CD: I’m moving to New Zealand to work on a feature film production and will be on post through spring 2016.

SW: I’m headed out the door right now (and will jump in a car that would photograph beautifully in a campaign for some major auto brand) to grab some street tacos. Gonna wash them down with some Anheuser-Busch Beverage products. Safely, of course.

Wow, sounds like 2015 will be a busy year! Thanks so much for sharing your insight with us, and good luck with everything. We always look forward to seeing your gorgeous work.
PS: Shawn, if you happen to pick up any extra tacos, Team Tongal will take them off your hands!