Posted in Misc
04/24 2015

Planning your Video Shoot: Action Items & Resources

Hey Tongalers! Just imagine – you’ve found the perfect Project and you can’t wait to shoot an amazing Video that blows the Sponsor away…but you’re not sure where to start. Sound familiar? The production process can be overwhelming, so we’ve made this list of action items for you, ranging from getting ready to Pitch to the day before the shoot so that the process is fun for everyone involved!

Before you Pitch:
- Create a Storyboard – Sketch out each scene of your Video; you don’t have to be an amazing artist, but doing this will help you visualize what you’ll need. Check out this template.

- Establish your Team – Confirm how many crew members will be needed on the Project, as well as who your main crew will be (DP, Editor, AD).

- Casting – Make sure you’re thinking about the characters in your Video and how many actors you’ll need to cast.

- Make an Equipment List – Write down the camera/lighting equipment you will need to produce the Video – this may expand later, but it’s smart to have an idea at this point.

- Make a Locations List – Write down places you want to shoot at (including backup locations.) Check out our blog post for tips!

- Put together a Budget – For Tongal Projects it’s helpful to calculate the Pitch prize money combined with the last place Video prize as a budget guideline. Check out this

Check out this
blog post – It has great tips on creating an awesome Pitch!

After you Win the Pitch:
- Assemble a Production Schedule – Put together a master schedule with location + talent selection due dates, shooting dates, equipment pickup/return dates. Check out this template.

Finalize your Locations Make sure you’ve contacted the owners of your locations and gotten written permission to film there for your shoot dates. Remember to have them sign your
Location Release form.

- Finalize your Script –
Make sure you check with the Sponsor to see if there are any notes

- Hold a Casting Call – Cast the Video… check out our blog post for in-depth tips!

Make a Shot list – This is a numbered list of shots that includes a description of the shot in terms of composition + camera movement. Check out this useful

Reserve your Rented Equipment – Your shot list will help you finalize a master list of equipment you’ll need. At the end of this post, we’ve listed some
helpful resources.

- Make a Prop/Wardrobe list – If you hire a stylist, they will do the bulk of your wardrobe prep but you should consult with them about your vision. If you don’t have a stylist, plan out your vision and talk to your actors about their characters’ style. Check out this

- Finalize your Budget – Revisit your original budget and make edits if needed. Be sure to keep track as you go!

The Week before the Shoot:
- Finalize and Distribute your Shoot Schedule – Make sure you have all of the details organized to send out to the cast and crew. The following should be included: call/wrap times for your cast and crew, contact info, location addresses and scheduled breaks.

- Pick up your Rented Equipment – Depending on the time frame that you have reserved your equipment for, you may be picking it up the day before the shoot, too.

- Finalize your Shot List – Sit down with your Director/1st AD as well as your DP and make sure everything is squared away.Finalize all Props/Wardrobe – Make sure all your costumes and props have been rented/bought/borrowed.

The Day before the Shoot:
- Email your Cast and Crew – Send them a reminder and pump them up for the shoot!

- Pack your Equipment – Have a checklist of items and check it off as you pack to ensure you haven’t forgotten anything.

- Print Release Forms – Have all of your actors sign these at the shoot.

Resources for Renting Equipment:
- There are multiple locations in the USA.
- Sharegrid – Los Angeles, CA.
- Stray Angel Films – Los Angeles, CA.
- Variety 411 There are multiple locations in the USA.
- Filmtools Burbank, CA.
- Drone Dudes Los Angeles. They have workshops where you can learn how to use the drones before you rent them for a shoot!
- Budget Video Miami, FL.

Posted in Misc, Tongal Twelve
04/17 2015

Tongaler of the Month – La Di Da Films

Congratulations to our latest Tongaler of the Month, La Di Da Films! Leah McKissock and Adam Blake Carver teamed up to produce Videos three years ago and have taken Tongal by storm! Here you’ll read about their success with stop-motion, their favorite work and the unique way in which they met!

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

Leah McKissock: I grew up in Northern California and was always really passionate about art in general. I loved pretty much everything creative, but especially music, films, photography, and dance. In high school, I started getting really hands on with filmmaking and focused a lot on directing music videos and learning how to edit. After that, I studied film at Long Beach State and continued to direct music videos and short films while I was still a student.

Adam Blake Carver: I grew up in San Diego where I was really involved in theatre from an early age. In high school I began directing short films, staging full-length plays, and also worked for a commercial producer. I moved to LA in ’07 and went to Santa Monica College while directing films outside of the curriculum. I later transferred to The New School and studied the business of film, which is how I started producing films for friends when not directing myself.

IF: Cool, it seems like both of you were destined to be in the Arts from a young age! How did you find Tongal?

ABC: I had some close friends who were doing very well with other commercial competitions. After researching those contests I could tell the filmmakers were getting shortchanged and that the budgets and prizes were quite low. Tongal was a breath of fresh air, not only for the budgets, but also because of the organization of the website and clarity behind each brief and client objectives.

IF: Why thank you, we’re very grateful (and flattered!). We’ve noticed a “stop-motion” trend in your work lately, such as It All Started With Coffee for Splenda Sweet Swaps Video Project. What inspired you to work in that medium? Any tips for others just getting started?

ABC: The funny thing is, we started out as beginners with stop-motion. Somehow since last October, we’ve made 21 videos that feature this technique. We’re really narrative people at heart, but both of us had tried stop-motion as teenagers so there was an element of nostalgia in it for us. Lately we’ve also seen a huge trend of stop-motion in commercials so we’re really happy that Tongal has helped us try our hand at that style (over & over again).

LM: The best part about doing stop-motion is the initial joy you feel when you see something that was so time-consuming to create, finally come to life.

ABC: Another fun part is eating all the leftovers.

IF: I bet. If you ever need a hand with those leftovers…feel free to send me an email at! One of my favorites is your Video “Graham Cracker Village” for the Honey Maid Holiday Recipes Video Project. Can you tell us more about the process of making that Video?

LM: Yes, it actually was a lot harder than we expected and we ended up failing pretty badly on our first attempt. I initially used Graham Cracker pieces for the houses that were too large and they all started collapsing on me while we were filming (I guess the frosting couldn’t support the weight). So the next day we tried it again and it became a very mathematical operation. Each house had to be plotted in the right spot, the pieces had to be pre-made, and all the decorative candy was laid out. I was animating it by myself while Adam was shooting each frame, so it ended up taking us 8 hours to shoot a 15 second video, which was crazy!

IF: Wow, that is true dedication! We also admire your live action work. One of our favorites (for which you won $19,000) is Classic Glow for Olay Glow in the Moments That Matter Video Project. What was your favorite part about making this Video? Did you run into any challenges?

LM: Thank you! We had a lot of fun doing that Project. Our favorite part was shooting the singing performance that ended up getting cut from the final version. It was our fault though because we went a little overboard with that shoot … we had some really talented musician friends write an original song and our lead actress sang on the track. The scene just looked so cool and I really wanted to make the Video about how this woman glowed when she sang on stage, but at the end of the day the Project still turned out great without this footage. We’re really proud of how many setups we pulled off and Adam found those incredible locations including the rooftop location for the end, which I love.

IF: It’s a beautiful Video. What’s your favorite work you’ve done for Tongal?

LM: Definitely our Montejo spot we did recently.

ABC: I love our Tide spot (fingers crossed that you’ll see it soon).

IF: Can’t wait! What would be your dream Project on Tongal?

LM: A high-end perfume or fashion ad like Dior or Kate Spade, where I can get really creative.

ABC: Target would be perfect for us. Mini Cooper or Stella Artois would be fun too.

IF: I’d love to see your work for any of those Sponsors – we’ll have to get on them to work with Tongal! What are your daily must-reads?

ABC: & AdWeek

LM: NPR and the trending articles on Facebook

IF: Tell us a fun fact or surprising hobby about yourselves.

LM: We met at a Hanukkah party.

ABC: We’ve been dating as long as we’ve been in business together. Our first Project together was Leah’s short film Crazy Like Me, which we produced three years ago.

IF: Mazel tov! Do you have any advice for other Tongalers?

LM: I’d say, only go after the Projects that you really want and take a lot of time with your Pitches. We‘ve also had good results from changing the idea in our Pitches because sometimes the Ideas aren’t developed enough for on-screen execution. I say get as creative as you can and be passionate about the Projects you’re pitching on.

ABC: If the Project calls for it, put extra money into your work. You’ll probably showcase this work longer than most of the clients will, so make sure you’re producing something that you’ll want in your reel for years.

IF: What’s next for you, on Tongal or otherwise?

We’d love to continue finding work on Tongal, but in the meantime we’re trying to buckle down on a feature-length film we’ve been developing for awhile.

Thanks so much for chatting with us. Team Tongal is so glad we got to know more about La Di Da Film’s creative process and work…we can’t wait to see your next Tongal Project!

Posted in Misc
04/16 2015

It’s Not The Steak, It’s the Sizzler

Screenshot from the greatest Sizzler promo video ever made! Believe it or not, we think it came to earth to teach us something…

It exploded across our desktops and smartphones last night. By the time we saw it, it was already trending on Facebook. (We apologize for bandwagon jumping – we should have led this trend, but we had some Hockey to watch – and it went double overtime.) But after the game, there it was – and here it is, for you:

For the complete effect – really, you must stay for the full 4:41. Our feed also contained a suggestion that this was a work-for-hire job directed by Kevin Costner, getting his long-form chops down for Waterworld. ‘Cause it’s the internet, half of us believed it.

Okay What IS This?
Given its Biblical length, most video-archaeologists seem to agree that this spot was an internal piece of some kind. Prepared for employees, shareholders, or perhaps for international (extra-terrestrial?) investors.

If you’re an industry insider, you immediately wondered what the brief for this sucker looked like.  If you’re a veteran insider, you know that the brief probably looked exactly like what ended up on the screen here.  And it came accompanied by a long chain of inter-office memos (remember those?) with headlines like: Is the sea captain’s beard “maritime” enough?

Hey, we loved Roger Sterling’s moustache – but the Sizzler Sea Captain’s chin-rug is just some straight-up crazy shit.

Some of us forwarded the spot to our kids, to show them how dazzling life was before they showed up. The general response was: OMG OMG OMG OMG. We also liked this txt: “brb dying.”

Unpacking Those OMG’s
There’s a lot here, to be sure.  The bold conflation of human-freedom and the availability of a salad-bar – not just ANY salad bar mind you – but a salad bar actually IN the restaurant itself.  With things that aren’t necessarily salad. That you can have, or not…Because: FREEDOM.

There’s the sweaters. There’s the soft-core gauze on the camera lens.  FB Friend: “At first I thought this was Cinemax.” There’s the seemingly gratuitous lip licking (2:16) paid off by the come-hither / camera-as-voyeur acknowledging kissy-bits (starting at 2:49 and ending, mercifully, about two-years later). There’s our furry sailor, the hard hats, a merry go round, and a carafe of White Zinfandel that will cause your cheeks to water spontaneously if you know how to pronounce “Sutter Home.”

What Have We Learned Here?
We extend our condolences to the survivors of this project, who woke up this morning “internet famous.” At least it will pass quickly. Maybe faster than 4:41.

But for the rest of us out here in video-land — we can’t help but wonder if there’s a lesson to be learned.  Because frankly, anyone of us could stumble into this project tomorrow – and become the laughing stock of 2045.  Right?

It’s that most-ancient conundrum – how do we overcome the fact that we’re blind, precisely, to the things we’re blind-to?  How can we really see with someone else’s eyes?

Ancient, and modern: Just ask the folks who pulled Super Bowl ads days before the game this year. Or ask the folks who scuttled their campaigns afterwards…ask the CEO of Starbucks.

And when they start showing up on the news tomorrow, we hope someone will ask the folks who masterminded this spot for Sizzler…what happened? (And if they don’t show – we’re totally up for commissioning a reunion / “where are they now” retrospective.)

Knock on Wood…
At Tongal, we’re acutely aware that our reputation in the business of creative content and advertising is perhaps more fragile than those with established names. After all, we’re the new kids on the block, with a new process, and a POV that says everyday people can provide insights and create results that can be game-changers.

Well, so far, so good. We haven’t yet worked with a Sponsor who has had to issue an apology or clarification for a piece of content we’ve helped to develop.

We’ll keep our fingers crossed on that – but our sense is that it’s not only luck that’s working for us – but rather, a process specifically designed for inclusion – designed to get more eyes looking into what might otherwise be blind-spots. Something that goes deeper than testing (we assume all those Super Bowl spots got tested too).

Not hard to imagine one crazy genius coming up with this Sizzler – but our sense is – even in those whacky 90’s – the good ol’, big ol’ crowd would have known better.

Posted in Misc
04/16 2015

Making the most of the future of work

We’re not 100% sure, but we’d lay a fiver that Jeff Goldblum is copping his design-conscious / benevolent-scientist look from Singularity University’s Neil Jacobstein.

Making The Most of “The Future of Work”: 5 Resolutions
Our thoughts on Singularity Hub’s interview with Neil Jacobstein

You can read his full professional bio here, but if you want the Cliff’s Notes we can give ‘em to you right off the top: Neil Jacobstein is someone who has dedicated his life to a deeply scientific, multi-disciplined approach to thinking about the ways advanced technologies, and artificial intelligence specifically, will affect the future.

Which means he’s kinda cool, as far as we’re concerned. And if Jeff Goldblum knew who Neil was, he would totally like him. Cause really…what’s not to like?

Neil is the Artificial Intelligence and Robotics chair at Singularity University, and he was recently interviewed for Singularity Hub’s weeklong series on the future of work, which we discussed in our previous blog post.

We think the interview is well worth reading in its entirety – even if you have never thought that much about the way your work may interact with AI, Robotics, Nano-technology, or the future-economic climate these capabilities will bring about.

In reality, what you might discover is that unless you weave baskets for a living, your work is probably already, in some way interwoven (sorry, had to…) with AI. Well, unless you’re selling those baskets on Etsy…

One of the things that Neil points out in his talks is how ubiquitous (yet invisible) “artificial intelligence” has become. If you’ve flown in an airplane, driven a car, watched a weather report, or bought something online this week — you’ve been dancing with smart robots. And if you watched IBM’s Watson kick-ass on Jeopardy a few years back, you already know that any game-show you win from here on out is simply a gesture of robotic charity. But hey: Watson is on to greater things – you’ll see what we mean if you read the Watson-Wiki article we linked to up there.

Watson’s going to be worth 10 Billion dollars a year for IBM?? Wow, sure…we saw robots in the future, but we never thought we’d see one owning a house in Aspen and a private jet!

Why Do We Like Neil’s Interview So Much?

There’s a rationality and optimism that informs his perspective, as he contemplates both the difficulties and the promise of technology. We thought we’d share five Insights we took away from his interview:

5 Resolutions we’re making based on Neil Jacobstein’s “Future of Work Interview”

1. We’re going to try to think practically about the future too. We might not be as good at it as someone who has done it for a living, but it’s clear from Neil’s talk that the future isn’t a mere phantasm of rocket-fins, jetpacks and artist’s renderings. It’s real – and it’s taking shape every day.

2. We’re going to go deeper. We agree with Neil’s advice to try to understand the mechanics of technology at “at least one level of abstraction deeper than our every day interaction.” Here at Tongal that means (for just one example) getting certified and using the tools our partners offer to optimize the distribution of content we create. For lots of people, it means repairing simple household machines by watching Youtube videos or logging onto Ifixit. We love that DIY spirit!

3. We’re also going to follow Neil’s lead on interdisciplinary learning. Neil suggests that specialization “is a very brittle model for problem-solving and creativity” – and frankly, we’re inclined to believe him. (Yes, we can totally hear those words in Deputy Kovacs’ voice too.) So, as we go one layer deeper, we’ll also learn the disciplines adjacent to & supporting the work we do. We’ve seen lots of people in our community do this (moving from ideas to filmmaking for example – or, the other way round). We are all about creative range.

4. We’re going to be proactive about the social ramifications of our business and or business model. Tongal’s mission, “Creativity Set Free” is a constant reminder to extend the benefits our platform and approach to as many people as we can. Today our primary focus is working hard to make that happen. It’s not the first time we’ve had this thought – but in light of all the observations above – we’re going to redouble our efforts to work smarter to accomplish that as well. Hey, if it’ll help, we might even ask a robot what to do…

5. We’re going to be optimistic. Not only because an “explosion of wealth and resource availability” sounds pretty great. But also because, as Louis C.K. reminds us in this spectacularly good clip from Conan, things are pretty cool right now…and they’re only going to get cooler.

Feel free to share your thoughts about the future and the future of work with us at ___info@tongal.com_____________.

Posted in Misc
04/15 2015

Rushmore and The Asteroid Miners: Going Undergrad @ “Singularity U”

One of our favorite film characters of all time is Max Fischer from Rushmore – the stubborn optimist and indefatigable former-of-clubs. (BTW, Tongal deep-cuts advisors suggest you enjoy the clip linked above – and especially Anderson’s uber-cool soundtrack choice: “Making Time” by The Creation. Something to believe in indeed!)

Besides having all the right records, we at Tongal also pride ourselves on being a little Max Fischer-y ourselves: that is, stubbornly optimistic in a mad-for-bad-news world. One energy source that keeps us thinking & acting like Max is our association with Singularity University, an outpost of informed optimism in that golden land of hope and dreams: Silicon Valley, CA.

Co-founded by king-of-the-futurists Ray Kurzweil and our intrepid, asteroid-mining pal Peter Diamandis, Singularity University may be the single most inspiring nexus for learning about the spectacular advances smart people are making…together…on the frontiers of human progress.

In fact, SU’s charter sounds like Max wrote it himself: “To educate, inspire, and empower leaders to apply exponential technologies to address humanities grand challenges.”

If you’re a hard-core Tongal-project historian, you may recall the recent challenge we hosted to do a promotional video for Peter’s latest book: “Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth, and Impact the World.” If you went for extra credit and actually read the book, you know Tongal gets a mention as an Exponential Technology.To which we say: Right. On.

We like to think of Singularity University as the Educational arm for what Peter does with his XPRIZE group, who sponsors challenges all over the world to solve humanity’s biggest problems via exponential, global effort. No, we’re not trying to make you feel guilty about binge-watching “Weeds” last night in your underwear while Dr. D and the SU team were mining asteroids and building tricorders

Instead, we thought your own optimism might be kicked into gear knowing that when you do stuff on Tongal – you’re already shaping the future: The future of work.

The Future of Work!

Last week, Singularity Hub ran an entire series on the future of work. The series included articles touching on the following:

It’s quite a smorgasbord of topics, and of super-smart folks talking about – and planning for – a positive future that we’re traveling toward at Ludicrous Speed.

The article about people choosing “journeys over jobs” caught our eye as this is a path many Tongal creatives are traveling. As co-founder James DeJulio observed in a recent interview for L.A. Biz “What’s interesting is that we see people really develop over time to the point where they go from being Joe Smith to Joe Smith Productions.” There’s the Tongal journey in a nutshell, and why we’re so stubbornly optimistic about the future of work and tools like Tongal giving people the ability to unlock their human potential, and not get trapped in Dilbert-cubicles.

Take a dip into these articles and by all means, sign up to get updates from The Singularity Hub on your Facebook feedIt’ll put a smile on both sides of your brain.

In our next blog-post we’ll talk a bit more about Singularity Hub’s interview with Neil Jacobstein, and use his discussion as a launch-point for why we think marketers everywhere (and especially marketing departments) should become a little more obsessed with the future…STAY TUNED!

Posted in Misc
03/31 2015

Tongal in the Wild

Spring has sprung, and we are pumped that so many Tongal Videos have been out in the “wild” recently! Brands are distributing this incredible content on TV as well as their own websites and social media channels, and we couldn’t be prouder. Check out some of the cool places where we spotted Tongal work:

Project: Luden’s Simply Delicious Video Project
Description: Luden’s wanted a 30–second Video that introduced BOTH new flavors and let 18–25 year old women know that Luden’s is the anywhere, anytime throat drop that is surprisingly soothing and simply delicious.
Idea: Keep the coughs away by Owen Field
Video: Tame the Tickle by Brendan Beachman
Where in the Wild: Luden’s YouTube Channel and Facebook Page
Highlight: It has +690 Facebook likes.

Project: Splenda Sweet Swaps Video Project
Description: Splenda wanted an authentic and sharable 30–60 second Video that showed how SPLENDA® Sweetener Products inspire consumers to make better choices for a healthy, balanced lifestyle through small changes.
It All Started with Coffee by La Di Da Films
Where in the Wild: Splenda’s Facebook Page.

Project: Bob Marley “One Love” Music Video Project
Description: Ben and Jerry’s and the Marley family wanted a 3–4 minute music Video for the Bob Marley song One Love. They were looking for a new visual identity for this legendary track, one that conveyed themes of social connectedness, “we’re all in this together,” and making the world a better place.
One Love – 256 Words – 256 People by Xavier Burgin
Video: One Love by Painting in Pictures
Where in the Wild: Bob Marley’s YouTube Channel and Facebook Page
Highlight: It has +150,000 Facebook likes.

Project: Celebrate Annie’s Video Project
Description: Annie’s wanted a 30–90 second Video that celebrated Annie’s. The creative style was wide open, as long as it celebrated the goodness of Annie’s.
Idea: My Child Is A Superhero by The Dont We Boys
Saving Mortimer by Lloyd Lee Choi
Where in the Wild: Annie’s YouTube Channel and Annie’s Facebook page
Highlights: The Video won “Best Short-Form Video” at #tongies2015, and it has +1,200 Facebook likes!

Project: Limited Edition Pizza Video Project
Description: Pepsi wanted two engaging and buzzworthy 15–second Videos that would build awareness and promote the limited edition Fritos® Chili Pizza at Papa John’s as well as Pepsi products.
When Worlds Collide/The Greatest Invention by SnapBrothers Productions
Where in the Wild: Pepsi’s YouTube Channel and Facebook Page
Highlights: The Video has +3,000 likes and +100,000 views on Facebook.

Project: Maybelline Make FIT Happen Video Project
Description: Maybelline wanted a funny, beautiful and authentic 30–90 second Video (with a 15–second cut-down) around “Make FIT Happen” to get women 18-29 excited about the February 2015 launch of Maybelline’s new Fit Me! Foundation.
I Make Sh*t Happen! by James Okubo
Video: I Make Shi*t Happen! by James Okubo
Idea: I Make Sh*t Happen! by James Okubo
Video: My Crazy Obsession by Ben Redmond
Idea: Not Another MissedFIT by Katie Madden
Video: Make Fit Happen! by Riotmaker Productions
Where in the Wild: Maybelline’s YouTube Channel
Highlight: James Okubo’s “I Make Sh*t Happen!” Video has +1,000,000 views!

Project: Sour Punch “Punch Up!”
Description: Sour Punch wanted two engaging and entertaining 12–second Videos for social that showed how Sour Punch turns the ordinary into the extraordinary.
Recital Rock by Brendan Beachman
Video: Traffic Jam by Fanciful Fox
Where in the Wild: Sour Punch Candy YouTube Channel.

Congratulations to every ideator and filmmaker involved in these Projects!

Keep checking the Projects page and submitting on Tongal — YOUR work could be out in the wild next.