ZackScott, one of my favorite fearless video creators, returns for a guest blog post about winning a recent Xlntads ProQuo contest (disclaimer: Zack and I both contribute to Xlntads as members of a “creative advisor board, and he wins contests while I think about them). Zack told me yesterday, “I’m hoping people think I’m such an asshole when they read it.” See article below, and then click “more” to read some of the techniques Zack deployed.
Hey party people. It’s the Zack Scott again. If you keep up with XLNTads, you might know that I recently won one of the ten prizes for the ProQuo contest that recently ended. I can’t take all of the credit though. My friend Samuel Seide and I both worked hard on putting together a cool video titled “Sick Mailbox.” I’ve decided to write this guest post so that I can give you a behind-the-scenes look at making the video.
I don’t know the exact reasons why our video was a winner, but hopefully analyzing the creative process will provide some insight. Maybe you’ll even find some of this information helpful when it comes to making your own videos. The main requirement of the contest was for the video to be funny while pointing out that ProQuo can help stop physical junk mail.
So my main goal was simply to make a funny video and then worry about how to squeeze the message in later.
Samuel and I initially conceived a talking mailbox that vents its personal frustrations about junk mail. It didn’t really sound like a winning formula on its own, but we figured we could make it really cheesy and go for the “it’s funny because it’s so lame” type of humor. We then decided the mailbox should be sick of junk mail. Literally. And then we’d give him medicine. This turned out to be a great idea because the medicine could be ProQuo! Then the compact florescent light bulbs in our heads lit up, and we decided to do a spoof of those corny pharmaceutical commercials. I think we got a little mercury poisoning. When you see the video, it’s obvious that it is a pharmaceutical commercial spoof. But it may be interesting to know that we didn’t start working and scripting with that in mind. In fact, if I were watching the video for the first time, I would think the talking mailbox was a result of the pharmaceutical concept, not the other way around. I ended up being really pleased with what we did because it all fell together quite nicely. The pharmaceutical concept gave us a great template for a lot of different types of humor. I’m not sure how original it is to portray a product as something else entirely, but it did give us some creative leeway. If you haven’t watched the video yet, watch it now to avoid the spoilers below!
Note: To read Zack’s techniques, click “more” below.
- Parody – The main humor throughout the video is based on the fact the video is a parody without being a parody of the product. That way both the audience and the company executives can enjoy it. But who knows, maybe directly trashing the product is a better approach? I’ll try it next time.
- Bizarreness – Frankly, I think the talking mailbox is both creepy and bizarre (and maybe even cheesy), but it is essential for setting up ProQuo as something to treat various ailments. Although the first half of the video feels different from the second half, I think it worked out great. Samuel did a great job with computer effects and stop-motion.
- Randomness – I think random humor can be really funny when there can be a true connection to the topic. The scenes of Samuel looking fucking cool, me being inept at sports, Samuel stumbling out of a portable toilet, and me pulling a huge weed out of the ground appear to be random. But if you look at any pharmaceutical commercial, there are always clips of people doing random activities from the mundane to the extreme. So why not just have us performing weird activities? It allows for some slapstick humor and a way to keep the video exciting while the voiceover discusses some important aspects of ProQuo.
- Punchline – Since XLNTads and ProQuo wanted funny, I felt there had to be a “punchline” of sorts. I don’t want to spoil it, but it is funny due to the parody aspect and the much-needed self-depreciating humor. Plus, it is true. I guess the main lesson here is that once you have an idea or a full concept, figure out how you can utilize it to its full potential.
Extract as many themes as you can to deliver humor and the message. Also, have someone work with you. Bouncing ideas back and forth with Samuel really helped mature the depth of the project, and filming together was a blast. He gives great massages. I was also happy to hear that the ProQuo people had a party where everyone voted for their favorite videos to determine the winner. I’m glad all of the participants in the contest could help deliver them a fun experience. Anyway, I hope this helps. If you want to try your hand at producing user-generated ads for companies big and small, be sure to check out XLNTads.com. And if you want a free service to help you minimize junk mail, be sure to check out ProQuo.com. I’m not whoring myself out am I [Editor's note: Yes, but you make me look better by comparison]? Also, be sure to check out the other winners’ videos. I know SlatersGarage has one in there!