Wednesday, November 24, 2010 Part 1 - The Pitch

Instead of just an announcement, I wanted to take this opportunity to really go in depth about the making of a commercial campaign for the IAC's  Over the next few weeks, I will post detailed blogs about every stage of production from the pitch to the writing, casting, shooting, equipment and post production.    I think this is a great opportunity to explain how we work at my company Civilian Studios,  but also to highlight the changing face of where I think advertising and production are moving. I really hope you enjoy this.

I met with at the IAC back in July and found out about their very exciting new venture Now the IAC is a huge conglomerate of internet companies run by Barry Diller.   IAC owns Daily Beast,, College Humor,, evite and about 60 other internet companies. The Proust website attempts to bring you closer to your family by posing a series of questions designed to provide insight to your story and who you are.  Your answers are stored in a private secure intimate website called (named after the famed questionnaire associated with the French writer Marcel Proust.) In addition you can upload photos, videos and even old reports cards.  It's like a virtual family album combined with a documentary or in-depth interview.

IAC had already met with several producers and even some high end advertising agencies about helping them launch the campaign. they asked me to go back and think of some ideas and put together a proposal. I put together a spec spot using a documentary I had made of my parents just one year before.  At the time I asked all sorts of questions, just like the questionnaire.  So I decided to put that material to use and created a 30 second spot from it.  Aren't my parents cute?

My idea for the campaign was to film real people from all ages and walks of life and ask them questions directly from the questionnaire.  Because my background is as a documentary filmmaker i thought this would give the most emotional and interesting responses while also testing their product.  Of course it would be done elegantly and with some artistry and employ an old weathered feeling.  Like the feeling of a really beautifully made picture album bound in leather.

Now some of you are probably wondering is it necessary to make a spec spot for a pitch. The answer is no. In fact some people would say that its not a good idea. In this case though I had the footage and thought it would really illustrate how powerful straight answers could be. I shot this spot on the 5d used some stock music and did the VO myself. In addition I wrote a very detailed proposal complete with schedule and budget. Again this was not a typical proposal, and I did not do the standard AICP bid but gave them a general idea. We would shoot all ten spots over the course of a few days and create enough content to make at least 9 spots and one longer into video that would live on their site.

We waited a few weeks and then we found out the great news that we had won the project.  My next steps were to meet with my amazing producer Sam Milgrim and with fabulous writer Susan Perlbachs.   Stay tuned for the next blog post about writing and casting the spots.

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