This treatment was completely different from the original agency brief, but I ultimately won this job using a second treatment (closer to what the agency wanted). I just loved this particular idea too much not to submit it as well. (btw agencies - since this was my original concept, give me a shout if you want to use it.)
When I was much younger, I was an astronaut. I was a superhero, a dinosaur hunter, a pirate, a mad scientist and a wizard. I built castles to defend and rockets to fly through space.
One of the most beautiful things about children is that their imagination is endless. They can transport themselves through time and space. They can be anything they want to be. As adults, we continue to use our imagination to see ourselves in the Bahamas, as film and rock stars, winning a marathon, being the quarterback or a sexy vampire...
We never stop dreaming.
The concept behind your campaign captures this fantastic need for fantasy wonderfully, and visualizing this kind of imagination is, in all honesty, what made me become a director in the first place.
Smuckers can own pretend play.
I think your concept for children eating an Uncrustable to re-energize is quite perfect because it is very true to life. Kids all around the world go outside to play, and return home for a quick snack before running back out again.
I also love the idea of seeing people in situations through their imagination. Building off of this idea, I envision a scenario where all the kids in the neighborhood come together to play just as all of us did when we were kids. Using everything they can find lying around their homes, they construct space ships, boats, dinosaurs, football helmets, guitars and anything else they need to fulfill their imaginations. It works so perfectly because it is fun, visually engaging and completely honest.
Seeing kids play like this, and seeing all of their crafty inner workings, is a very fun and iconic image that I have not seen used before. I believe that it has great potential to create a new and unique “Uncrustables” language, visually and tonally, that Smuckers can call it’s own. I can also see this working well for young adults by using less rudimentary materials.
Even though what we are going for is contemporary and unique, it can never be seen as a fad since pretend play is a timeless act that has been done by kids around the world since the dawn of time.
Story and Mood
We should honor the characters by giving them compelling scenes that feature
interaction with smart and inventive props, mixed with a hint of technology. We can, of course, follow the
current logic of breaking down each spot by running, jumping and dancing - or we can allow it to be more
While the scenarios that the kids play out will change from spot to spot, I see the structure staying consistent throughout the campaign. While on set, I’ll be sure to completely cover each scenario to capture everything from breathtaking wide compositions to close, intimate portraits. I am also interested in possibly capturing the kids changing the set decoration from one scenario to another to enhance the do-it-yourself feeling to our films.
At the end of our third scenario, I envision hearing the Mother say, “It’s snack time!” from off-camera. With this cue, the camera pulls back to see the entire children’s set as well as the Mother entering frame with a plate full of Uncrustables. The kids drop their props and run to the plate to get a well deserved snack.
I am also interested in exploring the idea of having the entire campaign built around the same group of 5 friends. We intend to shoot 9 scenarios in total, and using the same kids (featuring different ones in each vignette) could give us room to mix and match in the edit, as well as the freedom to create longer spots with more vignettes if we choose to in the future.
In addition to hearing the Mother, I would also capture audio during the scenarios to record any real improvisational lines we might like to have between the kids - laughing, screaming, “Man overboard!” - all of this adds to the personality and energy of the film.
A very rough test I shot to help show how fun the idea could be.
More Playtime Ideas
Building from the great situations you already have, here are some additional, potential situations that our children could play:
- Damsel in distress in a castle tower
- Knight slaying a fire-breathing dragon
- Frankenstein-like monster coming to life
- Super Agent repelling down a building (camera turns sideways)
- Futuristic Tron-like scene with blacklights and glowing paint
- Outer space jet-fighter battle
- Girls flying on a pegasis
- Magic wand fight (a la Harry Potter)
- Submarine attacked by a giant octopus
- An alien abduction (fake cows start to levitate)
- Zombies rise from their graves and dance
- Angry Birds knocking over cardboard blocks (can secure rights to use) - Ninja fight
- Superhero flying through the clouds and rescues plane
- Pirates sailing the seas
- Baseball home-run hit
- On stage, part of a rock band
- Cowboy riding a horse through the desert
- On a sinking ship (a la Titanic)
Our Location and Art Direction
I envision a clean, vibrant feel to our world. I think that your instinct to have this in a lush outdoor space is exactly right. Instead of a public park, however, I would love to move it to a beautiful, park-like back yard. Working with the idea of kids building their own props to play with, it seems like a very natural and honest direction to go. To add some variety, we could also have one spot created on a driveway with the garage door open.
Art direction is a very large component to this idea. It gives us an opportunity to add those subtle details that add an extra layer of humor and makes repeat viewings much more interesting. I imagine that everything is made with the most rudimentary materials we can find, paying close attention to using objects that you would naturally find inside of a home or a garage. Everything needs to look like it was created by our band of 10 year olds - even the bluescreen can be hung over a clothesline.
Adding the use of props, as we are doing in this approach, gives us much more flexibility and ease in finding stock footage to use in place of our bluescreens. For example, instead of searching for video of a T-Rex, we only need footage of a jungle since the T-Rex would be one of our kids who is dressed up.
In addition to cardboard, paint and string, I also like the idea of bringing some technology into the mix. I want these kids to be modern. Kids today program iPad apps and hack their Wii’s - so having projectors, running lights or mechanized contraptions will set them apart from the children of yesteryear.
Another thing that I am very excited about is the potential this has for going viral. The inherent do-it-yourself vibe of this campaign challenges kids to be creative on their own and film themselves doing this very same thing. I can easily imagine kids around the world “sweding” their own scenarios and uploading them to YouTube.
Another interactive experience for the brand is to take our bluescreen and props to a public space and invite kids to play out their fantasies in front of a camera. In real-time, the camera can feed the video to a computer that replaces the bluescreen with some stock footage. Smuckers could create a website where all of these videos could be uploaded to share with Facebook, Twitter and other family and friends. We simply provide the family with a ticket bearing a unique number that they can look up the next day (like getting a photo after a ride at Disneyland). Kids get to customize their experience and share it with the world.