Interview with Jon Friedman, Crash the Super Bowl finalist and creator of “Man’s Best Friend”

Crash the Super Bowl finalist, Man's Best Friend

Though I’m not totally crazy about some of Doritos’ picks in this year’s Crash the Super Bowl contest, I will admit that all of the 2012 finalists are….ok.  In fact, I think they all range from decent to awesome.  Last week I posted an interview I did with one of the creators of the CTSB finalist ad, Hot Wild Girls.  I mentioned that I thought his entry was one of the “awesome” ones and that I personally would be voting for it every day.  But this year, Fritolay has made it so you can vote a bunch of times in a bunch of different ways!  So I’ve been splitting my votes up between my two favorite ads; Hot Wild Girls and Man’s Best Friend.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that “Man’s Best Friend” made the final five; not because it was bad but because it was….I don’t know…pleasant.  It doesn’t assault your senses or your intelligence like some of the other finalists do.  Sure, it has a gigantic dog in it but it’s smart and subtle and even a tiny bit dark.  And the most amazing thing of all is that Man’s Best Friend was produced for only about 20 bucks!  So it’s really exciting to learn that that low budget, “homemade” ads still have a shot in this contest.

Man’s Best Friend was created by a very nice dude from Virginia named Jon Friedman.  Let’s get to know him, shall we?

VCN:    So Jon, tell me about yourself.  Who are you, where are you from?

JON:  I am a freelance graphic designer, filmmaker, photographer, and musician from Virginia Beach, VA. Filmmaking has always been a passion of mine, as is music (I play piano, guitar, and drums.) In the graphics world, I am best known for my design of the “Conversations with God” books, which have sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. I was also fortunate enough to design Richard Bach’s last two books–he is the author of the classic books, “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” and “Illusions.”

VCN:  Have you entered many video contests in the past?

JON:  This is the first video contest I’ve entered.

VCN:  What made you want to enter the CTSB contest?

JON:  Well, I can think of a “million” reasons . . . But seriously, I’ve always thought it would be fun to make commercials. I’ve had a lot of ideas for them over the years, and while I was watching the commercials during last year’s Super Bowl I thought “why haven’t I entered this contest? This is something I’ve always wanted to do.” So I made a decision right then and there to enter CTSB the following year.

VCN:  Where did the idea for Man’s Best Friend come from?

JON:  The inspiration for “Man’s Best Friend” was triggered by a thought I had one night. It just occurred to me that in most ads involving an animal, the animal is always trying to acquire the product. So I thought to myself, “What if there was a twist on that, or it was the opposite of that?” After having that thought, the idea for “Man’s Best Friend” popped into my head. I think that’s how inspiration works in general. Something usually triggers it–a thought, a memory, a feeling. It can be anything.

VCN:  How was the ad produced?  What kind of camera did you use?  Mind if I ask what your budget was?

JON:  I shot the commercial for about $20 using a Canon 7D (which I already own). I had to buy some Doritos, a few props, and some dog treats. I originally thought the commercial would only cost $13 to produce, so I went way over budget. The most difficult part about the production was getting “Huff the Great Dane” to cooperate. He’s really just a gigantic 120+ pound baby who wants to run around, sit in people’s laps, and eat treats (he was also fond of shaking hands/paws with everyone). Huff knew the word “sit” but that’s about as far as his training went. It took some patience and cleverness to get what we needed.

Jon Friedman in Fritolay's secret underground PR bunker

VCN:  How and when did you find out you made the finals?

JON:  I don’t remember the exact date, but I received a phone call between the second and third week in December. I was told to keep quiet about it of course, so that was very difficult. It’s tough to walk around acting like everything’s normal when you get news like that!

VCN:  This is kind of an insider question but I think some readers will really like to hear the answer.  I’ve heard that actors in CTSB ads actually get paid SAG “scale” by Fritolay.  Is that true?

JON:  Yes, that’s true. I only had one on-screen actor in my commercial and he had to fill out a SAG contract.

VCN:   So who are you taking to the Super Bowl?

JON:  I’m taking my brother (and assistant director.) We often collaborate on creative projects and his help has been invaluable.

VCN:  What are you doing to promote your entry?

JON:  I don’t know that I’m doing anything too special–Facebook, local media, friends and family. I’m hoping that will be enough!

VCN:  What has been the reaction of your family and friends to all this?

JON:  They’ve been incredibly supportive and I think many of them are more excited than I am! I’m still in shock by the whole thing.

VCN:  Here on VCN we’ve talked a lot about finalists who are able to win the CTSB more than once. Are you already planning your entry for 2013?

JON:  I have so many ideas, and I’ll admit, I have thought about what I might do next year. If I don’t win the big prize this year (which I believe automatically disqualifies you from entering the contest again), I will probably enter it again next year. I had a lot of fun making this commercial, and even if I don’t win again, I know I’ll enjoy creating another one.

VCN:  Any final thoughts you’d care to share?

JON:  This whole experience has been amazing, and I still feel honored that “Man’s Best Friend” was chosen as a finalist. If people have any questions or comments they’d like to share with me, I can be contacted at jonathan@frame25productions.com
 

 
To vote for Man’s Best Friend, head here: www.mansbestfriendcommercial.com

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