2014 Crash the Super Bowl finalist Chris Capel makes the Project Greenlight finals

“Living with Jigsaw” by Chris Capel

Hardcore Crash the Super Bowl fans will remember the 2013-2014 finalist ad, Office Thief which featured a cheese dust-covered employee who may or may not have been stealing his co-worker’s Doritos.  Well the director of that ad, Chris Capel is really on a roll because his new short film, “Living with Jigsaw” just made the Project Greenlight finals.  Here now is a quick Q&A I did with Chris about Doritos, Project Greenlight and his new roommate, JigSaw.

VCN: So first things first, how did making the CTSB finals affect your life?

CC: It was pretty amazing. I got my first few paid directing gigs from the exposure, so it definitely started me on that path.

VCN: What inspired you to try out for Project Green Light?

CC:  I watched the third season back when it was on and seeing into the filmmaking process was incredibly exciting. Once they announced the new season I knew we had to enter.

VCN: Where did you get the idea for your short?

CC:  My writing partner Richard Price and I originally came up with a comedy short called, “Living With A Merman”. It’s a similar premise to Jigsaw, just with a merman instead. Since then we’ve come up with several other “Living With” scenarios and we want to eventually turn it into a digital series.

VCN: What was production like?

CC.  We shot it on a panasonic hpx170 with a Redrock 35mm adapter. It was a one-day shoot. This was the first time we worked with an actual DP. John Hafner and his crew were pretty amazing. Totally on the ball and we got a lot shot in one day. It was refreshing to get a glimpse of what it’s like to work on a real set.

VCN: How did you find out that you made the finals?

CC:  We received an email from the staff at PGL shortly after they announced the finalists on Facebook. I saw the facebook post first and just about peed my pants. Needless to say it was incredibly exciting.

VCN: What needs to happen for you to win a slot on the show?

CC:  So from the top 20 they narrow it down to 10. One of the top ten is determined by who gets the most votes via facebook. The other 9 are chosen by a panel of experts from the show/industry. From there we make a short interpretation of a script they will be providing and the winner is chosen after that.

If you’d like to vote for Chris’ short, head to projectgreenlight.com and click on “Living with Jigsaw.”  Voting is done via a facebook app but be aware, you can only click the vote button after the entire video has played.  (That’s actually a very clever way to prevent cheating  I bet Ben Affleck came up with that feature himself.)  Fortunately Chris’ film is very watch-able so you won’t have any problem making it all the way to the end.  Seriously….you should check it out.  I literally lol’ed out loud like 5 times.

VCN interviews Chris Capel, Crash the Super Bowl finalist and creator of “Office Thief”

On the set of "Office Thief"
Director Chris Capel and the stars of “Office Thief”

Last year’s crop of Crash the Super Bowl finalists were kinda lame.  There was only one ad that I really loved, Goat 4 Sale.  But this year the CTSB judges made some pretty good picks.  I really like 4 of the 5 ads they selected for 2014.  Now that I think about it, maybe the 2013 finalists sucked because Michael Bay was a guest judge.  Everybody knows that Michael Bay loves stupid Bullsh*t.  But this time around the guest judge was Stan Lee!  So maybe Stan the Man’s influence is one reason the 2014 finalists feel fresh and fun.

I’ve been spreading my daily votes between four ads; Finger Cleaner, Time Machine, Breakroom Ostritch and Office Thief.  All of those ads deserve their place in the Top 5 and I’d be happy to see any or all of them air during the big game.  So what does it take to make the Crash the Super Bowl finals?  Let’s ask the director of Office Thief, Chris Capel and find out!

VCN:  Hey Chris, thanks for taking the time to talk to us.  So to start, why don’t you tell us about yourself:  Where are you from and what kind of work do you do?

CHRIS:  I’m originally from a small town called Thatcher in Arizona.  I’m an animator by trade but have been teaching myself filmmaking for the last 3.5 years.  I was laid off from a long-time animation job in March and am looking at it as a blessing in disguise and jumping into filmmaking with both feet!  I’m one of 14 kids and have been married for 5 years.

VCN:  Have you entered any other video contests before?

CHRIS:  We only entered one other contest a few years ago for Wonderful Pistachos.  Our ad was okay in the idea department, but the execution was pretty terrible.  It was the first thing I shot on the camera I’d bought so I was still figuring out how to use it.  It was fun though!  We didn’t win, but we learned a lot.

VCN:  What inspired you to enter the Crash the Super Bowl contest?

CHRIS:  My writing partner Richard Price and I have wanted to enter for a while, but it took finding not only an idea that we believed in, but an idea we could afford to shoot.  So this year we felt we had a shot.

VCN:  Where did the idea for Office Thief come from?

CHRIS:  We wanted to think of something a lot of people could relate to since if it airs it’ll be shown to 100+ million people.  So we figured so many people can relate to opening the break room fridge and seeing that your sandwich is missing.  From there we added the element of an incredibly guilty employee in complete and utter denial and even disgust at being accused, and we knew we had a complete joke.

VCN:  What was production like?  What kind of camera did you use?  And how many people were on your crew?

CHRIS:  We shot it on a Panasonic HPX170 with Redrock 35mm adapter on a bunch of used Nikon primes.  We had a crew of about 8.  Mostly friends helping out.

On the set of "Office Thief"
On the set of “Office Thief”

VCN:  How did you find out that you had made the semi-finals?  Did you think you had a shot at making the Top 5?

CHRIS:  Doritos called me to say that we were in the semi-finals and I almost passed out.  It was an amazing feeling!  But I never dreamed we’d make the top 5.  Mostly because we were aware of what kinds of ads Doritos picks, and we weren’t sure if ours fell into that/those categories.

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

CHRIS:  I found out mid-December.  Stan Lee himself called me!  I didn’t believe it was him for about half the call, but by the end of it I was just shaking from excitement.  He congratulated me and we talked about my spot.  I thought it was so cool that he’d actually seen it and had stuff to say about it!

VCN:  What happened after you got the news?

CHRIS:  I immediately called my writing partner Richard Price and my wife Lindsey.  They both freaked out!  It was really cool to share the news.  The orientation was really interesting.  (Dan’s note: Every year, Frito-Lay flies all the finalists to their HQ in Plano, TX so they can meet each other and shoot some promo videos.)  I got to meet the other finalists and see what our competition would be.  We talked with the PR guys and kind of nailed down the best ways to talk about ourselves and our spot, did a mock interview, etc. It was really fun!

VCN:  What have you been doing to promote your entry?

CHRIS:  We’ve been reaching out to literally everyone we’ve ever known and asking them to vote daily and share it with friends, family, etc.  It’s been a very stressful process and some of time I wonder if I’ll ever be sane again.  But we love it!  We’ve got a few people on our side with some really great networks and outreach so we’re trying to take advantage of that as much as possible.

VCN:  Are you psyched for the super bowl?  Who are you taking as your guest?

CHRIS:  I can’t wait to go to the game!  It’ll be so fun.  I’m taking Richard Price with me as my guest, as he and I came up with the spot together.

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

CHRIS:  We’d love everyone’s support!  We’re just a couple of guys and I think we really represent who this contest is meant for, so any help on the voting front is very much welcome!  You can go to www.voteofficethief.com to see our spot, vote and learn more about us.  Here’s a direct link to voting: http://bit.ly/VoteOfficeThief

We also have a facebook page, and of course the usual twitter and instagram.

VCN:  Thanks for the interview Chris and good luck!