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!

The Crash the Super Bowl contest is back and this year it’s going global!

crashthesuperbowl2014

Later this afternoon, Frito-Lay will officially announce the return of the Crash the Super Bowl contest!  This morning’s edition of the USA Today teased some of the details but a few other news outlets got lazy and just straight-up posted Frito-Lay’s full press release early.  It sounds like the people in charge of this contest actually listened to their fans (and maybe this blog) because they’ve made some phenomenal changes this year.  You can read the official press release here but I’ll list the most important details:

  • The contest will begin accepting fan-made Doritos commercials on October 8th, 2013.  The deadline for submissions is November 24th, 2013.
  • FACEBOOK IS NOT A PART OF THE CONTEST THIS YEAR:  Last year Frito-Lay ran the entire Crash the Super Bowl contest through an annoying and poorly-designed Facebook app.  This year the Crash is back where it belongs on it’s own, dedicated website.
  • A panel of judges that includes “executives from the Doritos brand, advertising professionals and the legendary Stan Lee of Pow! Entertainment” will select a slate of 5 finalists.
  • Two of these finalists will air during the Super Bowl XLVIII.  One will be selected by a panel of judges from Doritos and the other will be chosen through an online, public vote.
  • THE AD METER CONTEST HAS BEEN RETIRED:  For the first time ever, the winner of the Crash the Super Bowl contest is guaranteed to win a cash prize of One Million Dollars!  If you win the online vote, you “win” the Crash the Super Bowl contest and you get the million bucks.  There will be no bonuses for scoring well on the USA Today Ad Meter.  Also for the first time ever, the second place winner is guaranteed a prize of $50,000.
  • The two filmmakers that win 1st and 2nd place will also get the chance to “become part of the Marvel family” and work on the set of Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.
  • All five finalists will win a trip to fabulous Rutherford, New Jersey in February so they can watch the Super Bowl from Doritos’ private skybox.  The three finalists who do not win one of the big prizes will receive $25,000 just for making the top 5.
  • THE CRASH ISN’T JUST FOR AMERICANS ANYMORE:  This might be the biggest change of all.  For the first time in the history of the Crash the Super Bowl contest, Doritos will be accepting entries from filmmakers outside of the United States.  If you live in one of the 46 countries around the world where Doritos are sold, you are eligible to enter the 2013-2014 installment of the Crash the Super Bowl contest.

Some fans are probably going to be annoyed by the “global” angle of this year’s contest simply because it means there will be more competition.  But the Crash was getting stale and I think an international infusion of styles and talent is just want this competition needs right now.  It will be sort of cool to see what kind of ads people in Romania and Peru and South Africa create.  No word yet on whether or not submissions will need to be in English.

All in all, I think this is going to maybe be the best Crash Super Bowl contest ever.  Last year’s installment was sort of a disaster for two big reasons; #1: The CTSB Facebook app was an ugly, spammy, hassle.  #2:  The winners of the contest got robbed because of changes USA Today made to their ad meter.  You can read about these problems in detail in these two VCN articles;  Did a poorly-designed facebook app almost ruin this year’s crash the super bowl contest? and Why didn’t Doritos’ Crash the Super Bowl ads do better on this year’s USA Today Ad meter?  But basically, the facebook app tracked user’s data and clogged their friend’s feeds with updates every time they voted for an entry.  And USA Today turned their highly-respected, long running Ad Meter poll into a bogus, online-only poll that anyone could access.  One of the 2013 CTSB winners, Goat 4 Sale actually won 1st place on Nielson’s ad meter but the commercial didn’t crack USA Today’s top five.  The ads that did score high on the USA Today poll mostly sucked and it seemed like maybe certain companies took some steps (cheated) to make sure their commercials would do well in the poll.  If the USA Today ad meter had been run the way it had been run for decades, the director of Goat 4 Sale probably would have won one of Frito-Lay’s big bonus prizes.

But apparently those problems are in the past.  I’m genuinely impressed that the folks in charge of this contest recognized that certain aspects were unfair to contestants and then to action to fix those issues.  Doritos got a massive amount of free, social media exposure when they ran the contest on facebook last year.  So it must have been tough for them to move the contest back to a dedicated website.  I also think it was a stroke of genius to involve Stan Lee in this year’s Crash.  Last year’s celebrity judge was Michael Bay.  Let’s be honest, Michael Bay f*cking sucks.  Nobody likes Michael Bay and his movies are total garbage.  One of the 2013 winners actually won a job working on the set of Transformers 4.  It was a great opportunity but I sort of feel sorry for that guy because he’s probably spent the last 5 months sucking up to Michael Bay and pretending like he’s proud to bring another Transformers movie into the world.  But Stan Lee is different.  Stan Lee is an icon.  People freaking love Stan Lee and the Marvel movies have all been pretty great.  So a chance to “join the Marvel family” is a seriously awesome prize.

Frito-Lay’s official announcement will probably happen around noon EST today.  I’ll update this post with a link to coverage of the announcement when it’s available.  In the mean time, here’s a link to the new Crash the Super Bowl website:  The rules aren’t live yet but a teaser video is already up:  https://doritoscrashthesuperbowl.thismoment.com