Packaged Goods: The Art of the Edit
The latest entry in TIFF Bell Lightbox’s Packaged Goods series, The Art of the Edit, ran this past Wednesday and featured a strong selection of ads, promos, and a pair music videos.
Running about an hour, the 39 short-form films – of which many were culled from the AICE Awards list of winners & finalists – were designed to sell cars, beer, phones, phone service, anti-virus security software, web browsers, TV series, and dairy products. The art of the Edit is perhaps the strongest programme in the series, and many of the 1 minute entries relied on humour as well as filmmaking techniques to make a precise impact on the viewer.
Audi’s “Ahab” featured a tow-truck operator pining to catch the most elusive vehicle on his hit-list; Heineken beer initially poked fun at the creaky handlebar moustache until its wearer proved his strength in the boxing ring to the delight of many women; and Samsung sharply spoofed the Mac cult by having early birders waiting in line for a product launch teased by owners of Samsung “Next Big Thing” phone (which is at present ironic, given the merits of Apple’s patent infringement lawsuit against Samsung is currently being deliberated by a jury, after closing arguments ended Tuesday).
Cravendale Milk’s “Cats with Thumbs” is simply brilliant for building on the paranoia from a simple question: What do cats think when they seen us consuming milk? and AVG correlates the strength of millions of users in defending computer viruses with a cage comprised of millions of toothpicks protecting enclosed humans from hungry tigers in the jungle wilds. There’s also Old Navy’s satirical poke at pretentious designers with “Super Tool” (“Dress like a man!”), and three hysterical entries in ‘The Most Interesting Man in the World’ campaign from Dos Equis beer which feature extreme absurdism.
DirectTV equates cable TV with dooming your daughter and grandson to social miscreants, and Canal + proves even a bear rug, with the right amount of determination, can become an internationally respected director. The British Weetabix campaign shows us a hard day from the perspective of dam, mom, and a shrill infant; and the Canadian Film Festival folded a neat little premise of a ‘forced bank heist’ into one minute.
Clint Eastwood was hired by Dodge to promote their Ram trucks by building on his cranky old fart persona from Gran Torino (minus his character’s racism) with highly nationalistic prose that builds to an “Imported from Detroit” tagline. It’s outright manipulation, but well done, and perhaps more effective in stirring up emotions than the attack ads by political parties because the Ram ad tells Americans quite simply that its greatness lies in getting up and rebuilding itself, instead of poking its siblings and neighbours in the eyes with divisive missives.
Other dramatic highlights include the National Ballet of Canada’s artful “Lost in Motion” promo with a male dancer’s movements creating small swirls within a watery environment; Radiolab’s “Symmetry” montage; and a reappearance of VW’s engagement ring proposal vignette, which was part of the prior Girls on Film programme.
Music videos were reduced to two: Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs’ “Trouble” (nicely contrasting couch-level ennui in an environment of sleazy seventies leisure characters with experimental film effects in the finale), and Raphael Saadiq’s “Stone Rollin’” with slo-mo hot babes walking to and around the band during performance. (One could also include the Lady Gaga / Google Chrome promo, as well as David Attenborough speaking the lyrics to “Wonderful World” over a montage of BBC nature docs.)
Lurpak’s butter ad shows us the vegetable’s POV during dinner making, and Fiat’s lengthy music ad brilliantly parallels human routines (waking up, showering, dressing, breakfast) with the assembly of a car in what’s probably the programme’s best edited piece.
After the screening, curator Rae Ann Fera hosted a Q&A with Chris Franklin of Big Sky Edit, New York. Roughly billed as ‘the world’s most award-winning AICE editor in history, Franklin discussed his work within specific ads that were seen in a reel (including one for Conan O’Brien, AMEX, Ellen DeGeneres’ riff on talking to animals, and the trailer for Bryan Buckley’s short film Asad, which won an award at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Franklin’s other credits (many done with Buckley) span several Super Bowl ads, and he covered his craft with straight shop talk (the audience was heavily comprised of several editors, several from local houses). Some the personal axioms shared with the audience included “You can’t rely on imagination when screening for people” (the neatness of HD footage mandates sonic accompaniment to make the best possible first impression), and “Sound is 80% of any edit” (in terms of a cut’s success aided by a simple yet perfectly used sound effect or music cue).
Running a full 2 hours, The Art of the Edit enjoyed a decent turnout, and Fera’s next curated installment will cover the evolution of the music video via the influence of YouTube and other online media venues.
One can only presume it’s a clear case of utter coincidence, and maybe a deep passion among film organizations to use the orange-grey-white palette, as evidenced by the Film Society Lincoln Center’s own site.
The message is clear: if you add a single primary colour to your layout design, you are in violation of the Belgium-Berlin Cineastic Agreement of 2001.