Ultrabland, the flatiron-based editorial, design, and music boutique with a stellar reputation for crafting high-end promos that support a network brand while providing a fresh creative perspective, recently turned its storytelling skills to a new image campaign for USA Network.
The promos showcase the quirky talents and hobbies of an off-beat collection of individuals, including a man who publishes a magazine based on random scraps of paper he finds in people trash, a woman with the ability to balance virtually any object on her chin, two men who race riding lawnmowers, and a Latino Elvis impersonator.
USA Network vice president of brand creative Lorenzo DeGuttadauro and creative director Christina Hedrick provided creative direction for and oversaw the ‘Show Us Your Character’s campaign, which was directed by Chelsea Pictures’s Larry Frey and shot by DP David Morrison. Its concept is an extension of the network 2005 ‘Characters Welcome’ re-branding campaign, which features Emmy Award-winner Tony Shalhoub of Monk and the clairvoyant child from the hit series,The 4400.
‘Show Us Your Character’ showcases an eclectic array of one-of-a-kind real people profiled in a series of spots meant to inspire viewers to visit the showusyourcharacter.com Web site, a unique Internet destination where people from across the country can show what makes them a character. The site invites viewers to submit a home video documenting their own remarkable talents and compete for a chance to star in an upcoming promo in this rather unconventional campaign.
‘It was fantastic working on this project. USA really reached out to do something fresh and new,’ says Ultrabland owner/editor, Bennett Killmer. ‘The material they shot was great, and their creative direction gave us an opportunity to cut really intriguing and off-center spots.’
Killmer, and Ultrabland editors Victor Masnyj and Jessica Rosa, cut nine spots in total, collaborating with USA Network senior writer/producer Heather Weiss and writer/producer Lori Moretz. In addition, Masnyj also cut an overview contest spot featuring a number of the characters.
‘The real challenge,’ says Killmer, ‘was that despite the fact that each person story, and therefore the editing style of each promo, was very different, we needed to create a cohesive campaign that made all the promos feel like part of an overall package. Davey, the spot about the trash guy, for instance, was more conversational, while the break-dancer was a music-based performance. But they all had to maintain a certain consistency from spot to spot.’
Masnyj concurs. ‘Some characters were more self-explanatory than others. They were so out there that you didn’st need to explain what makes them characters. You just had to put up what they do and try to cut the material in the most interesting way.’
One of the most challenging promos for Masnyj was Davey, the Ann Arbor, Michigan dumpster diver who shown plying his trade in an alley. ‘It required quite a bit of background for viewers to understand that he digs through trash, finds people notes and publishes a magazine of this found material,’ Masnyj explains. ‘It hard to imagine how that possible until you hear Davey actually read an excerpt from the magazine. You have to find a way to give it context in a very short setup, while still keeping the spot interesting and intriguing.’
For Killmer, Mowers, which features two men who race slightly modified riding lawnmowers through a dirt-track obstacle course, was representative of many of the spots. ‘Director Larry Frey shot such interesting footage that there were infinite editorial options,’ he reports. ‘Because we had so many good storylines, we were able to create various versions during the editorial process, to help us figure out which single aspect was the most interesting to focus on.’
‘We could easily have cut 10 different spots for some of the characters, and they all would have been great and totally unique,’ Masnyj agrees. ‘So much good material had to be left out. The only negative to a project like this is what we couldn’st put in the spots because of their lengths.’
Each promo ends with a showusyourcharacter.com tag and interlocking USA Network logo, which Ultrabland crafted to work with the network existing branding.
‘Cutting the campaign was a really great experience,’ declares Masnyj. ‘The footage was beautiful, it was well directed and produced — and the subjects couldn’st have been more interesting. It was fun to use different editing skills and styles to give each spot a unique tone and make each of the personalities come across as a real character.’
Ultrabland is a uniquely specialized creative boutique dedicated to the art of creating high-end promos. Its award-winning talent provides seamlessly integrated editorial, design, and music services to some of the industry most prestigious networks, including HBO, Showtime, NBC, CBS, Nickelodeon, Cinemax, Sundance Channel, MTV, USA, Lifetime, VH1, CourtTV, and Sci Fi Channel.
For more information, contact Ultrabland at 646.638.2830 or visit www.ultrabland.com.
Full credit list:
CLIENT: USA Network’s
CAMPAIGN: “Show Us Your Character”
SPOT TITLES: Davey, Elvez, Beauty Queen Ventriloquist, Mowers, Breakdancer, Chin Balancer, Snake Man, Party Planner, Dr. Ruehl, Contest…
NETWORK: USA Network, NY: VP, Brand Creative: Lorenzo DeGuttadauro, Creative Director: Christina Hedrick, Director, Production & Marketing: Margee Hocking, Sr. Writer/Producer: Heather Weiss, Writer/Producer: Lori Moretz…
PRODUCTION CO.: Chelsea Pictures, NY: Director: Larry Frey, DP: David Morrison, Head of Production: John LaChappelle, Producer: Melonie Kastman
EDITORIAL & DESIGN CO: Ultrabland, NY: Editors: Victor Masnyj (Davey, Elvez, Beauty Queen Ventriloquist,Dr. Ruehl, Contest), Bennett Killmer (Mowers, Breakdancer, Chin Balancer, Snake Man), Jessica Rosa (Party Planner): Designers: Bennett Killmer, Ryan Bramwell, Executive Producer: Heidi Bayer
AUDIO CO: Audio Department/NY: Mixers: Bob Chapman, Mike Garatty…
TELECINE CO.: Company 3, NY: Colorists: John Bonta, Billy Gabor…
MUSIC CO.: Various stock libraries.