New Video: Two Ally Johnsons Enter...

Even with the accessibility of digital video tools these days, It's rare that video projects--good ones--get made on a whim. This is one of those rarities.

Ally Johnson
Ally Johnson

A favorite comedic actress, Allison "Ally" Johnson, recently moved from the Bay Area down to LA, to pursue her fortune as an actor. Believe me when I tell you that she's a true talent: wonderful actor, great comedienne, flexible voice chops, a great collaborator, attractive--she's even got clown skills! Ally is the real deal. Casting agents take note!

She, like any actor these days, pays attention to where she shows up in search results-especially YouTube, where she has a number of videos showcasing her considerable performance chops.

Ally Johnson / Playboy
Ally Johnson / Playboy

So imagine when she finds ANOTHER Ally Johnson above her in the search results, there by virtue(?) of nothing more than a few videos....shot by Playboy.

You know, "Ally Johnson" writhing on a bed, "Ally Johnson" taking her top off in a shower, and "Ally Johnson" cooing in that sexy-baby voice that is annoyingly de rigueur among the wanna-be-famous crowd.

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 4.34.32 PM
Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 4.34.32 PM

Ally pointed this out on Facebook, and I responded by suggesting this should not stand.

It started on Facebook...
It started on Facebook...

I reached out to one of our favorite KML videographers (and recent LA transplant himself) Rand Courtney, who agreed to shoot it. I wrote up a script that parodied "Ally The Slut" (as our Ally called her) for the shallow, oblivious character that her Playboy videos make her out to be. Our Ally threw her heart into it, as she does with all her roles. Rand made it look great, as he always does. All this, from a few Facebook comments.

So if you enjoy the video we ended up making, please share it. Let's get (our) Ally's view counts up to send a message that bed football and consensual exposure are not actual talents.

You Must Learn This Now! / videos

You Must Learn This Now! I have a theory that creativity, at its core--stay with me, Internet, almost done--is just putting two things together that you feel like you haven't seen together before. Picasso's cubist portraits. Dickens' epic tale of a lowly orphan. And now, my mix of NBC's "The More You Know" PSAs with WW2 Nazi propaganda. You're welcome, Culture.

We released one of these in the spring as a show teaser, and saved the rest for a fallow period in the KML video production schedule. In a break from our usual release process, we released them first on Funny or Die, one-a-day for a week, to establish more of a presence there. Let's say it worked.

I got to work with many of my favorite KML members on these, including DP Jon Burton, VFX guru Ty Bardi, and of course gifted, funny actors Millie DeBenedet, Calum Grant, and Jon Wolanske, the latter of who stepped in to bail us out of a last-minute casting crisis, killed his role, and then went back to his day job a block away. Like a boss.

I costumed this shoot myself, by the way, driving all over the Bay Area asking wardrobe departments if they had any Nazi uniforms. That's a story in and of itself.

American Art Academy of Art / video

Screen Shot 2013-09-13 at 4.10.08 PMBless Killing My Lobster for giving me giving me the opportunity to dig my own holes. My latest comedy short was featured in KML's Spring 2013 mainstage show, Killing My Lobster Learns a Lesson. The vid's a parody of college and technical school ads that makes fun of art school as a career choice.Screen Shot 2013-09-13 at 4.08.19 PMThis vid could not have been made without the contributions of Francine Torres, a hilarious actress and fantastic theater instructor who actually plays a theater instructor in this vid. She saw the opportunity to give her students some real-world experience, helped us to shoot at her workplace and offered her students as PAs and background players. Two of her students are actually leads in this piece--I'll let you figure out which two. Oh, and I'm in this one, briefly. I forgot to cast the Advertising instructor, and when we got to that scene, I strapped on a froofy scarf and took one for the team. At least I got the hairline right.Screen Shot 2013-09-13 at 4.07.50 PMOn a sadder note, this may well be the last project I get to work on with my regular KML production partner, Jonathan Burton, as he's since moved to NYC. Hopefully not!

PS a disclaimer: I have a lot of talented, successful friends who studied art, and there are several good art schools here in San Francisco. But there are one or two that are kind of questionable, and one for-profit university that (and I could be wrong about this) doesn't make its money from tuition so much as from being the #1 real-estate holder in the city. Just saying.

Latest Ad Campaign: NationalField

Like my CA Technologies video, NationalField had contracted me for a standard writing job--in this case, overhauling their site copy--but noticed my comedy videos and saw an opportunity.

NationalField is a private social network for businesses, like, say, Yammer...but under its Facebook-esque interface, it's more than another communications hub. It builds in business intelligence that makes it easy to encourage & track productivity among employees. It's a great fit for sales teams, or political campaigning, which is how the service was born.

Co-Founder Edward Saatchi (yes, the son of *that* Saatchi), had a fairly solid idea of what he wanted or their first salvo of ads: animated spots that high-lit NF's key differentiators while good-naturedly dissing their competition. That said, he trusted me to write the ads, storyboard them, and hire and direct the voice talent--most of whom I was able to pull from my crack team of Killing My Lobster actors.

More details about the spots here. Ads below!

[vimeo 52190422 w=500 h=281]

Noise - Zammer from NationalField on Vimeo.

[vimeo 52192039 w=500 h=281]

Adoption - Zammer from NationalField on Vimeo.

[vimeo 52189026 w=500 h=281]

Likes - Zammer from NationalField on Vimeo.

[vimeo 51191536 w=500 h=281]

Zammer #1 from NationalField on Vimeo.

Social Media For Beginners (Video)

Some of my coolest corporate gigs start while I'm doing a standard one--writing site copy, for instance. At some point, the client notices my comedy videos, and wonders if I can do something similarly fun for them. "Social Media And You" was one of those.

IT juggernaut CA Technologies wanted to encourage their employees to use social media in hopes that they'd spend at least part of their time bragging about their company, retweeting flattering articles, or other such passive evangelizing. They wanted a simple video to show their teams internally. But, of course, they wanted something engaging and worth passing around. That usually means "funny," so they approached me.

I pitched them on doing a primer that looked and sounded like classic 1950s educational films and they went for it. Video is embedded below, and a few more details about it can be found here. Hope you like bees!