The artist formerly known as Marshall Cook has re-branded as Convoy Entertainment with partner Tyler Hawes. Together they have placed in more than 25 Tongal projects in little over one year and won the 3rd Tongal Season–a payout of $37K! They also created the second most re-tweeted video ever in the oral care category and let’s be honest, what isn’t more impressive than that? While they highlighted some tricks and tips in their Success Story video here, read on to hear about their favorite projects, challenges, and in true Convoy style, a few random facts.
Sarah Donze: How did you two meet and decide to work together?
Marshall Cook: We met in 2006 on an indie film I was producing, “Danny Roane: First Time Director.” Tyler was hired to do color and finishing. It was a tough project in a lot of ways, but by going through the trenches we formed a bond. We solidified our relationship as producing partners when we developed “Division III: Football’s Finest,” a feature comedy that Tyler produced and I directed, co-wrote, edited and acted in.
SD: How do you best complement each other in your work?
Tyler Hawes: We each have our strengths and slightly different styles, and I think we’re able to be pretty honest with ourselves and each other about what they are and divide and conquer accordingly. Because of this, we learn from each other and challenge one another, and I think we tend to produce work representative of our combined strengths while hopefully filtering out any weaknesses we’d have on our own.
MC: We just absolutely trust each other. Which is integral to running a business and the creative process. We don’t pull punches. Ego is set aside and it’s all about serving the project. I’ve said before that he’s Spock and I’m Kirk, but I don’t think Tyler likes that because we’re more equal and Tyler is less alien.
SD: Which project did you have the most at stake creatively?
MC: Duck Brand. My pitch did not win and this was before Tongal let us know we were in the top percentile of non-winners. So they could have really hated the idea. Without changing anything, we shot it as a wildcard because whether the brand believed in it or not, it was a good idea. Sometimes people need to see it to understand. It was a bold choice with no guarantees. We ultimately won 1st place. It was not only great to get the prize money, but it also validated our instincts and put us on the map.
TH: The Gorilla Glue mailbox spot was an ambitious idea with two locations and a lot of shots, an animatronic Gorilla suit that required three people to operate, and a complicated gag with a prop mailbox. We knew the brand was going to be on set watching us work, so if we didn’t make our day there’d be no hiding it. We ultimately made it by the skin of our nose as the sun set, and it turned out well.
SD: What was your most challenging project and why?
MC: Excedrin was the most challenging for me on many levels. Predominately due to the fact that we won three pitches and had to shoot three one-minute spots in a relatively short period of time. It was a good problem. We were thankful to win the pitches, but it was part of a larger, more valuable lesson about quality over quantity. We’re now a lot more selective about what projects we pitch on and only submit pitches that excite us.
SD: What do you look for in a project and what specifically attracts you to one when there are so many on the site?
MC: If an idea doesn’t come to me organically and I pull my hair out trying to force an idea/pitch, it usually means I’ll be pulling my hair out through the entire process. When I started, all it had to be was a project and I was interested. Now I look at minimum guarantees, so it’s two parts:
1. If the pitch money plus the lowest video award is high enough for us to make something we’re proud of with minimal risk.
2. I have a strong idea that excites me, (or get inspired by someone else’s winning idea and can expand or adapt that into a pitch). If I laugh out loud (alone in my office) I know I’m onto something good.
TH: I need to hear an idea when we’re brainstorming that makes me laugh out loud, or get a thrill of excitement, or presents a unique challenge I want to tackle. Ultimately I just need to feel like we have strong instincts for how to do it “right.” But honestly, there has to be enough money involved for it to make sense before we’ll ever get to the brainstorming in the first place.
SD: How do you stay current with the latest trends in pop culture and comedy as they relate to advertising and filmmaking? Or do you at all?
MC: More than not, I stick to what I think is interesting or funny to me. But I do watch a lot more commercials than I used to and actually use my DVR backwards. Instead of skipping all of the commercials, I’ll scroll back, watch things again and break them down (game film style).
TH: I watch commercials I hear people talking about. But really, with our style, I feel like I get just as much out of watching good TV and movies.
SD: What advice do you have for your fellow Tongalers?
TH: Everything has to be good, and there’s no points for effort, only results. This goes for all filmmaking.
MC: Assume there are at least three AMAZING ideas, pitches and videos in every competition that did not come from you. Look at your work. Take a break. Look at it again. How can it be better? Remember, you’re not just representing the brand that’s footing the bill, you’re representing your own brand.
SD: What are your daily must-reads?
SD: What are you working on outside of Tongal–do you have a passion project?
MC: We have a couple branded shoots coming up. My passion project is my latest screenplay I’m co-writing and hope to direct next summer. Funny how movies have become passion projects or even hobbies lately… Actually that’s not funny.
TH: I have a short I’m shooting soon, hopefully followed by a feature next year.
SD: Fun fact or surprising hobby?
TH: I have two daughters that are pretty much my whole hobby life. But I do love computer games, especially Star Craft and Sim City.
MC: Surprising Hobby: I’m going to play a super aggressive game of flag football on Thanksgiving morning in my hometown. My team has won the last eight years in a row. I’m fully aware it’s absolutely ridiculous, but I’m dead serious when I say I’m going to do everything I can to win nine… whilst wearing an American Flag bandana. Fun Fact: Food tastes better when someone makes it for you. When we make it we get desensitized to the smell.
In this Tongaler of the Month interview, you’ll meet the one and only Derek Underwood. He may have only won once (so far…) but it was a big one — his Wildcard submission for IAMS Love Tails placed FIRST and earned him a cool $20,000. Below he tells us how spending time in his father’s video store as a kid in Panama helped him realize he wanted to work in the film industry. Read on to learn how his altruistic motives and his adorable dog Brooks helped him break into the Tongal Leaderboards. Plus, he offers some advice to his fellow Tongalers…
Tongal Season 3 just wrapped and that means it’s time to recognize some truly fantastic Tongal work.
For those of you not yet in-the-know, a Season is a meta-contest on the Tongal site. Each Season is made up of 20 eligible Projects. Over that period of time, Tongalers are encouraged to participate in as many Projects as possible. At the end of 20 Projects, Tongal awards monetary prizes to the top 5 Tongalers on that Season’s Leaderboard. Follow the jump to find who won and how much extra moolah they’re walking away with!
Since joining Tongal in late 2011, Matt Sweeney has spent a bunch of time at the top of the Ideation Leaderboards and has made some seriously funny videos. Whether he’s spoofing a Hollywood classic or drawing on his (sometimes embarrassing, oftentimes hilarious) personal experiences, Sweeney is taking Tongaling to the next level. Below he waxes poetic about where great ideas come from . . . And what they can lead to.
Wanna hear what happened at the first college party he ever went to? (Hint: #whitemarksfail) Read on!