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01/2 2013

Tongaler of the Month – Don Broida

Since joining last June, Don Broida has taken the Tongal universe by storm.  He placed not once, but twice, in his first ever project for Bounty, created a brilliant wining wildcard for Swanson, and just became the 1st Place Production Winner of Tongal Season 2.  Beyond the money (he racked up over $90,000 in just 7 months), and the exposure (his winning I can’t believe it’s not Butter! spot is currently airing on national television), Don’s success on Tongal earned him something intangible, which incidentally may the best argument we’ve ever heard for the value that this platform creates for it’s users.  In his words, “I have a 7 month-old son, and due to Tongal I have been able to work more from home. Not having to take constant film jobs has allowed me to spend time with him and connect with him in a way that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.” Here’s to more time with family and a prosperous 2013!

Caleb Light-Wills – How and when did you first find out about Tongal?

Don Broida – I was first told about Tongal in early June by Matt Roe, a very talented DP that I’ve worked with on other projects outside of Tongal. Matt heard about Tongal through a fellow Tongaler, Ben Redmond, whom he often shoots with.

C.L.W. – Were you apprehensive about the Tongal process?

D.B. – I didn’t have any apprehension about the Tongal process, and found it to be pretty natural and instinctive. I think that Tongal is a great avenue for unrepresented filmmakers and advertising creatives alike. The multi phase structure draws on many people to produce the best ideas, pitches, and videos, regardless of if you are an already established commercial director or a fifteen year-old from Texas. It puts everyone on the same playing field with the same exposure to the companies, and lets talent speak for itself.

For both filmmakers and sponsors the multi phase structure is an all around win. It gives the Sponsors the opportunity to guide the filmmakers to produce the content they are looking for, and as filmmakers this is huge, because I am willing to invest more time and money in creating a project that I know is aligned with what they want. Other video contest sites do not do this, and I feel both the filmmaker and Sponsors are losing out as they’re both stuck working in the dark. Filmmaking is a collaborative process and the very nature of the multi phase structure is collaboration.

C.L.W. – What is your production background like?

D.B. – In high school I started making surf videos. My friends and I would surf every morning, go to school, and spend every evening cutting them together. We loved it, but the part I enjoyed the most, other than actually surfing, was the editing process. Choosing the best footage, creating titles, adding music, finalizing it, and eventually showing the finished product to everyone. From that, I decided I wanted to pursue post-production in feature films.

The summer after high school, I got a post job working on a feature film, DALLAS 362, directed by Scott Caan. I had the time of my life on the film and decided that post was definitely for me. I love how closely you work with the Director and Producers and the true impact post has on the final product. This realization helped shape my college decisions.

While in school, I found work within the industry that I could do while simultaneously studying. I worked closely with Directors such as Curtis Hanson, John Singleton, Mark Pellington, Robert Luketic, Jason Moore and Producers such as Tom Rosenburg, Clint Culpepper, and Paul Brooks. They are incredible filmmakers who have shared a lot of their knowledge with me about pre-production, production, and post production.

Along with them I was closely mentored by Lisa Churgin, who is an incredible film editor. She cut films such as Dead Man Walking, Gattaca, and Cider House Rules. She taught me the importance of story and how to find the best performances.

These are the people who helped shape my creative career.

C.L.W. – As part of your first Tongal win, you created, not one, but two winning wildcard videos for Bounty. Can you talk a little bit about “Kitchen Curling” and “The Ice Skater?”

D.B. – Bounty was the first project I creatively connected with after I found out about Tongal. It also lined up with my schedule and I could vividly see both videos in my head. I loved the project and really loved Bounty’s past Olympic commercials.

In “Kitchen Curling”, (great idea from Nicholas Staab) initially I had a really hard time imagining what the kid would use for the curling stone. I talked to a friend in Canada to see if there were toy curling stones. Apparently they do exist, but they all looked really cheap. It occurred to me it should be something already in the kitchen and a teapot seemed perfect. I really wanted to tell a story, so I decided to start it with the kid making the target. I felt this would create curiosity as to what was going on and I could ultimately end with reveal of the target.

The little boy was a family friend, who has a great look and demeanor. He was a champ and did everything I asked of him. Being an Olympic commercial, I felt I had to include love for our county, so I had him put an American flag sticker on the teapot.
In “The Ice Skater” I wanted to get into her head. To actually feel as though she was performing. To hear the crowd and feel the excitement. The big budget version of this commercial would have been intercut with an actual ice skating performance and rink.

I’m really proud of both of these videos, because they have such great points of view. I enjoy having stories told through the eyes of kids as they’re innocence and sense of fun greatly impact the feeling of the overall narrative.

C.L.W. – How does it feel to have created a National TV Commercial and do you see Tongal as a viable avenue to further your creative career?

D.B. – I’m very proud of this accomplishment and I can’t believe that Tongal has led me to it.

Originally, I thought the spot was going to air on an obscure channel in the middle of the night, so I was very surprised to see it on major networks and shows during primetime.

I see Tongal as a great avenue to further my creative career. Tongal is on the cutting edge of advertising and possibly represents the new filmmaking model. Tongal is cutting out many middle-man layers in the relationship between advertising executives and filmmaking creatives, and is really connecting untapped talent with those needing creative content. The I can’t believe it’s not Butter! commercial shows that Tongal can and will compete on the biggest national scale. I see this as only the beginning.

C.L.W. – How long did it take you to produce “Red Carpet Star” and what was your process like?

D.B. – The I can’t believe it’s not Butter! video project had very quick deadlines and thus caused me to work and produce it in a very short amount of time. I believe it was eleven days from the time the pitch was selected to when the video was due. I spent about seven days in pre-production, shot it in one night, and three days in editorial.

I had produced a very visual pitch, so I had a very clear idea of the look and scope. I was also able to share the pitch with all the key players to give them an idea of what I wanted it to be. I discussed with my DP about the costs and having it look as professional as possible while keeping the budget within the funds I was given to produce it.

The budget is always my biggest problem because, as with every project I partake in, I wanted to make it as big as possible. I knew that this would come through with the location and the number of people. I immediately started gathering extras together that were willing to work for low/no money. The group I got together was really great and the commercial is successful because of the energy and enthusiasm that they brought.

I felt to make the story effective there needed to be over the top excitement without being distracting. I focused on making the lights and actors the excitement and letting the camera stay somewhat still as to not distract. The only time we moved the camera was for the on camera dialogue. I didn’t want people yelling or flashes over their lines, so I used the whip pans to help create that frenetic energy.

The biggest snag during the production was that it started to rain in the middle of the shoot. Luckly it stopped, but it taught me a giant lesson about being prepared for everything.

C.L.W. – How did you celebrate your Tongal Season 2 Production win?

D.B. – I celebrated by mentally planning what I would shoot with the money. Fun, right? Can’t help but constantly think about the next step.

C.L.W. – Any advice you could offer those trying to break through and convince a Sponsor to trust them with a budget?

D.B. – I’m not sure that I’m really in a position to give advice to anyone, but I do think it’s important to always create things that appeal to you and that you think are cool. It’s a long road to making it in the entertainment industry, so it’s important to remain focused and driven, and to roll with the rejections and enjoy the successes.

C.L.W. – What’s next for you on Tongal or otherwise?

I have a 7 month-old son, and due to Tongal I have been able to work more from home. Not having to take constant film jobs has allowed me to spend time with him and connect with him in a way that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to. With that in mind, I hope to continue working on videos through Tongal, and recently submitted a pitch to the Olay contest.

Along with that, I recently cut an independent film starring Minnie Driver, am working on a comedy pilot for ABC, finishing up a short film starring Raoul Trujillo, and am in pre-production on a car commercial.

Lastly, I’m really looking forward to the Tongal Pringles/Star Wars video project.

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