BRAND NICK ROBERTSON TREATMENT | PLAZA FILMS
Treatment by Nick Robertson 1
Story Awkward Moments There’s a wonderful scene in Tony Scott’s thriller “Crimson Tide”. Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman’s characters are both standing on the bridge of the Alabama submarine just before its about to dive. Gene hands Denzel a cigar and the two of them enjoy the serenity of the sunset. After a long period of silence, Hackman’s character congratulates Denzel on his restraint, explaining that many would have simply “talked it away”. It’s a trait the Hackman’s character greatly, the ability to be at one with silence. This particular commercial captures the very same creed in a very clever and amusing manner. With Australian guys, there is an underlying understanding that more often than not silence is the most appropriate remark. To outsiders it is often observed and treated as awkward and uncomfortable but for those who regularly engage in extended quiet, it a very easy practice. It is effortless and trouble free, just the way guys like it. Like experiencing an incredible sunset, or watching the perfect wave, the delicious taste of KFC doesn’t need to be spoken of, it’s just an absolute given. Open on a group of guys sitting on a beach bench quietly watching the surf in the early morning light. The perfect wave rolls into the beach, breaking beautifully, as a light offshore feather the crest. Louis CK whispers, “The awkward silence. It’s just something women created when they couldn’t handle not saying anything.” It’s a mesmerising sight as the perfect cylinder reels off down the line. From the look on their faces and their quiet disposition, we know, and they know, nothing need be said. It’s almost as if they communicate telepathically. A simple tilt of the head or a slight raise of the eyebrow is the most expression required. Two guys sit quietly in a small car. The rain outside pours down with incredible velocity yet not a word is murmured. Louis CK continues, “But us guys, we don’t need to talk”. Cut to a group of guys enjoying the quiet crackle of a beachside fire. Boards and make shift tents occupy the background as flames dance high into the inky night sky. Louis CK softly continues, “We can sit for hours watching TV, or a fire, or nothing. We don’t need words to talk.” The group silently enjoy the delicious taste of KFC chicken while reflecting on the triumphant of the day. 2
Three guys stand at the edge of a cliff in the harbour. One dives off and completes an incredible jump. He surfaces with flair and panache; the other two above simply stare and smile. Two guys sit quietly together on a couch. The faint muffle of a television in the adjacent room softly fills the air, while they simply sit and stare. The both look in the same direction with knowing and trust that motivates nothing but an easy stillness. Positioned on the coffee table in front of them sits the KFC Mighty. In a gesture of incredible mateship one picks up the Mighty and offers it to the other. The friend simply grabs it and begins to enjoy its delicious flavours. It’s a gesture, which embodies great friendship and insight into what it means to be a guy, the perfect summary of friendship and the KFC The Mighty. Louis CK concludes, “Sorry ladies. Did that freak you out? The Mighty. It’s only two words” Cut to “So Good” end device. This is not an ode to awkward moments but more a celebration to the practice of “comfortable silence”. This will be an exploration into various vignettes and scenarios that may usually be associated with much discussion. It would be fun to have silence to fall comfortably over a scene that may be related to with much fanfare. The strength is to cover a broad diversity of moments this will reinforce the beauty and strength of this great script. The edit and sound design will be a fun one with this script. The use of silence between guys is filled with the sounds of each environment. The crackle of a fire, a breaking wave, the buzz of distant traffic will all add to the heightening set up of peaceful, comfortable silence. In such a busy world this commercial will literally scream itself off the screen with deafening silence. It would also be fantastic to play with longer than usual shots that suspend and stifle the audience. With a commercial that a centre so intently on silence between characters I think it’s essential that we take a sound recorder where ever we shoot. A sound recorder will capture all those extraordinary and diverse environments on which the stage of silence is performed. I’d love to see Louis CK read on this script be somewhat tempered and almost whisper like. This will certainly attract the attention of the audience in a manner, which is completely ajar to what they’d expect.
Work friends don’t exist. Open on a close up of a rubber band being pulled back taught on an index finger, which is extended like a handgun. Released, it flies out fast. A wider shot reveals the rubber band hitting a clueless desk mate. Ouch! The two laugh at one another. The Louis CK VO commences, “There’s no such thing as a work friend.” Through a glass wall, sound proofed wall a group of colleagues in a conference/board room are in meeting. A senior executive is addressing the group in a serious and commanding tone. Two of the workers look at one another discreetly and begin to smirk. The VO continues, “We don’t introduce people as “this is kinda my friend”, so why do we introduce people as work friends?” Another guy pulls out an office draw to find his paper stapler set in green jelly. Cut to a group of office workers crowding around a computer monitor laughing uncontrollably. The VO continues, “Someone is either a friend or they’re not.” Cut to a trio of office workers crowding around a laptop. The screen is obscured from view but from the raptures of laughter emanating more than fills in the details. The VO continues, “It doesn’t make sense. If you spend your day emailing them stupid videos they must be a friend.” Cut to the back of a lone office worker at a cubicle laughing at his computer screen. His giggling head obscures the screens content. A box of KFC Nacho sits beside him. Cut to a small remote helicopter charging around a series of office petitions. A small baldhead peers up slowly over the edge of a petition fearing detection and looking more like a little child. We watch the helicopter land on a hand drawn landing zone situated next to a KFC Nacho Box. The VO continues, “Seriously how many of friend friends do you go to lunch with every week?” Cut to two office workers with phone books strapped to their feet as they compete in an awkward race down the corridor much to the delight of the rest of the staff. The VO continues, “Or everyday?”
Cut to a guy randomly running through the office in an oversized Sumo suit. Or a gorilla gram turns up and serenades one of the office girls. Others look on amused as they enjoy their KFC Nacho. The VO carries, “Work friends don’t exist. They’re just friends.” The end frame has an office junior being taped to an office chair, his arms, bound tight by his side. Situated right in front of him is an open box of Nacho KFC. It’s a cruel predicament as his colleagues enjoying eating from. Teasing with each tantalising bite. Louis continues, “Or they hate you.” Cut to super, “Stop and Smell the Chicken” Louis concludes, “The Nacho Box. Four dollars for you, and your friend.” Cut to a product shot of the KFC Nacho Box in an office environment being enjoyed by two friends. Cut “So Good” end frame. What a simple yet wonderfully entertaining script. Lunch breaks bring office colleagues together and create a playful tone that more often than not leads to develop into wonderful friendship, the catalyst being the KFC Nacho Box. It draws them out of their shells and exposes them as the interesting individuals they are in what modern society perceives as mundane routine. I really want the KFC product throughout this whole suite to feel like a part of the scenes, rather than a series of quick insert of natural food eating shots. I love the idea of people experiencing a wonderful sense of connection to one another through a meal. This is essentially what the entire campaign is reflecting; great food brings together people no matter who they are and what they’re doing.
Bringing work home. This is an observational, visually comedic piece centred on a group of people searching for human connections in today’s wired world. It explores how people experience the negative sides of modern communication technology by being removed from the most important thing, one another. All it takes is for people to slow down and enjoy that moment together of intimacy that often only a great meal can do. A KFC family meal is simply a catalyst to bring everyone together and this spots explicates that sentiment of “Stop and smell the Chicken” more than any other. Open on a mum struggling through the front door bundled with bags of shopping, work satchel and a smart phone that feels like its glued to her cheek. She never draws breath on yet another call she feels compelled to take. She followed in closely by her troupe of young kids. She sprawls her stuff out and immediately begins taking notes from a call she’s on with a work colleague. Out slips the laptop from bag as the kids wander off to their own little worlds, a striking introductory scene of modern day disconnetcion. Louis’s familiar voice chimes in, “ A lot of people bring work home these days. You noticed?” Cut a hard-working dad climbing out of his car in a suburban driveway, still heavily attached to his smart phone, he grunts at his son who’s shooting basket hoops alone. The scene feels routine and disturbingly normal. Louis continues his speech, “It used to be that the best thing about leaving work, was…leaving work.” Cut to another suburban mum sitting at a table with her two kids eating in silence while she reads a work report on her laptop that sits next to her simple, plain pasta. Dinner at this house couldn’t be anymore disconnected. Louis continues, “Now work follows us around”.
Cut to a mum trying to converse with dad who is nodding his head but clearly texting to a work colleague, his presence empty and infuriating. Louis continues his rant, “Like a stalker”. Another scene has a young kid climbing up a chair to get into the pantry, mum all the while vacantly punching digits on her smart phone. Suddenly his little arm knocks over a tin of flour, which promptly covers him and the kitchen. Mum, entrenched in messaging, barely notices the ensuing domestic mess. Louis’s VO continues, “Call the police, I say.” “Or just dim your screen” Louis announces as a snap shot sequence occurs with the proceeding scenes as mum and dads across the script shut close with rhythmic precision all their devices. The edit at this point builds to a crescendo as parents look on at their children adoringly and with striking clarity understand what’s important. Correcting the error of their modern ways, a KFC family meal featuring delicious Hot Rods is placed casually down on the dinning table. It’s like an old dinner bell call as the family gather in a spontaneous and warm way. The scene doesn’t feel contrived or staged but resonates strongly with a sense of connection and understanding. The kids’ faces light up bright as the family conversely readily with one another as they once did years before. Louis’s VO brightens, “And watch their little dials light up. Now this is face time” The family begin to enjoy the KFC Hot Rods and a lively, upbeat discussion. Louis’s VO triumphantly concludes, “In real life.”
As a reprise to the scene, a close up of dads smart phone vibrating on the phone catches the family’s attention. The incoming call reads “WORK”. Instinctively, he reaches to grab it but is given “the look” by mum. His arm then shifts quickly towards Hot Rod ignoring the phone completely, which he grabs with a smile. The super appears, “Stop and Smell the Chicken” He bites into a Hot Rod while enjoying the company of the family. At the end of the spot all characters having grown closer to the ones they love in the process, or rather, having stopped “disconnecting”. “Bringing work home” explores the consequences of modern technology and how it affects and defines our daily relationships. Shot with eavesdropped naturalism, the spot treads into the heady territory of the modern family and how easy it is to reconnect with KFC’s Hot Rods.
Kids are entertaining Kids are entertaining; they’ll make you and break you. Bill Cosby started a comedy hit show in the 80’s called, “Kids Say The Darndest Things” and it was huge success. It was the perfect platform to bring out the best in all people through the hilariously honest, witty and touching statements from all sort of different kids. As a father of two young boys I know how amusing and engaging kids can be. Open on a confident little girl playing with her mothers make up. Lipstick is smeared all over her face. A wider shot reveals she also done a number on her little brother. Louis begins, “There’s never anything good on TV. I don’t watch it. Do you? Cut to a closed cardboard box, suddenly a little mischievous boy jumps out. Louis continues, “But what about your kids? They’re entertaining to watch.” A little girl and boy are dressed up as a wizard and princess. They run across the yard closely followed by the pet dog Max who’s dressed as a fair maiden. Louis continues, “They’ve got more imagination than any plot twist…” Louis continues, “and they can even play footy; in the lounge room.” As we cut a young boy lining up on an imaginary conversion while the real game is on in the background. He kicks the football through the doorway and falls to his knees in celebration to the adoring adulation of an imaginary stadium.
Louis carries on, “Just watch them tonight”, as we cut to a little boy climbing through a doggy door in the back kitchen. Cut to two kids in the bath, they’ve made Santa Claus beards on their faces with the bubble bath. They laugh at each other hysterically. Cut to a little girl telling a story with great expression and fanfare to the family. Everyone is holding on to her every word, while Louis VO continues, “You can leave them on during dinner.” She clearly enjoys being the centre of attention and boy, does she have it! Cut to a little boy collapsed on a sofa as a proud and loving pair of parents looks on, as Louis concludes, “And if you leave them long enough they might even go to bed. Watch the kids tonight with 9 pieces of Original Recipe for $9.95.” Cut to super; “Watch the kids tonight with 9 pieces of Original Recipe for $9.95” “So good” end frame appears. In many ways this script touches on similar sentiments and tones to “Bring Work Home” because it’s all about switching off and focusing on the most important thing, family. Shot in a wonderfully observational tone and manner this commercial eavesdrops in on kids, simply being kids. By providing a window into the beautiful often-hilarious nature of kids it also shows us a lot about ourselves. All children posses an extraordinary ability to captivate and engage parents by inadvertently claiming centre stage.
To achieve this extraordinary spread of colourful and engaging vignettes I want to shoot with a small, discreet crew with the goal to capture some extraordinary, spontaneous moments. Kids need to be shot from a far so as to not to “cramp their style”. We need to set up a location that allows the kids to be themselves and prime it for great photographic moments. This means natural light and longer lenses. We don’t want to inhibit the kids in anyway. We want them to be completely comfortable, so that they feel free to express and be themselves. I would definitely propose I series of vignettes but I also think its very important to allow room for the magic of spontaneity. There are just so many wonderful things kids do that even the greatest of writers couldn’t draft. This particular spot is about setting up the stage and just letting the kids go. Sure, you can ask them to “Spin around until your dizzy” but at the end of the day, there will be something the most unexpected kid does that will completely steal the show. It’s more about setting up that stage and just being patient. It’s about getting a fantastic array of different kids and locations and having FUN. If the sets fun, the kids will feel it and that will translate to the screen. I want to shoot with a tiny crew on this spot with the angle on levering into very intimate moments that an otherwise larger crew would impede. I also want to shoot this commercial from a more kids perspective. When Steven Spielberg shot “ET” he elected to frame everything around3-4 feet in height to become with the kid characters. This immediately gives the image a different feel and tone. Elements like dinning table and chairs suddenly make for interesting foregrounds and composition elements. When mum puts the KFC 9 piece Original Recipe down on the dinner table it’s like ringing a country dinner bell. The kids come running from all directions. The 9-piece Original Recipe is a catalyst to bring the family together. KFC shares along side the kids, their most intimate and memorable moments. Even as the family eat and share the Original Recipe together, the kids continue to provide endless entertainment. I’d love for the chicken eating sequence to actually play apart as a reprise. It would be great to have a little boy opening his mouth as big as he can to bite into a huge drumstick. The Chicken isn’t just a product shot; it’s a big part of the story.
Fundo Fundo is one of my favourites scripts in the campaign and as a parent I always marvel at my kids extraordinary ability to embrace and welcome in the strange kid, adults come with a truckload of insecurities; preconceived ideas and social checks when meeting new people. Kids don’t judge. There’s this enormous threshold of tolerance and acceptance, which is beautiful and extraordinary. Children are so malleable and understanding, if they like someone, they’ll let them know it. Open on a family in a gorgeous city park. The sun is shining and the KFC Fundo picnic is beginning to take shape. Mum and dad dutifully pull out a KFC Fundo pack and begin to beckon the children. Kids come running from everywhere. As three siblings assemble for lunch another clearly different child joins. He too, has designs on lunch at that point Louis chimes in and states the obvious, “Ever notice how your kids don’t care who they play with. Especially when they have no one to play with.” At this point the dad looks up at the new kid who is clearly unknown to them and with an uncomfortable smile also offers the new friend a chicken strip. The dad then looks over to another picnic and the parents are either deep in slumber or on texting Smartphone. Louis concludes, “KFC’s Fundo. Crispy strips and different dips for everyone.” Cut to “So Good” end frame. The entire success of this simple little 15 comes down to casting. The ‘crasher’ kid needs to steal everybody’s heart. He needs to have that beautiful defiance that only kids possess. He needs to have a sense of adventure and an extraordinary streak of individuality. I don’t think these traits can be designed on paper. This kid will be the real thing.
“$5 Box Power Walker” Open up on conference room where two colleagues are taking a quick break from work by enjoying a delicious KFC $5 Box. Paper, documents and computers laptops/tablets pepper the room. Clearly it’s been a busy morning at the office. But lunch to these guys is sacred and nothings better than ploughing into a KFC $5 Box. It’s time to reflect on the week past and present. It’s that one moment in a hectic day that they can recharge, enjoys one another’s company and chat over some great food. Suddenly, in the background, through the glass divide, a clueless office worker powers past as Louis chimes in, “Ever noticed how busy people look like they’re power walking?” The camera’s focus suddenly shifts back to the two office mates enjoying the succulent delight of a KFC $5 Box. Cut back to the humourless jobsworth powering yet again past the fishbowl conference room. The two mates relaxed and at ease with the situation just look at one another and simply go back to enjoying their tasty KFC meals. The camera pulls focus and cuts back to the walker who continues to look completely idiotic and not to mention hungry. A super appears, Stop and Smell the Chicken as the VO concludes, “KFC’s $5 Box. Wicked wings, chips and a drink for just $5.” This particular spot rest heavily on the two office characters and their enjoyment of the KFC $5 Box. The characters…
Casting For the performance pitch I would love to go for a very impulsive style along the lines of a contemporary American sitcom like “Modern Family” or “The Office”. It’s an underplayed routine that is natural and organic, and creates credibility in the scene but also makes the moment seem spontaneous and almost ad-lib. They will be subtle performances that come from the heart and speak to the stomach; these scenarios will be intimate and filled with wonderful, real nuance. We want to avoid the overt advertising performance. In many ways this is about letting the characters/actors run with the situation. Allowing the characters to find those moments that only they could design. These characters cannot be planned on paper; they need to be discovered through an intensive casting process. It is proposed that the casting process involve not only actors but also real people. Real people or street casting will give the production a sense of the unpredictable. Spontaneity and authenticity within each vignette is what will make these commercials truly memorable. One cannot replicate the unique nuance and idiosyncrasy of a young boy getting up to mischief, or a middle-aged accountant marveling at YouTube, all these personalities are best presented from the real world. The more authentic the casting, the more real the personalities, the more random and quirky their responses will be. It is the diversity of this ensemble, which will make this campaign and its characters great. I propose that the cast be made up from a selection of thorough street casting and traditional casting. The intention of the street casting is that the production will expose some truly unique individuals who even the best copywriters could design, avoiding the artificial and manufactured.
Voice Over Artist As discussed Louis CK, would be a wonderful acquisition for the first phase of the campaign. His read needs to feel familiar and accessible to audiences. Louis CK casual, observational comedy is about the joy of living, no matter how much the body aches. In our campaign, like in Louis CK stand up stories, these characters are funny and unpretentious. Their wit and friendliness make them very likeable characters to watch, effortless honesty that is fluent and heartfelt. Louis’s charisma and comedy are rooted in a weary-but-optimistic view of the world. He talks about his divorce, his kids and worrying about his aches and pains, but there’s depth beneath the veneer of bluntness and complaining. Louis C.K. has a flair for turning plainspoken observations into wry, ruthless comedy, and it’s the bit-by-bit building to a hilarious view of the world that matters in the end. This is why he would make the perfect VO for this groundbreaking campaign.
The Photography What struck me most about this project was that even amidst the humour of this clever script, there lies great potential to create a very engaging, photographic campaign. The overall look will be cinematic and beautiful - an artful and poetic visualization of each peculiar vignette. The idea is not to do anything over-the-top or strange, but rather to enhance our scenarios through simple clean photography. Again, Errol Morris frames the characters in unusual ways that embellish the personalities of each character on a humorous level. This type of framing considers both the role of the tasty KFC chicken meals and the interaction of the characters. I would like to shoot this with a more observed camera style – longer lenses and close ups so that we feel that this is a spontaneous moment from across a room or through a window or down a corridor. This approach will make each vignette feel like it truly belongs to the individual character further embellishing the humour of the “Stop and Smell the Chicken” attitude. What’s a really important aspect of the photography is that the vignettes have a sense of personality to them. I don’t want this to feel like it was shot in a clinical, syrupy and contrived manner. It needs to feel as though it were captured in a spontaneous manner as if we were intimately capturing each moment just as it happens. This will be achieved with some considered art direction and some lovely natural lighting plans, giving each scene a personality.
The Food Photography Probably the most important aspect to the campaign is how the KFC Chicken will be photographed, as it’s essential to be embraced and augmented within each script. We don’t simply want to shoot the food in a lazy, studio manner. We want the food to feel at ease with each script. Completely immersed within the scene so that they feel and look as comfortable as the characters. The glorious food shots need to sit in perfect unison with the narrative. I can’t stand sequences of food that clearly doesn’t match with the rest of the commercial. It’s languid and disjointed. Beautiful natural light that compliments the tasty KFC produce will dominate the campaign. I will have in-depth discussions with Geoff Brown in the style and direction of how the food will be lit so that both aspects of the KFC glory shots are pushed to their highest potential. The use of focus pulls from chicken to the characters enjoying a moment will establish strong and seamless edit which will work beautifully at augmenting the KFC meals into the characterisation of the campaign. Even in the most mundane of setting like a large office, Geoff and I will ensure that the KFC chicken looks absolutely mouth watering to both the characters and audiences alike. This will be achieved through the use of longer lenses, focus pulls between meals and characters and natural organic lighting.
Conclusion Thank you for the scripts! There is truly an opportunity here to turn the heads of mediocrity and deliver a steak knife into the heart of the competition. There is a real beauty in “Stop and Smell the Chicken’s” simplicity and focus. They contain a multitude of interpersonal comedy, nuances, mannerisms and a present an amusing snapshot of the human condition in modern times. I can’t wait to get started on this truly original campaign for KFC.