Creating a film that tells an engaging story is difficult; creating a film that tells one in five seconds is seemingly impossible. Such was the challenge posed by Cadillac for their Cadillac Under 5 Contest, a promotion tying together the upcoming Be Cool film and Cadillac’s new performance cars, which accelerate from 0-60 in under five seconds.
Answering the challenge was AOL Productions Los Angeles editor Tony Kern, whose five second film Short and Sweet was chosen as the second place winner in the drama category. The entries, which numbered more than 3,000, were judged by Be Cool director F. Gary Gray and cast members John Travolta, Christina Milian and Cedric the Entertainer. The contest was first announced on Super Bowl Sunday, and entries were due by February 17th.
“I didn't see the commercial during the Super Bowl,” Kern said. “I was sitting in my office after work and (AOL employee) Christian Kennel came into my office and said, ˜TK you have to check out this film festival that Cadillac is doing. You should submit something; I think you'd have a shot at this.”
Kern, already an award-winning filmmaker, spent the next two days brainstorming ideas, knowing his time was limited “ in more ways than one. He decided on a boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl concept because it was the one that stuck. "We thought it would be easy to do in a few days and with no budget," Kern said.
As for inspiration, Kern cites his past work at AOL Productions Los Angeles as a major influence on his ability to deliver compelling content in a short amount of time. I was inspired by the eight second promos we used to do here at AOL on the Welcome Screen. You had to tell a story about the show or movie or product in eight seconds, so it got me thinking, “I can do this -- I just need to shave off three seconds.”
The entire film was shot with a still camera and composited in Adobe After Effects, a software program Kern often uses at AOL, most recently in a Scary Movie Contest promo for KOL. I basically took the Halloween promo a step further by using live actors, Kern said. I knew I wanted to shoot at night and use a long exposure technique to get it more saturated. I shot a few sequences and basically used those. The background is a bakery, but I took off their bakery sign and digitally put in my own.
As a second place winner, Kern will attend a special viewing of the director’s cut of Be Cool in Hollywood in March with F. Gary Gray. Travel and accommodations will be paid by Cadillac, who had the foresight to select a finalist already living in Los Angeles.
“Second prize gets an all expenses paid trip to sunny California, where I live and work every day,” Kern said. “It's been suggested that I should throw a huge party in my hotel room.”
Fans of his five second film may be interested to know Kern actually shot a happy ending for his story, but time constraints wouldn’t allow its inclusion. We basically shot a three second sequel. "That'll be on the director's cut DVD edition," Kern joked.
Kern’s film, along with the other finalists, can be viewed at CadillacUnder5.com (See: Finalists > Drama > "Short & Sweet"). Of course, some of his best work can always be seen on AOL.