Last week, a group of creative types gathered together in a New York apartment at the behest of filmmaker MacKenzie Fegan. On a less-than-shoestring budget, they created the following very funny spoof of the Dodge Charger "Man's Last Stand" spot that debuted on the Super Bowl. Fegan posted it on YouTube last Thursday, and it quickly went viral; as of this writing it's closing in on 175,000 views.
When I first watched it on YouTube, I did a double take: I knew one of the women making her last stand -- actor and performance artist Natalie Kuhn, who is the girlfriend of writer/musician James Rickman, an old friend of mine. Given the connection, I asked James to put me in touch with MacKenzie Fegan so I could ask her some questions (five of them) about the making of her viral hit:
1. So when did you have the idea for the Dodge Charger spoof?
Since my boyfriend and roommate were off bro-ing out during the Super Bowl, I threw a small, girls-only Super Bowl party -- three types of homemade dip! Super Bowl bingo! There were a couple of ads that we found eyebrow-raise-worthy, including "Man's Last Stand." The next day I was iChatting with the boyfriend, and I asked him what he thought of the Dodge Charger commercial. He freakin' loved it, and bam, now we're in a chat fight. He made the point that he was sure there were, say, chocolate commercials that were basically the same thing except from a woman's perspective, and I shot back with a couple lines of hypothetical dialogue: "I will do the majority of the housework while maintaining a career. I will make 75 cents for every dollar you make." He said, "That would be a pretty compelling commercial." So, naturally, he's claiming full responsibility for the success of the video.
2. How big was the production -- by which I mean, how many people worked on it?
Tate Delloye, Corinne Donly, me and Natalie Kuhn appear in it [in that order]. And it was shot by DP extraordinaire Paul Yee. We shot it the afternoon of last Wednesday's snowpocalypse at my friend Priya Sangvhi's apartment. She also art directed and was my second pair of eyes.
3. What's your background, anyway?
I started out in the documentary world, but my web video career began at Good Magazine, where I produced and associate-produced several web series. As you'll know if you're familiar with Good, the content we were creating was a mix of socially conscious, solutions-focused short docs and highly designed, animated infographics on topics such as the war in Iraq and the corn industry. Good's New York video office was liquidated during the great media purge of late 2008, and since then I've been freelancing, mainly as a video producer but also as a writer. Clients include Human Rights Watch and Barely Political. I've never worked in advertising, although I did create custom editorial content sponsored by brands such as Saucony while at Good.
4. How'd you approach writing the script?
I started by just throwing together a bunch of "I will" statements, and in the beginning most of them were on the weighty side. I started adding in some of the lighter, funnyish lines since I knew that otherwise I'd be written off as a humorless feminist, which is almost as unappealing to the YouTube crowd as a video without cats. I ran various versions of the script by friends who picked their favorite and least favorite lines and ended up with what you hear in the video. Oh, credit where credit is due, however: the "Rudy" line is all James Rickman.
5. Any particular favorite reactions you've gotten to "Woman's Last Stand"?
There's a wealth of spectacular trollery on the YouTube page. I think there's a string of, like, 20 "Make me a sammich" posts in a row. Really hilarious yet simultaneously frightening stuff. But I think my favorites so far are the guy who wrote simply, "Y'all mad," and the commenter who opined, "durr i have a vagina i make a big deal out of everything."
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Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.