Charles Stone III reprises Wassup for Obama

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The "Wassup" campaign and the Bush administration were unleashed on the American public roughly eight years ago. The former resulted in the sale of a lot of Budweiser, a fistful of ad awards and a cultural phenomenon. The latter, well, its effects are addressed in the newly launched Wassup08, a sequel from Charles Stone III produced through Believe Media.

Stone, of course created the original short film about five friends and their catchy greeting. It was picked up by DDB Chicago in 2000 and was reinterpreted many times in an ongoing series of Bud spots directed by and starring Stone.

Wassup08 reunites the original cast of characters to whom the intervening eight years have not been kind—instead of "watching the game, having a Bud," they are variously serving in Iraq, scanning the job listings and struggling with prescription drug costs. The "wasssuups" are still there but subdued or, in some cases, twisted into screams of horror at plunging stock portfolios or hurricane winds.

Stone says Wassup08 came out of a desire to contribute personally to the Obama campaign. "I donated money and passed around emails but I wanted to contribute in some way that represents me. But I also wanted to make sure it would get seen." Stone wanted to make a short using the original Wassup cast and posted a message to friends and colleagues, including Maurice Marable, who now directs spots through Believe, and Chris Fiore, an editor and director. "(Fiore) wrote a short skit that was based on my original short," says Stone. "It was really pretty dark and subversive. I took that idea and reworked it. What you see is what we shot."

Marable exec produced and he and Stone recruited a team of production and post players including DP Shane Hurlbut (who worked with Stone on his feature Drumline), editor Nico Alba, sound designer Bill Chesley, mixer Phil Loeb and VFX company Mass Market as well as the original cast members, Stone, Paul Williams (Paul), Fred Thomas (Fred), Scott Brooks (Dookie) and Maurice G. Smith (outside friend). Neither DDB nor Budweiser was involved. "Everyone worked pro bono," says Marable.

Within a week of Stone and Marable's first conversation about the project, production began. The film was shot over two days in and around L.A., with Santa Clarita standing in for Iraq. Wassup08 is a drastically darker comedy than the original series and Stone says there was much discussion about how far to take the tone. "I do enjoy walking the fine line in terms of edginess or darkness but you also needed to see the light at the end of the tunnel."

In the film, one of the characters, Dookie, goes so far as to attempt to hang himself after he watches his net worth plummet. Stone contemplated going with a version where Dookie remains in the air, feet twitching. "It was important to go the distance in terms of portraying the stress and hardship we're going through now," says Stone. " But his surviving was a symbol that it's going to be OK." He also says the original version of the film had a different ending—in response to the final "so, whassup?" his character said "Nothing, still looking for a job," as McCain and Palin appear on TV. The inspiration for the more optimistic "change" ending came from Stone's stylist. "When I was explaining the concept she said it'd be cool if you showed Obama on the TV. That planted the seed. It ended up being more proactive. So instead of the classic Wassup loop, we end with an opportunity for something new to happen."

The film was posted to You Tube on Friday and has already garnered more than 1.6 million views. The film is also posted at, along with info, the original short, and links to and Rock the Vote.
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