James Franco Directs--and Acts in Cheil's Latest Samsung Film

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James Franco can tick off a couple more items on his list of accomplishments with the debut of a new online film for Samsung, out of Cheil USA, promoting the Galaxy Note 10.1, which dropped in the U.S. last week.

Franco not only stars in the film--he also directed it. In front of the camera, he appears as the ultimate multi-tasker, simultaneously directing and acting in the spot, while he cooks a perfect egg, diagnoses a throat ailment, solves a complex mathematical equation, and sends himself a multimedia birthday gift reminder, among many, many other things. What helps make this possible is the equally capable and diverse Samsung tablet and stylus he carries throughout.

Easy Fit
For the non-Francophiles out there, the actor is well known for his polymathic skillset. While he's best known as a film celebrity, he's also starred in a soap opera (General Hospital), written a book of short stories, simultaneously attended grad school at two New York universities (NYU and Columbia), among other things. Naturally, he figured early on in the agency's concepting of the campaign. "We wrote the script specifically for James Franco," explains Cheil USA CCO Lars Bastholm. "We began by thinking about multi-tasking in general because the ability to do several things at once with multi-screen is a key feature of the Note 10.1. Once he came up, it seemed obvious he was the perfect person to illustrate this feature, due to his incredible range of simultaneous activity. He really is the ultimate multi-tasker."

Bastholm says that once Franco agreed to star and direct the video, "we worked closely with him and his team to fine-tune the script," although for the most part, everything was pretty much on the page from the get-go. Outside of that, "there were a few funny beats that happened during the shoot itself," he says. For example, "the extended "Bueller-like" ending was James riffing," says Cheil USA GCD Adam Wohl. Also, "we wanted to surprise James during the shoot with something he wasn't expecting, so on one take, the group of posing girls responded, 'Yes, James,' with perfect synchronicity. That made the final cut."

Talent schedule, not surprisingly, turned out to be the biggest challenge of the project. "We only had one shooting day with him," says Bastholm. "So we had to be very well prepared. Any day-of glitches could have thrown a spanner in the works and forced us to postpone. Luckily, the tiger, skateboarders and pillow-fighting girls were all very well behaved and performed great that day. And, you know, the benefit of working with someone like James Franco is that his acting skills aren't too shabby!"

First Consumer Launch Event
Also part of Samsung's launch campaign was the brand's first ever launch event geared toward consumers, held at New York's Jazz at Lincoln Center last week. Filmmaker Baz Luhrmann and fashion designer Zac Posen hosted a demo of the tablet, while a crowd of other creative types--artists, photographers, writers, participated in various "experience zones" that showed off the tablet's diverse capabilities for the creative set. "Our charge was getting people in front of and interacting with Samsung's devices, to ignite their passion for the brand," says Wohl. Bastholm adds that more consumer product events are scheduled for other regions across the globe.

In the coming months, Samsung and Cheil will be launching other celebrity-driven web videos, talent names are under wraps. Bastholm says they will be pop-culture icons from "various creative fields," and the videos will continue to "inspire, entertain and provide functional value to people's lives."

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