In less than a week, Jason's video project has been around the
web and back, with one media outlet calling it the next "Blair
Witch Project." Thinking about that quote, I messaged Jason to find
out more. The piece, which integrates your Facebook photos and
location information into an eerie short film, combines great
storytelling, high-production values and visual elements that are
so realistic you'll think twice about letting your kids on
I found Jason on the set in Los Angeles working on a commercial.
Jason is also the man behind the successful viral video created for
Office Max called "Elf Yourself," which has over 164 million views.
When asked if there is a recipe for viral video success Mr. Zada
said, "I don't know if there is a magic formula, but don't over
think things, keep things simple, fast and easy."
Mr. Zada, who is represented by Tool of North America, came up
with the idea only a month ago. He woke up one morning and was
thinking about how much he loves Halloween. "I wanted to do
something that messed with people and I wrote the script.
Instantly, I knew there was something special about the idea," he
Tool of North America and others quickly jumped on board and
supported the project. He brought on Mihai Malaimare Jr. as
Director of Photography. Mr. Malaimara also has an impressive
resume and has shot projects for Francis Ford Coppola and
Paul Thomas Anderson.
Mr. Zada considered bringing on A-list talent but picked Bill
Oberst Jr. for the lead. "When I saw Bill's headshot, I knew he was
the guy. It was a twist of a role and Bill was the right type and
he'd done horror movies," he added. "Some actors would overdo it,
the audience needed to see what you're doing without thinking. I
wanted people to feel his anger and discomfort with minimal
movements. Bill went deep. He trusted the process."
In the piece, the sweat-covered, mouse-rubbing talent grunts and
gives Hannibal Lecter a run for his money. As the story unfolds,
the lead clicks through Facebook as your own photos, contacts and
geographic location fill the screen.
"It was easy to get into character," Bill told me. "The filming
environment was an abandoned and reputedly haunted hospital, that
helped and Jason's script and direction did the rest. Stepping onto
the dressed and lit set and sitting at that desk, it was very easy
to feel the vibe."
Looking at comments on Jason's Facebook wall, others think the
creepy creative is pretty unique too. A woman named Heather
commented, "You rocked it on take this lollipop… you're the
man behind the magic. It's crack."
As for Facebook, Mr. Zada wonders what Mark Zuckerberg thinks
about this piece. "I did hear the video project has been polarizing
inside of Facebook and I received a call from Facebook's Developer
Relations Team, " he said. "They were very nice, respectable and I
explained I didn't want to cross any lines."
So why did TakeThisLollipop.com go viral?
"Well, you can't share the piece with others, and you can't put
your friends in it. You have to watch the piece yourself," Mr. Zada
stated. "I have seen teenagers posting videos of themselves
watching their videos on YouTube, but you can't send your videos
forward. It was a giant experiment. The trap is around you but
nothing bad actually happens," he stated.
video of someone watching TakeThisLollipop.com has over 3,976
views. So, a viral video is in essence sparking viral videos.
My take is that we all have some narcissistic tendencies and
seeing your photo hanging on the dashboard of a stalker's car is
unpredictable and thought-provoking. Even if a crazed psycho is
stalking you, it's entertaining seeing your personal photos
integrate into a video. It doesn't need dialog to suck you in like
a vacuum tube.
Intellectually, TakeThisLollipop.com taps your core and brings
the sub-conversation that exists around social media privacy issues
to the forefront. It has talk value and pass along appeal. Although
I may get the Bad Mom of the Year award, I did let my daughter
watch the video with me. "The zombie baby display at the Spirit
store was scarier than that ," she said.
Mr. Zada, at least, thinks it's scary how much information is
available about us on the internet. "Our privacy was dead a while
back and will never be the same," he said. "Life as a whole has
changed. If you look at the video, the scariest part is that your
information is in the video. The piece is scary because a person is
violating your privacy, not because it's bloody or there's anything
I don't think this is the last we'll be seeing from Mr. Zada.
His passion for great creative and a growing interest in longer
format pieces makes him a perfect candidate for feature work and
horror films. In closing, Mr. Zada added, "I wouldn't be surprised
if we did a sequel next year."