Never have nightmares been so lucrative... or funny. Designed to promote Estate of Panic, the new reality-style game show on the Sci Fi network, Brand New School, the bicoastal design, promotion and production collective, and member of transmedia resource group LORI PATE+, took an oddly lighthearted look at how a couple of common phobias can lead to a fistful of cash. Brand New School's Mario Stipinovich and Jonathan Notaro directed the two promos.
"Sci Fi came to us with a whole bunch of creepy ideas," commented Danny Rosenbloom, Executive Producer at Brand New School. "We wanted to bring a cinematic, yet comic style to these pieces, and those elements are what really drove both the casting and the shoot. Along the way, we made several references to science fiction movies and horror films. These spots were created very traditionally. There were no greenscreens, no computerized effects, just good old-fashioned, in-camera shooting."
In "Walls," an area rug bunches up and a piano splits down the center before a startled looking man realizes that the walls are closing in on him. In a scene reminiscent of the trash compactor scene in Star Wars, the man jams a table leg between the walls, just as he discovers a thick wad of bills. His elation is short-lived, however, when the table leg begins to split. As his screams linger in the air, the camera tracks quickly backwards and out to reveal the huge, dark estate of the show's title.
"Water" begins with the oddly muted sounds of a room underwater where a young woman thrashes madly at the water before surfacing near the ceiling, gasping for air. As books and sofa cushions float around her, she clutches at the crown mouldings before coming up with a hand full of cash and shrieking with joy.
"The scenarios in the spots are quite cliche, so making them a little more stylized, and slightly campy, as if they were from a 70s British horror film or a late 90's thriller, was a fun angle for us," Notaro said.
Added Stipinovich, "It was interesting, especially in this day and age, to create these practical effects. Given the schedule, we knew there would be no 'fixing it in post,' but I think we wound up thriving under those constraints. Approaching the job practically just catapulted the realism to the extreme and brought out the best in our actors. There was absolutely no doubt that these scenarios were actually happening."