I received an email from actor Steve Tom thanking me for complimenting his performance in the Kodak "Winds of Change" video that I posted a few weeks ago. We chatted via email and as I had a few questions about it I asked if we could do a little Q&A. He agreed.
Here's the video if you haven't seen it.
As I was copying and pasting the code for the video embed I let it play in the background and just listened to it, he really knows how to work his voice. Listen to how straight the delivery is in the beginning and how well he changes it up to work the comedic bits.
How did you get involved with the Kodak "Winds of Change" video project?
In May of last year I had the original audition for the video along with about 50 other guys, pared down to maybe 25 at the callback. The agency, Partners + Napier out of Rochester, NY had done some great work I was already familiar with. I just had fun with the rant at the callback and, fortunately, wound up booking the job. We shot at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Countless takes from multiple angles. Other than a few technical notes, direction was pretty minimal because, as I learned later from Partners + Napier's Jeff Gable, I was the only actor in the audition process that "got" the material, and understood exactly what was trying to be accomplished. The shoot was a blast, except for a few days of laryngitis afterward.
In September, we did two more videos in New York City for other Kodak divisions. At that time I was asked to be involved in a pre-con event for Kodak at the 2007 CES show, which I enjoyed immensely.
I've read that this was initially conceived as an internal communication. Is that accurate or were there always plans to release this as a viral video?
That's an interesting question. Honestly, I was told the same thing originally...that the L.A. video was going to be shown publicly one time only, immediately before Kodak CEO Antonio Perez' keynote to the Wall St. Journal's D4: Everything Digital trade show in San Diego. Apparently it was a huge hit at D4, getting a standing ovation that lasted several minutes. As far as I knew, that was it until one of my agents emailed me a link to the piece that appeared in the January 5th online issue of Advertising Age, which linked to the video on YouTube. The You Tube clip is actually a sanitized version of the original. A few references had been cut and some of the background visuals were different. How (or why) it jumped the transom from the Kodak intranet to You Tube, I don't know. And I have no idea if it was premeditated or not. As a performer, speculating on that kind of thing is like mind taffy. I'll leave that to the marketing analysts.
All I can tell you is that I personally think the original and subsequent videos are absolute genius in a re-branding sense. They deliver a plain and simple message that resonates with every single Joe Schlub consumer that I know. I think it's one of the most effective re-branding efforts that's been undertaken in decades. As an aside, all I did was bring a little life to a fabulous concept by the great team at Partners + Napier. All the credit goes to them and, just as importantly, to the people at Kodak who saw the wisdom in this concept. The trick now, in my opinion, will be to widen the message to reach more than a YouTube audience. If Kodak and Partners + Napier can do that, well, look out! And if I'm lucky enough to be a part of it, I'll gladly take the ride.
You can read the rest of my interview with Steve Tom by clicking on "comments".