Saatchi Creatives create Anti-Prop 8 Film
By Teressa Iezzi
Copywriter/creative director Chris Beresford-Hill recently left his job at Saatchi New York to join BBDO; CCO Gerry Graf is set to leave to start up his own venture. One of the pair’s final creative acts at the agency was to create Devin and Glenn. The creatives, along with Saatchi senior producer John Doris and directors Speck and Gordon, created the short in efforts to help overturn California’s anti-gay marriage proposition, Prop 8, aka the California Marriage Protection Act.
As the filmmaker’s state on the film’s Facebook page, “To the 44% of Californians who think homosexuals should not be allowed to marry. Why would you support Prop8 and spare them from a long, unforgiving, lifetime of wedded torment?”
Below, Beresford-Hill and directors Will Speck and Josh Gordon talk about the making of the film.
What was the origin of this project and of the specific idea for the story?
Chris Beresford-Hill: I was living in San Francisco when Prop8 passed; still can’t believe that happened. I got engaged right around the same time, too. So… I can get married and my gay friends can’t?
It’s always struck me as odd, how society treats marriage as “the end of fun in your life.” Watch any sitcom, look up “marriage quotes,” listen to people excuse themselves from a bar when they have to head home to the wife; everyone makes it sound so horrible. So, these people are fighting so hard to protect, what, this thing everyone makes fun of?
I had the idea in the back of my head for a while and shared it with Gerry Graf, who instantly sparked to it. We started working together on the script and brought in our producer John Doris, who immediately got things moving.
How did Speck and Gordon get involved?
CB-H: I’d done some pro-bono work for the Tronie foundation, an organization that Diane McArter (president of Furlined) is associated with. When the Prop8 script came together, we reached out to Di to see if Speck and Gordon would be interested. I’d never got to work with them before, but Gerry and I are both fans. Right away Furlined saw the bigness of it. They understand content and pushing great work. I remember Diane saying “we have your back on this” and from that moment on, everyone at Furlined has been tireless creating this piece.
When we got on the phone with Josh and Will (Speck and Gordon) it only took a couple minutes before I knew they were going to make this so much better than I’d ever imagined. As soon as they came on board we trashed the original script, locked ourselves in a room and rewrote it together. By the time we were shooting this was their baby, we were just lucky enough to sit back and watch.
How did you get the two actors involved? What did they bring to the story?
Speck and Gordon: We wanted to find two guys that worked together but came from different energies. We had met Mike a few times and love what he brings to his characters when he acts. He also wanted an excuse to get out of jury duty. Once we had Mike on board we needed a guy opposite him that was more erratic and out there… we immediately thought about Justin who is game for anything and really got the idea right away. We knew at the wardrobe fitting that they were the right combination. Nora Dunn and Tom Arnold was just luck, they were down for the cause
Where did you get the inspiration for the boredom-setting-in/romance and sex dying/quiet desperation marriage scenarios (Chris you’re a newlywed! : )
CB-H: Oh man. That question has come up at home. And it has come up in Gerry’s home. And probably Will and Josh’s too. Truth is, we learned it all from The King of Queens.
SG: We all sort of sat around and asked ourselves what are the most painful, embarrassing, petty humiliations that come out of living with another human being for an extended period of time… and then we just shot it.
The scene with Justin abusing himself at the computer – obviously a highlight. With Mac v PC done, maybe he felt a little more liberated to go there…?
SG: Justin is amazing that way. If it makes him laugh, he’ll totally commit to it. He’s not self-conscious. The best guys are always like that. The only awkward moment came in the middle of the jerking off scene when the five-year-old son of the owner of the house came by wanting to meet the dude from the Apple spots.
Client: Overturn Prop 8
Directors: Speck and Gordon
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi New York