Castro Valley native Ryan Turner is on the verge of stardom — a hilarious commercial he directed was selected as one of 10 finalists worldwide that may be shown during the Superbowl.
Whether or not his commercial is chosen depends on online voting, and Castro Valley residents are invited to help.
Shot in a friend’s back yard on a budget of only $350, Turner’s humorous take on the lure of Doritos Tortilla Chips is entitled “Baby’s First Words,” which may be viewed at www.votefirstword.com/. Viewers may then vote for the commercial, which will help the Doritos judges select the winner. Fans may vote once per day through January 28.
“This is the biggest opportunity of my life, and I appreciate any support people can give me,” says Turner, 25, who graduated from Castro Valley High in 2007.
There were almost 5,000 entries to the “Doritos Crash The Superbowl” contest. The Doritos company chose their favorite 29, which were then narrowed down to a top ten.
The contest asked for “consumer-created commercials” to compete for airtime during the Superbowl on Sunday, Feb. 1, plus a $1 million grand prize.
Two of the commercials will air on that day, one chosen by the Doritos company, and one by popular vote. Without giving anything away, the commercial is funny, engaging and definitely worth a look.
“When they picked our commercial for the semi-finals and then the finals, we were really blown away,” says Turner. “Now it’s up to us to promote it. We’re out on the streets wearing t-shirts with ‘VoteFirstWord.com’ on them, handing out flyers, and asking everyone to share it. The Castro Valley High teachers and students are really supportive, which is heartwarming.”
Prior to CVHS, he also attended Canyon Middle and Independent Elementary schools.
The high school will be running an announcement on its marquee about Turner’s commercial.
Turner actually started his career at Castro Valley high’s Advanced Video Production classes with teacher Ken Jacobsen. He always loved working with film (“It’s so much fun, it doesn’t feel like work”) and was a film major at U.C. Santa Barbara. After graduating in 2011, he moved to Los Angeles and began working on video projects.
In September 2014 he was introduced to a writer, Travis Braun, who needed a director to shoot his ad for the contest. Braun works for Netflix and had just won a Nickelodeon writer’s fellowship. Turner and Braun’s collaboration, filmed Oct. 15, resulted in “Baby’s First Words.” “We were working completely out-of-pocket, so we pulled in all the favors we could think of, including borrowing a college friend’s back yard for the location. The cast and crew are volunteers.
The hard part was casting the baby, because they can’t read lines and some were crying or asleep. When Landon Crew, who plays baby Liam, came in, we knew we were saved. He had a big smile and was so charismatic that we knew we had a commercial.”
Indeed, the commercial’s baby-parent interaction is so endearing, one would have no idea of the work that went into the filming.
“We were all dancing around the yard trying to get him to do what we needed. His mom was right there helping too. He is a baby, after all,” says Turner. “We were shooting mostly on natural light, so that dictated what we could do and when.”
After finishing the baby’s scenes they shot the rest of the footage, Turner edited it on his computer, then it was sent out for sound editing and color spacing. It was submitted November 5 and selected in January by the Doritos company, which is known for its humorous ads. Now the rest is up to public support.
The contest winner will also get the chance to work as a contractor for a full year onsite at Universal Pictures in Hollywood. The eight finalists whose commercials don’t air during the broadcast will each win $25,000. The runner-up whose ad airs, but does not receive the most fan votes, will win $50,000.
Entries arrived from all over the world, with finalists from the U.K., Australia, Canada and the U.S.
The easiest way to vote for Turner’s commercial is to click on the website www.votefirstword.com/. Another link is bit.ly/FirstWord.
More information on Turner is available on his facebook page, www.facebook.com/RyanTurnerProductions