075 – Let’s make a Christmas Video

In this Happy Hour podcast, John and Ryan are chatting about the pre-production that goes into Backflip’s annual Christmas video!


  • (4:24) Christmas video origins.
  • (21:21) Backflip’s approach to their Christmas videos.
  • (26:15) Where we’re going there is no box.
  • (53:27) Crew with no budget.


Ryan Freng 1:58
Hello and welcome back to another backflip. Happy Hour the less backflip show happy hour. I’m Ryan Freng, co creative director here at backflip. And for those listening at home, listen to the podcast, not watching self titled memoir. Joining me as always is the hunter himself. Johnny John Shoemaker. What’s up, John? Hello. So this morning,

John Shoemaker 2:23
since you mentioned one thing, I’m actually like, I have like seasickness right now. I was in a tree this morning that was like that bigger round.

Ryan Freng 2:35
And so you’re just swaying in the tree. Yeah. And

John Shoemaker 2:39
you know, you get used to it after a while. But now that I’m like sitting still, every now and then I can just feel myself like feel myself swaying. Now it was slow, slow morning. I thought the snow might might get get the action on but

Ryan Freng 2:59
no such luck. didn’t see anything.

John Shoemaker 3:02
No. I mean, I saw a squirrel. It was always a squirrel.

Ryan Freng 3:07
And trees, I bet you saw a lot of trees. So sorry, to those tuning in for us being late. All the things happen. So as you can see, I’m in a dungeon in my new house. And I was re patching a light which basically just means unplugging and re plugging in a different area production speak. And I bumped the plug that powers all my stuff. So about 10 minutes before we’re supposed to go live, all my stuff went down. And the funny thing is I now I have a UPS so I bought a UPS for the router. Uninterrupted uninterrupted power supply, I bought a UPS for the computer. So if we’re away and things go down, then my home security system stays up. computer stays up and can report do stuff and I can connect for a little while at least I hadn’t set up the UPS yet on the computer. And I bumped the power and I killed the power to the computer and I was like God had I set it up we would have been good. So I took it as an opportunity to quick get that plugged in. So now we are rocking the UPS so the whole power in the house can go down and we’ll still have internet and the computer.

John Shoemaker 4:19
It sounds also I’m you’re on a desktop right? At all. Yeah. Yeah. Because I was gonna say that sounds like a good old fashioned, you know, old style desktop power failure where it’s like, oh, it’d be a 10 minute ordeal.

Ryan Freng 4:35
Yeah. Well, and luckily, it takes less than a minute to come back up. It’s a very fast computer to have it set up so I can edit here at home. But that was that was the first thing and then the second thing about three minutes to noon. We couldn’t get restreamed to work. Now. Do you? Are you feeling your age right now, John? Because I am.

John Shoemaker 4:55
Yeah, I just want the young the young punks to take off Have her and be like, This is how you do it. So I

Ryan Freng 5:03
just have somebody produced this for us. That’d be awesome. But in the meantime, we’re here, so we’ll do it. And today, what are we talking about? We’re talking about, let’s make a Christmas video. What’s that mean?

John Shoemaker 5:18
Well, every year for the past many years, we’ll have to figure out how many we’ve been doing and when you know when there’s a important anniversary coming up or something, but yeah, maybe like eight years. Yes, something like that seven or eight years, we’ve been producing a Christmas video. The first one was ultra simple, just like a Let’s stand it from the camera and say Merry Christmas and wave. And then we got a little bit more complex. I mean, that next one was pretty awesome. The music video where we just, you know, lip synced to pre existing song. And then things just kept getting more and more complicated from there. So we’ve got you know, and in office style spoof, we have a original musical. All all just spoofs of actual songs, but all our own singing and lyrics. And then we’ve got a original medley, acapella medley zoom call. And then we have a post apocalyptic Christmas.

Ryan Freng 6:51
Yeah, we gotta get that on our Christmas page. Oh, you can’t see. Hang on. There we go. So we have a Christmas page back. Let’s back. Oh, I forgot. I forgot about the whole belongs for this up in the chat. Yeah. I don’t think this is all of them. But this is the you know, the latest and greatest but yeah, Kerala backflips is the music video you’re talking about, which is silly. It’s also fun to see kind of our looks change, you know, what does change and what doesn’t change through the years? Yeah, so this was two years ago. This is actually so our merry APA. Christmas was right before the pandemic, right. The Christmas before? Yep. So this whole Zoom meeting thing was

John Shoemaker 7:44
we were future.

Ryan Freng 7:46
I know. Yeah, these are great. Also, it’s like Phil would always wear his jeans. Those kinds of tan shoes and a gray sweater. Looks like I mean, down here, a little different, but a couple a couple years of it. That’s really, really fun.

John Shoemaker 8:09
It’s a capsule wardrobe. You know, decision. Fatigue is a real thing.

Ryan Freng 8:14
It’s a power move.

John Shoemaker 8:16
Yeah. I’m thinking about I guess we’re just a black turtleneck. And like acid washed jeans all the time.

Ryan Freng 8:26
I wore a grey Henley and acid washed jeans yesterday or actually they weren’t acid washed. They were that ad style kind of punk rock cloud pattern or whatever. Yeah, so I guess this is the latest one right here.

John Shoemaker 8:42
What’s there Yeah,

Ryan Freng 8:44
we won’t watch the whole thing but I think it’ll be useful maybe to see the intro and the outro just as you know, way to clue people in on what we’re talking about here. Let’s do that

you know, more and more cinematic each year. And ridiculous to some degree.

Unknown Speaker 9:15
All struggle to survive. I have found the one thing that will bring the light to the darkness.

Ryan Freng 9:22
Such a Roman profile there

John Shoemaker 9:24
who wants doughnuts? Doughnuts.

Man Get in today. Are we good?

Ryan Freng 9:39
I know we don’t. It’s funny, too.

John Shoemaker 9:42
We achieved quite the look in this video.

Ryan Freng 9:45
Oh, yeah. It was beautiful. And what was it that first take was like everyone’s standing still. And then the action kind of happens which is really really funny. But really great. There’s Shazam. He makes his way back into it as usual so you can kind of see a little bit of you know, just what we do. Oh, this was this was amazing, because this goes back to all the previous Christmas videos.

John Shoemaker 10:17
Yes. So like

Ryan Freng 10:18
perfect look at little Little John and little Ryan and I wouldn’t say I was little there but younger.

John Shoemaker 10:27
Little little in spirit,

Ryan Freng 10:30
little an age and then backflip alone. Let’s see. That doesn’t intercut with anything. Oh, here we go. So this will intercut.

intercut with Jeff and Max from back in the day. That’s so much fun

the kids just got home they want to show me things Yeah.

Now I’m having a shouting match with the two year old

John Shoemaker 11:29
this one’s great, too, you know, like the inner cutting on this one. It was really a little peek behind the curtain the was all just pulled off with camerawork. And we actually didn’t have footage. Well, we do have footage, but we didn’t have footage to use to cut to that. Office one. We just had Luke and Andrew were what they wore in the office. Yeah, reproduce it, and then just kind of produce it because it was like, Oh, well, we got we’ve got the setup. And it really sells and like the camerawork you don’t notice you don’t realize unless you’re like looking closely or if you’d look back that Andrew and Luke probably a different hair

Ryan Freng 12:15
different look a little older. This is fun, too. I don’t know if this is intentional or not, but the boom is totally there.

John Shoemaker 12:23
Oh, yeah. Well, yeah, I mean, that’s the the style of that you know as you can just kind of

Ryan Freng 12:29
funny because yeah, because she’s inserting herself into the office style thing. But she herself also is being recorded like the office. Super meta. Hannah here are designer. Ooh, this is a good one. The bell which doesn’t actually exist Oh, yeah. graphic that

John Shoemaker 12:54
that that took some work to I love the inner cutting in this one to the cross cutting

Yeah, it just works so well. You know, like, yeah, you’ve got I mean, you gotta be committed to watching the backfoot Christmas videos to fully appreciate all this.

Ryan Freng 13:29
Yeah, cuz this is all new. Right? All that stuff with Max right there. But he’s wearing is he wearing the same thing? Or approximately the same thing?

John Shoemaker 13:39
was super close. Close enough for cross cutting.

Ryan Freng 13:43
Yeah, I couldn’t tell. So that’s super fun. And then the Christmas review. Oh, yeah. Also by far the best shot, you know, the lighting and color of any of our videos

John Shoemaker 14:04
that’s what you do during a pandemic

Ryan Freng 14:10
Phantom of the Opera also that costume changes the best.

John Shoemaker 14:16
We just shoehorn MAC Fix into all this and then do the actual shot from the thing.

Ryan Freng 14:29
Right this is from which is a ghost Max.

John Shoemaker 14:33
We just placed Max in and it’s all just creative. It’s all just blocking. Because nothing crowd of people is not in front but it just it cuts perfectly.

Ryan Freng 14:49
Also, Scott is still wearing all of this. I think. I don’t think he ever changed that.

John Shoemaker 14:53
Change that. Yeah, that made it that made it the easiest.

Ryan Freng 14:57
Yeah, I love I love to that Luke here is like A 12 year old so little All right, what else do we got? Oh my gosh. So this is one of the one that’s not on the website

John Shoemaker 15:12
where you teleport to at all. Like what 2030

Ryan Freng 15:17
Oh my gosh I also love how you’re standing like what do I do with my arms? Just put it by your side like this. Okay

John Shoemaker 15:28
well, everybody seems to have forgotten that this is sort of intentional on my part. Nobody bothered to wear anything Christmassy for the video. I was like fine I’m just gonna be

Ryan Freng 15:47
awkward No, it’s good. I’m intentionally dorky so yeah, we had that natural green screen there so that worked for you to pop in again, it looks so beautiful was this Jordan shooting?

John Shoemaker 16:06
I think so.

Ryan Freng 16:08
We shot I forget so that’s fine. I mean it’s included the troll blade from Jeff

also right after this I forgot in the intro to talk about our drinks so we’ll do that but so this is the troll blade and then me coming into the troll bleh trying to make that space work

kind of works it’s the least integrated and then we’re back in the future also the color treatment really lends itself nicely

John Shoemaker 16:55

Ryan Freng 17:04
and then we have one to three maxes and this was when Max was not working for us

John Shoemaker 17:11
and when you you know a company when you mess around with time travel you’re gonna we got to have the classic you know we we’ve messed us some things up we’ve got some paradoxes and some things that don’t work so that ends up coming back to coming back to haunt us

Ryan Freng 17:31
Yeah, so great I also got to act for this I got to stand in as the other maxes for max to act to that green screen or that yeah in Scott naming the rat after his son without thinking no one appreciated that at home

John Shoemaker 18:02
should have been honored we’ll honored

Ryan Freng 18:10
Oh, yeah, the fire that kind of worked. That was that was cool. And it created a cool fire. We just couldn’t get burned

John Shoemaker 18:17
for long. Well, it burned for a little while. Yeah.

Ryan Freng 18:21
Yeah, also this road. Oh, work right here the

John Shoemaker 18:31
the end

Ryan Freng 18:37
what do we have? Do you have any Marvel? No, just our logo. I love that one. Yes. So that’s that’s what we’re talking about. That was good. Because that shows all the Christmas videos. Yeah. Gives you a little taste of what we’re talking about here.

John Shoemaker 18:53
In a way it kind of makes it the perfect year to go a little different direction. It Back off. You know, I guess we’ve kind of done. We did this as an ending to that one year. It’s a wonderful backfoot.

Ryan Freng 19:13
Yep. All right. So before we look into kind of how we produce this type of thing, let’s talk about what we’re drinking. This is a happy hour. So what do you got

John Shoemaker 19:27
have hot chocolate with some coconut Bambara Ron rum.

Ryan Freng 19:35
Oh, nice. Bambara from the island of Turks and Caicos.

John Shoemaker 19:41
That is correct. It’s quite good. Coconuts work. I mean, all I had left was the coconut. I was thinking I would go with the spice but then coconut perfect.

Ryan Freng 19:54
Yeah, I think we’re out of our spice ROM and we just have to coconut one lap but it’s good. It’s good. Rom. Yeah, I Highly recommended. I’ve got some hard kombucha. I grabbed some. We picked up we talked about a bunch of beer that we got for a tasting. I stole some of them. Where did things go? I stole some of them for just this occasion. And now I’ve got some awesome swag for at home that I can put this on. So this is the hard kombucha from flying embers. It’s good. I really like kombucha. And like, it’s a little funky. But kombucha can can kind of tend to be a little funky. You know, you get that SCOBY that growing organism in there. That’s like a slimy amoeba. That’s what does all the magic. And you end up having a little bit left in and that kind of makes it that? A little bit funk. But hard kombucha it’s the new wave. I’m gonna put that on my let’s make awesome coaster here. If you are jumping in comment, do all the things interact? We’ll send you some crap, send us your address. You too can have sweet swag. And drink with us.

John Shoemaker 21:14
All right. Also, it’s national happy hour, right?

Ryan Freng 21:18
Oh, that’s right. How do we even forget to mention that?

John Shoemaker 21:23
So national happy hour day, our happy hour is always early. You can still have your happy hour.

Ryan Freng 21:34
That’s right. We have done some later ones, which are are fun, as well. So all right, I am going to share my screen. I think I have to figure out if it’s going to explode. Because sometimes when I share the screen, it explodes. Remember meetings when I tried to share notion? Let’s see, maybe I’ll just do this. Maybe this will work.

All right. So we’re gonna get super nerdy here. Let’s do this. So this is a tool called notion. I’ve talked about it before, I think we’ve talked about it. It’s just a great note taking app. And this is the project. There we go. This is the file for the Christmas video project. So you can see there’s a lot that goes into it. But But what’s what’s kind of our approach each year, John, when we start to think about the Christmas video, you know, creatively, how do we approach it? production wise, what are we thinking?

John Shoemaker 22:56
Well, I, every year we what’s funny, actually is that every year, as we’ve started getting more complex with these videos, we keep talking about simplifying. And then every year we seem to like keep pushing the envelope. And going big. So that’s not directly answering your question, but it’s just kind of a funny part of what’s what’s been happening. Another thing maybe to add in before we get into all the details is that this is what like, why do we do this? I think, you know, some people have asked me personally, you know, people I know who run businesses are just friends of mine. And they liked the videos, but they’re like, why don’t you know, why do you guys do that, like, that’s a lot of work, you get a lot from it or whatever. I think, you know, you can’t really just put an ROI on it. Like there are clients that have pointed it out and liked it. But really, it’s just our opportunity to was thinking about this talking to somebody the other day about the client experience and so this is like our opportunity to delight to delight and surprise our client the direct plea but indirectly it’s just kind of a fun tradition to like play with creative things that we don’t always get to do with our client work. We can kind of take some risks and try out some things kind of workshop them the you know, there’s lower risk because it’s our own internal thing. So that’s, that’s some other stuff alongside this project. Okay, so and

Ryan Freng 24:55
that’s, that’s a good point too, is like, you know, I think at one point, we had to sell Scott on it too, because he’s like, Well, what’s the business value. And this was kind of where our two worlds meet, you know, where ROI is difficult to talk about with video sometimes, especially at the scale that we’re talking about. But, you know, through the years, Scott has seen the benefit of it. And that being, you know, something else, we have to convince new video clients, or people new to video of the return on investment, for any type of video is difficult to measure. However, there is that anecdotal feeling and experience you can get from it. And you, you if you don’t feel that that is maybe part of part of a lack of ROI, but you should hear people talking about it, you should see more traffic. It’s kind of become the thing where people expected from us clients expect that they have told us that they wait, you know, they’re excited around Christmas to see when it gets sent out. And we share it with them. You know? And how do you measure that as ROI? You can’t in the same way McDonald’s does with a commercial and they advertise the burger and sales are up 3%? You know, none of the businesses in our space, have that type of data. But you can measure, okay, how many people have talked about it? What’s the general sentiment? How are people feeling about it, and it’s that brand equity that you’re buying with these types of videos. And that’s why we keep doing it. In addition to, it’s a blast, and like John said, we get to experiment and try new things.

John Shoemaker 26:39
It’s important in the creative space to have some projects, you know, we used to do a lot more of the 48 hour films. But you know, schedule and just that hasn’t worked for us in the past many years. This is kind of our 48 Hour Film Project, like, you’ve got to have a couple of projects that you get to do during the year that don’t have a client saying these are my constraints. Or no, I don’t want to go that creative direction, I have a very specific angle I want to take this is like I mean, we will be good. But we get to pursue the creative idea that we came up with. We have to convince each other but we don’t have to convince a client who is maybe a little scared of like going too far outside the box for their market or whatever. So

Ryan Freng 27:37
we’re going there is no box.

John Shoemaker 27:39
Yeah. So we start we start with some rough concepts, we usually start with a creative meeting, we try to bring the team together and just kind of do some fun, brainstorm activities. And usually, there’s a few ideas that have been bubbling around over the course of the year, because we joke around with each other a lot. And we come up with a lot of goofy ideas. And, you know, we write some of those down, take notes over the year, and then we bring them together into our into our meeting. And then we kind of pitch each other on on ideas. Yeah, you’re kind of getting into it. I don’t know how much detail you want to give away.

Ryan Freng 28:24
I mean, you know what, I? You can correct me too. If you have a different opinion during this year. Wait, you’re breaking up? I was gonna say, I don’t mind. You know, sharing. Yeah. Sharing whatever people remember. That’s great. I’ve hidden the key thing from this. Yeah, you know, the general ideas.

John Shoemaker 28:51
Yeah, so it’s a variety show on SNL. And that’s unique, because it’s not just one concept. It’s many concepts and trying to make them work together as an entire program. And it’s not coming to you live, but it is going to there is going to be a a live to tape sort of portion where we’re going to perform live skits that we will work on for a live audience at a Christmas party that we’re throwing, right, for our company. So

Ryan Freng 29:34
maybe the coolest part of it.

John Shoemaker 29:37
I mean, I think there’s obviously some new challenges this year. But in some ways, I actually think that I feel like the pressure is is actually a little bit lower. Like it’s, it’s just like, there’s opportunity to just have fun and goof around and like you know, and record it and then share that Yeah, that’s oversimplifies it. But, yeah, yeah,

Ryan Freng 30:03
yeah, well, and so like John said, we come together, we start talking about concepts. And it’s always this push and pull. It’s it’s more difficult with ourselves. And it is with a client, I think of, what’s the idea? And how do you produce it? Because we are the arbiters of the idea. And we are the facilitators who have to produce it. And that’s always warring. And so we’re always talking about that. And John, and I especially kind of push each other like, Yeah, let’s try this. Well, that can be too difficult. Let’s, let’s back it off a little bit. You know, well, we haven’t even gotten there, let’s, let’s see how far we can go. And so there’s that tension, which helps us to do something new without having to push a client, which is, which is really nice. You know, it’s something that we would do. But it’s it’s internal. And we also get to kind of practice that creative. Kind of pitch right to each other. And, yeah, so we started off we had, we had a big meeting, just all the ideas. And basically, over the next three weeks or so, we created this giant list. And a lot of these are Max coming up with crazy ideas and throwing them in here, which is one of the reasons we’re so excited to have Max back as a part of the team again. Yeah, Max,

John Shoemaker 31:18
Max has a ton. I’ve got a few. I think there’s a Jeff one, and maybe maybe a group, a group one or two that hit the list from our group discussion and meeting.

Ryan Freng 31:35
I only have the group ones I didn’t come in later.

John Shoemaker 31:38
The importance of the importance of having a lot of ideas, though, is that you know, that’s good brainstorming is just rapid fire, you know, not stopping yourself thinking like, I don’t really know if this is going to be good. This stage of the project is just get off out there. You know, you’ve got to get these ideas out, because the next one might be the one that you want. But your brain is going to this is creative process stuff. Your brain is going to keep working on the one until you’ve put it down or articulated in some way. Yeah, there’s a guy that

Ryan Freng 32:25
napkin goal

John Shoemaker 32:29
well, I guess I don’t have to like keep this in the dark either. So Doug Vogel. I’m talking to him about being a speaker for the American advertising Federation. You might remember him from years back, I actually like

Ryan Freng 32:46
a guy who he teaches

John Shoemaker 32:47
improv in Chicago, Vogel or what’s his name? Yeah. Vogel or volatile or something like that. And he teaches improv in Chicago, he actually one of his students, who is the guy who played Jerry on Parks and Rec. And he actually, years ago gave us a presentation on pitching creative to

Ryan Freng 33:14
Oh, yeah. Okay, your clients and

John Shoemaker 33:17
stuff. And so I’ve been talking to him about being a speaker and excited about that for American advertising Federation. But in our recent conversation he talked about, we’re just kind of like brainstorming random ideas on where he could go and talking about everything. And he talked about creative process and how there’s some people that that some writers, some creatives that have a very specific creative process, and he’s, he’s not sure that that is the case that for everyone, but he has identified sort of a top level, like, whatever you process you follow, you’re going to have these things involved. And he uses the acronym opera. And it stands for objective, play, evaluate, rest apply. And I love that because it’s got some

Ryan Freng 34:21
II What’s that? What is it its objective play,

John Shoemaker 34:27
evaluate. Rest and that could be rest slash research. Apply. And I love that because it’s so true. And it also it also remind a piece of the process that I think is easy to forget when you are working on client projects because you’ve got deadlines and you’re trying to keep going Is that rest period where you need to let your brain like, stop. And just let that idea sit in the background for a little bit. And maybe just look around and see what other things you’re or think about something else do something else, and then come back and apply. But, you know, the objective, you know, we’ve got the objective, we’ve done the playing, that’s kind of what brainstorming is, you know, when we’re coming up with ideas, if people aren’t familiar with this, maybe they should know that. When you’re, when you’re brainstorming creative concepts like this, you’re not just like, saying, Oh, what if we had a skit like this? And then somebody says, Yeah, that’s good. Write it down. No, we we like play with it, we workshop it, you know, Jeff, and Max. And everyone really are like saying lines, just add loving to each other, playing with it, making each other you know, making ourselves laugh. And then we’re like, yeah, that’s good. I like that, you know? And now we’re kind of in evaluating, I guess, because we’re, we won’t have a lot of time for rest or research. I guess we It doesn’t have to be in that order. Well, we’ll take Dugan, his word that we’ve been kind of rest, rest and research. Now we’re kind of evaluating because we’re putting some of those pieces. deciding which ones should make the cut? And then apply is kind of self self explanatory.

Ryan Freng 36:35
Yeah, I mean, I would, I would even argue, maybe we’re, we’re in that rest research, slash apply, because we’re applying now. But that’s something that I, I kind of take over, when we’re doing these creative meetings to is just to kind of manage expectations, and be like, don’t get hot on one idea and be like, Yep, we’re gonna produce it, we’re gonna go, go, go, like, get it out there, play with it, joke around, write it down, and then move on. Because we need to evaluate rest research. And that gives us an opportunity you and I, who are producing and directing an opportunity to figure out what’s gonna work, what do we think is going to work? How do we think it’s going to work? And then kind of pull those together, bring that back to the team and start applying.

John Shoemaker 37:29
Yeah, so and it is a push and pull. It’s not, it’s not just one dimensional. This is something that I think you and I have been honing in and getting a lot better at over years of experience, playing the roles of director producer. Sort of having more focus, you know, on different projects, you know, one of us ends up more in the role of producer on one project versus another project. And the role is, there’s a lot of like figuring out logistics, and trying to say, well, if, okay, if we’re going to do this, these are the things that I see we need to do, realistically, can we achieve that in the amount of time and, you know, or basically, it’s just kind of like working with the IV. Because because the creative side, if you just go tunnel vision on the creative, you always just go for more bigger, better. You know, just do it all do something that’s mind blowing. That’s amazing. And then when you look at your real world constraints, you don’t have to throw out the creative, but you start asking questions like well is, is it worth it? To do what we’re gonna what we would have to do to pull that off? Or can we still get most of the, you know, maybe not 100%? Can we still get 90% of the value of that creative idea if we do it this other way, if we simplify in this way, or maybe we cut you know, in this case, this variety show, like, do we cut back one more of the do we cut one of the skits or something and not do it? Just so that we have an opportunity to do better at the you know, smaller amount, right? That’s always you know, when you’re on set with a client the job I guess we do it our producers do but it’s really the official job of AD,

Ryan Freng 40:04
I think, yeah, which we don’t have ever. Our producers

John Shoemaker 40:07
always play the role of ad on that on small sets. But basically, it’s the corner of do I do another take? Or are we done and? Right? Sometimes you need it because you haven’t hit the thing that is vital, yet. And sometimes the take is one of those that well, it’s pretty good. And it’s not going to be that big of a deal. Whether we get, you know, a little bit more out of something, and we’re starting to run up against the clock and the time and, you know, schedule the day and the crew hasn’t eaten lunch.

Ryan Freng 40:47
You know, that’s a clear distinction to that, that works really well, when we make because we’ll co direct. And we, you know, like, like, John was saying, we divvy up kind of those responsibilities, one takes the lead on directing, one takes the lead on producing, whoever’s taking the lead on producing often then plays that ad role as well. So we can kind of play devil’s advocate to each other, which is nice. It’s like, okay, I want another take, then the other person can be like, alright, we’re 30 minutes behind schedule, you know, take that into account, if you want another take, that means less on other things, is that worth it? Yes, or no, you know, having that conversation and then a person who is more in charge of creative doesn’t have to think about the schedule, as much doesn’t have to worry about it can react when that feedback is provided, but is not being dominated by the schedule, and instead is really focusing on the creative.

John Shoemaker 41:50
So one of the unique things, obviously with our own our own Christmas video, our own internal projects like this, or that we kind of have our, our set talent. It’s not like, you know, discussion about that, because this is us, it’s going to be us. But one of the fun creative things that we always have to do. And I actually take a lot of pride in, in doing this is making people shine in their role. And like, not putting somebody in a role that is too hard, or that they just can’t like achieve the best level of comedy or six

Ryan Freng 42:38
greatness. Yeah.

John Shoemaker 42:42
So we just play into it, like not everybody is, none of us are professional actors. Some of us have way more acting experience, some of us have next to zero acting experience. But we always figure out ways, even on fictional storylines, scripts, that I feel like when we’re kind of playing ourselves, it’s a little bit easier, because you just kind of, okay, you got a few lines to deliver, and they’re kind of leaned into a larger than live version of ourselves. But in fictional scripts, we’ve had people, you know, have to deliver lines and do their part. And I just, I really enjoy that taking pride in like, okay, how can I make these different people, you know, have a great role that people will remember without having to have all the acting chops of somebody with a lot of experience.

Ryan Freng 43:44
Oh, that lends itself to the creative that we’re actually doing. So this is not We submitted our Christmas video to the to the was it, it was the wave awards, one time the Madison Media professional waive awards. And there was one judge one year, we kind of get three different judges in three different fields, just kind of a diversity of perspective and opinion. And this judge has happened very hard on everybody and everything. And her feedback was that we didn’t have enough diversity in this video, which is understandable. Also, just extremely accurate to the fact that we at the time, you know, had very, you know, just a few women in the company. All of us are predominantly white. You know, so literally, our makeup was being criticized creatively in that feedback. But, you know, we’re working with what we have, and that’s what actually I think makes it charming and part of what our clients seem to resonate with, right So being able to perform as they can, I think is very important to inclusiveness in the team.

John Shoemaker 45:09
Well, and part of what our clients get from this video that we produce is they get to know us a little bit more, you know, and not in a business setting in a very busy, but they get to know us doing something goofy, and you know, like, Scott shared it a lot, how many people commented on his, you know, his role in the cat’s costume. In the musical aisle, people were just like, jaws on not believe that it was him. And it’s, but that’s a fun thing. Because now you’re like, he’s not going to do that you’re not going to, you’re not going to get to see that from him in person, when you’re in a meeting with him. But the fact that you’re like, you know, you have this piece of this piece of art, you know, whatever that he participated in, you’re like, that’s a whole side of you. That is hilarious. And it’s amazing. And that was, you know, an amazing role. It’s fun for people to see that, you know, outside of the day to day interaction that they get with, with us.

Ryan Freng 46:23
Yeah, and again, what makes it strong. So we’ve talked about kind of the creative, we talked about the why. So sorry, that’s one, the only issue I have with like, producing the show that I’m on is like, I’m always clicking around and looking and keeping track. And so part of like, a small part of my brain is doing the mechanism of the show, while the other, you know, 90% is trying to stay focused on the content. So

John Shoemaker 46:52
I couldn’t do it at all, I would just stop talking and end up staring, and then have no idea what’s going on. So

Ryan Freng 47:02
yeah, that happens occasionally. So, you know, we use lots of tools to produce things. But this is a great note taking system that we have. Let me throw it back up. And so we’ve got our program outline here. We’ve got all the ideas, and then we start breaking it out. Even more specifically, so we threw this christmas calendar together, because when the heck are we going to shoot anything and edit and produce? Okay, well, several of us are out on a shoot next week. It’s actually those two days and then hunting. And then Scott’s out this week, max out Thanksgiving. John out, let’s see.

John Shoemaker 47:42
Might be on the wrong day. Since we’re looking at it.

Ryan Freng 47:47
I think it’s on the 24th. This down below Scott.

John Shoemaker 47:53
Oh, I didn’t above I see. It’s above December 1. Okay.

Ryan Freng 47:58
Yeah, it’s below this. And actually, for the sake of whatever, we’ll just do that. Because I’m going to be out that day too. So then we start looking at it. And what is this, this is actually I just got updates on all these shoots, too. So we have a little bit more capability to shoot. And this is gone. No peek behind the curtain, if you saw it. So we’re looking at a calendar, those who are in the podcast, I apologize, you’re not looking at anything visual. But we have a calendar within this project that shows when we’re out when we need to shoot when we’re having our show. So the SNL live studio shoot and Christmas party, we’re gonna roll that in together. And then all the things of people being out other shoots going on. And then we can better see when we can produce this because it doesn’t matter what crazy ideas we can come up with. But if we can’t shoot it and get the thing done, it doesn’t matter. Right. So this calendar tool is really nice to help figure that out. Over here, we’ve got the program outline like John said, We’re doing an SNL style show last year was a 14 or 15 minute video this year. I just broke it up into 10 minutes. So we kind of have your cold open and little easter egg for those who are watching. The sketch is going to be Christmas video auditions. So we are very meta with this stuff. But it’s gonna be fun because people get to play each other way too. So So yeah, we get you know, we’re gonna pick maybe something that’s very noticeable about a person and in a fun way, ribbed them to all of our friends on the internet with this video. So we’re playing each other in that called Open title credits commercial. You know, we do awesome stuff with carbon four. So we gotta throw something in there. Opening sketch commercial to movie trailer, Hallmark spoof pineapple, people who knows pineapple people’s a crazy thing Jeff and Max came up with and they keep bringing it up and they like it. And so that’s something can go in there. Commercial three we are storytellers. We love to make fun of that second sketch, musical guest, Josh Romer, we this is maybe one of the most exciting things about this. I mean, we’re going to create some fun content. But Josh Stromer, who has worked with us for years, he scored the rosary film. He, what else did he do, he did electricity he wrote produce that. For the EV land, short film we did with mg and II, he like, as soon as John started talking to him, he quickly recorded something and sent it over. And we’re like, oh, my gosh, this is going to be amazing. Like we were just blown away.

John Shoemaker 51:08

Ryan Freng 51:11
koozie with a K. And then, and then we get out. And then that’s it. So we’ve broken it out into those core elements. And then we take it and we’ve created a tasks table. And since this is this is a copy of the actual product does IT project it doesn’t have the tasks, but all the tasks are on the calendar as well. And we see okay, first draft of the script. For commercial one beer has to be done here, reviewed here and finalized here, then we’re shooting it here. So that’s like four different calendar items. Movie Trailer, written here, reviewed here, finalized here, shot here, and then edited it as well. So all of that goes into this project so that we can manage the, you know, six creatives who are putting in kind of pre production work, so that when we get to production, it’s kind of paint by numbers, you have a day you have the script, it’s all finalized, all the assets are there and ready to go. Because somebody said this yesterday, in a directing course I was listening to, we often joke and say fix it in post. But that’s just kind of a lazy man’s way of thinking about things. What we actually want is to fix it, fix it in pre production. Let’s see. Let’s do that. There we go. We can be back, fix it in pre production. So if we think about it as much as possible, and in every scenario in pre production, then our production is going to be smoother, our post production is going to be smoother. And we have to worry about a lot less details. And we can really focus on the art when we’re when we’re in production.

John Shoemaker 53:00
Well, and then in your saving and post production to just make things better, or the best that they can be instead of fixing broken things in post production,

Ryan Freng 53:12
fixing broken things that could have not been broken. Had you done it right. Had we had more time or taken more time? Yeah, video commercial sketch idea. And as you can see, like, there’s there’s a ton of sketch ideas. And maybe 90% of these are Max. But that’s that’s one of the fun parts of his energy is just these crazy ideas. Like man can’t find caribou Shea anywhere. dude walks into a hobby store. And as if you’re infuriated, they don’t sell Travie Shay’s and you’re like why Trevi? Shay’s doesn’t matter. Because it’s the seed of this, just energetic, you know, comedic thing, right. So that’s kind of what we’re coming up with here. And then we take these, we do what resonates with us and what we want to produce what we think and produce, put them into the schedule. And then and then we start rocking, you know, then we’re off to the races. I probably should have written down in order of other things to talk about, but we kind of talked about how we come up with this, how we approach it, the producing that we’re currently doing. What else? anybody? Anybody watching,

John Shoemaker 54:30
there’s any questions? Oh, yes. You have questions. Ask us questions.

Ryan Freng 54:36
Yeah, specifically Amanda, if you want to know anything, or Carolyn,

John Shoemaker 54:41
but someday yeah, pretty soon Amanda is going to be like sending Hey, when you’re done can you do this errand after Yeah. You know, crew is a important part, especially when we’re filming ourselves. Like that’s again another two challenge of, we can’t run the camera when we’re in front of the camera. So if we’ve got sketches or if we’ve got, you know, concepts that involve less than all of us, we can kind of, you know, run before ourselves. But there’s a lot of times when we need crew and one of the fun things, one of the cool things about our Christmas video is a lot of crew members that we work with during the year, come and help us for no budget. Jordan post is a great DP in Madison, who does a ton of work, and he does, he does a lot of work for us on these creative side projects and can’t give them enough shout outs to show our appreciation for him. That’s, you know, he’s always willing to do something fun and something cool or do a spec project or something like that. So we really appreciate him. There’s a lot of different crew that have been on things over the rich Riley has done a lot of audio for us in the past, I think he was the one doing all of our audio last year, which is super important on the composite cast. With all of us together, having complicated dialogue scenes back and forth. So Rich, Riley came and made sure that we had great audio for all of that. I know Brian, all birth has come and help us in the past. Max before he worked for us, you would come up with these videos. And it was in a lot of the videos. Emma freed the some amazing producing work for us on these projects. So now you’re

Ryan Freng 56:55
at the point where you gotta you gotta remember everyone else, because we don’t want to miss somebody.

John Shoemaker 57:01
I mean, I’m probably I’m missing people in there. But but I don’t feel bad about giving good shout out to those names. I mean, most people have really done a lot of great work for us for free on these Christmas videos, to help us do something fun. And

Ryan Freng 57:19
we’ve got an intern this year, Kylie, who’s going to help us out on the production, which will be great, it’ll be some of her first production experience. And it’s great because you know, having a assistant producer or I don’t know what you call them, production assistant assistant can just be great. It’s like, hey, coordinate this very specific thing, you know. And then she can be on set, be around to help out shooting whenever she’s available. So that’s always great to bring on the interns to these projects, too, because they can see some kind of high level production elements. without there being the pressure of a client or without there being the kind of necessity for success. Obviously, we want to be successful, but a client’s not going to fire us if we don’t do as well on it on this yet yet that we’ve ended on what we say that we’ve experienced. Yeah, this is the video where this is the video where everyone espouses their COVID. theologies like COVID isn’t real COVID is real, you have to follow the science and sciences this made up Googly Gook, or

John Shoemaker 58:31
he interesting. Client, you know, came back to us and said they were so disappointed with our Christmas video that they’re no longer going to work with us.

Ryan Freng 58:41
Yeah. That I mean that would that would show me that. Maybe we don’t want to work with that client. Could be could be Yeah. Could be. Yeah, what else do we got here? So we planned it out. We shoot it, we edit it. This case, we’re going to air it live, we’re going to send people a gift box, send our clients a gift box to open and enjoy while they’re watching it. Because we like to, you know, we like to send that little present but to make this an interactive experience.

John Shoemaker 59:21
It’s a logistics challenge. I mean, it’s always it’s it’s part of part of the end of the year Christmas activities stuff is always the fact that you have to be thinking about this in September or October in order to get anything moving to produce it ahead of time to get it out so that it actually gets out in time. So yeah, it’s it can be a challenging thing, especially when it’s internal to because right, that’s stuff that takes the backburner. You get client projects that come up and you’re like, well We got to, we’ve got to work on this client project that’s important, we got to, you know, do a good job for them. So then the stuff that we want to do, that’s just fun, you know, ends up being high intensity, because it’s usually, okay. Now we’re running up toward Christmas. And now we’re actually creating the thing.

Ryan Freng 1:00:19
Well, and that’s a good point too, like, the cobbler having the uncoupled shoes or you know, not having the best shoes like that that’s a really important thing as an agency that we have to realize and not do. And we’ve gotten better over the years, we’re definitely not great at it, but we’re definitely getting better. No, no, we need to take the time to do this for ourselves. And that means we can’t get that client thing done. You know, in that timeframe. So it’s, it’s definitely a learning experience and something we’re getting better and better at. But it’s tough. And, again, when you’re like, well, what’s the benefit? Well, the people enjoy it. And they enjoy interacting with the content that we create. And that makes them think better about us. And they see kind of the range of what we can do. And there’s greater opportunity for us to work with them and more people. So it’s kind of like I have soft skills. That’s what these videos are. These videos are our soft skills to show. Yeah, I don’t know. I think that’s it. We don’t have any questions. That’s okay. If you are listening to the podcast, ask, you can ask questions to in whatever system you’re in, we should be notified. And we can follow up later. Or you can hit us up on let’s backflip.com. And we’ll follow up with that. Yeah, Boston mark. Man, what’s up? This is this is the other stream I do. When I turn these on, I turned on the bit live show and it started off as fitness. So I turned it to just just chatting. So now you got the just chatting version. But there you go. This is not fitness right now. Even though every day is fitness. Yeah, so this this video will be coming out at the end of December likely should be pretty awesome. We always strive to get to a particular deadline. I think our deadline on here is Christmas. The 24th. Yeah, I mean, we’ve done it after we’ve done it before. Like, we’re trying to coordinate the product with the video. So people get the product and can enjoy that with the video at the same time or the box. Yeah, what else? What else do we got?

John Shoemaker 1:02:48
I think it’s worth it. It’s worth it to do now worth it to do these things that don’t always make perfect sense for, you know, business sense. Because if you’re only ever focusing on that stuff, then you’re not having fun. You know, I mean, business is fun work, the stuff that we do is fun. But if you don’t take the time to really go after something that’s really fun, and just play around, right? Then you lose that, you know, that like,

Ryan Freng 1:03:20
dude, well, why? Why are we doing this, you know, that’s good gets back to that.

John Shoemaker 1:03:24
Doing these projects, makes us hungry, to achieve this level of fun and creativity when we do client projects throughout the year. So it benefits the benefits that it benefits our clients because we’re like, hey, remember, let’s try that thing that we did in the Christmas video. I wonder if that would work. You know, some technical things, you know, sometimes it’s some camera trick or VFX thing that we’re like, I wonder if we could do this and we try it out in the safe space of our internal Christmas video.

Ryan Freng 1:04:00
Yeah, yep. And, you know, it feeds us. So that’s, that’s important and good. So if you’re in a field where you can do something fun like this, I mean, maybe even if you’re in an office, just do something kind of goofy and fun or goofy gift or you know, whatever it is. Because it feeds that, that creative need. It can set you out as a business, you know, set you apart. I’m not familiar with too many other people who do this, one of our partners paradigm does and they do some fun stuff as well. But beyond that, I’m not aware of too many other agencies that do a lot of stuff, kind of to the level that we do it for Christmas. So that that helps set us apart. You know, and that’s always a good thing. But yeah, I think that’s it. We don’t have to do do too much else. It’s National happy hour day. So definitely continue drinking. We have a fish fry tonight and my brother in law is coming into town. So I’m excited about that. Uh, we’ll we’ll make a happy hour here at home. And if you don’t yet, check out the happy hour podcast. Let’s back up show slash list back with show or wherever your podcasts are sold. We’re on Apple. We’re on Google. We’re on Amazon. We’re on Stitcher. We’re on Spotify. Where aren’t we? Where aren’t we, John? Nowhere, we aren’t nowhere, so you can find us everywhere. Let us know in the comments, or Facebook or wherever. What you want to hear about and you got to get Doug on, Doug should be on the show. So you should sell to Emily. Yeah, yeah. That’d be so much fun. Yeah, we’ll get him on. That’s what we got. Check out our show. You can see the rest of the happy hour podcast to on Facebook, or YouTube. And that’s it. Anything else?

John Shoemaker 1:05:54
May all your hours be happy. And may all the deer be in front of your tree stand

Ryan Freng 1:06:00
as they say in Wisconsin. Awesome. Thanks, everyone, for tuning in. Thanks.

John Shoemaker 1:06:06
Thanks for blessing.

Ryan Freng 1:06:09
Thanks for tuning in. And we won’t be here next Friday. What’s next Friday? Oh, we’re hunting. We’re gonna go hunting. And we won’t be here the following Friday, because that’s Thanksgiving, but there’s plenty of content. Look around, find it. Thank you. We appreciate you. That’s what we got. See you next time.


author avatar
Ryan Freng
Owner and creative director. Shall we begin like David Copperfield? 'I am born...I grew up.' Wait, I’m running out of space? Ah crap, ooh, I’ve got it...