”In high school I’d get out of doing papers by asking if I could do videos instead. I was one of those weird kids in high school who figured out that I wanted to make videos for the rest of my life.”
Kevin T. Willson
Director of Sling Baby
The Sling Baby now has a new name—Million Dollar Baby.*
Yesterday, Sling Baby beat out 54 other Super Bowl commercials to be the winner in the USA Today/Facebook Super Bowl Ad Meter. Which means director Kevin T. Willson gets a nice little million dollar bonus. It also mean a clean sweep for Doritos as its other Super Bowl Ad, Man’s Best Friend, won the panelist Best Ad on Sunday. Think about that for a second….two consumer-created spots beating all the giants of advertising in the biggest game of the year.
Sure the big game was one by the New York Giants, but the great upset was scored by Doritos. To have two different films win in two different polls is amazing. The fact that they were both consumer-created is off the charts. It gives real meaning to the whole Crash the Super Bowl contest.
Of course, the big winner is Kevin Willson. Big as in one million dollars. That’s his bonus for Sling Baby landing in the top spot. On Sunday’s poll he came in fourth which meant he just missed out on the third place $400,000 bonus. That had to be frustrating to get that close. But he made up for in a couple of days later in the fan poll (aided by a nice social marketing push) and now he has a greater platform to make the features he wants to produce. Heck, if he does them Edward Burns-style, he could be making films for the next decade.
Congrats to Willson and his fellow Slingers.
But one thing to realize with Willson is just because Sling Baby was part of what’s called a consumer-created ad that doesn’t mean his win was a fluke. If you visit his Compass Films website you’ll see that he’s been at this a few years—actually, since his elementary school days in Southern California:
“After graduating from Biola University he taught Special Education for years. He left teaching to purse his dream of filmmaking and directing and directed numerous documentaries for humanitarian organizations; including Aces of Love, Habitat for Humanity, and Free Wheelchair Mission, where his film took 1st place and received a standing ovation at The White House. Kevin has filmed in 14 different countries including Peru, Cambodia, and Afghanistan.”
And this year was actually the third time he’s been a top five finalist in the Crash the Super Bowl Contest. So I don’t know if Willson has put in his 10,000 hours , but he definitely knows what he’s doing. And since he’s 34-years old, I’m estimating that he’s been at this for 20 years.
Though Willson lives in Los Angeles, he’s exactly the kind of person I write this blog for and love featuring. The full title of this blog is Screenwriitng from Iowa…and Other Unlikley Places, and I’ve often said that that unlikely place could very well be West Covina (in California) as well as West Des Moines. La Mirada, where Willson went to school, is 15 miles south of West Covina.
Best wishes Kevin T. Willson on your filmmaking journey.