Vaping Ain't Cool


The Call

We've been partnering with a super talented agency out of Wyoming called Warehouse 21. Headquartered in Cheyenne, it's refreshing to work with a team of creatives across the state line. One of their large clients is the Wyoming Department of Health, and WH21 knew we execute comedy, so they gave us a call. 

The campaign would use video that features Wyoming teens talking about vaping. The campaign will also inject facts about vaping, it's connection to tobacco, and the risks. Youth don’t like to be told what to do, especially by anyone seen as old or uncool. By using real Wyoming youth, we would avoid preaching to teens. We believe that Wyoming youth will be more receptive of messaging coming from their peers. 

Pre-production & Planning

We were hired to produce 15 pieces of video content created by a mashup of teen interviews, as well as 4 "drunk history" style longer form videos. For these longer form pieces, we'd have to locate sound bytes from the interviews of the kids talking about a story that relates to tobacco. We would then cast an ensemble group of 3 comedians to act out all roles, exactly as the kids explained it. Sounds weird, sign us up!

Jordan Dean, creative director at WH21, is always great about giving my team simple yet concise direction, but then allowing my team the creative freedom to make our own decisions in line with that creative umbrella. Jordan wanted us to cast 45 Wyoming youth across 3 Wyoming cities. This would obviously be our principle pre-production challenge. How do you find these kids since they're non actors? Even if you get kids to sign up, how do you motivate them to show up when we have a crew assembled? 

Due to my comedy reel, I was requested by Warehouse 21 to direct these spots and lead our crew during shoot days. Our Producer Maureen worked tirelessly over our 3 week prep window to not only book the 45 kids, but to locate physical locations across the state we could rent and stage for our filming requirements. 

Technical Production

We shot about 15 kids each day, over a 3-day shoot. After we'd wrap in one city, we'd pile in the Image Brew gear van and drive on to the next.  While on set each day, it was really fun to work with such a wide variety of kids at different ages, and both myself and Jordan (CD at WH21) had fun interviewing them. We shot the spots on a series of colored paper backdrops with a Sony FS7 and Cine Prime Lenses. This camera was my request, as it's a true workhorse, gets great imagery, and is affordable for our clients too. 


Here is the overview video that encapsulates the style and campaign of the 15 social videos we delivered. 

Interesting Fact: After the first day of filming, while driving North to Casper in the dark, Maureen and I got caught in a white out snow/ice storm in the middle of nowhere, which caused a white-knuckle harrowing drive, and that's coming from a dude who went to college in Buffalo and enjoys lots of snow! But hey, this is why production is a great career path. Every week and every job throws you something different, something challenging.


The post process on a job like this can be challenging. Since we did not script any of the kids responses, and wanted true authentic sound bytes, we shot somewhat long, informal interviews, so the kids would feel comfortable. We had a list of questions that would hopefully solicit answers we could squeeze into the various themes of our 15 videos, but the editors still need to watch all raw footage and become very familiar with the content, to ultimatley determine the best cuts. Jordan at WH21 dedicated a lot of time to help guide us on what would be the right tone for the Wyoming Health Commission. 

Here are 4 of the 15 videos we produced and delivered, not including the 4 story telling videos (next up!):

Regarding the original request for 4 "drunk history" style longer form videos... We shot all 4 of these in one full 10-hour day in the studio, about 2 weeks after filming the kids in Wyoming. A full day in the studio gave us about 2 hours on each of the four videos, if you factor in an hour for setup, an hour for breakdown, and a short break for lunch. Each video had a shot list I created of about 15 shots, so we end up with a roughly 5-10 minutes window for each shot.  This was not an easy task considering the wardrobe changes, props, talent blocking, performance, as well as one of our biggest challenges: playing back the kids story audio so the comedians could lip sync the dialogue. We often had to do this several times to get it right before moving on. 

While our editor was cranking away on the 15 social videos, I was asked as Director to dive in to the raw material and build four stories that would have opportunities for funny visuals and scenes from our comedians. Our plan was to shoot these entirely on green screen, to create fictitious environments that would add to the silly execution. Some of the kids stories were a bit confusing, or didn't completely make sense, but it made it all the more funny when you realize that these kids just made this shit up, off the top of their heads. How creative and fearless they were. It was awesome. 

Directors on our roster, The Nix Bros. are very talented editors and often incorporate VFX into their projects. I thought they would be the perfect fit then to cut these together. They took the 4 stories I cut, and the shots I produced in the studio, then went wild building it all out. Jordan at WH21 and I are big fans of weird shit like Tim and Eric, so the Nix Bros loved having that creative freedom to run with. They did a killer job. 

For your viewing pleasure, here are the remaining 3. The first is at the top of this post:

Results & Client Feedback

These videos just released, so we're still eagerly awaiting data and results.  However, Jordan Dean at WH21 did tell us that these are the favorite videos he's ever help produce.  

Have a project we can help with?