(Photo: Biola University/Kevin Willson)
The director of last Super Bowl's Doritos commercial, "Sling Baby," that won the Facebook USA Today Ad Meter's number one rating out of all ads for the NFL's premier event, said keeping his film work true to his Christian values is his ultimate goal.
After discussing his winning commercial, which was also rated by Neilson as "Most Liked" and "Most Remembered," to those attending a break-out session of the Biola Media Conference over the weekend, Kevin T. Willson sat down with The Christian Post to discuss filmmaking from a Christian perspective.
He said that although it was important to include an element of surprise or shock in a commercial it was not necessary to be crude.
"I want to do entertainment for a mass audience that is also aligned with my values … comedy with heart that everyone can enjoy is what I am inspired by most," Willson, 35, said.
He said doing a commercial that aligns with wholesome values is a challenge, but something he enjoys.
"It actually has bigger appeal," he explained. Commercials that are crude "do horrible on the ad meter. They rate very unliked. It not only aligns with my values to make it clean, but it also has a better chance at wider appeal. The shock value has to be there, but it doesn't have to be in a crude way."
Willson has finished as a Top 5 Finalist in the Doritos' Crash the Super Bowl contest for the last three years. In 2010, the commercial he directed, "Casket," aired during the Super Bowl and was ranked by Neilsen as the #1 Most-Recalled Ad. In 2011, the commercial he wrote and directed, "Birthday Wish," ranked in the top 5 out of 5,000 submissions.
Doritos has hired Willson to create a new Doritos short film in collaboration with the Lonely Island guys: Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone. He was paid by the Doritos company $1 million for taking the top spot on the Facebook USA Today Ad Meter.
His success and winnings have allowed him to further his career and begin fulfilling his desire to direct feature-length comedy films.
He said he is currently writing a "comedy movie with heart" that he hopes to create and direct.
Willson told CP that he became a born-again Christian in high school and also knew during the same time period that comedy filmmaking was the career he wanted.
"I would get out of doing History and English papers by turning in funny videos in high school. I just came alive when I was able to create funny videos. I decided in high school that's what I want to do for the rest of my life. I wanted to make comedy movies," he said.
His passion is to someday create "heartfelt comedies that have an honest premise."
"The world all over watches movies so that's an incredible responsibility to try to tell honest stories," said Willson. "Jesus told stories in parables and they were not sugar-coated. They were real, honest stories of struggle. People remember stories so it's an exciting and wonderful industry."
He said it was important for filmmakers who are Christian to be loving and not judgmental.
"People of the world need storytellers like that," he said.
Willson is a Southern California native and after graduating from Biola University he taught Special Education in Los Angeles, according to his bio. He left teaching to pursue his dream of filmmaking and directed numerous documentaries for humanitarian organizations including Acres of Love, Habitat for Humanity, and Free Wheelchair Mission, where his film received a standing ovation at a screening at the White House. Kevin has filmed in 14 different countries including Peru, Cambodia and Afghanistan.
In addition to winning more than a dozen awards for his directing work, LionsGate also distributed his short film, "Beauty."