Published on January 27th, 2015 | by Biz Books
The Biz Interview: Brendan Taylor
Vancouver actor Brendan Taylor is getting a lot of attention these days for his role in “When Pigs Fly”, a commercial by the filmmaking duo of Graham Talbot and Nelson Talbot that has cracked the Top 10 of the Doritos Crash the Superbowl Contest with a chance at a cool one million dollar cash prize.
With the contest winding down and “When Pigs Fly” holding steady as a prime contender, we spoke with Brendan Taylor about how the commercial came to be, what goes into a successful commercial, and what else he has in the pipeline.
Tell us about the Doritos Crash the Super Bowl contest and your commercial, “When Pigs Fly”.
The contest is open to anyone who wants to make an ad for Doritos; they don’t have to be filmmakers necessarily, they just have to have a good idea. The winning ad is shown during the Super Bowl, the filmmaker gets a job at Universal in LA, and they win $1 million! Graham Talbot and Nelson Talbot happen to be great local filmmakers, they are SFU Film Alumni and aspire to work on bigger projects. They entered the contest last year and made it to the Top 25 semi-finals, which is already great. But this year they made it to the Top 10, out of almost 5,000 submissions. But I didn’t know it would get there when we shot it in October! It turned out amazing, and of course I’m biased, but I actually do think it’s the best one out of the 10 finalists!
In the ad, a young boy approaches his neighbour and casually asks for a Dorito chip. The grown-up says to him “When pigs fly!”, and the smart young boy takes it literally; he comes back the next day to surprise his neighbour, with a fly-by pig with a rocket on his back. The neighbour concedes and gives him the whole bag.
How can people get involved to support it?
Please go to Doritos.com and click ‘VOTE’ under our video “When Pigs Fly”! We are 1 of 2 Canadian teams this year, and would love all the support we can get to win this thing! It’s real easy, no sign-up, just visit the site and vote! You can vote every day until Wednesday, January 28th, once a day on your computer, phone, and tablet!
And find Vote4whenpigsfly on Facebook for all the latest news and extra behind-the-scenes stuff! We find out who won the contest DURING the Super Bowl on February 1st; they will air it live, so we will all find out at the same time!
How did the idea for this commercial come about?
Graham Talbot and Nelson Talbot just did a brainstorming session and built on what they learned last year, got an idea, and ran with it. Raw creativity based on experience! They knew kids and animals were popular in ads, so they worked from there. They have a good friend who does most of the post-production CGI effects. You can find a great little video on the visual effects on our Facebook page.
What can you tell us about your creative process in putting it together?
There were many factors, the Talbots will tell you: working on a budget, calling in favours and finding the location, and the actors: Keegan Turbitt, the perfect young genius boy, myself for the ‘simple’ farmer, and Bernard the Pig, who is a local pig actor! I got a call randomly from a mutual friend who was helping them find cast. I looked at the Talbot’s previous work and really liked it. I decided to jump on board, thinking at the very least of having something cool for a demo reel. The rest is history!
What do you enjoy about doing commercials vs. theatre, television, and film?
Commercials have been great for me not only for on set experience, but as an outlet for comedic acting. I love comedy, but there’s not a lot of comedy that shoots in Vancouver, just mainly dreary sci-fi stuff. But I do love TV and Film, more so in fact because I get to dig into a real story, and not just a fleeting gag or idea from a 30 second spot. And I love theatre: I was trained in theatre, and firmly believe it makes the actor great. Name any famous actor you enjoy, and chances are they grew up on the stage. Overall, I just love being immersed in storytelling. In a perfect world, I would balance my time shooting TV in LA, traveling abroad and shooting a film on a remote island somewhere for 6 months, then hunkering down in NYC for a few months to work on a Broadway play.
What would you say are the three most important things that every successful commercial needs?
Hmm, tough question. I’m not a marketing person, but from my own experience I would say: know your market, think outside the box, and…hire good actors? I find advertising fascinating, but I think it’s a lot of pressure to constantly come up with good ideas! Often times I’ve found myself improv-ing something in an audition and they end up using my idea because it was better than their own!
One of my favourite recent gigs I had was a singing voice-over gig for Old Spice ‘Dadsong’, once of the most unique and creative ad campaigns out there. The song was written by Bret McKenzie of ‘Flight of the Conchords’. So bizarre, yet very high production value and and you can’t help but laugh and sing along. Check it out on Youtube!
What other projects are you involved with these days?
I have a few projects coming out very soon. I was on an episode of the CW’s Arrow, which will be airing in a couple weeks, and I was on a new show called Olympus on the SyFy Network. I have a few commercials airing right now, and couple more on the way. I was also a lead in a feature film that shot last summer called Charlotte’s Song, which will be in festivals this Spring. It’s a supernatural period piece set in the 1930s Dust Bowl based on the fable of the Little Mermaid. I’m very excited for people to see it.
I’m also in the midst of co-producing an original play with some friends from my theatre company. We’re still in early stages, and it’s scary to dive into something original, but it’s exciting.
Who are some of your influences in film, television, and theatre?
I’ve found my tastes and interests have changed greatly over my life, in terms of who I like and who I think is good. But I definitely have some role models: In dramatic acting, I look up to Daniel Day Lewis, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Fassbender, Michael Keaton. In the world of comedy, I love Ty Burrell, Patrick Warburton, and Larry David’s brilliant writing. I’m fascinated by Wes Anderson, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction era. In theatre, sometimes I’m in the mood for William Shakespeare or Tennessee Williams, but then I’ll play with David Mamet or Martin McDonagh.
What books have been influential to you in your career so far?
As I mentioned, I like a variety of theatre, so I love reading plays. Actual physical plays, not so much online. I’d love to have a huge collection of play books that I could chip away at. I find they’re very useful to have around too, if you’re an actor in training, which you should be. It’s so easy to be lazy as an actor, so at the very least you should be reading plays, thinking of monologues, reading up on playwrights or directors, reading or watching biographies… do something to further your craft if you’re not taking classes. Which you should be.
Where can we find out more about you and keep up with your projects?
You can check out my website at Brendan-Taylor.com. I try to keep the blog up to date with my latest gigs. You can find most of my commercials there too, and plenty of photos from past projects, including several plays with Blind Pig Theatre. And you can follow my Twitter @bdog_taylor and Instagram @dardaboy. In the coming weeks I will have a new demo as well as a voice demo up on my site, so stay tuned!