Digital Media Arts Grads Look to Crash Super Bowl with their Doritios Ad

Calvin Ko filming.

It took 13 30 oz. bags, but with the director’s clapboard on the final take sounding like the crunch of a Doritos Nacho Cheese chip, James Karroum and Calvin Ko called it a wrap on their entry into the Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” ad contest.

The recent Digital Media Arts graduates (Karroum in 2012, Ko in 2010) are among thousands of people across the country who are seeking to have their original ad for the popular snack food chosen and shown on millions of televisions around the world during Super Bowl XLVII. The contest includes $25,000 and a trip to the big game for five finalists, with two winners ultimately being selected for airtime, one of whom will get a chance to work for a day with director Michael Bay on the next “Transformers” movie. There is even the potential for one of the two winners to receive up to $1 million if the ad is chosen in a USA Today Ad meter as the most popular among all ads shown during the televised game.

Karroum and Ko admit that the prize package was a big factor in their decision to enter. Who wouldn’t want to say they created a Super Bowl ad or got to go to the game? And what media arts professional would pass up the chance to work with Bay. Not to mention the money. Still, both added that the contest was as much a chance to do what they love doing.

“Using our skills and creativity was rewarding in many ways,” said Karroum, who since graduation has worked on several projects as an actor, director and producer, including a small part in an upcoming Disney film called “Saving Mr. Banks” starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, and working as a boom operator on the feature film “Birds of Paradise.”

James Karroum ( ’12, B.A., digital media) and Calvin Ko ( ’10, B.A., digital media) team up to create an original ad for the Doritos Crash the Super Bowl commercial contest

The two put everything they learned in the DMA program into the making of the 30-second spot, from conceptualizing the piece, to pre-production, planning, casting, set design, filming and post production.

“The DMA program taught us to be professionals in the entertainment production industry,” Ko said. “We were able to work together and produce a professional-looking commercial…. This helped us have a manageable production day shooting the project and making sure everyone had a great time on the set.”

In their ad, “Doritos Bagheads,” plain brown bagheads are at a party with nothing much happening. Popcorn is the snack of choice. A Doritos baghead crashes the party and is found out, but he pulls out bags for all of them, and the party really gets started.

“We wanted it to be funny, respectable and original,” Ko said. “Although bagheads have been around in some form or another, there has never been a Doritos baghead, at least not that we know of.”

“The hardest part was designing the bags. The bags had to be designed to fit comfortably, safe enough to breathe, see through and move around in,” he added.

More than 400 actors responded to their casting call. They narrowed the field down to 10, all of whom agreed to do the commercial even though they wouldn’t get paid unless it won. DMA student, Pia Grace Asis, worked as a production assistant on the set and was also one of the actors. The shooting took one day.

Sizing up the competition, Ko and Karroum said they believe their video has as good a chance of any as being selected.

“We’ve watched many of the others that were submitted,” Karroum said. “Many appear to have been done by professionals, so the competition is not going to be easy for the judges. We feel we put our best efforts into creating a winning commercial.”

James Karroum directing the actors as Doritos Bagheads

Should they win they said they’d pay their actors, and also donate a portion to the DMA department.

“We are very grateful for the talent we gained from the DMA program at CSUDH,” Ko said, who is currently finishing his Masters in Technical Education at CSU Dominguez Hills. Since graduating in the DMA program he has also worked as the assistant producer, editor, and graphic designer for the documentary, “Fire Island,” and “Credit DVD.”

All of the contest entries are posted on a Doritos Crash the Super Bowl Facebook app, which allows people to rate them. To see and rate Karroum and Ko’s “Doritos Bagheads,” click here.

In early January, Doritos officials will announce the five finalists and ask the public to vote on their favorite, which will be one of the two ultimate winners.

Until then, Karroum and Ko my just turn into Doritos bagheads themselves: Although the actors ate plenty of Doritos the day of the shoot, 13 large bags of Doritos meant a lot chips left over.

“I haven’t gotten tired of eating them yet,” Karroum said.