Year in Review

I wonder how long I can go carb-free at the beginning of the year? I give myself two and a half weeks. 2016 is coming to a close, and it’s time to reflect on the work that we’ve done this year. Sharks, monks, haunted houses, and dancing janitors; we’ve had quite the spectrum of stories in 2016. Today, I’ll be recounting the year fondly––like remembering good times while sipping cocoa and looking out the frosted window.


Remand was a massive part of 2016. It’s the true story of a Ugandan boy, Henry, who was convicted of murder twice by a broken judicial system and the LA lawyer who helped acquit him. I remember sitting at the bar in the office––it must have been around lunch time. For weeks, we had been trying to figure out a narrator for the documentary. Randy came into the office singing Tina Turner’s “Private Dancer.” An intern didn’t know who Tina Turner was (what?!). Randy told them about What’s Love Got to Do With It? and how Angela Bassett was nominated for an Oscar. As Randy stepped into his office, he had a thought. “Man, we should get Angela Bassett to narrate.”

Randy reached out to Jim Gash, the LA lawyer who helped Henry. Randy told him about the idea. “Randy… you’re not going to believe this. Angela Bassett is a great friend of Pepperdine University.” Jaw drop.

A day later, after Jim worked his magic, Randy’s phone began to ding. It was Jim Gash on the line. Randy picked up the phone and we waited with bated breath. He comes back in the room.

“Angela Bassett is going to narrate Remand,” he said.

We all exclaimed as loudly as you can in an office setting; a sort of tempered enthusiasm. Before we knew it, she had recorded all of her narration in LA, sent us the audio, and Remand was submitted to festivals around the country. It’s premiere was held at the historic Egyptian theater in Los Angeles on April 12th. We’d love to extend a special thank you and lots of love to Zach Prichard, the editor of the film; without whom we wouldn’t have found the heart of the story.

 

We were featured in Rolling Stone magazine. In their March 24, 2016 issue on page 17, you’ll see a full page spread with Kip Moore conversing with Evan Williams’s Master Distiller, Denny Potter, about their careers and what goes into a good bourbon and great music.

The whole video makes me wish I was cool enough to drink bourbon and wear cool boots and leather jackets. It’s a highly stylized, beautiful piece that dives into two American made delicacies: country music and Kentucky bourbon. Both sooth the soul. But one of them can also make you wake up wearing a clown costume you didn’t know you owned. Yikes. Think wisely, Drink wisely™.

 

RAM Trucks worked with us twice this year. We shot with Dave Cobb in the “RAM Truck People – Country Music” spot right around the time when he won his Grammy Award. Obviously, it was more of an honor to work with us. (Right, Dave?) Then, in the fall, we shot with Easton Corbin as he drove around giving back to our everyday heroes: firefighters. That video was part of RAM Trucks’ #RamGivesThanks campaign. The campaign isn’t over, however. Stay tuned––we’ve got more work lined up with RAM and more artists.

In both cases, we were tapped for our impeccable production services. RAM Trucks went with an a la carte approach with us––we only shot those videos. Part of our allure is that we offer turnkey solutions to your video needs; however, we also offer individual services, such as production. We’re that great. 

 

Don’t Mess with Texas. That’s not a threat; it’s a 30-year-long anti-littering PSA. We strapped on our boots and spurs and rode west to Texas for three Don’t Mess with Texas spots. Back in 1987, Willie Nelson sang a song that instructed Texans not to throw garbage on her highways. 30 years later, Evan Kauffman directed Willie’s son, Lukas Nelson, in an homage to that famous PSA.

Ryan Booth directed two of the environmentally-savvy spots. For Spanish speaking communities, Booth created a rapturous, jazzy piece with Grupo Fantasma. It’s never been so much fun to be conscientious about the environment! Lastly, Eli Young Band urged a raucous auditorium of thousands of screaming fans to keep Texas beautiful.

Revolution has connections all over the world. Don’t Mess with Texas is yet another example of how we can employ our extensive resources to produce any project of any scope in every part of the country. Don’t doubt us––we love to travel.

 

Everyone knows about my obsession with the Lord of the Rings trilogy. When Sean Davé wrote his treatment for Audio-Technica’s “Elevate Your Game” campaign, it had a certain Middle Earth meets Tarantino meets The Mission vibe to it. I was as excited to work on this as Pippin is for elevensies, afternoon tea, dinner, and supper.

After we submitted our final treatment for the videos, the wait was excruciating. Weeks went by. Pages of a wall calendar flew off like dead leaves. (It wasn’t that much of a wait––we were all just antsy to begin on a fun project.) Then, we got it! Pre-production started immediately. Using the vaulted concourse at Scarritt Bennett Center in Nashville, we achieved the Gothic aesthetic––it was the perfect location.

Since the release of “Elevate Your Game,” it’s been reported that the spots have a 28% play-through rate. To put it into perspective, 22% is what companies strive for. We’re a little proud of the work we’ve done with Audio-Technica.

 

We put a freakin’ shark in a freakin’ apartment for freakin’ Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The Shallows, starring Blake Lively, was a summer box office hit. The sun-soaked, scary shark flick needed a bold, unique social campaign. So, they came to us.

We pitched almost 30 ideas for their ad campaign for the Blu-ray/DVD release of The Shallows. When they went with Apartment Shark, we got to work immediately. In this case, we produced this spot completely turnkey and in-house. We built a set, flooded it with 3 feet of water, and 3D animated a shark to terrorize an unsuspecting twenty-something as he watched the movie. Special thank you to Joel Robertson; his VFX wizardry astounded people by the score with his seamless integration of the 3D shark. The process has opened doors for us to do more out-of-the-box ideation for huge film studios.

 

To battle the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle, some of the Revo staff partook in a Tough Mudder. If you don’t know what a Tough Mudder is, it’s kind of like if Guantanamo Bay was made into a 10.7 mile obstacle course.

Riggs, our William Wallace, led Penny, Colton, Jay, Zach, Chris (an intern), and myself through vats of mud, vertical walls, 40 foot drops into water, and icy pools. It was a grueling, tiring, disgusting endeavor… But dammit if don’t feel closer to my co-workers. We bled and got muddy together. Also, I used expletives that no human should ever dare utter. I accept whatever karmic retribution becomes of me. You can just throw my belongings in the trash.

 

We also shot a commercial with Valvoline that featured a woman who loves to watch the oil in her car being changed. Why do other places make you wait in the lobby? What are they doing to your car? Something about that seems shifty, to me.

Related to the Tough Mudder, we actually heard the commercial that we shot while on the trail! We were climbing over an obstacle called the Berlin Wall (and by “we” I mean everyone else did it and I filmed it), and Zach pointed out that it was playing on a nearby radio. We announced to everyone around us. Since we were on mile 8, they were too tired to react. However, had they been fully rested I’m sure they would have popped bottles for us.

 

Staying true to our roots, we produced several music videos throughout the year. Before Tom Cruise made mummies cool again, Matt DeLisi directed a trippy, vibed-out video for Morgxn’s “Love You with the Lights On.” Check it out––I’ll let you decipher what the models in gauze represents metaphorically.

Becky G’s “Sola” video, directed by Frank Borin, tells the story of a young woman as she exacts revenge on her abusive boyfriend. She fakes her death and goes on a journey of self-discovery. It’s a music video reminiscent of Thelma and Louise, except no one drives off of a cliff at the end.

Have you ever tried to woo a girl simply by dancing around her? Well, some janitor with a wispy mustache did in Sean Davé’s music video with Bronze Radio Return. “Only Temporary” tells the story of an amusement park janitor as he dances all over the neon night-scape. The trouble is: his boss won’t be too happy that he’s shirked his chores with badass dance moves.

Other music videos include Judah and the Lion’s “Insane” directed by Matt DeLisi.  It’s a poignant look at mental illness that exudes style and craftsmanship. Evan Kauffman directed his fair share of music videos, as well, including Chase Rice’s promo for his new single, “Whisper,” and two Josh Abbott Band numbers: “Amnesia” and “Wasn’t that Drunk.” Let’s also not forget about Joel Robertson’s directorial effort with Marie Miller; she performed 4 acoustic tracks in stylized living room setups out in the woods like it was Narnia. Or Bridge to Terabithia. (Who remembers that movie?!) 

 

It has been a crazy year––right up to the very end. Just this past week, Evan Kauffman directed a spot  featuring Chris Young for Folgers and the marketing firm, Razorfish. There was coffee on set. Loads of it. How do you think I got this blog post done in time? Folgers, baby.

We also worked with Brandon McCormick on a commercial for a spectacular attraction in Kentucky: the Ark Encounter. It’s an exact replica of Noah’s Ark to scale. The spot has traces of Steven Spielberg––the prolific director has always excelled in creating awe, especially in child actors. Brandon’s direction hit those notes wonderfully, and we can’t wait to show everyone the final product.

~

That was our 2016! Thank you to everyone who has been keeping up with our work and our journey. Also, we want to extend our thanks to the vast network of creators that we consider part of our family.   To everyone else who have helped us this year: it’s been an honor to work with you. We’re proud of the milestones that we’ve achieved, but we’re not done, yet. There are plenty of stories to tell, still.

Next year is our 20th anniversary, and we’re going to be recounting and remembering some of the greatest stories that we’ve told to date. Be on the lookout for more blog posts, social media posts, and even candid interviews with Randy Brewer, himself, about Revolution’s history.

From our Revolution family to your own, we hope that you have a happy holiday. We’ll see you in the new year.

 

by Benton Olivares