Producer Amanda Curtis has been working on commercials for quite some time. She’s been an integral part of creating productions for household names like Pizza Hut and Budweiser (“Red Lights” which won the prestigious Silver Lion Award at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity), Kentucky Fried Chicken, and a host of others. Producing commercials often requires entertaining in an extremely brief amount of time. However, (Bank of Montreal) BMO’s “Scary Roommates” brought a unique opportunity to Amanda; creating a funny horror production about a mobile banking app. While it’s always a lot of work in her profession, Curtis remarks that this project stands out as unique in merging the horror film genre with commercials.
The differences between film and commercials are vast for many professionals, often unattached to any sense of prestige or public attention. Those like Amanda prefer these advertisements/mini-films due to their less hectic hours and duration of a moderate four weeks when compared to the 3-6 months of feature films. Truthfully, a great number of artists “behind the scenes” work in both. The universal factor that entices pros to work on both of these formats is script. When Lexy Kavluk a Partner and Executive Producer of Untitled Films reached out to Curtis to become a producer on the “Scary Roommates” spot, it was because of Amanda’s extraordinary work on many commercials over the years like Subaru, KY, Bell, Ontario Tourism, and many more; but it was the script which would convince her. Curtis agrees, “This was a really exciting project as it was a bit different due to the horror movie type theme. Mark [Gilbert, director]and I talked about how he wanted this to come across and really wanted to work with the DP to create a dark and scary atmosphere in the room. We did things like adding some rain through the back window and strobe lights to create a lightning storm effect to help intensify the suspect of the scare. We had to find the correct positioning to give the tone and logistically for the cast to appear from hidden corners. In my opinion, Cast is always the key to any great spot and this one was no exception. Mark was very particular in finding the right cast who could simultaneously come across as funny and scary. We had a number of casting sessions and recalls to work with talent in order to get the right performances and make this memorable scary movie. I think it turned out better then we even expected!”
The end result for “Scary Roommates” and BMO was a very short presentation of the modern film genre Horror/Comedy. In a very “tongue in cheek” delivery, the storyline uses the tension of modern mobile banking along with the fright tropes of the genre to educate. It’s sweet & salty meets how to do banking security right; all wrapped up in a date night scenario. The Bank of Montreal and the public consumer got much more than they expected with this commercial. It’s proof that sometimes in life the thing that is too good to be true is in fact true…if you place the proper professionals in charge.