KFC’s recent “Subway” commercial is brief but highly memorable. In mere seconds it portrays conflict, desire, humor, and victory. While that might sound aggrandizing, it’s not easy to accomplish such a span of emotions in thirty seconds. Advertisements are unrecognizable to the form that they took even a decade or two ago. There’s a natural evolution taking place congruent to the savvy of consumers and the creative professionals behind these ads are often also behind your other favorite productions. There’s a crosspollination in the platforms of film, television, advertisements, and streaming media that allows the talent of each to work in a variety of settings; all of which serve to keep the public more engaged. Just ask producer Amanda Curtis. She’s been a part of award-winning campaigns for Bud Light (“Red Lights”, recipient of the Silver Lion Award at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity), KY’s “Warm Up to Love” (which received gold, silver, and bronze awards in marketing), and numerous others. As producer of these latest ads for the iconic Kentucky Fried Chicken, Curtis was the force enabling the other talented crew and cast to manifest multiple memorable ads.
The company behind creating these ads is Circle Productions. They’ve signed a multi-spot deal with Tom Felier to direct these spots. The first two have seen Felier working with producer Amanda Curtis and cinematographer Brendan Steacy (DP on Stockholm starring Mark Strong and four time Oscar nominee Ethan Hawke - winner of multiple Canadian Screen Awards). This trio was focused on the marriage of comedy and tension for these commercials. Curtis explains, “Tom and I talked about the direction of the comedy and how to bring that to the screen. He liked the villain vs hero aspect and really wanted to work that edge as much as possible when finding the cast. We had three callbacks casting session to work closely with our favorite actors to make sure we had the absolute best people for the spot. The comedic acting is key and I believe we found exactly what he was looking for.”
Shot in the third level down of an unused metro rail station in Toronto, access wasn’t what one would call easy, but a producer is the final point of all responsibility on a set. Amanda needed to navigate her cast and crew to work within the boundaries set by the Toronto Transit Commission, avoiding commuters and working expeditiously; all while keeping a light tone on set for comedy. The first two ads have received an incredible response, airing on a wide set of platforms including TV, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. It doesn’t go unnoticed by the client and the public that an iconic brand like KFC has long been a staple of convenient dining. Each iteration of commercials are measured against this long history and must be both fresh and still in the lane of its predecessor. With so many factors to be judged by, Amanda Curtis keeps the measure of her satisfaction simple stating, “Most times the final spot is the reward. To view the commercial that you worked long and hard on playing on the TV is always the best feeling. It’s great when you finish the shoot day and everyone is happy, feeling that you’ve gotten the best performances and shots needed to create a great final spot but when you see the final project on the television and you have a laugh, that’s the absolute best!”