At first glance, the above video seems like any other beauty commercial: beautiful women, a flashy soundtrack, and promises of perfection. Keep watching, though, and you'll find that the key "product" is Fotoshop by Adobé. Filmmaker Jesse Rosten created the faux commercial as commentary on the prevalence of Photoshop, and we're betting his video will reach a million views by the week's end. We caught up with him to find out why he created the spot, what he hopes people will take away from it, and whether he's a Photoshop user himself.
BellaSugar: The idea for Fotoshop came to you while watching an infomercial with before-and-after pictures that looked identical, just Photoshopped. What moved you from watching the commercial to do a project about the subject?
Jesse Rosten: I suppose I just like to make things. They say when you have a song stuck in your head the remedy is to listen to the actual song. It's like that with me and ideas. If I get an idea that I'm passionate about, I tend to obsess over them. The only cure is to go produce the idea. The beauty of modern filmmaking tools and internet distribution is that one doesn't need permission anymore to go make something. This required a lot of work, but was relatively inexpensive to put together. Plus, it was a lot of fun!
BS: I have to confess — I actually expected you to be a woman when I saw the video, but I'm glad to see a man tackle the issue. Why do you think men should care if women have their wrinkles airbrushed away?
JR: I thought it would be funny to have a men's version of the product, putting one's head on a herculean body, etc. But I opted to keep it simple and focused on women since they suffer the most with societal expectations of beauty. This is a complex issue and I don't pretend to have the answer, but as the incidents of eating disorders and anorexia among American women continue to rise, I think it's important to keep the discussion alive.
Read the full Q&A.
BS: The "commercial" looks and sounds exactly like a beauty ad you'd see on TV. What did you do to get it to feel so spot-on?
JR: I figured the more this looked like a real commercial, the funnier it would be. While writing the treatment, I watched a lot of CoverGirl and Revlon ads on YouTube. Photoshop as an actual, physical beauty product isn't a new concept, but I think it's the execution and tone of this spot that makes it stand out.
BS: The video has some humor, but the social commentary is strong. What are you hoping people will take away from this?
JR: Honestly, my first goal was to make people laugh. Yes, there's some strong commentary in there and I hope people are reminded to go easy on themselves. We're all human — and it's OK to look like a human.
BS: How long did the entire shooting process take, from conception to completion?
JR: I worked on this for a few months off and on whenever I could find time. We did the shoot all in one day. Editing totaled about two weeks and I kept refining the script as I went. I am a commercial director by trade, but I had never done this style before, so it was a slow process for me.
BS: For the before-and-after with the aged, liver-spotted woman, did you truly Photoshop the before into the after?
JR: It was Photoshopped, but I went the other direction. It's a stock beauty shot that I aged with wrinkles. It's a true testament to the power of photo editing software. One is really only limited by their imagination and retouching skills. And yes, I fully get the irony of using Photoshop to make this spot about Photoshop.
BS:What kind of feedback have you received so far?
JR: The feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive. Some women have emailed to tell me it was just the pickup they needed after a rough day of not feeling "good enough." As of now, the video has only been online for 24 hours and it has over 300,000 views. I think it's struck a chord.