You have likely seen their commercial on television, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, or through other various promotions. You know the orange face, of Jerry, the office thief. You most likely recognize the “boss” in the commercial, played by talented actor, Larry Cedar, known for his roles in “House M.D.,” “Days of our Lives,” and “National Treasure: Book of Secrets.”
You should also recognize the man in orange, at least, without the Doritos dust. The “office thief” is the actor, Steve Olson, who played a dart athlete in a Zoosk commercial and a family member in a series of The Burns Family Pepcid commercials.
I received the opportunity to interview the group who created the “Office Thief” commercial, one of the top five finalists in line to win $1 million dollars in the Doritos Crash the Super Bowl VIII Contest. In addition to the money, the team will receive the opportunity to team up with Marvel on the set of Marvel’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron, set to release on May 1, 2015.
I first spoke with Chris Capel, one of the main brains behind The Office Thief commercial. Capel, who is from the small town of Thatcher, Arizona. He is a self-taught animator by trade who made his living in animation for the past 10 years. Capel, a husband, and a hard worker, jumped into film-making with both feet and hasn't looked back.
When I asked Capel about his personal background, he replies, “I was laid off from a long-time animation at DreamWorks in March and am looking at it as a blessing in disguise.”
I asked what made Capel decide to enter the Doritos Crash the Super Bowl VIII Contest: “My writing partner, Richard Price, and I have wanted to enter for a while. But, it took finding not only an idea that we believed in, but an idea we could afford to shoot. So, this year, we felt we had a shot.”
And did they ever, ending up as one of the top five finalists in a contest with thousands of entries.
Capel did not know [Steve] before shooting. He merely Googled “funny acting reels” and Olson’s was one of the first reels Capel saw.
“I could tell right away he was a funny guy. So, we met in a park and had an audition. It was instantly clear that he got the joke and what we were going for. So, he was the first and only person I auditioned.
Commercials can take time. Time was not necessarily a commodity in this case. Capel explained how it took about one week of pre-production with the shoot itself lasting only six hours. The biggest issue they ran across was successfully getting the chips to fly out of Olson’s pocket just right. Capel said that took approximately 17 takes.
Who came up with the idea for an office thief?
Capel explains, “[Price] and I came up with the idea. We tried to think of something that would be relatable to a lot of people, and we figured, ‘Who hasn’t gone into the break room fridge and seen that their sandwich is missing?’”
Happens to me all the time. I buy popular coffee creamer.
What about a “Director’s Cut?” Was there something in the original cut you wish could have stayed?
“Yeah, in the original script, Steve does a bit more of a slow build from being offended to shouting, ‘That hurts, Steve!’ But, unfortunately, the 30 second time limit forced us to shorten it. But, we were happy with the shorter cut as there was something funny about how quickly he gets so upset.”
What do you think are your chances of winning?
Capel explains, “Well, you know, there’s something great about each entry, so it’s hard to say. It’s some stiff competition, so we’re thrilled to be in the running. I’d say we stand a pretty great chance. Mainly because ours is focusing more on laughs rather than a cute scenario or visual gimmick. The comedy comes from the performance of each of the actors, so we’re hoping that will go a long way in getting people to laugh and then vote!”
When asked what they will do with the money if they win, Capel says, “I’m one of 14 kids in my family, 7 of which were adopted from Africa. So, I wouldn’t feel right having grown up with such an amazing example of charity without donating a good chunk of the prize money to just that. We’re still trying to figure out where we’ll donate to, but something in Africa to help out the situation there in any way would be amazing. We’d also like to put a small amount of the money back into future productions, as we’ve got a lot of ideas that we’re excited about producing. To be honest, the career opportunities that this would open up are worth more than any amount of money. That’s what is most important to us.
Often, filmmakers will work on more than one project at a time. Capel explains that he unable to focus on anything right now because he is focusing all his energy on this “crazy promotional phase.” They do, however, have an idea for a follow-up to one of their popular YouTube videos, “Living with Jigsaw” called “Living with A Merman.”
Living with Jigsaw...how do I say this on a non-biased level...forget it...Living with Jigsaw is a hilarious version (brought tears to my eyes) of a scenario if the Jigsaw puppet was your roommate.
Capel is no stranger to making commercials. A few years ago, they created a commercial for another contest: Wonderful Pistachios.
“It was the first thing I shot on the camera I’d bought, so I was still figuring out how to use it. It was fun, though! We didn’t win, but we learned a lot,” says Capel.
Most recently, they shot and released a commercial spoof called, JuggaLOVE.
Their next goal? “Well,” Capel explains, “We’ve already received our first job offer to shoot a commercial for a business! So, that’s very exciting to us. It’s for a mattress store and we can’t wait to sit down with the client and start putting it together! If we can just get our careers started from being on this Top 5 Doritos platform, even if we don’t win, that will be a big win to us.
When asked if he had anything to add, he simply stated, “We would love everyone’s support! We’re just a couple of guys, and I think we represent who this contest is meant for. So, any help on the voting front is very much welcome! You can go to VoteOfficeThief.com to see our spot, vote, and learn more about us.”
I then had the opportunity to speak with Steve Olson. Olson is a talented actor who has been in several commercials for companies such as Pepcid, Bud Light, Planet Fitness, and Orbitz. Olson is a comedic actor who was hand-picked by Chris Capel for the Doritos Crash the Super Bowl VIII contest. He was cast opposite actor, Larry Cedar, as “Jerry,” the alleged Doritos Office Thief.
Olson grew up in the fifth largest city in Ohio, Akron. He was involved in sports and music. He did not catch the acting bug until the end of high school when he entered a contest at the mall to re-enact a “Gilmore Girl’s" television scene. Olson and a friend acted it out together and finished 13th out of 40 entries. Olson considered their prize, a fruit basket, his Academy Award. From there, his interest in acting was born. Eventually, Olson moved to Los Angeles, completed finance degree (his “just in case acting didn’t work out” plan), and started acting classes. Olson began going to auditions and ever so slowly, his career in working in television and commercials grew.
I asked Olson what made him decide to enter the Doritos contest. As Capel stated in his interview, Olson was spotted through an online search. Olson loved Capels work and felt they had “great production value.”
“At that stage, the contest didn’t even cross my mind,” says Olson. “I just wanted to work with him because he had funny content and I was flattered he wanted to use me in anything.”
Olson, when asked about any roadblocks on set, had a few different opinions about what may have gone wrong. In fact, he turned on the drama to full power to answer this question.
“Well,” he answered. “I’m a complete diva on set, which regularly slowed the production to a standstill. I demand a life-sized cardboard cut-out of myself be in the room at all times. I demanded to be helicoptered in and out of set, which they said ‘wasn’t remotely possible on the budget.’ I demanded a turkey sandwich with mayonnaise and mustard for lunch...that actually didn’t slow production because they already had that...but still. I yelled about it.”
But seriously, Steve…
“There was a lot of re-stashing Dorito’s into my belt and pants pockets. Larry’s (‘Jerry’s’ boss) reactions were hysterical, so it was hard to keep a straight face around him during filming.
“Filming comedy can be tough because, like in any commercial or movie, you do 50 or 60 takes, and by take 23, nobody’s laughing on set because they’ve heard it too many times.”
Do they have a good chance of winning the contest? Olson believes their chances are “excellent.”
Olson is no stranger to the 30-second time slot. He is well-known for a Zoosk commercial in which he plays a “dart athlete” who goes on a bad date with a girl. While trying to impress her with his dart skills, he inadvertently pierces a bystander with a wild dart. Even with its strong comedic content, the commercial made the news when it was reportedly banned in Europe due to its violent nature.
Lastly, Olson wishes to add a shameless (yet, helpful) plug for his professional website, http://www.steveolsonsite.com.
Many thanks to Chris Capel and Steve Olson for their time, answers, photos, and videos.
Click here to Vote for Office Thief. You can enter once a day.
Doritos Direct Site: http://bit.ly/VoteOfficeThief
The contest ends on January 29, 2014.
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