LightHouse Films’ Ray Zablocki directed the online ad for new retro videogame Super Russian Roulette, created by Batlab Electronics for the classic NES, the original 8-bit videogame system from Nintendo first introduced to consumers in 1983.
The online ad played a key role in a successful Kickstarter and product launch campaign that raised nearly $85,000 ($65,000 more than its original $20,000 goal), enabling Batlab founder/game designer Andrew Reitano to fully fund the project, now available via the website (www.superrussianroulette.com/).
According to Zablocki, new, original games developed for classic video game systems, like the NES or even stand-alone arcade games, is a growing niche among gamers.
“As a kid I always loved the bizarre Nintendo and Sega commercials of the 80s and 90s, so I was familiar with the tone Andrew wanted with this,” said Zablocki. “We were very much aligned with how to approach the game’s content, which on the surface seems quite dark, but for us was more inspired by early Looney Tunes cartoons. The challenge was to narrow down all the crazy creative possibilities.”
Shot using the Arri Amira camera, paired with vintage Zeiss Super Speed MKII lenses, the spot nods to ads from the 1980s in tone and style. Opening on three bored slackers desperate for something to do, one says: “if we don’t do something soon I’m going to shoot myself.” They then race to their suburban basement circa-1983 where a classic NES system and an old television sit, complete with a cowboy hat on top.
From there, the voiceover introduces Super Russian Roulette, as a montage of gameplay unfolds featuring a trash-talking animated cowboy egging on the players to put a plastic gun to their heads and hope they’re lucky. The spot ends when one player turns the tables on the animated cowboy, who responds by angrily bursting to life to hunt them down. Over a final product shot, the voiceover wryly notes, “Super Russian Roulette: Pull up a chair and rustle up some virtual nihilism partner.”
For Zablocki, finding a way creatively to bridge the actual game footage with a live action element proved one of the more challenging aspects.
“The end of the spot needed to connect the games humor and atmosphere,” said Zablocki. “Most game ads today show only in-game footage, but years ago it was a mix of the two, which can be difficult to marry narratively.”
LightHouse Films’ Partner Thibaut Estellon notes the spot is yet the latest example of Zablocki’s unique creative style and deft touch with humor — on display in his recent branded content work for IKEA, Google and Sotheby’s.
“Ray has a real gift for offbeat humor, and expertly marrying live action and visual effects, and this spot proved the perfect opportunity to showcase all of his talents,” Estellon says.
Click here to see Ray Zablocki’s reel: http://light-house-films.com/portfolio#!director=Ray%20Zablocki