Sometimes a human life turns around in 30 seconds.
Before his half-minute Fashionista Daddy ad aired during the Super Bowl, Mark Freiburger was a Providence High School (and University of N.C. School of the Arts) graduate who had written, directed or produced half a dozen small, contemplative feature films.
Within five minutes of its airing, he received 120 text messages. Within days, 700. Hell work for director Michael Bay this summer in a still-undefined job on Transformers 4. Commercial production companies have bid for his services. Hes been approached to direct a 3-D IMAX documentary about the Wright brothers this autumn at the Outer Banks.
Does he know anything about 3-D IMAX movies?
Im meeting with a DP (director of photography) who has shot many major IMAX movies to see what it will take to make something like this. Itll be very different for me, but its cool to film a part of North Carolina history.
The surest thing in Freiburgers life seems to be this: Hell shoot a romantic comedy, Under the Apple Tree, this spring in Charlotte.
The second surest? At 29, his horizon has broadened by an incalculable amount.
A moment of wild joy
It didnt sink in until the next day, he said of the tumult in the Frito-Lay skybox in New Orleans. Thats partly because it was exciting, but there was also a piece that felt like relief. Wed put 14 weeks of work into this and campaigned so hard, and part of me was just relieved we didnt lose.
Five finalists in the annual Doritos Crash the Super Bowl ad contest were invited to the skybox for the game. Online voters had chosen one ad to air during the Super Bowl; Doritos executives picked the other. The directors had no idea whose work had won.
Goat 4 Sale premiered in the first quarter to congratulations for its director and intensified anxiety for everyone else. Daddy aired during the second quarter, and suddenly Freiburger entered orbit.
My buddy immediately started crying and dumped a whole bag of Doritos on me, he says. Michael Bay came up and gave me a hug and congratulations and said in a good way If you win, Ill kick your butt on the set. From that point on, I couldnt concentrate.
Sometimes he wandered the hall behind the skyboxes, crossing paths with singers Beyoncé and Timbaland and chef Emeril Lagasse. Sometimes he watched the game.
Fruits of victory
Almost as soon as it ended, Frito-Lay marketing vice president Ram Krishnan told Freiburger his ad had finished fourth on the USA Today ad meter first among 30-second ads and he would work with Bay.
Marks spot caught our attention right away, Krishnan had said earlier. Daddy puts a comedic spin on a relatable situation and delivers a hilarious punch line the entire Super Bowl audience can appreciate. Mark has the talent and drive to make it in Hollywood.
Freiburger will shoot Tree while Bay is in pre-production on Transformers. He mainly hopes to shadow Bay on the set and learn how one handles a super-sized Hollywood blockbuster project.
Freiburgers life has become a whirlwind now. A few production companies are courting me to sign up as a director in their stable. A lot of feature guys do that; its a great way to make money between movies. Im getting meetings for much bigger jobs on the features side. Im getting put in touch with financial planners and attorneys who represent only directors.
Its bizarre: This is the first time I havent had to explain what I do. People ask, and I say, I made the Fashionista Daddy ad, and they say, Oh, I loved it!
You can make a 90-minute, meditative drama that makes people cry or a 30-second piece that makes everyone laugh. If 100 million people see it, that makes all the difference.