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O.C. native a finalist in Super Bowl commercial contest

January 17, 2012 | 12:22 pm

Millions will be tuning in to watch the Super Bowl on Feb. 5, but one Huntington Beach family is particularly interested in the Doritos commercials.

Kevin Willson, a longtime documentary and commercial director and Huntington Beach native, has a 30-second Doritos spot entered in an annual Crash the Super Bowl contest in which filmmakers compete for Super Bowl air time. Willson's ad, titled "Sling Baby," is one of five finalists in the online voting contest, the Huntington Beach Independent reported. The top vote-getter will play during the Super Bowl, while Doritos will choose a runner-up that will also show during the game.

"The game we care about is the commercials," said Willson, who spent most of his childhood in Huntington Beach. "It's the exact opposite of what most football fans are doing."

Crash the Super Bowl got 6,100 submissions this year. The contest will accept online votes for its five finalists through Jan. 29. The two winning Doritos ads will compete alongside all other Super Bowl commercials on the USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter, in which people vote online during the game for their favorite ads. If one of the Doritos spots places first, second or third on the meter, its maker will be awarded $1 million, $600,000 or $400,000 respectively.

Willson's parents, Connie and Tom, have launched a campaign of their own to help give their son's video the edge.

The family has decorated its Huntington Beach home home on Ravenwood Lane with a banner and yard signs, and Connie, a preschool teacher, enlisted four neighborhood girls to go door to door with fliers asking people to vote for her son's video.

Kevin Willson also screened the ad at Christ Lutheran School in Costa Mesa, where he gave a 20-minute seminar on filmmaking. And although Crash the Super Bowl has its own website, he's set up a personal one, Vote4slingbaby.com to help drum up support.

Willson, who now lives in Los Angeles, has come close before. Two years ago, his ad placed in the top five and got aired once during the game; last year, it made the list of finalists but didn't appear on screen.

For this year's submission, Willson brainstormed with friends and thought about character types that would appeal to a mass audience. Eventually, they hit on a grandmother and an infant. "Sling Baby," which Willson filmed in November, portrays a young bully who stands in a treehouse and arrogantly flaunts a bag of Doritos, before a grandmother on the porch below propels a baby in a massive slingshot to snatch the bag.

The baby in question is Jonah Folk, the 1-year-old son of the film's special-effects coordinator. According to Kevin, the tyke will watch the Super Bowl at a party in El Segundo — and probably be oblivious to the attention focused on him.

"For him, it'll be no big deal," he said.


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-- Michael Miller, Times Community News