Monster Energy: “Too Intense”

One day, in between setups on some show or other, an AD looked at the back of a can of energy drink.  “‘Not for use by children, pregnant women, or those sensitive to caffeine,'” he read.  “That’d make a great ad.  A can of Monster sneaking up on a little girl.”

“Yeah,” I said.  “A little girl hears noises in her room.  She looks around.  Is it coming from there?  Or there?  No, it’s… crrrrrreeeeeeaaaaakkkk… coming from the closet!  Then we snap zoom on her face while she screams.  AAAAAHHHHH!”

Thus, a commercial was born.

I started drawing storyboards right away.  (You can see them elsewhere on the sit.)  The little girl was easiest.  It was just, “look left, look right, scream.”  Simple.

Next came the pregnant woman.  I used to live downtown, and there are some creepy areas I thought would be fun to shoot in.  I drew the storyboards from memory, then scouted from the boards.

I’m not sure when the color-coding came in.  I was noticing how different the two ads were, in terms of shooting style.  One was composed almost entirely of close-ups and POVs.  The other involved a lot of tracking shots and spacial arrangement.  (It had POV shots, as well, but not like the little girl one.)

I just remembered that the different flavors of Monster are color coded, and that might be a way to further differentiate the ads.  The flavors were chosen based on the needs of the particular ad, not vice versa.

For a DP, I asked an old friend from USC.  Kimmie was going to shoot my previous short, “The Runner,” but had to back out at the last second.  She was the one who came up with the monster transformation concept.

The first two ads were going to be shot on location, but I knew we’d have to build something for the third.  So, I approached another film school buddy, Casey.  He was a one-man art department: built the walls, found the lab coat, bought props, everything.

I already knew the little girl’s mom from a show I’d worked on, and the pregnant woman was a friend of the editor’s.  For “sensitive” guy, I remembered an actor I’d met on a friend’s short.  JohnMark is a funny guy, and I knew he’d get the joke of the commercials.

We shot the whole thing over a weekend.  We were in Nora’s bedroom Friday night.  By the way, her room looked exactly like that; we didn’t dress it at all.  I don’t know how she sleeps at night.  The only problem was that she didn’t have a swinging door on her closet.  We faked that in James’s house, later.  (You’ll notice the Good Luck Alligator in the pile of toys.)

We filmed downtown Saturday night.  We tried to rush, because we didn’t want to keep Kattie out late; she was actually pregnant at the time of filming.  Once she and her husband went on their merry way, Kim and I shot the POV angles.

We found the perfect spot for the hero on the can– right in the center of a manhole.  I held the light, Kim framed the shot, and a homeless man stole the can!

He just walked right by and picked it up.  I dropped the light and chased after him; it was the only can we had.  Poor Kimmie was stuck in an alley, by herself, holding thousands of dollars of equipment.

Luckily, I grabbed him before he got to far, and convinced him to hand it over.  He should have held out; I probably would have given him money to get it back.

Sunday was the biggest day.  James, the editor, was kind enough to let us use his garage.  Casey had spent all day Saturday building and aging the walls (provided by my friend Matt, who had also produced the same short where I met JohnMark).

We shot half before lunch, then our make-up artist, Brian, took JohnMark away to do his magic.  You’d be amazed what fifty dollars worth of latex can do.

In editing, we discovered just how short a commercial really is.  James’ first cuts were over a minute each.  We chopped mercilessly to get them down to size.  The mother and daughter had a whole conversation, originally.

I think the pregnancy ad suffered most.  It wasn’t the most interesting, to begin with, but now it barely has any story at all.  I thought of a better ad months later.  The pregnant woman should have been in the baby’s future room, getting things ready.  We’d follow the can’s POV, looking at her through cracked doors and such, like a Halloween movie.  She’d turn around, and only then would we realize it’s a can.

Still, the over-all effect is there, I think.  I’m quite proud of them.



  1. Very nice. Too intense for me!

  2. […] in the scene is Casey Coleman, a friend from college who also did with the production design on the Monster Energy commercials.  His fiancée, Janine Worrell, edited it.  She also edited The Runner (more of which will be […]

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