Text by Kee | Photos courtesy of Rimowa
This is Dave Franco's first campaign work behind the camera
In making this campaign, Dave Franco tapped on the exeprtise of real skaters in the Venice area
The short film for Rimowa even comes with its own foreign language film poster
Spencer Glass plays the lead in the short film

You may know actor Dave Franco for several things: that lucky man married to Alison Brie, being James Franco’s younger bro, and the guy most likely to be mistaken for being Zac Efron. But what you probably don’t know about the handsome 34-year-old is that, just like his elder bro, he is also honing his chops as a director (he just finished his first feature called The Rental set for a release in 2020). But before you get to see his Brie-starring horror flick on the big screen, Franco was tapped by Rimowa to lens a campaign for its latest luggage and eyewear collab with Garrett Leight California Optical, a refreshing role for the star who is more familiar with being in front of the camera than behind it. The two-minute whimsical short film is based on the idea of a Parisian visiting Venice Beach and getting sucked into the skate culture of the area – feel free to add your Jonah Hill-directed Mid90s reference here – resulting in him cruising down the pavement on a Rimowa luggage fashioned as a skateboard. Here, Franco explains the concept of directing his first-ever campaign.

MANIFESTO: What made you want to partner with Garrett Leight California Optical and Rimowa to produce the campaign video for the collaboration?

DAVE FRANCO: I personally reached out to Garrett nearly a year ago because I was a fan of his sunglasses, and we talked generally about how it would be fun to find a project to work on together. A few months ago, he reached out and let me know about his collaboration with Rimowa and I jumped at the opportunity to create an ad for them. These are two brands that I genuinely love – they are classy as hell, yet still forward-thinking. I was excited to create a concept that represented that duality.

M: Can you tell us about your inspiration? How did you come up with the film’s creative concept?

DF: I wanted to find a way to represent Garrett Leight’s Venice, California roots, while also incorporating the European sensibilities of Rimowa. The story follows a Parisian who visits Venice and becomes infatuated with the skate culture in the area. He’s an outsider who quickly becomes a hero when he transforms his Rimowa suitcase into a skateboard.

M: We know you’ve directed other things, this is your first commercial project. How is conceptualising for a brand different than doing purely creative work?

DF: I recently finished directing my first movie and I had the itch to quickly get behind the camera again. Even though this is technically a branded campaign, I approached it more like a short film where the characters just happened to be carrying Rimowa luggage and wearing Garrett Leight sunglasses. I wanted the products to organically fit into the story, as opposed to highlighting them in a way that feels forced.

M: This film involves skateboarding and a lot of movement, as well as a focus on products, which I imagine requires a specific way of filming and editing. Did you do any preparation or research to help make sure you got the shots you wanted? Also, how did you approach creating a skate film without appropriating that community – how did you make it authentic?

DF: As research, I watched as many skate videos as I could before we started filming. The ones that gave me the most inspiration were the early Spike Jonze videos. They were so innovative, and he always managed to capture the authenticity of the tricks, while making it all look polished and cinematic. I also wanted to hire as many local Venice skaters as possible, who I could lean on to make sure we were representing the community in a respectful way. Le’andre Sanders, Ben Yee, and Monroe Alvarez were our featured skaters and they all helped us figure out which camera angles would best highlight their tricks.

M: Tell us about the character development, how did you create the personality of the lead with little to no dialogue?

DF: In the video, our main character skates through the streets of Venice and attracts the attention of several locals who chase after him as if he’s one of the Beatles. Because of that, I wanted to cast someone in the role who has a natural warmth and magnetic personality, which is why I hired Spencer Glass.


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