Entertainment

Cinematographers with touch of Sedinery

The Talbot twins, Nelson and Graham, were Top-5 finalists for a Super Bowl ad for Doritos; (below) their other work includes movies, music videos and commercials. - Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS
The Talbot twins, Nelson and Graham, were Top-5 finalists for a Super Bowl ad for Doritos; (below) their other work includes movies, music videos and commercials.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS

That’s the stage two Maple Ridge brothers got to, as finalists in a million-dollar worldwide contest to design a Superbowl ad for Doritos tortilla chips.

Graham and Nelson Talbot are up-and-coming cinematographers who run Talbot Twins Cinematography.

They created a funny ad, with a pair of canoeists dropping some chips onto the water – at Whonnock Lake – and having a mermaid come out of the water to take their bait. The ad ends with their catch mounted on the wall over a fireplace.

“We like dark humour,” smiles Nelson.

The online voting has now pared the contest down to the final five, and they have been eliminated.

“It’s probably the closest we’ll get to a million dollars,” lamented Graham.

“The competition was really stiff,” added Nelson. “Looking at the Top 5 – you don’t feel disappointed in losing to them.”

They don’t have a big business yet, at 24 years old and having graduated from Simon Fraser University in 2011. But what they do have is some high-end camera gear, an eye for an impactful shot, and a sense of humor that creates those humorous ads that give you a chuckle.

They won $1,000 for their Doritos efforts, and some bragging rights – their ad was chosen from among thousands in the worldwide contest, which garnered submissions from 30 different countries. An ad agency out of Toronto is interested in working with them.

They also got some notice from a lumber company that complained the ad was too much like one they produced, which involved a mermaid and one of the same actors from their Superbowl contest ad. But the Talbots said there is no copyright on mermaids, and the fact they used the same actor was just coincidence. They are not being sued.

This latest contest also gave them more affirmation that they are on the right track. They have already been getting noticed for their work on feature films, music videos and commercial videos.

Their passion for this work goes back to fifth grade, when they cast their friends as Star Wars characters and made like George Lucas.

“We did a lot of movie remakes back then,” recalls Graham.

Sometimes they could shoot a school project at Langley Fine Arts instead of writing it, and one of the brothers had to be mummified during a study of ancient Egypt.

Now the Talbot Twins are wrapped up in their budding careers.

They have so far shot three feature films. One, a dark comedy called Lawrence and Holloman, has been winning awards on the Canadian film festival circuit. People from town who see the film will recognize Memorial Peace Park, the former Zellers and other locations around Maple Ridge.

Another film is Primary, which has not yet been released, and Patterson’s Wager – an “ultra-low budget Sasquatch film shot in the forests of Maple Ridge and Mission. The latter will be part of the Vancouver Film Festival.

They have also done music videos, and they won a Leo Award, for the best in B.C., for the video Jitters, a Dirty ’30s gangster story, for Madchild. It was also nominated for a Muchmusic video award, but didn’t take any hardware.

A much darker video, Positronic for Pack a.d., is another of their favourite rock videos. Both appear on Muchmusic and MTV, as well as others they have shot.

Seeing it on television for the first time was “pretty awesome.”

Both of the videos, and other samples of their work, can be seen on their website (talbottwins.com).

When they don’t have paid work, they do spec commercials through the website poptent.com. It is a crowd sourcing website that allows companies promoting a new product to solicit ads. The businesses post a creative brief, and samples of other videos they like, and wait for new creations to come in. The winning entries can take down anywhere from $12,000 to $7,500. There are lesser prizes for runners up.

The Talbot twins make them as affordably as possible. They get cheap labour – they buy actors dinner. One brother dates a makeup artist, and the other a production designer.

They always go for the laugh, and their comedic entries are popular. It has been a nice little source of income, and they have had seven first-place finishes. Generally, they are up against anywhere from 40 to 300 competing entries.

Their first was for Famous Footwear, and it featured a pair of ratty old shoes walking themselves down the crowded hallways of their alma mater – Langley Fine Arts. They got $7,500 for that one.

Then Bud Light liked one that was worth $10,000. But the brewers wanted them to re-shoot the commercial with a less portly actor, so as not to leave the impression that beer drinkers gain weight. They got a bonus $5,000 to produce the slimmed-down version.

“We’re fairly confident now that we can finish in the money,” said Nelson, noting that most of the competition is amateurish. “If there are 100 videos, there will be five that make you nervous.”

Generally, director of photography is one position on a film, but the twins bounce ideas back and forth like Daniel and Henrik Sedin against the Edmonton Oilers.

“We’re so in tune, we can really work well together,” said Nelson.

Rarely has there been a heels-dug-in argument.

“We always go on the idea: ‘Convince me your idea is better.’”

If it appears Maple Ridge’s increasingly famous twins look a bit like the province’s most famous twin brothers, just wait until the Stanley Cup playoffs roll around. That’s when they immerse themselves in their Sedinery, growing their red goatees out, precisely trimming them to resemble Hank and Dank’s matching facial hair, and donning Canucks jerseys with numbers 22 and 33. They have had people stop them and ask for photographs.

The twins could work apart. Indeed, either or both could likely draw a steady income in the film industry as a simple camera operator. But they have bigger dreams, and they create some powerful symmetry.

As Graham puts it:

“Something is gained – and it’s more than just the sum of two parts – when we work

Nelson and Graham's Cinematography Reel 2011 from Talbot Twins on Vimeo.

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