RPA and The Newport Beach Film Fest Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Them

By Patrick Coffee 

So here’s a very unusual entry from our friends at Santa Monica’s RPA, which is NOT just the Honda agency. (They also have Apartments.com and they just won Southwest Airlines.)

This particular campaign promotes the upcoming Newport Beach Film Festival, which has been going on for 17 years and we didn’t even know about it! Well, actually we kind of did because RPA has been making promos for the festival for a while.

This one is a pretty cool running gag that aims to answer the classic Latin question, quis custodiet ipsos custodes, or “who watches the watchers?” It’s called “We’re Being Watched.”


Creative director Scott McDonald told AdFreak today about the difficult shoot:

“We had to get crafty in order to get everything we needed for post—like sticking GoPros on every ceiling to create the ‘micro people,’ providing reference for every move. It was more or less an editor’s nightmare—and an effects artist’s omniscient dream.”

There’s also a very cool visual trick for the festival logo, which looks like an eyeball but turns out to be something else entirely.

McDonald added:

“[Festival] promos might seem a little eccentric compared to others, but truthfully, NBFF is like any other smart brand, trying to appeal to their best customers.

“Ultimately, we want the viewer to create their own meaning. That’s part of the fun—the ambiguity, knowing people will get something different from the story.”

The only thing we don’t really get is that the Newport Festival doesn’t specialize in horror movies. It’s more your standard lineup of international dramas and films with titles like “My Internship in Canada,” which sounds like a trade pub guest post.


Client: Newport Beach Film Festival
Director of Marketing and Public Relations: Todd Quartararo
Campaign: “We’re Being Watched”

Agency: RPA
EVP/CCO: Joe Baratelli
SVP/GCD: Pat Mendelson
VP, CD/AD: Scott McDonald
CW: Joshua Hepburn
SVP, Chief Production Officer: Gary Paticoff
VP/Executive Producer: Selena Pizarro
Senior Producer: Kay Lynn Dutcher

Music Track: “A Serial Universe”
Composer and Sound Design Credit: Peter Lauridsen

Production: Jogger
Director: Jogger
Creative Director: David Parker
DP: Alice Gu
Executive Producer: Rich Rama
Producer: Geno Imbriale

Editorial Company: Cut+Run
Editor: Lucas Eskin
EP: Amburr Farls
Senior Producer: Remy Foxx
Assistant Editor:  Lauren Brown

VFX: Jogger
VFX Producer: Nancy Hwang/Ben Sposato
VFX Production Coordinator: Erica Cruz
Flame Artist: Shauna Prescott
Flame Artist: Gavin Camp
Flame Artist: Cole Schreiber

Color Services: The Mill
Senior Colorist: Damien van der Cruyssen

Title Design & Animation: Laundry!
Creative Director: PJ Richardson
Executive Producer: Lindsay Bodanza

Audio: Lime Studios
Audio Engineer: Matt Miller

Key Art/Program Ad Photography: Karel Polt, Asher Hung, Candela Rebot