Kids Enter Video Game Action in ‘School’s Out’

NEW YORK A combination of stunts and creative casting adds a magical feel to Leo Burnett’s new cinema spot for Nintendo.

The concept of the Chicago agency’s “School’s Out” cinema ad, part of its $50 million Nintendo “Who are you?” campaign, was to show multitudes of children streaming from school and converging at a video game store.

Directed by Anthony Atanasio, the spot was filmed over a six-day period in several undisclosed Asian cities. While it looks like thousands of children appear in the ad, about 500 kids were cast, according to co-creative director Dominick Maiolo.

“The kids were brought in in shifts,” Maiolo said. “Through the magic of post-production house La Maison, they were computer generated to look like thousands.” And because of the scope of the production, several camera crews were shooting simultaneously, Maiolo added.

The creative team, which also included creative director Bill Stone, copywriter Kash Sree and art director Jeff Labbe (who has since left to pursue a directing career), wanted the action in the spot—which shows the children performing stunts similar to the moves performed by the characters in the Redmond, Wash.-based company’s Super Mario Brothers games—to be as realistic as possible.

“A lot of the stunts are pretty amazing,” Maiolo said. “But we didn’t want to make it look too fantastical, like it was totally a trick. … A lot of stuff you see was practical and done in-camera.”

For example, one actor shown jumping long distances across the tops of several telephone booths was attached to a wire and performed the action himself.

For the stunts, the agency employed acrobats and stunt professionals. One stuntman’s daughter, a young girl, performed a stunt of jumping into a hole. “It was pretty much a family affair,” said Maiolo.

The 60-second spot begins airing Oct. 30 in movie theaters.