PJ Pereira on the backwards filmmaking process of the Adobe movie poster film by Zach Braff

In standard filmmaking timelines, a movie is made and then a poster is designed to promote the movie before it’s released. Adobe and Pereira O’Dell decided to work in reverse.

A new branded entertainment project from Zach Braff, Pereira O’Dell and Adobe is based on a movie poster that was made for a movie that didn’t yet exist.

Last year, Pereira O’Dell launched a nationwide competition for college students to create a movie poster for a film that had yet to be created. It was called the #MoviePosterMovie.

The winning poster, created by Boston University student Sam West, was selected out of more than 1,100 submissions. The poster featured illustrations of a candle, a pair of scissors, a pencil and paper, an apple core and an older telephone handset. The title, ‘In the Time it Takes to Get There,’ was accompanied by three laurel-framed phrases, “Very Good Cast,” “Nice Directing” and “Sooo Quirky”.

The poster inspired ‘In The Time It Takes To Get There,’ a short film created by actor, comedian and filmmaker Braff – his first creation under his new representation of RSA Films.

‘In The Time It Takes To Get There’ is a celebration of individual creativity and testament of the success of Adobe Creative Cloud and Pereira O’Dell’s unique approach to branded content that puts the consumer in control.

“It is one of the most frightening creative experiences we’ve ever had. It’s getting me super excited,” PJ Pereira, founder and creative chairman of Pereira O’Dell, told The Drum before the film was released. “Part of the Hollywood thing is finding people that can pull it off. There’s a sense that we as agencies need to stop trying to control everything.

"And clients need to understand that they can no longer have this full power to approve things before they see exactly how it’s going to be, because the creative process is becoming more complex,” he said.

Pereira added that agencies and clients need to learn to be flexible as ideas develop, which he said is normal in the entertainment industry. He noted about the process moving from movie treatment to script, then someone buys the script, then a director is hired and they end up rewriting the script. Then the actor comes in and changes some lines. It's an evolution, he stated.

"That should happen every time we have brilliant minds collaborating. All the best work that I’ve done has changed significantly every time someone brilliant has touched it,” said Pereira.

“The Adobe [project] is an exaggerated version of that…the poster is usually the last thing. As Adobe, they’re known for the last part, the poster. What if we turned everything on its head, and start with the poster? Invite students to create a poster. Then take a filmmaker and make a film inspired by that poster. That’s pretty cool for Adobe, but it wouldn’t make sense for anybody else but Adobe. Now, imagine my anxiety. We handpicked the [poster] we wanted. Then we have a filmmaker executing on it. When we approved the idea we didn’t know what the script would be about.”

Before the full script took shape, Pereira stated that he liked where the story was going, but the level of uncertainty was high compared with the natural standards of advertising. Still, with the right people, he knew the team could pull it off. “The anxiety is that I have no idea where it’s going, but I want to watch it now," he said.

“The script is pretty fantastic. Zach is amazing. RSA is one of the best filmmaking companies in the world. We want their discipline on the filmmaking side, that’s why we picked Zach. He’s a very versatile director that isn’t used to advertising. We didn’t want anyone that could do ads, that’s not what we were looking for."

The result is a quirky, humorous and imaginative film. It features elements of West’s winning #MoviePosterMovie poster and stars some recognizable Hollywood figures, from Alicia Silverstone and Florence Pugh, to The Office’s Leslie David Baker, to the undisputable star of Netflix’s Fyre documentary, Andy King (Evian water, anyone?).

It follows a young woman in a lavish estate (Pugh), who is awakened by her taskmaster (Silverstone) and told she must get ready for the day’s post (a social post, we’re led to believe) about hair tonic. As she rides in the carriage, she wonders about the meaning of her posts and that what she’s doing is “an imaginary reality…an ultimately deceitful transaction,” taking a clear stab at social influencers. She scoffs at the various merchants trying to get her to hawk their wares, then poses her best with a hair tonic she dislikes as her analog Victorian post is nailed in the nearby town.

The end credits uncover all the ways the images in the poster were used.

Ultimately, the story is more entertainment than a big banner for Adobe, but there are nods to its use at the beginning and end of the nearly 12-minute film, and it’s a knowing zing to the level that social media has risen in brand promotions.

See the full film by clicking on the Creative Works box below.

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