The opening scene of Josh Soskin and Houseblend Media‘s Detention begins with a Ferris-Bueller-esque teacher (Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?) and students in a stuffy classroom for detention. As soon as the teacher leaves the room for a minute students begin to yawn and tap their feet out of boredom. The constant tapping, yawning, finger-drumming, and bubble-popping makes one student whip out his Windows laptop and begin recording each individual noise. He adds a beat and drum fills using his laptop – we watch him change levels, add loops, mix an entire song, and update his social networking status all using Windows programs.
Soon the entire class is on their feet dancing. The teacher walks back in the room and stops the music, and there is a nervous pause with nothing but the sound of papers floating to the floor. He looks around at the students and then hits the play button. The scene ends peering through the window on the classroom door – we get a glimpse of the teacher sitting with his feet on his desk, bobbing his head to the music while detention turns into a dance party. The classic Windows logo concludes the ad.
Detention, the grand-prize winner for the Microsoft ad competition in Tribeca, sold viewers this product without ever saying a word about it. Soskin says, “Personally, I enjoy the narrative stuff, i.e. short films, music videos, anything with a creative slant;” however, he clearly can make almost anything overflow with creativity (not to mention this could double as a music video). This is the kind of commercial you wish to see more of on TV. Why? Because it’s not mindless marketing. It’s inspiring, entertaining, and just plain well-made.
Soskin and his girlfriend, Grace Jackson, started Houseblend Media just four years ago in 2007; “we quit our jobs, moved to Spain and decided to start our own production company.” Although he studied English at UCLA instead of film, Soskin knew from a young age that he wanted to be involved in films one way or another, whether it be through acting, writing, or production.
He grew up in Carmel, a small town in central coast California. Like most California boys, he had an affinity for surfing. Still, he didn’t let it affect his studies. “I was a 4.3 GPA, obsessive kind of student in high school,” Soskin admits. However, those obsessive tendencies didn’t quite carry into college, “In college, I focused more on partying but still managed A’s and B’s.”
Nowadays his focus has shifted in attempts to achieve “the perfect balance between making money and following your heart and creative goals.” While it’s not the easiest task, Soskin has to remind himself when he and his girlfriend find themselves in Indonesia, Costa Rica, Argentina, or Thailand shooting commercials for Starbucks and Pepsi: “we’re being PAID for this? Holy shit!”
All photos courtesy of Josh Soskin.