The first Alumni Spotlight Showcase of 2018 kicked off on this January at the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles campus. Alumni Relations Coordinator Gabriela Egito hosted an evening with NYFA alumnus Barret Bowman and his business partner Peter Castagnetti. Together, the pair are the directors and founders of OhForShow, a production company that creates soft pitch ads (otherwise known as branded content).
OhForShow’s stated mission is to “help purpose-driven people create culture through thought.” When the two men began working with Yeti Coolers, they found a prime example of a corporation willing to trust filmmakers. Yeti’s clients range from average campers to wilderness adventurers. In their first short for the company, OhForShow pitched content that would feature Yeti Cooler’s product in an emotionally impactful story. Yeti liked the story, but they didn’t actually want their cooler to be the star.
“We were shocked,” Bowan said. “Yeti just wants to interact with their base.” In the final film, the cooler appears roughly 70 times, “But we always hear people say they didn’t even notice the cooler.”
In fact, the name Yeti only appears at the end of the film. “If you didn’t know what Yeti was you would think it’s a production company,” Castagnetti said.
Of course, creating OhForShow did not happen overnight.
“When I left NYFA, I probably had a month’s worth of money,” Bowman said. “I knew I had to get a job right away.”
Through a fellow alumnus, Bowman was able to get a job as a location scout to make ends meet. After working that job for a few months another NYFA alumnus, a producing friend, hooked him up with a gig at Easton, a sports equipment manufacturer. As an intern, Bowman made technical videos about baseball bats. It could have been just another internship, but he made the most of his time there.
Two things happened at Easton. First, Bowman met Castagnetti. Second, they filmed a short that highlighted the Little League World Series. That video served as an unofficial launch for their newly forming production company. They didn’t have the name yet, but the pair felt a kinship and knew they wanted to work together.
When it comes to getting clients, the duo has to think creatively. “It’s less about convincing them [to hire us],” Castagnetti said, “… and more about convincing them to spend the money [required to produce a film].”
In this spirit, the duo has tried a lot of “outside the box” ideas to get the business started. Once, Bowman even sold himself at an auction: in exchange for a place to stay, Bowman promised to develop work for the buyer or their company. It worked! Three bidders donated a couple thousand dollars to support Bowman while he worked on their projects. During that time he slept on couches, washed dishes, and cooked meals to help pay his way. One client begot another client. Soon their business was taking off.
In addition to their commercial content, Castagnetti and Bowman also create documentaries. Their work includes “Accidental Courtesy” and the upcoming “This is Not Normal.”
The skills they’ve learned on these projects are evident in all of their work, but the men stressed fun as a fundamental component to their success. A motto they live by is, “I don’t create magic, I create an atmosphere to allow the magic to happen.” This energy allows for the talent to feel relaxed on set. The crew is small and comfortable working with one another. The results speak for themselves.
The New York Film Academy would like to thank Bowan and Castagnetti for taking the time to speak with our students. You can explore more of their work by clicking here.