A Conversation With Filmmaker Jesse Rosten: Late-Night Informercial Inspired ‘Fotoshop’ Parody

Yesterday I spoke with Jesse Rosten, the uber-talented Redding director and cinematographer, about a recent film project of his that’s created quite a buzz, not just in the North State, but around the world.

I could describe it as a spoof on beauty advertisements, but I think our conversation will make more sense if you watch the video below first so you know what the heck we’re talking about. It’s called “Fotoshop by Adobé”.

It’s short. Go ahead and watch it. We’ll wait.

Fotoshop by Adobé from Jesse Rosten on Vimeo.

 

Q: Jesse, I’ll bet I’ve seen that video half a dozen times now. It’s just really smart, but with a great message. For what it’s worth, my favorite line in the film is “fauxtanical hydro-jargon” – so clever. So, what was your inspiration for this video?

Don’t think less of me if I tell you I was actually watching an informercial for some beauty product. I know, I know, but it was late at night and I was trying to fall back asleep so I picked the most boring thing I could find. The informercial showed a bunch of before and after photos of people that used the product. To me, the “after” photos looked exactly like the “before”, but with generous amounts of Photoshop applied. That made me laugh. That’s when this idea was born – in the middle of the night.

Jesse Rosten, Redding filmmaker

 

Q: When did the film become public, and as of Monday night, how many people have seen it?

I put the video online last Tuesday afternoon. As of tonight it has about 4 million views on YouTube and Vimeo combined.

 

Q: Oh my gosh! That’s crazy amazing! Other than the fact that millions of people have watched the film in less than one week, what kinds of other feedback are you receiving?

I’m getting lots of feedback and it’s been overwhelmingly positive. Some people love the humor, some people love the social commentary, one person was confused and wanted information on where to buy the product.

Q: Satire can be protected free speech, but even so, have you heard from Photoshop, perchance?

I did a fair bit of research on this before hand. Parody is protected, satire less-so. This project walks the line between both, so I was a little nervous about the possibility that Adobe or one of the magazines might see it.

I haven’t heard directly from Adobe (makers of Photoshop) but a reporter in San Francisco was able to track down this official statement from Adobe: “Beauty standards are an issue for society as a whole and not something a software company can dictate. Adobe has always advocated responsible use of products like Photoshop, that fundamentally impact our visual culture. That said, we think filmmaker Jesse Rosten has done a very clever job of bringing this issue to the fore.”

I also heard that the beauty editor for Vogue tweeted a link to the video. It’s nice to see these big companies have a sense of humor.

Q: Well, not just that, but that you’ve gotten their attention. That’s pretty impressive. Back to the video. What happens to it now?

Nothing really happens with the vid. It will just live online. It was a personal project, something I wanted to make just to see if I could pull it off (by the way, my number one goal was to make people laugh).

Because of its viral nature, the video has already driven a lot of new traffic to my website. Hopefully, I’ll make some new connections that way.

I’ve also donated the video to different schools to use in media/culture classes and to various self-esteem programs. Feels great to feel like one is contributing to the betterment of society

Q: I’ll say you have. You made this video about beauty, do you have other pet peeves that you’d like to depict via video?

Haha! I love it. I’m now the “pet peeve” director! Umm, nothing on the horizon. Though maybe I can use this opportunity to present my platform against guys wearing skinny jeans.

Q: Although most locals know you for your award-winning film about the shopping cart, what else are you up to these days? No time for modesty, feel free to brag.

I’ve been working a lot with bigger agencies out of the area. Lots of work thru LA, Portland and a little in NY. Most of my paying gigs come from commercial directing. Excited to work on more narrative and short film projects this year though.

Q: Any other cool projects you can share with us today?

This is one of my favorites:

Growing is Forever from Jesse Rosten on Vimeo.

And here’s a spot that showcases some great Northern California locations:

Stella’s Shasta Adventure from Jesse Rosten on Vimeo.

Jesse, humor me. I have to share the The Cart:

Cart – The Film from Jesse Rosten on Vimeo.

Q: Anything else you want to share?

Keep on rocking, Redding.

You, too. Jesse. Thank you for talking with us. And by the way, I have this photo of me that makes me look fat. Do you think you could ….

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Chamberlain was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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11 Responses

  1. Great piece! Glad to see he's getting the attention he deserves. And if you're not following Jesse Rosten on Twitter, you're missing some terrific tweets.

  2. Avatar Robb says:

    This video short is just brilliant. It's a great idea with excellent treatment. It not only speaks to an important issue in a way that truly "outs" it, the video shows what amazing talent we have in our community.

    I can hardly wait to see what Jesse does next.

  3. Avatar Adrienne Jacoby says:

    What a brilliant mind and artist and he resides here . . . right here!! Thank heaven for his artistry in a medium that can be developed and marketed AND appreciated nation-wide. . . um, make that world-wideand he can also enrich our town.

    Have been a fan ever since I viewed the shopping card short in the film festival a couple of years ago. Love the humor and the artistic eye that is about three degrees left of center.

    One thing I would like to see improved . . . . what is the music and who does it? Credits, please.

  4. Avatar Adrienne Jacoby says:

    Oh, let me correct that. I know you did credits on The Shopping Cart, but I love the California song and didn't see that credited . . . or did I just miss it?

  5. Avatar Linda Boyden says:

    What a real delight! Thanks, Don, for featuring this talented filmmaker.

  6. Avatar Cheri Davis says:

    Thank you!

    So inspiring to have someone bringing more and more truth to the world. I massage people for a living and many women(and men) have self esteem issues because they try to live up to beauty standards that aren't real. Each body is so unique and beautiful just the way it is. And I pray that more and more women(and men) see this video and start to accept that inner and outer love within themselves. That's when creativity, openness and happiness really flow.

    Wonderful!

    Cheri

  7. Avatar Alan Ernesto Phillip says:

    Great Creative & Brilliantly produced… and it's freekin' HI-LARIOUS!!!

    [This should be a must-see in every Elementary and Middle School in America!]

  8. Omigosh!I spent my entire lunch watching these videos…I loved them all.

  9. Avatar pmarshall says:

    I especially liked The Shopping Cart; it was so clever and moving also. As for the "beauty queens", I would not fall for that stuff; we are what we are, beauty is only "skin deep". Thanks for those, Doni.

  10. Avatar gg22901 says:

    What a great lesson in turning the mundane into genius!!! A real talent…thank you!!!

    I was driven to keep on watching, until I viewed them all.

  11. Avatar Larry J says:

    Great videos.

    From what I know, his wife Lynne has some artistic photo talents also. Maybe that is what attracted them to each other?