STORY’S executive producer Cliff Grant says their recent Illinois Lottery project was “one of those shoots where everyone had a good time.” The laughter flowed naturally, as the director and star of the Lottery commercials was comedian Andy Richter, Conan’s guy with the quick comeback.
Downtown Partners’ new campaign of six 15-second spots center around the excitement of Richter’s character, newsman Gil Mitchell, over the immense, multi-million dollar jackpots Illinois players could be winning if they just bought tickets.
Richter, who takes his work very seriously, set the tone for ease on the set, says Grant, Richter’s friend since they worked together 25 years ago for a production company where Grant was a paid PA and Richter an unpaid intern.
They remained friends and a few years ago Grant brought Richter into STORY as a director for their projects in LA, where Richter lives, and Chicago.
The Lottery spots were shot on a Friday at Essanay and Saturday on location, fitting neatly around Richter’s four-nights-a-week TV gig on “Conan” in LA.
“I really enjoy working back in Chicago,” Richter says. “There were crew people on the production who I’d worked with 25 years ago.”
Blackhawks Patrick Sharp joins the fun
In the new spots, Richter’s elegantly coiffed Mitchell compares
Blackhawks star Patrick Sharp appears with Richter in two spots “and he turned out to be wonderful, too,” notes Grant. “He was very professional, knew his lines and appeared comfortable on camera. The two of them working together was very relaxed.”
Downtown Partners creative director Dan Consiglio wrote the scripts, including one on the set. An idea occurred to him and he scribbled it on a napkin grabbed from craft services and he and Richter passed it back and forth, Grant relates, “and we shot the spot.”
“Andy nailed the gags so fast,” Consiglio notes. “It’s the nature of the business that he works in to pull together material really quickly, and that benefitted this process.”
The Lottery’s Gil Mitchell campaign has been extremely successful in drawing attention to the game’s giant jackpots and Richter is enjoying the ride. “They’re a little odd,” he says of the spots, “but they do stand out.”
“STORY’s openness and attention to detail was very helpful,” Consiglio says. “That, and Andy’s down-to-earth, Midwestern attitude, made it easy and fun. That’s how it should be.”