Friday, November 16, 2012

CONSUMPTION OPTIONAL is a video project by myself, Rick Katschke.  Over the course of 80-something minutes, viewers are treated to a collection of unique commercials from 1981-1984.  These include: alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, video games, fast food, fragrances, electronics, sporting events, news teasers, fashion, AND MANY MORE!

Over the course of my entire life I had walked past a basement shelf of VHS tapes my parents recorded prior to my birth.  These were tapes of Mary Tyler Moore reruns, Cheers, Bosom Buddies, SCTV and SNL primarily.  In the Spring of 2012, as I walked past them as I had done thousands of times before, I was hit with the thought "I wonder if there are commercials on these tapes." Sure enough, there were.

I spent a large amount of my free time in 2012 combing through these 60+ tapes and over 360 hours of footage and sifting out the gold.  Several of the tapes were brittle and broke after I used them...some sadly before I ever got the chance.   The video quality varies, but the commercials are now safe from harm as part of CONSUMPTION OPTIONAL.

The biggest inspiration for CONSUMPTION OPTIONAL was Joe Dante and Jon Davison's THE MOVIE ORGY, which is a collection of serials, commercials, b-movies and other stuff from the 40s-60s.  The current cut of their film is over four hours long and I love it so much that I've seen it three times, twice flying out to Los Angeles so I could watch it.  While my project is nowhere near as great or as long, I think it honors its inspiration.

I'm also a big fan of the Found Footage Festival and I think that the sense of humor employed by the project is in line with some of the material they use in their shows.

Lastly, I really loved the idea of what was an unintentional family project.  My parents were simply recording tv and inadvertently captured all this source material for me.  My sister Betsy watched a number of these tapes with me and my other sister Katie also got to witness some of the raw material too before it was refined.

I'm biased, but I think it has a broad appeal to it.  CONSUMPTION OPTIONAL is not a "Greatest Commercials" collection, so you aren't getting anything on par with Apple's 1984 commercial.  For the most part, these are commercials that I found off-beat or unique.  It is jingle-heavy.  The entertainment level is across the board, but for those who study, create or have an interest in advertising, CONSUMPTION OPTIONAL can serve as educational tool.  Even for the most advanced advertising or found footage aficionado, I guarantee you've never seen some of the stuff in this thing.

A public screening has not yet been arranged.  I'd also gladly work with any colleges/universities that would like to screen the program on campus.

To me, "Consumption Optional" is kind of an invisible disclaimer on every commercial.  An ad can be brilliant or terrible, but ultimately the consumer decides its effectiveness.  I've watched these commercials so many times now that they all seem to have the intended effect on me of wanting to go out and track the product down.  Maybe I'm the sucker for a long con that I organized myself.  Whatever the case, CONSUMPTION OPTIONAL is the type of thing I'd want to watch even if I didn't make it, so I'm happy to be the editor behind the collection and hope it is something that's of interest to you too.