National Geographic has put a lot of marketing ammo behind its first scripted anthology series, “Genius,” about the life of Albert Einstein. There was a Super Bowl ad, an interactive chalkboard and a chatbot. And now, a short film festival.
Along with Pereira & O’Dell, Nat Geo has debuted 10 Days of Genius, ten short films — what the agency dubs a “supplemental content series” — inspired by “Genius” and running on the broadcaster’s YouTube channel.
For the first two films, the agency tapped Sam Spiegel to both direct and create the music. Spiegel, who’s repped out of Hey Wonderful for directing, is best known as the founder/musician of Squeak E. Clean, a top industry music company known for creating tunes for brands including Facebook, Nike, Kenzo and Gatorade. The Nat Geo films are his first brand directing gig.
The project dovetailed with Spiegel’s sensibility, “as I’m a huge space geek as well as Einstein fan,” he said. “I had written a short film about Albert Einstein a few months ago, plus, the combination of music, space, science and Einstein … all things I love!”
The kick-off film, “The Instrument,” tells the story of a curious man who by day, runs a music repair and sales shop but by night, dives into making his own creations. A quote from Einstein hangs on his wall: “I live my daydreams in music.”
After the man closes up shop, he throws himself into his latest project, Frankensteining together the body of a violin, a few piano keys and various other knobs, buttons and doo-dads. With one strum, the instrument he makes levitates and after more plucks, pushes and turns, it commands the various things around it, including the creator himself, into flight. All throughout, a quirky, kooky, metaphysical track plays.
“The way we created the instrument was really an interesting thought exercise,” said Spiegel. “We actually created the music first, and then built the instrument to look how the music sounded. I’ve never done anything like that…