An Astoria actor is trying to “crash” one of the most watched television events of the year.
Alex Pepper could see his commercial, filmed at his Astoria home, air during this year’s Super Bowl, but he needs your vote.
The 25-year-old is one of 10 finalists in the Doritos Crash the Super Bowl Contest. Two finalists’ commercials, one chosen by fan votes and the second by Doritos, will be shown during the Big Game. The commercial that receives the most fan votes will win $1 million and a chance to work as a contractor for a year at Universal Pictures in Hollywood.
The contest was started nine years ago, and after seeing the commercials on past Super Bowls, Pepper decided he wanted to enter.
“I am more of an actor/artist than a sports fan so to see what people bring to commercials is incredible,” he said.
With only a couple weeks to go until the deadline, and the help of his girlfriend and pals, he shot the commercial inside his Astoria apartment and on the building’s roof.
The concept came from his performance experience — the actor, who has done a national tour of “South Pacific” and background work for television, is also a dancer.
“Being a male dancer, it’s your worst nightmare to drop your partner. So I took that idea and raised the stakes a little bit,” he said.
The commercial, called “What Could Go Wrong?” features Pepper in his apartment talking to a friend who is eating a bag of Doritos. His friend convinces him to talk to “the hottie from 3B,” who is on the roof, by telling him to bring the bag of chips and saying, “What could go wrong?”
But something does go wrong. He entices the hottie (played by his friend’s girlfriend) with the Doritos and she asks Pepper to dance with her. Then, after lifting her in the air “Dirty Dancing” style, he slips on the bag and the girl falls off the roof.
She seems to have survived, shouting out, “Really? ” at him. But before sneaking off the roof, Pepper makes sure to grab his Doritos.
Though he dropped the girl in the commercial, Pepper insists he’s never dropped a dance partner in real life.
The commercial cost only about $80 to make and was shot on point-and-shoot and DSLR cameras. Though he has edited videos before, Pepper was still somewhat of a novice before tackling the Doritos ad.
“I was not expecting anything to come from this,” he said about being a finalist in a contest, which he said includes filmmakers with more experience than he has.
Out of almost 4,900 submissions, 29 semifinalists were selected, which were then narrowed down by a panel of judges consisting of Doritos executives, advertising professionals and actress Elizabeth Banks, to 10 from around the world. Six are from the U.S., and Pepper is the only finalist from New York City.
When Pepper found out he was a finalist, he got a personal call from Banks. He will also get to sit with her at the Super Bowl in a private suite. All the finalists won a trip to the Feb. 1 game in Arizona, and a guaranteed $25,000. The commercial chosen to run by Doritos receives $50,000.
The winner will not be announced until the commercial airs.
If he gets the big bucks, Pepper hopes to give back to the arts organizations that have supported him, including his hometown dance studio, Dee Buchanan Studio of Dance, which is helping him get votes through YouTube. He would also like to upgrade his camera equipment.
But Pepper isn’t focused on the million dollar prize.
“I think the job and having people see your work is more exciting than the money.”
To vote for Pepper’s commercial, visit www.doritos.com. Voting is open through Jan. 28.