Field Reports1 Oct, 2005 By: Thomas Haire, Nicole Urso Reed Response
ITV Direct, Sea Vegg Presidents Respond to ERSP Findings, FTC Referral
Ben Kalb is president of his 15-year old eponymous Las Vegas production company that specializes in long-form DRTV advertising. A former producer for such national TV magazine shows as PM Magazine, Kalb produced his first infomercial in 1990.
Pilar Lastra, Jordan Adams, Lynda Elkin and Ron Darling join Ben Kalb (front) on the set.
Recently, however, Kalb produced an 11-minute short film entitled "The Last Great Infomercial." A satirical look at the shadier side of the direct response world, the film is sure to amuse anyone who has seen more than their share of poorly produced infomercials for questionable products. Apparently, the film strikes a chord outside the industry as well, as it has been accepted into a pair of independent film festivals.
Response caught up with Kalb to talk to him about this latest project.
Q How did the idea for "The Last Great Infomercial" come about?
A "The Last Great Infomercial" is an 11-1/2 minute short film that is guaranteed to make you laugh or your money back! After 15 years of hard-selling products, I wanted to let those creative juices flow in a different direction. This was a lot of fun to write, produce and direct. I love satire and, as we all know, the infomercial as an art form lends itself to satire.
Q How did you put the cast together?
A Two of my stars in the film are great infomercial spokespeople — Jordan Adams and Lynda Elkin. I surrounded them with former Playboy Playmate Pilar Lastra and former New York Mets pitcher Ron Darling. The various scenes feature a talented bunch of Los Angeles actors and models, some who have appeared in my infomercials as models or demonstrators.
Q What were you trying to accomplish with the film? Talk about the statements it makes about the DRTV industry?
A My main goal was to get this film accepted info film festivals. I know there are some pretty pointed vignettes in the film, and for some people in the industry they will hit too close to home. I kind of pop the bubble, so to speak, but it's all done in satire. We can't be hard sell all the time in life. Sometimes we need to see what others see and laugh at ourselves.
Q What film festivals have you entered the film in?
A"The Last Great Infomercial" has been accepted at the Indiefest Chicago Film Festival and the Los Angeles International Short Film Festival (at press time). I have entered it into another eight festivals running before the end of 2005, so we'll see if it gets accepted into any of those.
Q Has there been any industry reaction to your film?
A Only a few people in our industry have seen the film so far, and that is by choice. I wanted to see how well it does in film festivals before I go public with it. But of the few who have seen it, I have received some very positive response. It's really very funny. They also tell me I've "had a nice career while it lasted."
Q What are your plans for the future, within DR or with this film?
A I really enjoy this business, and I have had my share of successful infomercials, so I will continue doing that as long as people hire me. In terms of the short film, I will see where the festival circuit takes it and just go from there. I'm sure I'll do another film sometime in the future, because this was just too enjoyable not to do it again.