Students snacked strong

Five Northern Kentucky University students of past and present starred in two Doritos commercials that made it to the top 8 and top 5 in a national contest held by Frito Lay Jan. 3 and 4.

The winning commercial will be shown during Super Bowl XLI Feb. 4. The top 5 finalists won $10,000 and a full paid trip to Miami for a VIP Super Bowl viewing party.

“Duct Tape,” the top 5 finalist, and “Ultimatum,” which made it to the top 8, were directed and produced by Joe and Dave Herbert, of Batesville, Ind.; and co-produced by May 2006 graduate Josh Beshears. Beshears also starred in “Ultimatum.”

Beshears and the Herberts attended elementary school together, and many of the actors found out about the commercials from Beshears.

“My hat goes off to Josh, for sure,” said Greg Tillner, an NKU graduate who starred in “Duct Tape.”

The commercials was Beshears’ first attempt at producing, but he didn’t find acting and producing at the same time difficult due to his time at NKU.

“I got the best of both sides,” Beshears said. “The technical side with Chris Strobel (professor of communications), and the acting and performing side with Ken Jones (professor of theater).”

Doritos allowed each production team to enter up to five commercials in the contest.

“The fact we had two in the top 8 was unreal,” Beshears said. “No other group (submitting commercials) even made it to the top 16. Here we are, just a few guys in the Midwest, and we’re hanging in with them.”

The Herberts’ commercials were filmed in OMS Photography of Cincinnati during a two-day period in the fall of last year.

“Duct Tape” features a group of college-age guys leaving for a night out, but one (Tillner) has to secure his Dorito supply (with duct tape) from his roommate before leaving. As they leave, the door swings shut, and his roommate is taped to the back of the door.

“He was taped to the door for 40 minutes,” said David Hymen, a former NKU student and stand-up comedian who also starred in Duct Tape.

“We used three rolls of duct tape. It was a duct tape sweatsuit,” he said. “But he could escape if he really wanted to.”

Tillner found the shoot to be surprisingly painless. “The Herbert Brothers are really cool, down to earth guys, they knew how to ask things of the actors, so it was a good experience,” Tillner said. “It was an honor for me.”

“Ultimatum” features a boyfriend (Beshears) who is more obsessed with eating Doritos than with his current girlfriend (senior theater major Alyssa Foley). Foley issues an ultimatum, the Doritos or her, and is dumped for a new girlfriend.

“I wish we’d made the top 5,” Foley said. “I’m glad it got that far. I didn’t expect both of them (the commercials) to make it that far.”

Although “Ultimatum” wasn’t chosen for the top 5, Foley still counts her time working with the Herberts as a positive one, not only for the experience, but also for Beshears’ cooking. (Beshears provided food for cast and crew during the shoot.)

“Pretty good cook, that Josh,” Foley said. “He’s a manly man, but he can cook.” In light of their success, the cast and crew of “Duct Tape” and “Ultimatum” prescribed an open mind and a readiness to work for current NKU students hoping for a career in the film industry.

“Work hard and think of every project as a possibility,” Tillner said. “No project’s a small deal.”

Foley stressed the importance of connections inside and outside the theater department, and as for Beshears, “Anything involved in the world of theater or movies – it’s a big gamble, choosing that for a career,” he said. “You kinda have to carve your own little nich