Right before the COVID-19 pandemic I flew to Chicago to co-direct a three part episodic series for TD Ameritrade titled “A Taste Of The Futures” for creative agency RIOT. We finished shooting that episode mere days before the whole world shut down putting the entire series in jeopardy. Thankfully we were able to finish what became an award nominated episodic series focusing on food and futures in partnership with Wall Street Journal and CME Group.
COVID-19 dramatically changed the intended path and direction of the series and is a great example of sometimes needing to be able to switch concepts on a dime. What was originally intended to be the first episode ended up becoming the second episode. The new first episode was shot at host Jamie MacDonald’s apartment in Nolita, New York and the third episode allowed us to thankfully get a little closer to the initial idea but with the restrictions of a safe COVID shoot.
I’ll talk more in depth about each episode below, but wanted to call out the hand drawn animation talents of Rose Hidalgo who, through the creative direction of Stassmonster and I helped us bridge the gap of the missing footage we had due to the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic allowing us to visualize the narrative of the scripts without having to physically shoot it. In fact we were able to visualize things with host Jamie that we likely would not have been able to otherwise – parachuting and hot air ballooning anyone for example.
Co-Director • Creative Director • Video Editor • Motion Graphics • Color • Music Supervisor
Episode #1: Back To The Futures
Episode #1 was shot in the summer of 2021 at the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic with a skeleton crew that included myself (Director & DIT), Brandon Ripley (DP, Gaffer & Camera Op), Alyssa Ripley (Assistant Camera & Sound) and that was it! Host Jamie MacDonald invited us into his home to shoot this episode and due to our lack of ability to shoot in numerous locations we leaned heavily into hand drawn animation and motion graphics to tell our story and cement the connection between futures and food.
Episode #2: From Futures To Table
Originally intended to be Episode #1, TD Ameritrade felt that we needed to create an introduction episode to help the viewer further understand the connection between futures and food to setup the rest of the series. The “From Futures To Table” episode is closest to our intended direction for the series leaning heavily into capturing a wide variety of footage to tell our story. From sit down interviews to stunning shots of food, prep and a plethora of B-roll from all over Chicago and Episode #2 is visually rich and my favorite episode of the series.
Episode #3: Plating The Future
The final episode in the series was also shot during the COVID-19 pandemic but much later than Episode #1 – September 2020). We were still restricted with a minimal crew and were required to have on camera talent remain six feet apart at all times. As such, the concept of the show needed to shift again, this time leaning more into a challenge of what Chef Gabriel Kruther could create with some futures traded ingredients that host Jamie MacDonald selected for him. The resulting dish is very original and delicious!
“An award nominated episodic series focusing on food and futures in partnership with Wall Street Journal & CME.”
A Taste of the Futures saw huge success, not only in how the audience engaged with the content, but in actual volume of futures trading and accounts opened at TD Ameritrade.
A Taste of the Futures garnered an average of 25K page views per episode, exceeding benchmark by over 200%. Our page view time was 3x the benchmark with average of 6 minutes 23 seconds per episode, and there were over 1 million engagements across Facebook and Twitter.
During the campaign’s run between October-December 2020, TD Ameritrade saw an astounding 10.6 million futures contracts, an 87% increase year over year in futures volume. There were also over 8,300 new futures accounts opened, up 74% year over year.