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Who edits Pawlenty’s videos? (Updated)

Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty has amazing videos. Who’s responsible for them? How much do they cost to produce? And what do they tell us about him?

Here’s a commercial his team released yesterday, and which has already been viewed 50,000 times on YouTube:

Wow! That’s a lot of information in 30 seconds!

Look at all the editing tricks employed to make Pawlenty look exciting. No shot lingers for longer than a second. Footage has been processed, shaken, filtered and distressed to make it feel spontaneous and genuine. Like several other Pawlenty videos, it’s backed by orchestral music and cropped to the Panavision-style anamorphic aspect ratio, which makes it seem cinematic and momentous. It’s a style that led Stephen Colbert to joke that Pawlenty is running for “president of the next Transformers movie.”

Here’s another one. This is the video Pawlenty released to announce his exploratory committee:

These videos are a breakthrough, unlike anything else in politics right now. They’re closer to movie trailers, or cable news promos, than traditional campaign ads. From a creative standpoint, videos like this are only possible when nobody is butting in to say, “Hey, that’s looking a little cheesy. Dial it down a bit.” Which makes me wonder: Who’s making these videos? Who’s signing off on them? What do they cost?

In this early stage of the campaign, Team Pawlenty is almost certainly a lean shop. These videos look expensive, but with today’s digital editing tools, they could have been cobbled together cheap and fast using stock footage. Chances are they were done with a small budget—I’d guess a few thousand bucks each. (Please see the update at the end of this post for more information about who’s producing Pawlenty’s videos.)

In 2007 and 2008, the Obama campaign harnessed social media, graphic design and other modern communications tools to help Obama win. Crowds of people chanting “Yes we can!” while waiving signs that said “CHANGE,” set confidently in the crisp Gotham typeface, were an iconic moment in political speech.

If Pawlenty can get traction with cinematic, viral online videos, he might be on to something similar.

Of course, the videos also must have some content, however superficial, telling us what Pawlenty stands for. That may be the biggest problem with this campaign—specifics. The two videos above paint Pawlenty as a Washington outsider who’s hungry to offer solutions to working class Americans. But take a look at two others.

Here’s one in which Pawlenty calls the Tea Party “a welcome, helpful, energetic, forward-leaning organization”:

And here’s one where he says it’s important to stand with Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin:

Taken together, these short videos establish a setting and sketch the outlines of a story, just like the movie trailers they emulate. The story is a political thriller. Tim Pawlenty’s America is a nation where dark conspiracies loom, the legitimacy of our current president is in serious doubt, and fighter jets scream across the sky. It’s one where the solution to a state budget problem is to take rights away from vulnerable people—because desperate times call for desperate measures. If we vote for this man, we’re voting for a political ideology that sees the world spiraling toward chaos, where our best options are to cut programs, isolate ourselves, and pray things don’t get worse. Music up.

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Update: After a little more research, I found the name of the filmmaker who’s producing these videos: Lucas Baiano. Baiano is 22 and has done about 20 political videos, beginning with work for Hilary Clinton’s campaign when he was 19. ClickZ published a profile of Baiano last week:

“Nowadays, Baiano can be seen traveling with the Pawlenty team to get footage and speak with campaign event audience members…. Though he isn’t on the campaign staff, he believes the Pawlenty team is supportive of his work and see value in it. ‘They allow me to explore my creative vision… The key thing is that they’re supportive in the message and how to really work with this unique element of marketing and communications.'”

Additionally, Jon Ward wrote about Baiano for The Huffington Post in an article March 17.

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under Advertising, Politics

One comment

  1. ashley says:

    Wow. If I didn’t know better, I’d totally vote for Pawlenty. Hopefully someone in the White House knows how to use iMovie.

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