KFC: Long Shoot Day with ‘One Take’ Tilly

I was writing on a KFC TV campaign called “Lake Edna.” (Not my campaign idea.) The premise was a quaint fictitious town with a KFC store. The store manager was named Russ Beeler (Actor Rif Hutton), who served as a recurring character/spokesperson.

Rif Hutton as the KFC Store Manager Russ Beeler

This particular commercial promoted a new taste test win for KFC vs. Hardees. To deliver the news, we introduced Mom Beeler, who chided her son, saying the taste test was unfair. (You’ll see why in a moment).

Meet ‘One Take’ Tilly

During casting, we found a wonderful actress to play Russ’s mother. She said she had been a longtime fixture in LA doing TV and movie work. She added that she was known as “One Take” Tilly because she often nailed her read on the very first take.

Tilly, the actress playing Russ Beeler’s mother.

Perfect. Sold. Book her.

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot

The shoot took place on the front porch of a house in Pasadena. With clear blue skies, the cool morning sun quickly turned blazing hot. Add in the extra heat from our HMI lighting and the porch felt like a toaster oven.

Tilly was wilting. She couldn’t remember her lines. We took frequent breaks. Set up electric fans. Had lots of cold drinks on hand. And divided the script into small segments. Through it all, Tilly forged ahead – take after take, determined to get her delivery right.

One Good Take Is All You Need

With some skillful editing, Tilly came across just as we hoped: strong, sweet, charming and humorous.

In TV commercials, you tend to shoot far more takes than you’ll ever use. Tilly reminded us that all you really need is one good take. Thank you, Tilly.

Creative Supervisor/Copywriter: Joseph Ehlinger. Senior Art Director: Bruce Cumsky. Producer: Charlie Capuano. Creative Director: Michael Hampton. Director: Stu Hagmann. Agency: Young & Rubicam. Client: KFC.

This commercial was archived with the help of the Paley Center for Media. Please support their efforts to preserve and celebrate our extraordinary media history.

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