A long, strange trip of non-traditional storytelling and the stories amassed along the way.

Jason Zada
May 10 · 22 min read

Foreword: Recently, I was asked to give a talk on interactive storytelling and went into a deep dive of the past work that I have done over the past 20+ years. It was great to crate dig through so many memories. I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of so many groundbreaking and innovative projects over the years, so let this serve as a shrine to all of the people who helped bring them to life. Let’s start in San Francisco in 1994. The internet was just getting started and I was addicted to creating content for it. In the early days, it was the wild west and so many creative people were coming from all over the world to be a part of it.

One of over a hundred pages designed by me and programmed by Greg.

1996. Spiff.

Fly Pentop, Friends of Bright and Criss Angel.

2000–2005. EVB.

This is how I dance at weddings.

2006. Elf Yourself.

2007. Ms. Dewey.

In 2008, after directing quite a bit of the work within the agency, I decided to pursue a dream I have had since I was a kid — to become a director. I left my agency, met an executive producer named Brian Latt and signed to Tool of North America. Brian had the dream of transforming the traditional production company into something modern, hiring Dustin Calif in the process to head up the newly formed digital division.

2009. Salt 101.

We shot the entire film on a Canon 5D.

2010. Touching Stories.

2010. OG Augmented Reality.

I apologized to David for all the therapy he had to undergo.

2010. David on Demand.

This image was seared into millions of people’s heads.

2011. Take This Lollipop.

This was an absolute shock if you couldn’t tell from the look on my face.
You could take a photo within the McDonalds experience and create a cool keepsake for the relaunch of the Big Mac.

2011–2012. Rise of Interactive Video.

Looks eerily similar to Thanos snapping his fingers eh?

2012. Linkin Park.

Georgica hadn’t done much acting before this and I was so lucky she was amazing.

2012. Paranormal Activity.

Georgica Peetus & Kathryn Newton

2013. Virtual Reality.

Pretty much my favorite advertising project of all time.

2013. Remote Control Tourist.

Thank you to all the designers who I drove crazy to create this site. It had to perfect or else the entire experience would never work.
Such a simple set, but so Target.

2014. Target Everyday Fashion Show.

Yes, I was the shortest one here.
Having never traditionally directed live television, this set up took some time to get used to.

“I can’ sit still for a 30-second commercial, but Target just got me to sit through a 2-hour one. #EverydayShow #Brilliant

No butterflies or ice cubes were harmed for this video.

2014. Touchin Lovin.

Logan Paul, pre-trashing Japanese culture.

2014. Taco Bell.

I loved that all the kids on SnapChat stayed up extra late to see the entire film.

In 2015, I directed a feature film for Focus Features called The Forest. It took 9 months to complete and was released in theaters on January 8th, 2016. It made $40 MILLION dollars globally. While I was away from the advertising world, the interactive video microsite died, most innovative projects switched to experiential installations and VR became all the rage.

2016. VR 4D Ride.

Simple idea- Shrink you down to the size of a honey bee.

2017. Honey Bees.

My city. My heart. My love letter to my home for over 21 years.

2017. San Francisco.

How can you not cry during this experience? You’d have to be dead inside.

2018. The Homeless.

Someone fell through the floor LIVE and was badly injured. Right?

2018. The Winchester Mystery House.

Not too shabby.

2019. The Future.

Jason Zada

Written by

Jason is an Emmy Award-winning storyteller and director. Best known for Take This Lollipop, The Forest and countless bad karaoke songs. http://www.jasonzada.com

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