|Revaya Maayan Mlotek, 18 months, sits with her father, Avram Mlotek, during the filming of a commercial for Doritos. Avram Mlotek portrays a homeless man in Central Park.|
It’s true that Doritos are not certified kosher, but Elisha Mlotek of Teaneck reassures his friends that “no Doritos were eaten” as he produced a Doritos commercial that he hopes makes it to the Super Bowl.
He is trying his luck at winning the International Doritos Commercial Competition. The prize? Having his ad broadcast at the Super Bowl halftime show this year.
Mr. Mlotek co-wrote, produced, and directed a commercial for Doritos that stars his 18-month-old niece, Revaya Maayan Mlotek. He worked with Zach Federbush of Paramus, who co-wrote the script, and Dov Adler, who managed the production’s technical details. All three are studying media arts and communications at Queens College.
“We plan on entering the ad industry as religious Jews,” Mr. Federbush said. He feels that their level of religious observance not only will not limit them, but is something they can use “to a creative advantage, hoping to be wholesome in our work.”
As the commercial begins, Revaya’s mother, Yael Kornfeld-Mlotek, and Elisha, playing her father, are in Central Park, pushing a baby carriage and eating Doritos. Suddenly they notice that the stroller is empty. Panic-stricken, the mom yells, “Where’s the baby?” As they turn a corner, an adorable, smiley baby is seen sitting on a bench with a homeless man, played by her real father, Avram Mlotek. The faux homeless man asks for Doritos in exchange for the baby, and the parents contemplate this tough decision.
Baby or Doritos?!
Revaya’s acting career began when she was six months old; her uncle filmed her sitting on the toilet “reading” a newspaper. Soon, producers at Tosh.0, a TV show on Comedy Central, asked him for permission to air his video internationally. Now, Revaya’s vocabulary consists of “Mommy” and “Up.” She and her parents live on Manhattan’s Upper West Side; her mother is a social worker at Dorot, a Jewish agency serving elderly clients, and her father is a rabbinical student at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah in Riverdale, N.Y.
It is age-old advice that any theatrical producer should avoid working with children and animals, Mr. Adler said, but the three videomakers avoided the potential pitfalls. Superstar Revaya was very cooperative during the three hours of filming. Thinking ahead, they washed an empty bag that once had held Doritos. When she started getting kvetchy, they calmed her down by feeding her kosher nacho chips that they had put in the bag.
There were some very funny moments, Elisha Mlotek said. Every time an actor would yell “Where’s the baby?” passersby would look worried. They also seemed concerned when they saw an apparently homeless man seemingly holding baby Revaya hostage.
Because they are college students working on a budget, the three young men managed to make excellent use of natural resources. Mr. Adler, who works as a technician for a company that rents visual equipment, had access to everything they needed.
There were some problems, of course.
“The video wasn’t going to happen,” Mr. Mlotek recalled thinking, as his hard drive crashed the day the video was due. Mr. Adler was able to use his technical expertise to restore the original footage for Mr. Mlotek to edit all over again. When they finally were able to send it to the contest, it was too late. They just missed the deadline. But a message to Doritos saved them. Their video made it in to the contest. And it was erev Chanukah – a real miracle!
They will be happy even if they lose, because this production is another piece to add to their media portfolios.
Mr. Mlotek’s grandmother, the Yiddish musicologist and folklorist Chana Mlotek, died soon after the ad was filmed. He said that during this intense emotional experience, he was comforted by the fact that he was making his grandmother proud. “Bubbe always encouraged me to embrace my talents and share them with others,” he said.
Mr. Mlotek hopes that his video can make a kiddush Hashem – that it will bring honor to God’s name. The Talmud teaches him that a person is to use his strengths and talents for Torah and wholesome activities. The ad he made, he feels, is appropriate, family oriented, and entertaining. It reflects on his and his friends’ values as proud Jews.
The three see their religious observance as an advantage rather than a drawback. “Religion isn’t something we try to avoid and work around,” Mr. Mlotek said. “It’s actually embedded into our creativity.
“It is something we embrace and have learned to love.”