Samantha Bee shakes hands with Lady Liberty, takes a bite out of the US/Mexico border wall and stands boldly in front of Mount Rushmore in the new main titles for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.
The opening sequence dropped Wednesday night to the surprise of viewers. Designed and directed by Erin Sarofsky’s production company Sarofsky, it presents Samantha “the way the world increasingly sees her: as a curious giant in the cultural landscape.”
The concept was initially developed by the show’s producers and writers as they brainstormed how to fine tune Bee’s place in late night television. Executive producers Miles Kahn, Alison Camillo and Pat King wanted to convey Bee’s strong sense of purpose, motivations, inquisitive nature and drive to shake things up, and Sarofsky was asked to create an opening that reflected the tone, persona and content of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.
“As a woman, I know how hard it is to strike the right tone with people,” Sarofsky said. “In whatever we came up with, I wanted to communicate what a bad-ass I think she is… slicing through the messy political landscape each week and doing it all with a wink. To be such a powerful, hilarious figure in the mix, calling it as she sees it, is courageous and badass beyond words.”
The stylized 20-second intro combines the aesthetic of a punk rock poster aesthetic with a larger-than-life Bee standing up for issues such as human rights, legislature, leadership, representation and activism.
Donning her signature blazer and high heels, she towers above American neighborhoods, cityscapes and monuments. She shakes hands (then ‘fan girls’ a bit) with the Statue of Liberty; dismantles and consumes a section of the border wall; spies inside the White House and Capitol; battles a five-headed hydra of pundits; and rallies a woman’s march ... before defacing a poster of herself as she walks off the stage.
“As a smaller-framed woman who has a larger-than-life presence, Samantha’s words carry a lot of weight,” said Sarofsky. “Still, she is the first person to joke about herself. Self-deprecating and highly self-aware, she is a master at turning it back around and using herself as the punchline.”
How it Came Together
While the background for the main titles are either stock or computer-generated 3D, the footage of Bee was shot in one day on stage in Vancouver.
“We had a lot to capture that day, and we also did a ton of improv work,” Sarofsky said.
Director of photography Mike Bove (Friends from College, Animal Kingdom) designed lighting and a green screen, then shot in 4K resolution for clean images ideal for VFX artists to work.
A post production team added animated elements to create stop-motion feel to Bee’s performances and facial expressions.
Along with the 20-second opening, Sarofsky- created 10-second and 3-second versions with alternate endings and captions to be rolled out across television, online platforms and out-of-home-marking, including billboards, throughout the season.
“It’s rare to work on a project that is deeply meaningful to you. We got to collaborate with a woman we respect and admire. We developed a unique visual point of view in a category littered with other personas and styles … where women are underrepresented, and even harder to brand,” said Sarofsky.
“Here’s hoping that it will motivate change. That it will help get people more accustomed to women in positions of power, that they will vote for more of us, hire more of us, promote more of us, and respect our opinions more.”
Client: TBS Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
Executive Producers: Samantha Bee, Alison Camillo, Miles Kahn
Producer: Chris Savage
Production Company: Sarofsky
Live Action Director & Creative Director: Erin Sarofsky
Director of Photography: Michael Bove
Executive Producer: Steven Anderson
Senior Producer: Bryan Haney
Designer, Animators: Josh Smiertka, Leah Evans, Jake Matthews, Tanner Wickware
Designers: Duarte Elvas, Levi Reardon
Editorial Company: Cutters Studios
Editor: Dustin Kaufman
Associate Producer: Natalie Stone