Many of you have seen the the Doritos commercial named "Snack-attack Samurai" that aired during the Super Bowl. The actor in the commercial warning his friend about stealing Doritos is Minot native Mike Rylander, a 2000 graduate of Minot High School. Below is a Question and Answer session by e-mail with Mike about the tremendous amount of success his commercial has had and how it all came to be.
1. Was it you that came up with the idea and did anything in particular trigger the idea, and where and when was it shot?
Unfortunately, I cannot claim credit for the idea.
What Ben (Krueger) and Cole (Koehler) told me is that when they decided they wanted to do an entry for the contest, they were brainstorming, and one of the ideas they had was 'hey - wouldn't it be funny if someone threw a Dorito like a ninja star?' This idea then led to 'hey - wouldn't it be even funnier if the guy who threw it was in a Samurai suit made of Doritos?' The rest, as they say, is history.
I can, however, can claim credit for the short-shorts. Being an actor, I've acquired several 'interesting' wardrobe pieces over the years and the short-shorts are just one example.
The commercial was shot back in October in a boxing gym in northeast Minneapolis called "Uppercut Boxing Gym."
2. You've done plenty of film work by the looks of your Web site, mikerylander.com. Did that make this process pretty easy for you or was there anything new you encountered?
As with anything, experience always makes things easier. The more you do something, the more natural it comes to you. By that same token, every project and every experience is different; consequently, each project brings new challenges and rewards. Having worked with Ben before definitely helped out. As a former athlete, I can confidentally say that the 'synergy' teammates experience on the field is very similar to the 'synergy' that collaborating artists experience on-set and on-stage.
One thing that made the shoot a little more difficult than most was a lack of time and resources. Usually, when you are working on a 'real' commercial with a 'real' budget, you have about 10-15 hours to get all the shots that you need and you have more than enough 'hands on deck' to get the job done. With this, since it was a 'ultra low budget' contest entry and everyone was working on borrowed time and we were working with borrowed equipment, we had exactly four hours to shoot and we had about half the people on set than a 'budgeted' commercial would've had.
3. Did you feel confident in the finished product and what was it like seeing your face on TV during the Super Bowl?
Yeah, I was pretty happy with it. I'm a bit of a 'perfectionist' so I always have critiques of anything I ever do (this commercial being no exception), but for the most part, I was really pleased when I saw the finished product. Then again, there were over 4,000 entries into the contest, so by no means did I think that we were a 'lock' to be a finalist - or even that we had 'better odds than most' - but I did think, "Hey, this really does make me laugh, so I guess we'll just see what the judges think." Luckily for us, it made the judges laugh too. And apparently, they laughed more at ours than they did the other 4,000 entries.
Seeing it air during the Super Bowl was probably the most surreal/exciting/mind-blowing experience of my life to date. I've been on a television - national and local - many times before, so seeing myself on TV was nothing new; but, having the lead role in a Super Bowl commercial definitely took it to a whole new level. The hard part is trying to grasp just how many people saw it. Sure, I saw it on TV. Sure, everyone in the same room as me saw it on the TV. But coming to terms with the fact that 116.2 million people (just in this country) saw it is very, very difficult. You see, I'm an on-air personality for The CW station here in Minneapolis, so I'm on TV all day, every day in a television market of a couple million people.
This year's Super Bowl was the most watched television program of all-time. And, according to Nielson, not only was it the most-viewed television program ever, our commercial was the most viewed television commercial of all time! That is definitely something that is hard to come to terms with. (In a good way!) Not only was I in a Super Bowl commercial, but that commercial is now part of television history and will most likely be in the Guiness Book of World Records. That blows my mind.
4. What is the prize for how you did?
Well, all six finalist teams received $25,000 - so I'll get a "piece" of that.
There were additional prizes to be won based on the USA Ad-Meter. If any of the Doritos commercials placed No. 1 on the Ad Meter, they won $1 million. No. 2 was $600,000 and No. 3 was $400,000. But, here's the deal on that: To have a chance of placing in the top 10 in the Ad Meter, you need to air during the first two or three commercial breaks. Period. It's always been that way. To place in the top 20, you need to air sometime before halftime. Again, it's always been like that.
So originally, Doritos was only going to air 3 of the 6 finalists. The first commercial they aired was during the first commercial break and it was called 'Underdog'. In the third commercial break, they aired their second commercial called 'House Rules'. And in the fifth commercial break, they aired a third commercial called 'Casket'.
It was at this point that I, and everyone else at our Super Bowl party thought that our chances of getting aired were over with and that the contest was lost. It was a pretty somber mood...
But, about 15 minutes later, I got a text message from Cole who was at the Super Bowl with Ben and the rest of the six finalists in the official Doritos Box Suite Super Bowl Party. ... Doritos was airing a fourth commercial!
Our commercial, which was one of the very last to air, placed 17th, which according to Doritos, is incredible as most commercials post-halftime never place top 20. And, just by random fate, even though our placement didn't put us in contention for the million-dollar prize, it did put us in the history books with that ridiculous record and that is definitely something that we can use on our resumes and reels for a very long time to come.
5. Can you tell my readers a bit about yourself and your background in Minot?
I graduated from Minot High School in 2000 - so yes - this summer is my 10-year reunion (which I will be back for).
My acting career truly started in Minot when, as a kid, I performed with the Mouse River Players and was in many Minot State University theatre productions. In high school, I was a second-team all-conference football player and was on the 11-1 Magician team that suffered its only defeat to West Fargo in the state championship. I was one of the captains of the MHS Math Track Team and was voted "Actor of the Year" by the Thespian Club for my portrayal of Mercutio in MHS' production of Romeo & Juliet.
After high school, I attended North Dakota State University on scholarship for Computer Engineering & Mathematics - but I only went for one year as I realized that even though I was 'good' at math and science, I had to give my first love (acting/writing) a shot first. I moved back to Minot, saved up some money by working long, grueling hours as a groundskeeper at the North Dakota Fairgrounds and moved to Minneapolis in 2001.
In Minneapolis, I studied improvisation and sketch comedy at the nationally recognized Brave New Workshop (famous alumni indude Al Franken, Tom Davis, Louie Anderson, Mo Collins, Pat Proft, Cedric Yarburough, etc.) for four years and have been a working, professional actor for five years.
Along with numerous theatre productions, several local and national commercials, an appearance in Cosmopolitan Magazine, and appearances two different programs on the History Channel, I am an On-Air Personality for The CW Twin Cities, an On-Air Guest Host for the national cable-channel ShopNBC, and, this year also marks my fourth season as the In-Arena Game Host/Co-Announcer for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
I co-wrote a feature film called "The Old Arizona" (theoldarizona.com) that is currently in-development and seeking additional funding. There has been some interest from some 'name actors' and other Hollywood entities, so we hope to complete the film's funding as soon as possible.
Minneapolis is still home for now, but a move to Los Angeles is definitely on the horizon; but, no matter where life takes me, I will always be "that goofy nice kid from North Dakota."
My mom is an elementary teacher at Bel Air and my dad is a math teacher and coach at Central Campus.
Chris Aarhus is a sports writer at The Minot Daily News. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.