Corona Takes It Outside With 'Free Range Humans' Mini Docs

Disconnection goes down smooth

After graduating from art college, Jason deCaires Taylor tried his hand at various trades: scuba diver, paparazzo, stage builder. But he never felt fulfilled. So, he moved to the Caribbean island of Grenada, determined to follow his dream of creating underwater sculptures that become coral reefs supporting marine ecosystems.

Taylor's figures begin as stoic gray representations but transform in magical ways as coral polyps cover them like skin. "It wasn't just about making static artwork," he says. "It was about making artworks that actually create life."

You can view the astonishing results and meet the artist himself in this 7-minute film, an installment of Corona's new "Free Range Humans" content series:

Across eight episodes dropping online today, we watch diverse folks cast off their inhibitions and stifling 9-to-5 identities, diving into the broader ocean of experience to emerge forever changed—like statues coming to life.

Pereira O'Dell and Rocket Film director Klaus Obermeyer created the series from concepts developed by Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam. It marks the launch of Corona Studios, dedicated to providing high-end consumer content about travel, the outdoors, surf lifestyles, sustainability and other topics associated with the brand.

Strong storytelling abounds, with gorgeous cinematography in exotic locations driving themes of transcendence and transformation. (If a few random Corona bottles show up, what the heck? The brand's footing the bill!)

"This is not just another travel series," says Corona global vice president Felipe Ambra. "With the events of this year, we know that people around the world are increasingly appreciative of the outside, and pondering what an alternative life could look like."

With that in mind, "Free Range Humans" strives to provide inspiration and insight into what viewers might attain away from congested urban centers, especially once lockdowns subside. "We hope it can serve as motivation for others to pursue a fulfilling life in and around the natural world when they are able to," Ambra says.

This minute-long trailer provides a series overview:

Pereira O'Dell and AB InBev—which owns the Corona brand outside the U.S.—have teamed up before on long-form projects. In June, the pair launched a Stella Artois series starring Andy Cohen, who read summer-themed stories from emerging writers. A month later, folk singer M. Ward updated the Lovin' Spoonful hit "Daydream" in a video packed with celebrity cameos.

"Free Range Humans" outpaces those efforts, however. Each installment boasts feature-film production values and compelling deep-dives across its 6- to 10-minute run time.

In addition, Pereira prepared sundry trailers and shorter posts, and Corona established a Free Range Fund to help passionate individuals pursue their dreams of personal liberation—and potentially appear on Season 2 of the show.

Below, in an edited and condensed conversation, Pereira O'Dell creative chairman PJ Pereira chats about the campaign:

Muse: Where exactly did this idea come from?

PJ Pereira: This is one of those projects that has been years in the making. The earliest I can remember is probably around 2017. We had just launched Lo and Behold, a feature film for NetScout directed by Werner Herzog, and a lot of brands were coming to us intrigued by the idea of doing high-profile documentaries. The conversations went quiet for a while until recently, when Corona reached out with a concept they wanted to explore—"Free Range Humans." It was a concept Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam had brought to them, and they asked us to turn that into a branded entertainment platform. It was pre-Covid, and the world was still reasonably safe, and the idea of living a life outdoors was worth exploring.

How did you proceed?

We established that this had to be a series, not a single piece, so we could explore the nuances and different ways of being "Free Range." We decided this wasn't going to be a travel show, which was what it seemed like at first. Since Corona's global tagline outside the U.S., where AB InBev runs it, is "This Is Living," we wanted to make this a show about people who really made the choice to live free range.

We were midway into casting when Covid happened. Everything stopped. We didn't know if we would be able to produce it, or if the content would still make sense. A few months into the pandemic, though, we realized how all our friends were moving out of big cities. It seemed to be a general behavior across the world. Suddenly, the idea of the free-range lifestyle went from this unattainable choice to an inspiration for something everyone was already considering. So we went all in, and found a way to shoot it.

Creating long-form stuff has been a Pereira go-to, yes?

One thing people often miss when they look at a program like "Free Range Humans" is that this isn't just a long-form play. When consumers spend more time with a brand and enjoy it, that memory lasts much longer. Our experience with Intel showed us that—two or three years later, fans were still talking to the brand about it.

Branded entertainment is not just a way to grab more of the audience's time. Is also an opportunity to be more meaningful during short interactions, too. The "posters" we did for each episode, which can also work as social media posts—they also communicate the brand very strongly. Even the six-second promos deliver a message better than a generic :06 could.

How did you pick the subjects?

They had to be people who really embraced the lifestyle. They couldn't just enjoy being outdoors when they go on vacation. Second, they needed to have a story worth telling—because of what they built, or the difficulties they faced, or the dreams they have. Finally, they had to be different from each other, so the series didn't feel repetitive.

Can you take us through the production process?

It took us two months to polish the concept and solidify the structure of the show, six months of casting, two months planning the production … and two more months editing and finishing.

We were shooting on remote beaches in South Africa, in the ocean near the U.K., and a remote jungle in Colombia. This meant we often had no signal and had to trust that the crew was getting something good. We always had a plan, a top-level story for each individual before we opened the camera, but we knew that was just a starting point. Producing a documentary is also a discovery expedition. We let them talk, get as much footage as we can, then find the real story.

Take Darci, for example, China's first pro surfer and an ocean advocate. That was going to be our story. But when we started to edit, we found this part where she talked about how her Chinese and Western names represent those two sides of her—traditional China and her surf persona—and we realized the arc of the story was a struggle between traditions and dreams, which [especially in China] … is a really complex theme, and highlights how strong she is as a human being. Without a doubt, that was going to be the theme.

We reshaped the storyline, re-edited the whole thing—but it still wasn't working. We did almost 10 different versions of it until one day Nick Sonderup, our ECD in New York, took all the original transcripts and disappeared from Zoom for a couple of days. When he reemerged, he had it. "There is this interesting relationship with her mother," he said. We looked at it again. In different parts of her interviews, she mentioned how her mother, being raised in the mountains, thought the ocean was dangerous, and was worried about her daughter's choices. But eventually, Darci convinced her to try surfing, too—and that changed their relationship. We had the story: the tale of a badass woman challenging traditions, told from the perspective of her relationship with her mother. The thing that distanced them became the bond that made them closer.

Do any other episodes really stand out for you?

For my wife, who loves architecture, Juan Pablo's adventure building an eco-hotel in the breathtakingly colorful jungles of Colombia was her favorite.

My artistic aspirations made the magic of Jason's underwater sculptures steal my heart. Another one of our subjects is South Africa's first free-diving instructor, Zandile Ndhlovu. There is a point in her story where she talks about how the title is not only hers but the entire country's, because that's one less "first" they need to have. That thought alone got me thinking for days. Each story has its special "hook." That's my favorite part about how this entire project turned out.

Check explore rest of the "Free Range Humans" series below:

CLIENT: ABINBEV, CORONA GLOBAL
Senior Vice President, Global Brands: Richard Oppy
Global Vice President, Corona: Felipe Ambra
Global Marketing Director, Corona: Chris Jones

AGENCY: PEREIRA O'DELL    
Creative Chairman, Co-founder: PJ Pereira
Chief Creative Officer: Robert Lambrechts 
Executive Creative Director: Nick Sonderup
Creative Director: Thiago Cruz
Senior Copywriter: David Mattera
Senior Copywriter: Ivan Rivera
Senior Art Director: Camilo Ruano
Senior Art Director: Pedro Sampaio
Senior Art Director: Perry Morton
Art Director: Estefanio Holtz
Copywriter: Andre Bittar
Design Director: Som Perry

Executive Producer: Veronica Beach
Executive Interactive Producer: Erin Davis
Senior Integrated Producer: Anthony Ramirez
Senior Print Producer: Dana Canneto
Producer: Molly Harrower
Producer: Kasia Olczak
Producer: Jon Serna
Producer: Nick Felder
Director of Business Affairs: Tamika Knight
Business Affairs Manager: Audra Brown
Business Affairs Manager: Shay Davis
Director of Operations: Jennifer Carrillo

Managing Director: Mona Gonzalez
Group Brand Director: Erin Shanahan

Director of Strategy: Tom Naughton
Director of Communications Strategy: Ashley Wells
Communications Strategy Director: Nina Cole
Social Strategist: Haley Carter

CASTING
Taking Over 

PRODUCTION COMPANY:

Rocket Film 

Director: Klaus Obermeyer
Managing Director: Sara Eolin
Head of Production: Marla Whittaker
Line Producer: Melissa Forman
Production Manager: Chad "Frenchie" Alburtis
Production Coordinator: Christina Bolt

Field Production: Emily Penn 

DP: Tim Walker
Producer: Tim Tyrell
Coordinator: Tasha Hayes

Jason Taylor

UK: 
DP: Tim Walker
Producer: Tim Tyrell
Coordinator: Tasha Hayes

France: 
Producer: Frank Corbery
DP: Morgan Le Faucheur

Darci Liu

Producer/DP: Daniel Holmes

Bruna Bessa

Brazil: 
Producer: Daniel Araujo
DP: Renato Passarelli

Nicaragua:
Producer: Rick Briggs
DP: Phillip Schonweitz

Juan Pablo Bueno

Producer: Maria Ximena Lopen
Coordinator: Juan Soler
DP: Omar Gutierrez

Mario Rigby

Producer: Jacinta Kuznetsov
DP: Will Allen

Roushanna Gray

Producers: Carmen Amos/Greer Hoeks
DP: Bryan Little

Zandile Ndhlovu

Producers: Carmen Amos/Greer Hoeks
DP: Lourens Van Rensburg

Stock Researcher & Clearances: Giovanna Righini

EDITORIAL

Cosmo Street Editorial

Producer: Kacie Gomez
Head of Production: Marie Mangahas 
EP: Yvette Cobarrubias 

Bruna:
Editor: Justin Trovato
Assistant Editor: Andrew Corrales

Juan Pablo:
Editor: Julie Kravitz Gannon 
Assistant Editor: Andrew Corrales

Mario:
Editor: Kimmy Dubé
Assistant Editor: Edward Schroer 

Roushanna:
Editor: Jeff Grippe
Assistant Editor: Alexandra Jimenez

Zandile:
Editor: Andrew Corrales
Assistant Editor: N/A

Jason:
Editor: Brendan Bigelow
Assistant Editor: Garrett McDonald

Darci:
Editor: Edward Schroer 
Assistant Editor: Shiyu Hu 

Editorial Emily Penn: 

Barrelhouse Productions 
Editor: Mitchell Hunter (Long Form)
Editor: Michael Read Moore (Short Form)
Head of Production: Josh Diaz
Production Coordinator: Monica Hyde

Music & Mix: 

Quiet City Music + Sound
Composers:
Chris Jordao
Darren Solomon
Aaron Mirman-Heslin
Erik Della Penna
Dmitry Libman

Animation:

The End:
Executive Producer: Duda Izique & Helena Jardim
Post Production Coordinator: Bruno Melo
Matte Painting :Rafael Falconi
3D: Renato Montoro
VFX Artist: Guilherme Sarinho & Caique Veloso

Color:

Apache Digital:
Colorist: Quinn Alvarez 
Producer: Caitlin Forrest 
EP: LaRue Anderson 

Online:

Ingenuity Studios
David Lebensfeld - VFX Supervisor / Founder
Grant Miller - VFX Supervisor
Kieley Culbertson - Executive Producer
Rachel Faith Hanson - VFX Producer
Wen Qian - Lead 2D Compositor
Chad Sigston - Lead Online Editor
Austin Witherspoon - Online Editor
Max Drenckpohl - Online Editor

PR: ALISON BROD MARKETING + COMMUNICATIONS
Lauren Bishop - Senior Vice President
Adrianna Lauricella - Vice President
Lexi Harrison - Senior Account Executive

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