The Frat Tree of Life - An Atomic Parody Project

edited November 2011 in Filmmaking
Hey guys, Andrew here again.
It's been long enough, and we're nearing release- so I thought I'd go ahead and broadcast a project we've been working off-and-on at in-conjunction with the website (and one of our previous collaborators) Total Frat Move. In our recent past we've done some successful parody trailer work, as well as some southern conservative/frat-related humor videos. And frankly, though they're somewhat vacuuous- it's all really great fun to work at, and we really like the guys over at TFM. And so we thought, just for the hell of it, why not combine those tenets into something of a hybrid? Take a movie and trailer we really like, and have at it with a greek-life spin? The result is the project The Frat Tree of Life.

Now I know what you're thinking- Another one of these?
Well, the truth is this isn't our follow-up to our Social Network parody The Brocial Network or our Inception parody INEBRIATION. To follow those, we have a fairly elaborate, 'proper' parody project that has a large, brokered release planned and lots of intricate workings at the moment going for it. But we haven't got to a point where we can talk much about that, and so instead we're cluing you all in on our other little parody.

The project is currently LIVE over a Total Frat Move, and can be viewed in the embed below!
Bored nearing the end of summer and beginning of our last year in college, The Frat Tree of Life was somewhat of an impulse decision and creation to make. We wanted something we could do with the star of Brocial (Reese) and star of INEBRIATION (John) together in the few days their schedules overlapped. We wanted something fun to take a stab at. We loved the real movie. We were/are mesmerized by the real Tree of Life trailer. We live in the exact area where the entire film was shot. And I knew TFM could be a good/funny connection to the real film. And so I talked with them, and with our crew, and boom. It just made sense to go at.
[center][size="1"](A snippet of behind-the-scenes material from production)[/size][/center]
And so after shooting for a set of days in creeks, woods, fraternity houses, campuses, and 107 degree heat, we broke off and went to work on other things. Now we've returned to the project, having scooped up the last necessary 'funny/gag' shots over the past month here or there, and we're ready to kick it into high-gear.
We've tweaked and tossed in the edit bay and got the parody project to what we think is a solid state of completion. So here we are.

Like our other previous releases, part of the excitement, fun, and overall novelty to the project is the similarities you can encompass even in marketing and visual materials- and The Frat Tree of Life is no exception. For those interested, I've embedded below some of the posters we've been working at.
Part of the success of a follow-up viral video, and cornering of an audience for something like this, is how you position your video. Content branding is integral to the success or failure, exposure or denial, of things such as these- and that's (partly) why such all-encompassing, meticulous graphic media branding is so crucial to a premiere. So check it out and, if you're willing, consider "liking" us on our official Frat Tree of Life Facebook Fan Page.
If you want to, and are willing to support us- we'd love for you to "Like" our official Facebook page, and let all your friends know about it. Like our previous parody projects, a large part of the momentum that gives these things legs- and what drives us to actively push for the exposure they have gotten- is in the groundswell of support and viewership we get from you guys and our fans on YouTube and Facebook. We have a tentative release planned for this weekend, and we're looking to get all the buzz and support we can in order to make this premiere as big as possible.
So, I ask very humbly- that if you want to, consider "liking" our pages to help us with this.
[center][size="5"]"Like" The Frat Tree of Life[/size]
[size="4"]"Like" Atomic Productions Fan Page[/size]
[size="4"]"Like" Total Frat Move Fan Page[/size][/center]
I hope you guys check these out, as well as our hilarious (though often polarizing) partners for this project over at, and let us know your thoughts!



  • edited October 2011
    Hey Atom!
    Did we hear something about this over at the fxhome forums before Hitfilm? It seems like we did...
    Anyway, when I originally heard about this over at Fxhome, I think I was too skeptical, not too mention rather rude, but I'm quite a bit more optimistic now. I am rather excited for this.
    On a side note, what is happening with A Long Walk In Mexico?
  • Yeah, I mentioned it on FXhome- but, as you very well know, that site rapidly declined following the week I posted information on the project up there, and I wanted to do right by the crew and my own work on it and give it a bit of a more ceremonious presentation on the new Hitfilm forums. (Not to mention pack a thread with media and content to show some of these users how you should go about presenting your work on here) ;)
    I posted it on both forums because, to me at least, at this time there isn't enough traction on either to make wanting it to have exposure redundant. I've no doubt if one of the threads actually picks up they'll be merged or one will be deleted. But as both have sat idle without comments or views for numerous hours, I saw no reason not to try and put it everywhere someone might look.
    As for A Long Walk In Mexico- it is currently undergoing a bit of a legal (and financial) quarrel, and once it subsides we'll be working out more of a distribution and premiere plan for that. Currently, though, it's a project whose status is on a 'hiatus'. Not for reason of quitting or not finishing, but something more involving of contracts and codes and things of that nature. Right now our focus is on the premiere of this project, the further development of our 'official' follow-up parody to The Brocial Network, and the two original dramatic shorts we've been developing the past few months.
    You should/will hear more about all of this from us shortly. Thanks for giving this a chance!
  • That's one good-looking post. Some good insight there into how to build word-of-mouth and push towards a viral hit, too.
    This is a really intriguing movie to riff on, as it has far less mass appeal than Inception and Social Network. I've yet to see Tree of Life, but I can't see it being a movie the frat crowd as as familiar with as with the other two.
    Loving the promotional materials - top work as usual.
  • Nice work !
    I love your posters !
    looking forward ! :D
  • Thanks, guys!
    And I don't know, Simon. I tend to think you underestimate the desires and taste of the frat crowd. While The Tree of Life may not be a big movie like it's parody predecessors- there's something ripe about the material of an abusive, conservative 1950s-era father-son dichotomy set in Texas dealing with brotherhood, life, and faith.
    Once you get past the stereotypical notions of ignorance, partying, binge drinking, etc.- the tenets of fraternity culture align pretty strongly to the themes of the movie. At least here in Texas, much of the audience that saw The Tree of Life is that frat group, oddly enough.
    So I don't know, I think it'll hit that demographic pretty well, if not be a viral hit in it's own right.
  • edited October 2011

    As for A Long Walk In Mexico- it is currently undergoing a bit of a legal (and financial) quarrel, and once it subsides we'll be working out more of a distribution and premiere plan for that.

    I'm sorry to hear about that...
    As far as the "frat crowd" goes, all I know about fraternity life is what I've seen on television, movies, as well as your shorts/parodies which only hardens the preconceived notion that you mention. Of course, since I'm only a senior in high school, therefore never attended a college, I wouldn't really know anything about it other than what I've seen by the media available to me.
  • edited October 2011
    I tend to think there's a lot of media bias towards fraternities and fraternity life, and certainly some of it is warranted- but most of it is caricaturized/sensationalized for the sake of entertainment; much in the way college at-large is.
    I don't know, maybe I've always seemed like a complete douchebag already, but I'm pretty much a decent example of a college student in the Greek system. However I may appear, which I hope isn't terribly negative, is a fairly average representation of what you get. Do I seem like a womanizing ass-backwards vaccuous idiot?
    Yeah, there are privileged, ignorant, and delusional waves of people in the system- but that's really rather true for any social group. Maybe they are louder and more powerful or impacting on the social order in the fraternity group than others, and therefore attract more attention- but truthfully it's really just another fun place and group to meet people and work in.
    I know several film students that stick their nose up at the Greek life here at the University of Texas and lambast it's ways on a daily basis. Who openly hate me and Ben and our 'kind' with snark and negativity. Who believe we're 'buying expensive equipment' to make movies or having to shelter our 'artsy' passions in the repressive frat group.
    But the truth is, I've not got any of those same open feeling for them, and (almost) all of our filmmaking endeavors in college were done with the express help, motivation, resources and support of our fraternity and people in it. We did 'Heat in 60 Seconds' at the beckoning of our friends, we shot it all at our house, etc. It's been an encouraging place of extreme welcoming and support for our work, and we couldn't have really done any of it in college without it. Ironically true, actually, because the other social groups that participate in film (at least here) are so outlandishly snarky, niche-grouped, exclusive, elitist and un-open to new members/outsiders. Which is less than I can say for the people we socialize and work with.
    Certainly there's elitism in fraternities, there's no denying that. At it's business-minded core it's a private social organization. But nonetheless, at it's heart it's something much deeper and stronger, and something I really appreciate without having to be a conservative, close-minded croon.
    I know there's a stigma, and some of it is warranted. But most of it is unfounded hype-for-hating. And sadly it doesn't go away in college for people who don't actively put themselves into the system (and therefore become outliers who can only really hear and see the perspectives on it of the vocal, negativity-spewing outsiders/loathers). Instead, it just brews, and most regular non-frat guys enter and exit college none-the-wiser to it's strong, positive ways; only - still - aware of the sensationalized media image.
  • For the record, I don't have anything against fraternities or their members. I don't know nearly enough about them to really have any opinion at all. However, I don't deny having some form of (negative) preconceived idea of what a typical fraternity (and members) are, since that is the idea I've been exposed to my whole life.
    Just out of curiosity, of course, why do the fraternities allow such a negative image to be made of them without a response? (I hope this isn't a completely ignorant question.)
    If you are a good representation of a typical frat member than I will admit that I have been wrong. You are much more intelligent than most of the media portrays the typical frat member as. You are very opinionated (as I'm sure you'll admit) and rather stubborn when it comes to your opinion. That is, where I would assume, the media does have it right, but maybe not.
    [size=1]I don't know if you want to continue this discussion here, but I'd love to understand the fraternity life style better.[/size]
  • edited October 2011
    Real simple answer to why there isn't more uproar:
    Haters gonna hate.
    You can waste breath defending yourself and your institutions to fools, but that makes you a fool yourself. It's much easier, and lighter and less confrontational to just be who you are and have fun with it. That's sort of the idea behind Total Frat Move. If you can't laugh at yourself, at the credibly outrageous/deplorable extremes people see you as, then you'll never be able to help them overcome it. A lot of people [I]hate[/I] their site, hate the work we've done for them- but it's all honestly self-effacing fun. You can't see that, oh well.
    Most fraternity people have the money and success to simply ignore it, too. Any sort of credible defense- it'd just fuel the fire of hate.
  • Movie posters were always your stong suit in the promotion area.
    Is it just me or when I first say the hands holding the liquor bottle, I read "Fat Free Life"? :huh:
  • One question: why is it called the 'Greek' system? What is Greek about it?
    Also: 'Greek' is a word that starts to look strange if you write it too often.
  • Ho I'm not a Fraternity Specialist but I think it called "Greek" system cuz' the frat names are greek letters as
    KT : Kappa Tau
    OIK : theta Iota Kappa
    ( tell me if i've wrong,lol)
  • That's correct. Fraternities and sororities, together, are both commonly referred to as 'the Greek system' because the bulk of organizations are classified or known by the Greek letters of the group. SigEp (Sigma Epsilon), Kappa Tau, Delta Gamma, etc. The letters are used by both sororities and fraternities, and (again generally) if a sorority has certain letters in a certain order, it's unlikely a fraternity will have the same letter somewhere else (and vis-versa).
    They vary in letters, but most are nationally-recognized and exist in multiple chapters throughout numerous colleges. It's little more than a way of classifying and identifying, on a larger scale, what fraternity is which, and has little to do with anything actually 'Greek' related these days. Just a bit of institutional tradition. ;)
  • Anyone remember the Lambda Lambda Lambda fraternity? :P
  • edited November 2011
    Hey guys!
    The video has premiered on Total Frat Move. Check it out on their page here or in the embed below and let us know what you think!
  • Being unfamiliar with the film this doesn't really work for me content-wise, but that much was inevitable.
    What I will say is that there are some absolutely lovely shots in there, the editing is spot-on and you capture a real sense of fading grandeur. Have you guys read The Great Gatsby? You should really, really do a modern-day, university-set adaptation of that novel - I think you'd be perfect for it.
    Also, that bike at the start is amazing.
  • Thanks, Simon!
    It certainly does play towards the strengths of the film's trailer and themes of U.S. Southern fraternity-life, which is consistently more-niche than I expect much of the Hitfilm audience to 'get'. But if you view the trailer for the real movie I think there's pretty clear evidence of the 'two ways through life', which is a big tenet of fraternity culture itself, and then the stern, disciplined conservative-type southern United States father-son relationship works itself pretty well into the idea and acts of 'pledgeship' and being a pledge/growing up in college and a fraternity. And how people weigh those things.
    We were actually thinking earlier today, that it works as sort of a social commentary on the stresses and structure of fraternity life and 'rites-of-passage' within them as well on some dramatic level, and not just as a glorifying-caricaturish parody piece. The material lends itself very well to it, at least.
    And go see The Tree of Life. It is a difficult movie to get through the first 40 or so minutes, but it is undoubtedly 'genius', masterclass-levels of unique and beautiful filmmaking. And you'd be hard-pressed not to find it among the top contenders for Best Picture early next year.
  • So hey guys, it's not quite the milestone as our previous efforts- but we're nearing 35,000 views in just over a week- which is really cool and something we're extremely grateful for! Thanks to everyone who watched!
  • Great stuff, Andrew! That's a good viewer count given the more nichey nature of the parody source.
  • edited November 2011
    What's really cool, and really quite validating- isn't seeing it come off as necessarily 'laugh-out-loud funny' material, but having some of the more bombastic 'frat boy' sort of people/audience silenced by it as sort of a chillingly-close 'coming-of-age' type of trailer for fraternity life. Lotta people we talk to use the words 'goosebumps', which is funny itself- but also quite cool. Having the growth from young conservative through freshman pledgeship and on into 'stereotypical fratstar life' illustrated on-screen.
    Additionally, I may or may not work at an extremely secretive office for the actual director of the real film 'The Tree of Life' currently here in Austin. ;)

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