Toronto commercial director reimagines the infamous Trinity Bellwoods kiss

When we last checked in with Toronto acting couple Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll and Gwynne Phillips, he was giving her a Brazilian wax in a humorous self-directed spot developed by Frank Content and Juliet to promote the new City of Toronto program

Now the pair are back in a new video spoofing the infamous “Trinity-Bellwoods kiss,” which ran during a CTV News newscast last week. The original clip shows a woman at the West End Toronto park being interviewed about wearing a mask during the COVID crisis when a stranger enters the frame and kisses her full on the lips.

“A spontaneous kiss…from someone that she doesn’t know,” says the reporter, downplaying the man’s actions as a benign display of affection rather than an unsolicited advance during a global health crisis.

Except that when asked by the reporter if she’s okay, the shocked woman responds in the affirmative. “He’s so hot,” she says, noting that she had met the man just minutes earlier. “Text me,” she shouts to the man off-screen.

Like so many people who saw that video (which was subsequently removed from CTV’s social feeds after public outcry), Toronto-based commercial director Edward Pond was flabbergasted.

“I was like ‘Wow, this is wrong on so many levels,'” says Pond, whose reel includes spots for food brands including French’s, Tim Hortons and McDonalds. “Her parents must have freaked out.”

It was shortly afterwards that Pond received a text from Fernandez-Stoll, a comedy actor he has collaborated with on a series of comedy shorts over the past year or so, saying that they should create a spoof video.

Along with director of photography Bob Gundu, they met at Toronto’s Withrow Park in the city’s east end at 10 a.m. on Saturday for a socially distant shoot. The quartet spent an hour shooting while wearing masks and adhering to other safety protocols, followed by Pond spending two hours editing the spot at his dining room table.

The first half of the 50-second video uses dialogue taken verbatim from the CTV interview. In Pond’s version, however, the woman responds to the man’s advance by punching and then mercilessly beating him with a baseball bat. Afterwards the bloodied man admits that his actions might have been improper, especially since he’s had a cough all week.

“It’s not a political piece, it’s comedy, but we were definitely advocating for her,” says Pond. “It’s not like we were trying to shame [the man] or the CTV crew—it’s more just to take the temperature of what’s going on.”

Both Fernandez-Stoll and Phillips have done some fight training, which adds to the spot’s authenticity, while Pond also accentuated the sounds of the bat attack in post-production. “Audio helps a lot,” he says.

Trinity-Bellwoods was back in the headlines over the weekend, after thousands of people descended on the park despite repeated warnings about the need to maintain social distancing as the COVID crisis continues.

So could we see a sequel? “We haven’t got any plans next weekend, so maybe we’ll do something else,” says Pond.

Chris Powell