Neutrogena's First Frame Program: Q&A with Creative Content Lead Tyler Rochwerg

Jordan P. Kelley, Content Director, Brand Storytelling

Last year, audiences were introduced to "In The Sun", the Kerry Washington Produced film from Neutrogena focused on spreading skincare health awareness. For audiences, it served as a wake-up call for people of all ages and skin types to protect themselves from the sun's harmful UV rays; for the industry, it was an introduction to Neutrogena's new in-house team Neutrogena Studios, whose first foray into feature length filmmaking garnered over 300M impressions and over 8M views on YouTube alone. The film was a success, and Neutrogena learned along the way that they could reach the core of youth audiences with non-interruptive, entertaining content. In an effort to cater to the younger demo as well as bolster DE&I initiatives, Neutrogena Studios, in partnership with Passion Point Collective, launched First Frame, a program that would support young emerging and diverse filmmakers. To make their selections for the program, Neutrogena Studios partnered with Ghetto Film School and celebrity performers Chloe x Halle. The result: 22 year old writer/director Kyra Peters and 20 year old writer/director/actor Sarah Jean Williams were selected, each receiving 25K to realize the vision for their respective short films. The films, "If My Voice Rang Louder Than My Skin" and "En Avant" have earned hundreds of thousands of views and are making their way around the festival circuit, reaching Neutrogena's target audience and supporting the development of young talent along the way. Brand Storytelling caught up with Neutrogena Studios Creative Content Lead Tyler Rochwerg to learn more about the origins of the First Frame Program, Neutrogena's level of satisfaction with the project, and what comes next for First Frame:

Can you tell us more about the program in general?

The idea for First Frame came out of internal discussions around Gen Z consumers who value a brand’s authenticity and are choosing to shop brands that stand for something to improve the world. We wondered how Neutrogena Studios could convey our values through new content, while simultaneously empowering diverse Gen Z voices to tell their own stories about what matters to them.

The concept for the films was to imagine a world where skin was not a barrier to being your most authentic self. In addition to funding the films themselves, the program provided a year of training, mentorship, access to career growth opportunities, and highly valuable exposure at industry and film festival events. The program also provided a new and rich content stream for Neutrogena Studios.

When and where was the First Frame Program initially conceived?

After the release of Neutrogena Studios first film, “In The Sun,” which told the stories of families affected by skin cancer, we wanted to create powerful content by and for Gen Z consumers. At the time, we were in the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests and witnessing an increase in conversation around social inequities. Neutrogena wanted to do its part to impact the cultural conversation and, along with our agency Passion Point Collective, we envisioned a program that would give opportunities to young, diverse storytellers.

The program was formally announced via a feature in People Magazine in March of 2021, and the first two films had their world premiere at a virtual screening event, held in partnership with Ghetto Film School and Women in Film in March of 2022.

At what point did Ghetto Film School get involved?

As an educational non-profit that has been preparing students for careers in creative industries for over 20 years, Ghetto Film School was the perfect partner to develop and execute the program with us. Their involvement began soon after we conceived the program, and they brought access to talented alumni who were looking for early-in-career opportunities.