USC alumnus creates Tesla commercial

On March 12, Everdream Pictures uploaded a fan-made commercial for the Tesla Model S titled “Modern Spaceship” to its YouTube channel. The video, which stars a young boy pretending to be an astronaut, has since garnered more than 350,000 views. The spot was produced by class of 2013 alumnus James Khabushani, who co-founded Everdream Pictures in his junior year at USC with a group of Chapman University students.

“It was … small,” said Khabushani. “We were just doing favors for people … We were doing small music videos for $2,000.”

Khabushani, who goes by his middle name James, graduated from Marshall in December 2013 with a B.S. degree in business administration. In his last semester at USC, Khabushani took a new media course in the School of Cinematic Arts taught by entrepreneur Diego Berdakin.

“It was by far my favorite class that I’ve taken at ’SC, and it was my last class,” Khabushani said.

Troy Carter, a music manager known for his role in establishing the career of Lady Gaga, was invited to give a guest lecture for the class. At the time, Berdakin was aware that Khabushani was working on a fan-made Tesla commercial, and encouraged him to show the unfinished product to Carter.

“And, well … He loved it,” Khabushani said.

Carter admired the product so much, he invited Khabushani to come share the project with employees at his management company, Atom Factory. Eventually, this led to the formation of a joint venture between Everdream Pictures and Atomic Factory. Right out of college, Khabushani found himself partnered with one of the heaviest hitters in the music and entertainment industry.

“It’s a big deal,” Khabushani said. “He’s a very sought-after individual, and to be partnered with him right out of school is incredible.”

The team at Everdream ended up finishing the commercial in November 2013, at which point they tried to get in contact with Tesla without success. Finally, in December, Everdream succeeded in meeting with Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX.

“[Musk] loved the commercial. He said, ‘Stay in touch. Maybe we can do something in the future,’” Khabushani said.

From there, Everdream Pictures spent a few months planning the release of the commercial with the support of Tesla Motors, before finally premiering the commercial in early March.

“I want to strongly stress that this was a team effort,” Khabushani said.

The inspiration for the commercial actually came from directors Joe Sill and Andreas Attai.

“They got into a car accident together, and then they slept over at each others’ house, and somehow, they came up with the idea of doing a car commercial.”

Once the team had decided on a subject car, Khabushani reached out to his roommate, whose father owned a Model S, and traveled with a crew to his roommate’s San Francisco home to shoot the commercial.

Fan-made commercials for the Tesla Model S aren’t without precedent, partly due to the fact that Tesla Motors themselves have yet to produce an official commercial. “Gallons of Light,” another fan-made commercial which featured a family road trip in the Model S, was uploaded to YouTube more than a year before “Modern Spaceship.” Khabushani said that their commercial, however, was not inspired by any previous fan-made productions.

Khabushani also said his goal is to inspire current students.

“At USC, there’s this very subtle structure that exists. If you’re a finance guy, you have to go into banking, et cetera,” Khabushani said. “I was going down the investment banking path, and I just decided that I wanted to be an entrepreneur — to take the leap of faith … and right now is the best time to do this.”

Regarding Elon Musk’s proposal of working with Everdream in the future, Kabushani revealed only a few details.

“We’re definitely in the process of making more [commercials], probably making a few,” Khabushani said. “I’d probably give it a couple of months, though, for the next one to arrive.”