Video Village is where the ad agency and client watch the monitor while enjoying fresh ginseng smoothies. It’s also one of the nerve centers of creativity on set. I had a quick chat with VTR Operator Matt Wallace about the dynamics of the video village. Matt was great to work with and always had his head in the game.
This episode is like a Master Class for any director that aspires to shoot commercials for a living. Jeffrey Fleisig and I met while we were both on the roster at Über Content, and we instantly hit it off as friends. Professionally, I admire the subtle performances he delivers and his keen talent for crafting a great ad.
No doubt you’ve seen one of his 80-plus Progressive Insurance spots – he cast “Flo” – or his new Wendy’s commercials. We chat about the secret to longevity with a client, how to prepare for a conference call, talk a little tech talk, and yes, we moan about those pesky treatments.
These performances are so sly.
Here’s the well-crafted Axe spot we chat about:
And men getting hit in the balls for Coke Zero:
Fathering five daughters inspired this week’s guest, advertising guru Kevin Sutton, to write a book, “Dear Midol: Essays from Estrogen Hell”. It’s a hilarious collection of short stories, all based in truth & good parenting. Kevin is a pal and now the Executive Creative Director at Moroch Partners, a fine advertising agency.
We chat about how director’s treatments have gotten out of hand, how SAG actors rock, and we cringe over how the almighty animatic always stifles creativity. Among other stuff. Listen!
Here’s three out of nine old spots Kevin and I made for Harvest Surprise with a camcorder and a man in a carrot suit. We agree that the last one is our fav, so scroll down.
I’m off to NYC for a secret screening of my new film “I AM ROAD COMIC”, so this is a quickie podcast of me rambling about the benefits of shooting on a stage versus a location. And of course vice versa. Just one man’s opinions, but I hope it can help inspire you.
My old Quik Trip spot was shot entirely on a set, well, except for one shot:
Upcoming interviews feature The Perlorian Brothers, Australia Comedy God Arron McCann of Henry & Aaron, and author of “Dear Midol: Essays from Estrogen Hell”, Kevin Sutton. Kevin a good pal and ECD at Moroch, a fine advertising agency.
At age 8, second generation ad wizard Ian Barry pitched his first advertising campaign, now he’s Senior VP/Executive Creative Director at Cramer Krasselt Phoenix. We chat about how his agency chooses directors, swap stories from the trenches and he explains what a “chemistry meeting” is. After nine years and dozens of spots with this funny guy, I’m proud to call him a collaborator and friend.
Here’s just one of our award-winning comedy spots we did for Toyota:
And my director’s cut of the same spot. Why?
“Be bold and bring ideas to the table” is just one of the many nuggets I gleaned from our conversation. Have a listen and share.
Buy his brother Todd Barry’s stand-up comedy special on Louis C.K.’s website. “The Crowd Work Tour”. Todd is a fav of mine and David Letterman.
Do actors really need to wear the same outfit to the callback as their first audition? How much should you fawn over the director? Hey agency folks, why did you call everyone back? Casting is always crucial, so working with a deft casting director is a must. Danielle Eskinazi is one of the best. She loves actors, exudes positivity and is always on the lookout for that unexpected way to fill the role. So flattered to chat with my friend about the process. Enjoy and share.
Danielle also has an inspirational app on the iTunes store that is as much for daily motivation as it is audition tips.
I could watch this spot all day… cuz I love shoes:
Andy Baker is SVP/Group Creative Director for the National Geographic Channels. Technically, he’s the client. He runs an in-house staff of highly creative people, so he’s also the agency. As a hands-on filmmaker, Andy shouts his mantra of collaboration from the mountain top. His must-read blog, the client blog offers insights for all. Listen as we debate his blog’s “5 tips for Clients” and talk plenty of tech. (Underwater Phantom, Techno-dolly, sandbags). Scroll down for cool videos.
National Geographic promos are brimming with creativity and flawlessly executed. Andy’s blog about his “Wicked Tuna” promo shoot with Evolve and photographer extraordinaire Michael Muller is everything you need to know on the art of pre-production.
Watch this behind the scenes of Nat Geo’s “Wicked Tuna”:
Just look at went into making the promo for “Killing Lincoln”.
The spot we did in a more innocent time called Big Foot for National Geo. Shout out to Mr. Kenny Chin who has gone on to act a bunch.
Marcos Cline Márquez is Executive Producer of Altered.LA, a commercial production company that services the U.S. Latin Market. What is that market? If 80% of Latinos in the U.S. speak English, why make ads in Spanish? In any language, AlteredLA is a collection of great storytellers. You’ll love Marcos’ advice for new directors.
For a guy that shoots mucho in Mexico, why did Marcos write Congress fighting runaway production? Do Spanish spots we see in the United States air in Latin America? What’s up with that bee costume?
Check out this trailer by AlteredLA’s Carlos Cuarón’s “Besos de Azúcar. Which I think means Sugar Kisses.
In celebration of our ever-melting, multi-cultural audience, enjoy this controversial spot out of Wieden+Kennedy that I wish I had made:
My guest Nick Franchot is a second-generation Key Grip and one smart filmmaker. His experience ensures the shoot runs smoothly. So just what does the Key Grip do? Don’t Grips just lift the heavy stuff? And why does everyone keep calling Nick “Soda Pop”?
Nick anticipates the DP’s needs, collaborates with the Gaffer, and supports the Director’s vision. I snuck onto set to chat with Soda Pop about the crucial role of the Grip department, healthy Hollywood nepotism and what “respect the process” means to him. It’s a quick, albeit fantastic listen.
When Soda Pop was a mere 12 years old, his father took him up into the rafters above the stage to watch a naked Grace Jones in a scene for “Vamp”. Ah, father-son bonding. Here’s some of what he saw:
Jim Elliott, Chief Creative Officer at Y&R NY, leads by being a hands-on creative. Never one to shy away from hard work, Jim once donned a boy scout uniform for a spot we did back in the day.
Hear that story, what he learned from ad titan Jeff Goodby, and how respecting the process means preserving the integrity of the idea.
We chat about the new landscape of advertising, and all the wondrous possibilities. He shares his thoughts on what makes a good conference call. You hear his passion for great advertising in his voice. Jim’s a funny man and this episode is a gem.
I love this spot from Jim and his Y&R team:
Click here: “Ranger Jim” to see an old Rainier Beer spot I directed, starring Mr. Elliott. More than just spots, Jim and his team (CD Guy Seese gets mad props) conceived a long form web film, social & grass roots components and interactive stuff – all in the pre-Facebook era. I believe Jim is part soothsayer.
Here’s another Rainier Beer we did. Damn old.
A nice archival press on Jim in Advertising Age.
Blissfully married and immensely talented, the directing duo Jacob Slade represents the perfect union of creativity and love. Besides being the cutest couple I’ve ever met, Enno Jacobsen and Kristina Slade have started directing together. Well, it’s about time! The two been collaborating on each other’s individual assignments since the day they met. Do they fight on set? How do they delegate the directorial responsibilities? What is roshambo? Listen, love and share.
Their personal passion project is “The True Tall Tales of Advertising.” Call them at 415-952-0995 and leave a story.
The two collaborated on one of my favorite spots, a classic with Maria Bamford for Target. For more click here.
Innovators Bill Wright and James Dawson-Hollis are Co-Chief Creative Officers at Ogilvy West. They’ve won wheel-burrows full of awards at Cannes, The One Show and every other major advertising show. This dynamic duo have more Gold Lions than anyone I’ve ever met.
I chat with Bill in the editing room. He inspires us with his writing techniques, explains his work ethic, and shares wisdom learned while working alongside ad wizard Alex Bogusky from the his tenure at CP+B, and more. Back when I showed my boys the powerful “Truth” anti-smoking spots, I never knew I’d one day work with the man who named the campaign. Truly flattered to have Bill on the show.
Here’s the first spot I directed for them:
A look back: Adweek listed them “Top Creative Minds in Digital”.
Considered the Oscars© of Advertising, the Super Bowl allows our clients to strut their stuff, creatives to go big, and viewers to be entertained. For directors and agency folks, it’s a big deal. My sincere congrats to all that made it to the big game. Here are my thoughts on what we all enjoyed. Side note: Bruno Mars kicked ass, so we should all stop making fun of the lil’ fella.
Comedy director Michael Addis is my hidden camera guru. He’s the go-to guy for successfully mining humor from an unsuspecting public. I chatted with Michael the night before his shoot for a Superbowl spot. The thrill of the unknown, shooting without a net in New York City, is what he lives for.
In this episode, we learn the terms used in hidden-camera production, how to run a clandestine shoot, and where to hide the cameras. Just how useful are GoPro’s and gimmicky eyeglass spy cameras? How does he cast the actors in on the gag?
Of course, we share stories about respecting the process. This is really valuable insight from one of my best friends.
Here’s how they invited people to the Super Bowl.
Watch this Addis-helmed hidden-camera spot for Toshiba.
Chatting with Ted Haler of Aero Mock-Ups reveals many insights about respect. During prep, Ted offered nothing but solutions, so I knew he’d be a great guest. We talked on the day before my Ogilvy shoot about world peace, movies versus commercials, and the ghost of Stan Laurel.
Ted is a wise soul who reminds me humility is a huge part of respecting the process. I guessed he’d been an actor. You’ll recognize him as the grizzly “Tow Truck Driver” from “Strange Days”.
My friend Jordan Levy is a great cinematographer, always in demand. He’s been busy shooting comedy spots, high fashion, luxury cars and Comedy Central’s The Jeselnik Offensive. He claims comedy is harder to shoot than fashion. Who knew?
Find out who’s a bigger diva: Oprah or Snoop Dog? This episode settles into a very technical talk: Angénieux zoom lenses, Kubrick primes and custom-made Russian lenses. We talk RED Camera vs. Arri Alexa vs. 5D. Jordan has mastered them all, so hear his opinion. With 35mm film going bye-bye, how does that effect the cinematographer’s control of the look? Jordan tells how he maintains influence.
We end the chat with Jordan stressing the importance of respecting both the process & everyone’s role on set. Especially you young filmmakers! Listen up, whippersnappers.
Watch this trippy music video Jordan shot for Snoop Lion and Miley Cirus. How much of this is in-camera? Did Miley behave? Can we call him Snoop Dog again please? Answers revealed in the podcast.
Toby Nunez shares his journey from starving artist (while working on the Ford assembly line making windshield wiper motors) to his first agency gig as an art director. Today Toby is a highly prolific copywriter at Doner in Detroit. He still cranks out some pretty twisted artwork on his personal site. Toby tells me that “respect the process” is his mantra. You’ll also hear about the time I met Eddie Van Halen in an elevator.
Here is the Krylon spot we shot last year.
Working with a great editor, like Bill Marmor, ensures your footage will be fully realized into a great spot. Bill explains his process for editing commercials. We discuss how he finds those magic moments and why he did not like “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, which I loved. We also chat about objectivity in the cutting room, and the pros and cons of editing in the nude.
Click on Bill’s name above to see his fine work. His spot for Secret Deodorant with all the top supermodels is most arousing, because it is well edited. (It’s the ninth on the reel, so watch them all.)
Here’s the trailer for the documentary “Sign Painters” that Bill cut. Quite a different task than editing commercials. Hear why.
This episode will surely invigorate your creative juices! My 5 easy steps get your passion project off the couch and onto the screen. Enough already! I was lucky to have a mentor in Al Burton, a crazy, genius producer that taught me his “10 Steps to Success” in show business. Sadly, I can only remembered three, and so I made up two more of my own. Enjoy and let me know if this helps.
This is a project comedian Eric Foley and I did for fun. 9 spots by lunch, then we called it a day. 4 spots will play continuously after the ad.
“Harold’s Bad Day” – a short film we made for Slamdance, written by RJ Buckley. Great fun, great cast. Exactly 11 minutes.