by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
button in toolbar for more information.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Please subscribe by clicking on the link to receive
Campaign Brief (AUS/NZ) Online.
Campaign Brief Magazine : Nov Dec 2010
41 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2010 CAMPAIGNBRIEF TVC PRODUCTION 40 CAMPAIGNBRIEF NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2010 LOOK AT THE TREATMENTS for scripts with a reasonable budget, and you’ll find the names of Australia’s top four or five directors attached to them again and again. That’s understandable. Australia’s top directors are world-class. Rarely do they stuff things up; sometimes they even win awards. But if the same gang of tried-and- tested directors are invited to pitch time and time again, won’t our AWARD annuals start to look a lit- tle same-ish? This year, Kodak collapsed its New Directors Showcase due to a lack of interest, and a lot of global New Director shows have struggled with entries. To find out why, Campaign Brief decided to ask a few young filmmakers. Director Summer Agnew isn’t worried about the decline in new director award entries. As far as he’s concerned, the most promising young directors are still winning work. He’s picked up quality scripts since joining Curious a couple of years ago, and reckons it’s got something to do with his art school background, which has “definitely shaped my ability to find a fresh angle on things. “I also cut my teeth directing doc- umentary which, at its core, is about problem-solving to pull an idea into something that is enter- taining on screen,” he says. It’s not just emerging directors who are eager to break into the local market. Brendan Gibbons directed for both Hungryman and Station Films This year, many production houses sought out a new model to capture a market metamorphosed by the constricting powers of the GFC. Even so, the same few directors seem to be invited to pitch on almost every major script. But if no one’s giving new directors a chance, won’t everything end up looking, well... kinda stale? CB investigates. in the USA before coming to Australia, when he found out what its like to be a new director all over again. He thinks lots of creatives are happy to give unknown directors a shot here. His first commercial in Australia was ‘Perfect Italiano’ for Clemenger BBDO Melbourne with creatives Seymour Pope and Cameron Harris. Why did they entrust him with their script? “It could’ve been the level of focus I brought to the character,” says Gibbons. “Then again, it could’ve been my funny accent.” Clearly there’s a difference between Australian and American comedy, and sometimes difference cuts through: “The best American ads trust people to get the joke. I’ve noticed a fair amount of broadness to a lot of comedy spots here. There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s just not my thing. I like film moments that require people to get it on their own, rather than having it all laid out for them.” Harris says he likes throwing new directors into the mix because “you often get a fresh viewpoint, rather than what you’ve come to expect – that's if you've got the time and the right client.” Curious is a leader among pro- duction outfits in finding new and exceptional talent for Australian agencies. It spotted Zia Mandviwalla, who was named SPADA’s New Filmmaker of the Year in 2009, Derek Henderson, who has been busy shooting with fashion label Stolen Girlfriends Club and Paola Morabito, who recently shot Guide Dogs for Three Drunk Monkeys. Paola says there’s nothing frustrat- ing about being a ‘new’ director in today’s climate. “I’d hope to always be considered ‘new!’ I don’t get frustrated by the label, I’m happy with who I am right now. For me it’s about dedicating the time for my personal best and serving the vision.” Pete Grasse, executive producer at Curious in Sydney, says emerging directors make up for their inexpe- rience with a ridiculous reserve of passion, which is why Curious prides itself on being a company that nurtures budding talent. “They intrinsically possess the drive to become great filmmakers, and know that you won’t get anywhere unless you are out there getting your hands dirty,” he says. “History shows that great talent meet their obstacles head on, which means today’s director has to be a can-do kind of person with the fer- vency to say, ‘Let’s figure it out, let’s make this happen’.” As both an obstacle for new film- maker’s with limited experience, and an advantage to people shoot- ing in Australia for the first time, the term ‘new’ also appears to be an apt description of a creative per- son’s perspective in a post GFC world. “The GFC separated the wheat from the chaff”, says Grasse. “If you weren’t passionate about creat- ing you sat on your ass and waited for the phone to ring, but the ones who grew under those conditions gave us a superlative roster of some of the best talent in the business, many of whom have resided at Curious for a decade or more.” Change brings fresh opportunities with more ‘new’ talent coming to commercial directing from the sec- tors of art, music, theatre and design. An early and imaginative integra- tor of fresh artistic talent like Johannes Gamble’s Superstudio, Sam Speigel’s Squek E. Clean, and Shepard Fairey’s Studio One, Curious’ newest ‘new director’, Ash Bolland, runs Umeric, an esteemed film, design and VFX stu- dio in Sydney. “I’ve been living in this strange middle ground, where motion graphics kids tell me I’m doing live action. But when I’m directing commercials, pure live action kids tell me I’m doing graphics... So you know, people love boxes...” says he. But if people want to categorize Ash, that’s fine. He doesn’t have time to care. “Life is good. I work hard on treatments and I’m only in competition with myself. If they decide not to go with me because of this or that... so be it, I’m busy”. So is Zia Mandviwalla, who just finished a spot for the NZ Navy with Saatchi’s: “We really wanted people to watch these commercials and think, ‘That could be me – I could do that’,” she says. Mandviwalla has learnt a lot by watching more experienced direc- tors at work. “Everyone has such a distinctive style that its hard to pin- point anyone in particular, but I have always received heaps of sup- port from Robin Walters, who has taught me a lot about characteriza- tion, and Darryl Ward, who always reminds you to push the boundaries a little further.” In other words, she doesn’t begrudge more experienced direc- tors for being favored by some agency producers. Instead she tries to learn from those who’ve already cut their teeth, while honing her own style. It seems a few agency producers have fallen into a “comfort trap” by inviting the same three or four directors to pitch on almost every job. The trouble is, if we’ve seen it before, so has everyone else. Still, if young directors aren’t given enough opportunities to prove themselves to agencies, surely there’ll be a shortage of talent in years to come? It’s also possible that age and experience aren’t as relevant as they once were. The best directors are no longer the ones with the most 30-second TVCs under their belts. They’re the ones who are most will- ing to solve problems, make things happen, create multiple versions of the same story, and create work that feels fresh, rather than familiar. Agnew sums it up like this: “The directors who’ll keep winning will be those who throw their energy into the cold-hard reality that is the majority of today’s 30-second TVC budgets. And if you know how to craft a longer narrative, and you can tell that story just as effectively within the shorter duration – if you’re able to live in both worlds then you’re in a really good place.” “There’s a reluctance out there to strip it all back, but I think that’s the wrong way to look at the chang- ing landscape. A camera, some cast, and the road. What’s better than that, right?” he asks. “Today’s director, junior or senior, has to be a can- do kind of person... There’s no new magic production model. At the end of the day genuine talent and heaps of hard work are the only things that produce great commercial content.” WHAT’S NEXT? WHAT’S NEW? Top: MTV project directed by Ash Boland, newly signed to Curious. Above: NZ Navy directed by Zia Mandviwalla, Stolen Girlfriends Club directed by Derek Henderson and Guide Dogs NSW directed by Paola Morabito
CB NAT FEB 2011