Wednesday, 30 July 2008


These ads have been around for a while, but are well worth a look. Proper funny shit. Amazing casting, great director and pretty much a free reign to do whatever...

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

The Delicate Art of Director Searching

So, you've worked for months on the idea, finally sold in a script to the client...all you have to do now is shoot it right? It's obviously not as simple as that is it.

For once, as a creative, the ball is in your court and you're the one who's getting pitched to. It's a tricky business though, and often there's only a couple of days between selling the script and presenting a director. How do you know who is right? A good director really can be the difference between a decent and a cack spot, they can polish a turd, turn water into wine but equally turn wine into water.

I personally keep a stash of interesting and exciting directors in a safe place at all times - a mixture young and untried and ones I've always wanted to use. In an ideal world you'd always get the one you wanted, but of course things don't go according to plan. Getting treatments is usually a pleasant experience, seeing how someone sees and builds upon your ideas, but how much of a risk should you take?

Recently for example, after much umming and arring (is that right?!) we sent out some scripts to 3 different directors - a safe pair of hands, a young up-and-comer and an 'out there' wildcard. I'm not going to say who we chose, but it's really difficult. The safe pair of hands gives you a solid 'this is what I was expecting, I know how it'll turn out. Cool.' The unproven young up-and-comer then turns in something that he's obviously put his heart and soul into, exciting but solid, determined to make the most of his would-be big break. But then the wildcard mentalist supplies you with a treatment that makes you go 'Oh shite, this would be great...but it's a risk, how the hell is this going to turn out?! I don't quite know, but if we don't take a risk, how will we ever produce something exciting and original?' Decisions decisions.

I thought it would be interesting to go through a few directors we've used in the past.

Ben Gregor, Knucklehead.
The Great Christmas Shopping Escape.
Watch here (not the best quality, apologies)

Ben's reel is great. A perfect mixture of dark, surreal and down-right piss yourself funny. He's also the loveliest guy, really easy to warm to, is well up for collaboration but has strong opinions that I personally really want from a director. You don't them to be too watery do you? He was also fantastic with the client in a cheeky monkey kind of way, which helps. He knows the limits but will push as far as he can.

For this spot it was paramount that people related to the escaping chap, something quite easy for most blokes. We also wanted a bit of surrealism, well actually we wanted loads of surrealism but that's just not possible in the real world (post below's content being the exception). The food shots were also dealt with in an acceptable way, the spot actually holds the record for the least amount of product in a McD ad, which was a result. We would definitely use Ben again, even though he does send us the odd abusive text...

James Brett, Plunge.
DS Theatre idents for Channel 4 Comedy.
Watch here
And here
Oh, and here

This was a low-budget shoot that required an ambitious set (a giant Nintendo DS console to act as a stage) and someone who got our vision for how Nintendo ads should be: quirky and fun. We had to cast out net far and wide. One of us (5 creatives worked on it) saw some really amusing spots on James' reel involving rubber puppets shaking in an earthquake - really simple, really funny. When we first met him he turned up with loads of robots from one of his many eccentric was really odd thinking back, but the guy just had a passion and energy that made him shine.

He's very opinionated, but between us all we got to a really great place, it was a wonderful process. He understood everything we wanted to achieve, the low-fi-ness, the sense of imperfection and he really worked the Japanese theatre troop to the bone...the first set were all filmed in 2 days, so there wasn't much time for error. I would say it was the best experience production-wise I've had so far.

Duckeye, Rokkit.
Snack Wrap Foldy-Uppy.
Watch one of them here

This was a tricky sell to the client. It was one of those things that was really hard to explain to the client..."yeah, it's a piece of paper that folds to reveal different images that together make up some sort of vague narrative." However, once they were onboard, just about, Duckeye (aka Kate and Jey) stood out by a mile...just so, so talented. We needed a stop-motion director with a real lightness of touch and a stupendous amount of creativity. Their reel is one of the most creative I've seen, mainly because it's predominantly made up of music videos, so they've been largely unrestrained!

Again it was a lengthy, slightly troublesome process, but the Duckeye are two of the most chilled people you can meet (even when McDonald's insisted on using slightly moving food shots on paper!) I think anyone else would have gone mad, but they just dealt with it and we were all really pleased with finished spots. If you get the chance, they are an absolute pleasure.

Of course, we've had a few not-so-great experiences, but I don't have the balls to talk about them in public! (not that anyone reads this...)

Monday, 21 July 2008

What is all this goddamn stuff?

There's so much out there attempting to hitch a ride on the 'branded entertainment' bandwagon. Most of us have become desensitized about what we're prepared to watch/like. For me, the criteria is: it has to be original and surprising...and probably, but not always, funny. I'm not suggesting these ads are the best ever, I just really like them - the sort of things I'll look at now and again to remind myself why I came into the industry. These videos aren't even new though Pete's sake! In fact the last 3 are just old tv ads, not even virals...

There's no point banging on about it, let's get to the action! Here are some of the things that I've saved on my computer, for that folks is my selection process.

First up are the Mac's viral films from Canada. I don't often get that 'I wish I'd done that, oh my God I'm so depressed that I didn't' feeling. But 'Hose Leg'...I just can't explain why I love it so much. Just amazing. If I had to pick the best thing about it, it'd be the muttering for sure.

Also in this seemingly endless 'yeah guys, just do anything you want, indulge yourselves, we don't care' series are these couple of beauts:

Might as well stick these 2 monsters up while I'm at it, both exceptional.

And then this. I'm a sucker for long, slightly complicated but hilarious endlines, and this one has got to be the 'mother' of them all.

And there you have it. Another extremely poorly constructed post that seemed like it was going somewhere interesting, but that actually just ends without wrapping things up properly in a tepid, anti-climatic puff.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Let's talk Lego

There is a tiny chance that someone out there is a weeny bit sad about the fact I haven't posted anything for a long time. Actually, probably not, but hey at least it gives me a break from the wonderful world of adverts. We've been very very busy recently, wrestling various clients, helping out our American colleagues from Chicago - meaning we got to work on Nintendo again, yeah! - and a couple of meaty all-department briefs that virtually broke us.

I'm talking about Lego today because it makes me happy. It's just one of those things that has that instantly 'happy' vibe about Nintendo (oh here we go!) A while back we did a Coco Pops ad with a chap called Tony Mines. We became aware of Tony due to his great stop-frame animation Lego films, usually re-makes of movies like 'Monty Python & The Holy Grail', 'Star Wars' and 'Spiderman'. There's a good chance he's also responsible for this amusing Eddie Izzard stand-up routine that's been animated with Lego:

Watch Eddie Izzard Darth Vadar Canteen Here

I don't what it is about re-creating things with Lego, but it always seems to make me smile...even it is the dreaded Hand of God.

I also stumbled across this the other day. It sort of uses Lego, but plays with 3D perspective in a really interesting way.

That's it. That's all I've got for now. It's something at least.