- Sunday, Oct. 23, 2005
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Who will be the A-list directors of the future? SHOOT has singled out five helmers, who through the work they've already done, have shown the potential to become go-to guys for commercial production. They have diverse backgrounds: three have some type of ad agency experience, ranging from planner to art director to copywriter. One is a veteran of high quality television series work, while another is a recent film school graduate. What the quintet has in common are talent, drive and serious potential.
"It was the most mind-blowing thing to be walking around, and see Schneider at craft services," relates Randy Krallmam, who directs via bicoastal HSI Productions. He's referring to the shoot for a campaign promoting HBO's Entourage, which featured original excerpts from the show, followed by screen tests by a motley crew of celebrities from '70s and '80 sitcoms and movies, repeating the exact same scene. The roster of D-list celebrities included Pat Harrington--Schneider from One Day At A Time--Erik Estrada, Jimmie Walker, Gary Coleman, Pat Morita, Zelda Rubinstein and Estelle Harris. The campaign, out of BBDO New York, comprised four spots: "Studio," "Liquor Store," "Coffee Shop," and "Swimming Pool," which all aired over the summer on HBO. "It had an element of The Surreal Life," says Krallman. "The people were really sweet," he notes, except, perhaps Coleman. Krallman jokes that based on the diminutive actor's attitude, he scrapped his plans to do a Nick Broomfield-style documentary a la Tupac & Biggie about Coleman's rumored feud with Emmanuel Lewis.
Krallman's sense of humor is evident in his work, which is quickly raising him up the ladder of the commercial world. Since signing with HSI a year ago, Krallman was included in the Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors Showcase presented at this year's Cannes International Advertising Festival, and has directed spots for Boost Mobile, Burger King, ESPN, and others.
After a brief stint at Lowe, New York, as an art director, Krallman began directing work for MTV via its On-Air Promotions department, long a fruitful training ground for future spot directors. While there, he and Aaron Stoller, now a director with Backyard Productions, Venice, California, co-directed a series of promos that presented the network as the greatest at anything it did, no matter how mundane, in a style that evokes The Royal Tenebaums. For instance, in "Salesman," MTV is compared to the best industrial supplies sales rep in the tri-state area, in voiceover by Alec Baldwin. Similar scenarios are presented in "Nail Salon" and "Foosball Player." Krallman also worked for a time as a creative at Berlin Cameron/Red Cell, New York, where he primarily worked on Coke. While there, he had a chance to direct an ad for the soft drink's music site, "Flossin," which was a send-up of the MTV show Cribs, featuring a kid in suburban New Jersey who has illusions of hip-hop grandeur. It was at that point Krallman began thinking about directing full time. "I just was playing it low key," says Krallman of his initial forays into finding representation. "Kerstin Emhoff [executive producer at HSI], was kind of like we love this, and we'd love to talk to you. ... Once I talked to them, I felt weird shopping anything around, and I thought, 'I like these guys.' "
Some of Krallman's latest work includes Boost Mobile's "Fat Joe," out of Berlin Cameron/Red Cell, which he collaborated on with fellow HSI director Chris Robinson. In the ad, hip-hop artist Fat Joe is seen as kid, getting a "chirp" on his Boost Mobile phone from a friend who wants the future music great to join him at a concert; he goes, and, as the voiceover explains, is so enthralled with what he sees, he decides right then and there to pursue a music career. What would have happened had he not had Boost Mobile? Turns out he wouldn't have seen the show, but would have realized he had the ability to talk to animals, leading to a very successful career as a pet psychiatrist--cut to shots of Fat Joe counseling a bird, a rabbit, and a dog. Krallman is in the midst of another similarly themed spot for the cell phone company featuring Travis Barker of Blink 182.
In addition to his commercials, Krallman, who hopes to one day direct a feature, is working on a pitch for a TV series about groups of people starting modular communities, and is also exploring the new frontiers of advertising. He's contemplating opening a content creation company in association with HSI president Stavros Merjos, that he notes would go "beyond guerilla marketing and virals," to creating true branded content. "You'll never get anything done by just making an ad and trying to make it content," he relates. "It'll never compete with TV until it's actually good content, first and foremost."
As for the Internet and other media channels, Krallman isn't concerned about advertising going away anytime soon. "All the channels and how it gets out there, it just never worried me," he says. "Because it's all going to demand better and more entertaining content. It just has to be really compelling."