- Friday, Jun. 15, 2012
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- NEW YORK
In offering advice to young filmmakers, director Bryan Buckley of Hungry Man urged them to explore short films. "The short is a really great place. There's so much exposure you can get on the Internet, there are festivals everywhere. Even as a production company, we look at shorts as more marketable."
Buckley observed, "It's easier to sit down and spend 10 minutes watching a short [than committing a chunk of time to a long-form feature]. When you shoot a feature, you're compared to Scorsese. When you're shooting a short, you're compared to nobody...It's based purely on material....I'm pro-short right now."
Buckley's remarks came during the "In The Director's Chair" kickoff session of the 2012 SHOOT Directors/Producers Forum last month (5/17) at the DGA Theater in New York City. The daytime Forum was followed that evening by SHOOT's 10th annual New Directors Showcase, also at the DGA venue.
Buckley being "pro-short" is understandable. During his Forum session he screened and then discussed his short film Asad, which in April had won the Best Narrative Short honor at the Tribeca Film Festival. Buckley's Asad centers on the title character, a 12-year-old lad in a war-torn fishing village in Somalia who must decide between falling into the pirate life or rising above it to choose the path of an honest fisherman. The project was sparked in part by a United Nations short documentary, No Autographs, which brought Buckley and his Hungry Man producer Mino Jarjoura to refugee camps in Kenya and Sudan a couple of years ago. Buckley and Jarjoura encountered Somalian refugees in Kakuma, Kenya. "Their stories and their outlook on life haven't been fully told and haven't gained the exposure they deserve," related Buckley. He noted that media have a fascination with the Somalian pirates and to a lesser extent with the Al-Shabaab [terrorist] group in the Southern territory of Somalia but as a result the spirit of the everyday people themselves gets overlooked.
Buckley wrote a script in an attempt to do justice to the humanity of the Somalian people. In that lensing in Somalia would have been too dangerous a prospect, the short was shot entirely in South Africa, spoken in Somalian (with English subtitles). The cast consisted entirely of real people, including two refugee boys, the title character and a younger sidekick. Neither spoke English and both were illiterate so Buckley had to deploy a translator and the youngsters had to memorize their Somalian lines sans a script or written point of reference.
Initially the younger of the two was slated to be the short's protagonist. But it became clear that the lead role was too much for him, resulting in the older boy becoming the focus of the film. Buckley described his two young "actors" as being "amazing and so bright. They were able to memorize all the dialogue."
Hungry Man footed the bill for the short's production, bringing the cost down by careful planning and calling in favors. Still, Buckley shared that the final budget was in the $500,000 range.
While on the surface Asad would seem to be quite a departure for Buckley--whose reputation is in comedy, particularly in high-profile Super Bowl commercials--he observed that the short isn't all that far afield from his filmmaking core, which is to get to the truth of a situation and a character, often mining the inherent humor and simply doing justice to a story or concept. Asad indeed offers some unexpected comic relief even within the context of daily lives challenged with major adversity.
Lee Hirsch There were two "In The Director's Chair" sessions which served as Forum bookends on either side of three panel discussions. Sitting "In The Director's Chair" during the Forum closing afternoon session was filmmaker Lee Hirsch who shed light on his acclaimed feature documentary Bully. Just a couple days earlier, it was announced that Hirsch had secured his first career TV commercial production house representation, signing with Moxie Pictures.
Hirsch said he has long had spotmaking aspirations. He noted that Moxie was the only house he considered joining, based in large part on the high caliber of filmmakers on its roster. He cited in particular Errol Morris, the Academy Award-winning documentarian (The Fog Of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara) who's enjoyed a successful spotmaking career at Moxie. Since he was a teenager, Hirsch has been an admirer of Morris' work. Hirsch added that he has roots at Moxie, having served there as a PA some 20 years ago.
Hirsch is the latest notable documentary filmmaker to foray into commercials. Lucy Walker, an Oscar nominee each of the past two years for the feature documentary Wasteland followed by the short The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, is handled by Supply&Demand Integrated. Daniel Junge, who co-directed this year's Oscar documentary short winner, Saving Face, is repped by Futuristic Films. And Robin Fryday, Oscar-nominated this year in the same category for co-directing The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement, has come aboard Nonfiction Unlimited. Fryday also earned inclusion into this year's SHOOT New Directors Showcase.
Asked why documentary filmmakers seem to be increasing in relevance and prominence in the advertising sector, Hirsch observed that people are tired of B.S. and that brands are looking for directors who can deliver messages that ring true and connect with viewers.
Bully follows five youngsters and their families over the course of a school year, confronting bullying's most tragic outcomes, including the stories of two families who have lost children to suicide and a mother who waits to learn the fate of her 14-year-old daughter, incarcerated after bringing a gun on her school bus. The documentary has taken on a life of its own as an agent for social change, increasing awareness of the problem and becoming integrated into middle and high school curricula.
Hirsch said that among the most gratifying results springing from Bully is the personal growth of Alex Libby, one of the bullied youngsters in the film. When the MPAA first declined to grant a PG-13 rating to Bully, Harvey Weinstein of The Weinstein Company, which was handling the release of the film, came up with the idea of having Alex appear before the MPAA board. Upon hearing the plan to have Alex testify before the MPAA, Hirsch recalled, "You don't fight with Harvey. You will lose. You work with Harvey and you learn--and I did." That learning experience was, said Hirsch, seeing Alex argue "powerfully before the MPAA board in their offices." Afterwards, Alex and Weinstein walked out together. "Harvey was crying he was so proud of Alex."
Still, by a one-vote margin, the MPAA board denied the PG-13 rating. But that led to a grass-roots movement championed by Katy Butler, who had just turned 17. She launched a petition on change.org that became a movement to get Bully the rating it deserved so it could be seen more easily by youngsters. "No matter how good you are in [film] marketing, you could never have dreamed this up," said Hirsch who remembers first clicking on the petition and seeing 25,000 signatures. Each day, the total rose significantly--at last count there were some 523,000 signatures.
Hirsch noted that the petition was far more than just a collection of signatures. People wrote stories about why they were signing. "Some of it," said Hirsch, "was about feeling a disconnect between the MPAA and American families--actually you [the MPAA] are not representing us, At the same time it didn't hurt us that The Hunger Games was being released with a PG-13 rating where 20 teenagers are brutally murdered while looking hot to great music...MPAA ultimately caved and we got our PG-13 rating."
A scene from Bully also underscored, quite subtly, the sense that Alex had turned a corner when on the last day of his original high school--the site of his being bullied and minimized so often--he asked a popular girl if he could sign her shirt. She said yes but adding even more to that minor yet important triumph was her request to sign his shirt. While her shirt was covered with signatures, Alex's appeared to just have that one girl's signature. But it's a signature that spoke volumes, offering a special little moment akin to what Hirsch hopes to bring to his spotmaking and branded content endeavors.
"Raising The Bar" Right after the session on Buckley's Tribeca-honored Asad, the Forum tour of the festival circuit continued with a morning panel discussion focused on three feature documentaries which also made their mark at major fests this year, reflecting how the bar has been raised for branded entertainment and content involving the ad agency community.
The three documentaries are:
• Escape Fire: The Fight To Rescue American Healthcare, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, later played at the Dallas International Film Festival, and most recently won the Kathleen Bryan Edwards Award for Human Rights at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. Escape Fire is a co-production between Our Time Projects, which is the production company of documentary filmmaker Matthew Heineman, and Aisle C Productions, a unit of OgilvyEntertainment. Heineman and documentarian Susan Froemke teamed to direct Escape Fire.
Aisle C was established two years ago to develop and produce original, non-branded entertainment. Escape Fire examines the country's healthcare crisis, underscoring a needed shift from disease management to prevention, and from placing focus on patients rather than profits. The documentary follows dramatic stories of patients as well as of healthcare leaders who are striving to transform the system at the highest levels of medicine, industry, government and even the U.S. military. Escape Fire was executive produced by Doug Scott, president of OgilvyEntertainment.
• Re: Generation Music Project, which made its festival debut at the South by Southwest Film Festival. Produced by music-focused entertainment studio GreenLight Media & Marketing in association with RSA Films, this documentary found an ideal venue in SXSW in that it too marries the worlds of film and music. Made in association with the Grammys and sponsored by Hyundai Veloster, Re:Generation was directed by Amir Bar-Lev of RSA. Re:Generation follows five noted DJs--DJ Premier, electronic duo The Crystal Method, Pretty Lights of dub-step fame, Grammy winner Skrillex and producer Mark Ronson--as they remix, recreate and re-imagine five traditional styles of music. Ronson creates his take on jazz, Skrillex on rock 'n roll, Pretty Lights on country music, DJ Premier tackles classical, and The Crystal Method forays into soul. Each artist collaborates with another artist or artists from each respective genre. For example, The Crystal Method teams with soul singer Martha Reeves (of the Motown group Martha and the Vandellas).
• And Waiting For Lightning, directed by Jacob Rosenberg of production house Bandito Brothers. The film made its world premiere at the SXSW Festival. It's a human portrait of extreme sports skateboarder Danny Way made possible by the support of DC Shoes, a division of Quiksilver. A young boy from a broken home in Vista, Calif., Way went on to become a skateboarding legend. The film delves into a Way creation, a ramp designed to traverse physical, cultural and ideological barriers in an attempt at the seemingly impossible--to jump across China's Great Wall on a skateboard. Nonetheless, this documentary shows that Way's life is more captivating than even his daredevil exploits.
The Forum session on the three documentaries, titled "Advertising & Entertainment Production: The Bar Is Raised," featured directors Bar-Lev, Heineman and Rosenberg, OgilvyEntertainment's Scott, and attorney Rick Kurnit, a partner in the law firm Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz.
Bar-Lev said he felt grateful that Hyundai was very low key in its sponsorship, not looking to unduly influence the content, just wanting to be associated with as entertaining a film as possible. He was also glad to have the financial resources behind him to experiment and explore different avenues in making Re:Generation. Bar-Lev noted that this branded content experience was fulfilling and generated far more recompense for him than any of his prior filmmaking endeavors, even the lauded feature The Tillman Story.
Rosenberg was gratified over response to Waiting For Lightning, perhaps best reflected in feedback from SXSW Film Festival director Janet Pierson who said she loved the film even though she isn't a skateboarding fan. Rosenberg noted that his goal was for the human story to appeal to a broad audience extending well beyond extreme sports enthusiasts.
It's also vital that the brand derive value from the content, continued Rosenberg. "For the budget of our movie, they [DC Shoes] are getting 90 minutes of content, a trailer that gets thousands, hopefully millions of views, clips and behind-the-scenes things. Our pitch to DC was that for this small investment, which is probably less than the cost of a commercial, you are going to get a feature film that feeds your core demographic, that represents your brand well and you're going to get a tone of carved out content."
That proposition, continued Rosenberg, is exciting to Bandito Brothers as a company because then "it's a matter of finding the right brands, a matter of finding the right stories--and that's a model you can replicate."
While also making the festival circuit grade, starting with Sundance, Escape Fire is non-branded content, unlike Re:Generation and Waiting For Lightning. Scott explained that agencies have so much invested in their people and resources that OgilvyEntertainment felt the need to extend that talent into new business opportunities and projects that are for the greater good of society, centered on cultural truths, something happening in the world around us where there's a story to tell. Escape Fire was thus the ideal first project for non-branded content production unit Aisle C, bringing an apolitical perspective to the healthcare crisis, uncovering possible solutions and advances in the field.
As for new business prospects, Heineman and Scott noted that Our Time Projects and Aisle C have equity stakes in Escape Fire, which is being handled by CAA for feature/TV distribution. Theatrical release is slated for October. Heineman noted that healthcare is an issue which has a great political divide. The goal of Escape Fire was not to divide but to be an enlightening documentary that can unite people, redefining the problems involved, raising awareness of the issues, and offering potential solutions.
Asked about possible conflicts of interest for Ogilvy in tackling the healthcare crisis--including Ogilvy Healthworld, a leading pharmaceuticals and healthcare agency--Scott credited Shelly Lazarus, chairman of Ogilvy & Mather, for her support in enabling the documentary to be truthful and to maintain its content integrity. Scott noted that Escape Fire flew under the radar for a significant stretch of time before being shared with all the Ogilvy holdings.
Heineman noted that Ogilvy gave him a clear message as a documentarian--if what he and Froemke conveyed in the film was accurate and truthful, then therein lies its defense and viability as a film. Indeed a part of Escape Fire takes to task pharmaceutical advertising--which is only allowed in the U.S. and New Zealand--as potentially doing more harm than good in terms of people's healthcare and wellbeing.
Attorney Kurnit sifted through intellectual property issues during his panel remarks. Picking up on the equity being held by Our Time Projects and Aisle C in Escape Fire, he noted that new opportunities for content ownership are emerging and that companies like @radical.media have been among those breaking new ground in that regard.
Scott noted that there's a concerted effort by OgilvyEntertainment to move the agency "away from a fee-for-service business and really get us to be able to realize the value of our ideas." He cited as an example the lauded Dove Real Beauty 76-second short film of several years ago that Ogilvy produced for around $80,000. Directed by an Ogilvy creative director [Tim Piper], the short went on to generate half a billion dollars in free media. "Unlocking that creativity and only paying an agency for time plus materials...puts creative agencies at a huge disadvantage as this whole media landscape is shifting. I do think what you're going to see more of not only from agencies but also creators is figuring out where that IP ownership can sit on their side across all forms of media because that's really what incentivizes us to go out there and be passionate about storytelling."
Agencies and brands, observed Scott, are diversifying beyond spots, which are disposable, to longer form content which travels, potentially garnering earned, owned, and socialized media. As for the future of branded content, Scott said that on the horizon he sees brands funding projects in the $5 million to $10 million range. He envisions content development hearkening back in some respects to the early days of TV with brand-sponsored shows like The Colgate Family Hour and General Electric Theater. Major clients, he related, are active and ripe for pitches. As an example, Scott cited Coca-Cola which has 3,000 water-related projects globally, spawning the need for content to bring those cause-related activities to light.
"Screen Play" The first afternoon session of the 2012 Forum, "Screen Play: Content Creation in a Multi-screen World," explored content opportunities emerging across multiple platforms and how that in turn has created new industry roles. Panelists were: Layne Braunstein, executive creative director/co-founder of digital agency/creative technology shop Fake Love; Teddy Lynn, executive VP, director of content, BBDO New York; Jason Souter, production director, TBWA\Chiat\Day, New York; and legal counsel Kurnit of Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz.
Lynn's experience spans different industry sectors, which he can now bring to bear at BBDO. He served, for example, as a co-producer of the hit film Pleasantville, later maintained a entertainment/media/marketing consultancy, then became sr. VP/group creative director of brand experience at ad agency Arnold Worldwide, and immediately prior to BBDO was executive creative director, content and experiences, for media agency Universal McCann.
Last November Lynn became the first director of content at BBDO. He outlined the responsibilities of his new position which is essentially to help tell stories in different formats. Part of that entails his doing everything possible to make great ideas live. Lynn noted that forward thinking creatives throughout the industry have a history of coming up with great ideas that don't get made for various reasons--maybe it's a hard sell to a client who asked for something else. Perhaps there's not enough of a dialogue with media owners and distribution partners to get the green light for a worthwhile project. Whatever the reason, Lynn said he needs to help clear those hurdles so that deserving content comes to fruition.
In that same vein, Lynn said that in the case of traditional clients and creative teams, the onus is on him to broaden their perspectives on what else is possible--varied forms of content that are not only cool but that can also help realize key branding and marketing goals. Furthermore, Lynn said he is charged with creating new revenue streams for BBDO by developing intellectual property.
Yet new content and IP opportunities carry legal considerations. Kurnit noted that when entertainment or social media becomes advertising, it is subject to truth in advertising regulations. Without adherence to those regulations, legal liabilities can be incurred.
Meanwhile Souter informed Forum attendees of a music concert series at TBWA\Chiat\Day for emerging artists. Each month or every other month, up-and-coming performers will stage a concert for agency creatives. Souter said this could lead to music being licensed from these acts for commercials and/or branded entertainment, or even better the commissioning of original music compositions for TBWA\Chiat\Day clients.
Fake Love's Braunstein touched upon several company projects as examples of content opportunities surfacing in the marketplace. He cited the Google Project Re: Brief assignment from Johannes Leonardo, N.Y., which called for Fake Love to help modernize iconic ad campaigns from yesteryear, working in tandem with some of the original creators. Among the time-honored spots Fake Love helped bring into the contemporary digital realm was Coca-Cola's classic "Hilltop" from 1971, with lyrics seeking a world singing "in perfect harmony" and which expressed the desire "to buy the world a Coke."
Fake Love gave consumers the chance to send a free bottle of Coke across the globe to someone they'd never met. This gift giving was facilitated through mobile apps and customized vending machines. The Fake Love team redesigned existing vending machines, deploying custom fabrication, microcontrollers, open source software, hand-made hardware, touch screens, video/audio capture and live streaming. The re-imagined Coke machines were set up in Cape Town, Buenos Aires, Mountain View, Calif., and NYC. And then the delighted reactions of the Coke recipients began to unfold in the digital space. The Coke initiative was one of four Re:Brief projects utilizing Google services such as YouTube, Google Maps, Google Mobile, Google Translate and Gmail to demonstrate that new media can carry on the creative spirit of classic campaigns. The Re: Brief film chronicling the process behind the project was directed by Doug Pray whose credits include Art & Copy, The One Club-produced documentary about the creative revolution in advertising.
Fake Love also teamed with director Chris Milk of @radical.media on The Creators Project in S.F. The event featured Milk's interactive installation, "The Treachery of Sanctuary." Fake Love served as creative technology team for the installation in which multiple users could explore, create and interact with shadow-like images through their own body movements.
Despite collaborations with notable directors like Milk and Pray, Braunstein explained that Fake Love felt the need as a relatively new shop to seek a connection with a production house which could open up relationships with other cutting-edge filmmakers. This resulted in Fake Love entering into an association with Recommended Media, a production company headed by founder Stephen Dickstein, and EPs Phillip Detchmendy and Jeff Rohrer.
Conversely, via its relationship with Fake Love, Recommended Media gains footing in the digital space, providing its directors and clients with access to related expertise and resources.
Workflow The Forum's final panel discussion of the day was "Production Workflow--Get "Flow"-ent In The Language of Camera-to-Post Workflow." Panelists were DPs Darren Lew and Matthew Woolf, digital imaging technician (DIT) Tiffany Armour-Tejada, and Craig Leffel, ONE at Optimus' head of production. The session was kicked off by demo videos showcasing the creative flexibility of ARRI's Alexa and Alexa M cameras, sharing snippets of work spanning features, TV, shorts, videos and commercials.
While four out of the five most recent projects lensed by Lew were shot on Alexa, he noted that more camera options are available to cinematographers than ever before, including in the mainstay film medium. On the latter score, Lew referenced a pair of projects he shot for Darren Aronofsky, a Best Director Oscar nominee last year for Black Swan. Lew DP'd a Revlon spot featuring actress Jessica Biel in 35mm black-and-white film. He explained that Aronofsky wanted to depart from the slick color fashion/beauty norm, lending a greater impact to the Revlon job, with 35mm b&w being the medium of choice.
Lew also shot an Aronofsky-directed Meth Project campaign out of agency Organic. The spots show the real-life consequences of addiction at its worst. One teen finds himself about to sell himself for sex in a motel room (a PSA titled "Desperate"); another ditches a friend in the ER to get high ("ER"); a third cowers in fear as his strung-out brother ransacks his room for money ("Losing Control"); and a fourth is driven to a suicide attempt by voices in her head ("Deep End").
Aronofsky, related Lew, wanted a continuous one shot, no-cut, ramp down from 150 frames down to 24 fps, sync sound production for each spot. The director specified a hand-held camera with no cables so that the operator could go 360 degrees around the room. Lew noted that only one camera met those specs at the time--an ARRI 416 high speed 16mm model. Lew noted that Aronofsky is a fan of 16mm, having deployed it in the shooting of The Wrestler and Pi.
As for his alluded to Alexa-lensed projects, Lew noted that he recently shot two Madonna videos. He described Alexa as becoming his "default choice," citing its production-friendly versatility. Any lens, any accessory you'd expect for a film camera, he said, dovetails with the Alexa.
Lew additionally cited the Canon 5D and 7D as being handy still cameras during location scouts given their video capabilities. He noted, for example, that he was able to pick up shots on a scout which took him into a pro sports locker room that became unavailable during the actual shoot day. The scout day imagery was seamlessly meshed into the final project. Lew added that during a scout, the daylight might be perfect for a shot that the 7D could capture--which might prove useful if the ideal daylight conditions couldn't be replicated on shoot day.
Cinematographer Woolf, whose body of work encompasses commercials, TV, narrative, music videos and documentaries, noted that new cameras and formats provide an unprecedented array of possibilities and opportunities for DPs, in turn necessitating that he deal with various facets of workflow. He too has been active with Alexa, using it to recently shoot an NBC promo spot for the Super Bowl, which entailed working with NBC's in-house post department.
Woolf has collaborated with a number of notable directors, including regularly with Henry-Alex Rubin of Smuggler. Woolf noted that his collaborations with DITs have also gained importance as workflow has become prominent in a DP's list of considerations.
Armour-Tejada, a DIT with Local 600, shed light on the role of the DIT who works in concert and collaboration with the cinematographer and post artisans, making sure they dovetail properly in terms of workflow, systemization, signal integrity and image manipulation--all to attain the highest image quality and creative goals of cinematography in the digital realm, so that the images do justice to the story, characters and concepts. Armour-Tejada noted that the DIT needs to have a strong relationship with the DP and the post house so that she can convey the look the cinematographer wants to achieve to the colorist and other post artisans. "We come up with a game plan on the type of LUTS [lookup tables] they want," said Armour-Tejada, explaining that LUTs are color blueprints, files that reflect the look and tone the DP is striving to attain. As a DIT, Armour-Tejada also makes sure to calibrate her on-set monitor so that it's akin to the post facility monitors--again so that both sides are seeing and thus can ultimately realize the same look.
Still, though, there can be problems. Woolf related that he's encountered situations where "often the colorist will see things their own way." As a result, the look of the end product can "come as a surprise" to the DP.
Leffel brings a mix of production and post expertise to the helm of ONE at Optimus, a role he took on last year after some 20-plus years as a mainstay colorist at Optimus, Chicago. He discussed the importance of preparation and communicating in order to facilitate the proper workflow, citing as an example an integrated campaign delivered by ONE at Optimus and Optimus that encompassed TV spots, digital assets from the broadcast work that would serve as web content, images for billboard, outdoor print and magazine print. The campaign was shot with two RED Epics, which Leffel said was the ideal choice for the project, lending itself to a workflow whereby the necessary digital assets could be optimally captured. A data manager at Optimus handled transcodes and ensured that editorial/post talent got what they needed. The data manager was on set to prep looks, files and hard drives. The DIT was on board as well, coordinating between the DP and Optimus, and storing footage for 30 days after the shoot in case there was any problem with hard drives down the road. Leffel noted that he talks to DPs regularly about cameras, and managing and understanding workflow.
New Directors Showcase This year's field of helmers in the New Directors Showcase totaled 34-31 individual directors and a three-person team. Twenty of those directors attended the evening Showcase event at the DGA Theater. (To see the entire SHOOT New Directors Showcase Reel and profiles on each director, visit http://nds.shootonline.com.)
DGA alternate board member Laura Belsey, a director spanning television, features, spots and documentaries, introduced SHOOT publisher and editorial director Roberta Griefer to the audience and talked about the importance of the New Directors Showcase, noting that just under one-third of all new DGA members are commercial directors.
Belsey, who developed and teaches the commercial directing class at the Graduate Film School of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, saw one of her students, John Ryan Johnson, earn inclusion into this year's Showcase.
Griefer then introed the debut screening of the 2012 SHOOT New Directors Showcase reel, which contained a sampling of the work from each Showcase helmer. After the reel presentation, SHOOT held a panel discussion in which five of the directors were participants: Andrea Ball of Hoax Films, Chanya Button of HOMEcorp, London; Martin Rodahl who's unaffiliated with a production house; Tim Roper of Partizan; and Habib Semaan, also unaffiliated.
Offering professional perspectives from the ad agency and production company sides of the business were, respectively, Marion Lange, VP/executive producer of DDB New York, and Bonnie Goldfarb, executive producer/co-founder of harvest.
Goldfarb commended the high caliber of work in this year's Showcase, noting that it's great to see what new talent can produce as tools and technology--such as relatively inexpensive digital cameras and laptop editing--become more accessible. Asked about the viability of spec work, Goldfarb suggested that a better route to take would be to create content for any of the worthwhile charities/social action organizations in the marketplace. If the spot or longer-form content is good, public service groups with limited budgets would be far more likely to adopt and embrace the work, giving it meaningful media exposure.
Roper, who was a creative director at CP+B before embarking recently on a directorial career at Partizan, agreed, saying PSAs and related content offer a path to real media play.
Lange related that good work, spec or otherwise, is the catalyst for getting agencies to take that leap of faith and hire a new director. She added that if an up-and-coming director is affiliated with a production company with which the agency has worked successfully in the past, that can prove to be a major factor providing an extra level of comfort, making it easier for an ad shop to award a job to an otherwise unproven yet promising filmmaker.
With IP prospects and longer form content on the rise, Goldfarb noted that if a new director has writing chops, that can be a big plus as a production company contemplates bringing that helmer onto its roster.
Director Button noted that while access to tools and expertise in writing, editing, visual effects, digital and the like are of value, there's one basic she holds near and dear to her creative heart and which is essential to a director--the ability to work with actors. She said that actors can bring amazing dimensions to a project and it behooves the director to be able to fashion a substantive collaboration with on-camera performers.
In terms of advice for aspiring directors, Goldfarb related, "If you can imagine that we're watching so much work all day long, don't be fearful. We want to see things we haven't seen before. I encourage all the directors to wow us."
Lange picked up on this, quipping, "Once we make you mention the product three times, it won't be as bold anyhow so it [your work] better start out bold."
Being bold is imperative, said Goldfarb, noting that there are "many more directors than there is work, particularly paying work...You have to demonstrate to a production company that you are creating content or creating spots that are amazing, that cut through, that win awards. Being here tonight is a great leg up because you've competed against hundreds of directors to get to the final 32 [in the SHOOT Showcase]....You have to persevere. Perseverance, talent and focus have gotten you this far. Keep going."
Sponsors For the third consecutive year, the New Directors Showcase evening event was expanded to include daytime proceedings, the Directors/Producers Forum.
Lead sponsors of the SHOOT events were the Directors Guild of America (DGA), and production companies harvest and ONE at Optimus. Silver sponsors were Kodak, ARRI and media and entertainment law firm Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz. Bronze sponsors were production house Moxie Pictures and the Nevada Film Office.