- Thursday, Jun. 21, 2012
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- CANNES, France
Tom Eslinger, digital creative director of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide, has done double duty at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. He has not only served as jury president for this year's inaugural Mobile Lions but also had a major hand in Saatchi's 22nd New Directors' Showcase unveiled today during the Cannes proceedings.
On the latter score, among the pieces of work that stood out for Eslinger were a grass-roots spec title sequence for a major feature release, a real-world title sequence for another high profile movie, a trailer for what had been a relatively obscure console game, and a low-fi music clip that brought a human anatomical twist to birds.
These four projects offer a taste of what 24 directors--12 individual helmers and six duos--covering 18 Showcase slots have to offer. The alluded to spec title sequence came from London-based director James Curran of Partizan. Curran grew up a big fan of Tintin, collecting books and merchandise as a youngster. With the long awaited release of director Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin last year, the time seemed ripe for Curran to work on an animation piece reflecting his affinity for Tintin. He started the project by re-reading through the Tintin series of books to decide on suitable references from each story, then set aside some free time to begin animating the sequence properly. Most of the work on this titles sequence was done over a couple of intense weekends with Curran animating solo, with the project finished off gradually during a monthlong stretch.
For Eslinger, the Tintin titles underscore the power of inexpensive desktop tools. "Jim did these titles and Spielberg found them through social channels, saw how amazing they were and came calling on Jim. If high quality content at a low price is good enough to attract the most famous living director, then you know you're onto something," smiled Eslinger.
Indeed Curran's unofficial title sequence got him an invite from Spielberg to the U.K. premiere of The Adventures of Tintin, and reportedly a gig working on an upcoming Spielberg project.
Meanwhile the official title sequence for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo landed a Saatchi Showcase slot for director Tim Miller, co-founder and creative director of Blur Studio, Venice, Calif. "There are people who haven't seen the movie but have seen the titles because it was so well socialized," said Eslinger. "It's had the force of a great trailer, beautifully done, all CG'd out, PR'd so well. The Tweeting, Facebook, posting audience saw it and it caught fire. It was designed and art directed within an inch of its life."
As for the alluded to video game trailer, Saatchi's Showcase includes director Stuart Aitken, co-founder, joint managing director and creative director of Axis Animation in Glasgow. Aitken directed the Dead Island announcement trailer which went on to propel what had been a fairly unknown console game into prominence last year. "We're in a society where there's 'gameification' of everything," observed Eslinger. "In this case, though, the trailer gameified an incredibly powerful storyline, capturing the emotion of gaming, recasting the whole zombie thing we see in comics, TV, film and gaming. So many things collide in that clip, regardless if you see it as gory or not."
Also striking a responsive chord for Eslinger was the Fulton Lights music video, "Staring Out The Window," which gives Showcase director Ninian Doff of Pulse Films, London, plenty to crow about. His inspiration for the video came during a respite at the park looking at crows. He observed their distinctive walk, different from other birds, and it struck him that they behaved as if they should have arms and are annoyed that they don't. Doff rectified that in his video by giving crows arms as they performed the music, sung and acted out the storyline of the song "Staring Out The Window." "It's kind of low-fi but plays just right, just long enough to get you hooked," assessed Eslinger. "In essence you've got the band members' arms stuck to these crows."
The music clip was shot in an afternoon but necessitated a few months' postproduction with director Doff handling all the editing and graphics himself.
Rundown of soloists
The other eight individual 2012 Saatchi Showcase directors are:
o James W. Griffiths, who's based in London, garnered a Showcase slot for Splitscreen: A Love Story, named the ninth most creative video of 2011 by TIME Magazine. Shot entirely on the Nokia 8 mobile phone, Splitscreen won the 2011 Nokia Shorts competition.
o Andrew Thomas Huang, a Los Angeles-based helmer who earned inclusion on the basis of his short film Solipsist, which made its world premiere at this year's Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, winning its Special Jury Prize for Experimental Short. Solipsist is a three-part psychedelic fantasy film about otherworldly beings whose minds and bodies converge into one entity.
o Rick Mereki, an independent filmmaker from Melbourne, Australia, who earned Showcase status for STA Travel Australia's "Move," his first foray into advertising after having established himself as a music video director.
o Seyi Peter-Thomas of bicoastal/international Station Film for his promo for The Hard Times of RJ Berger, a David Katzenberg-produced MTV comedy series featuring a 15-year-old geek who goes from anonymous to infamous when the school discovers his large carnal endowment. The promo last year earned a Promax BDA Gold Award. Peter-Thomas got his filmmaking education over a decade at MTV, producing, directing and writing some of the network's highest profile commercials, branded content and PSAs.
o Graydon Sheppard of Toronto production house Hard Citizen, a Showcase director based on his "Shit Girls Say" video work which has become a viral sensation, generating more than 20 million hits and thousands of imitators since its launch last December. Besides directing, he served as performer, editor and co-writer of the online phenomenon.
o Mickey Smith of Independent, London, was recognized by Saatchi for Dark Side of the Lens, a short which tells his tale of surfing, photography and filmmaking. He made the film as a tribute to his late sister and as a living memory for her two sons, reflecting her light, passion and inspiration.
o Daniel Strange of Uber Content copped a Showcase slot for his APPA "Dogs-Loyalty" spot in which two guys in dog costumes talk about the nice things they will do for each other, making a case for getting a pal for your pet. Strange's other notable directorial credits include multiple episodes of the faux-interview web series Between Two Ferns, and most recently a 22-spot web comedy campaign for Toyota's Rav 4 out of Saatchi & Saatchi LA.
o Rhys Thomas--whose production house affiliation is bicoastal Skunk--made the Showcase on the strength of his Saturday Night Live short, a mock movie trailer titled "British Movie." The trailer promotes an action/adventure thriller, the only problem being that the actors are speaking English with a heavy British accent which makes what they're saying unintelligible. Thomas got his initial break when he landed an office PA gig at the film unit of SNL. He moved up the ranks to production coordinator and line producer. In 2010, Thomas asked for the chance to direct his own first short for the show. Since then he has produced and directed more than 30 short films and commercial parodies for SNL, working with such talent as Kristen Wiig, Bil Hader, Jim Carrey, Jason Segel, Jonah Hill, Russell Brand, Will Ferrell and Ben Stiller.
The half dozen directorial duos gracing the Showcase are:
o Lars Andheim and Christoffer Lossius are repped by a pair of companies in Norway: Trobbel for commercials and Filmfaktisk AS for music videos, shorts and features. The directing duo was recognized for "Say, Say, Say," a Lasse Passage music video featuring Johanne Birkeland. "Say, Say, Say" earned nominations at the U.K. Music Video Awards, the Norwegian Short Film Festival and Vienna Independent Shorts while garnering honorable mention at the Oslo Screen Festival.
o Fleur & Manu of Division, Paris, gained entry into the Showcase for the Etienne de Crecy music video "No Brain." The directing team's focus is now firmly on spots and videos. The duo's video credits span such performers as Sebastien Tellier, Tricky, Phoenix, M83 and Connan Mockassin.
o Jones + Tino--Ricardo Jones and Airon Carmingani (Tino)--began collaborating in 2004 as an agency creative team at F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi in Sao Paulo, Brazil. They directed a bit through the ad shop before breaking out in 2011 to direct as Jones + Tino, a duo whose production company roost is Iconoclast, Paris. Jones + Tino's "Addiction" for Nike caught the eye of Saatchi judges.
o William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg of Moonbot Studios in Shreveport, Louisiana, already received big-ticket recognition for The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, which earned this year's Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. The latest kudo for the short is the Saatchi Showcase slot. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore shows us a young man whisked off by a powerful storm to a place where books are living entities, depicting a fanciful world to which book lovers everywhere can relate. A cover artist for The New Yorker, Joyce has written and created famous children's works like "Rolie Polie Olie," "Meet the Robinsons" and his picture book "The Man In the Moon." Many of his creations have been the inspiration for animated feature films and TV shows. Oldenburg co-founded Reel FX Studios, Dallas, eventually serving as its sr. creative director for 15 years. He teamed up with Joyce to create decor for Martha Stewart, parade floats for Disney and title design for films. Their collaboration and co-directing for The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore struck Academy Award gold.
o Brian L. Perkins and Damian Kulash, Jr. via Paracadute, New York, got into the Showcase on the basis of OK Go's music video "Needing/Getting." Kulash is the singer for OK Go and has had a hand in varied art forms, including directing the band's videos. Perkins is a writer/director for televised, digital and transmedia content, and currently serves as a creative at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. "Needing/Getting" has members of OK Go, with Kulash as stunt driver, inside a Chevy Sonic as it maneuvers along a course, triggering musical instruments along the way which play the OK Go tune. The video and Chevy Sonic tie-in came out of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.
o Skinny, a duo represented by Partizan, made the Showcase for the Moonbootica music video titled "Iconic." Skinny is comprised of directors David Hache and Marc-Edouard Leon who are both based in Los Angeles. Their music video credits span such artists as Huksek, Cee Lo, Devendra Banhart and Ke$ha. Skinny has also diversified into commercials with campaigns for Yves Rocher, Garnier and L'Oreal.
James Brown contest
Separate from its New Directors Showcase lineup but in the same spirit of discovering fresh filmmaking talent, Saatchi & Saatchi got together with Genero.tv, BUG Music Videos and Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) to invite filmmakers to direct a music video that brings to life one of James Brown's classic songs. UMe and the James Brown Estate have made available the following tracks for the Music Video Challenge: "Sex Machine," "Pappa's Got A Brand New Bag," "It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World" and "Try Me." Deadline for entries is June 25.
None of the songs featured in the Music Video Challenge has an official promo other than live concert footage, so this is the first opportunity for budding directors to create a clip for one of these tracks. UMe released 20 James Brown albums digitally for the first time on June 1. These releases were from his catalog from the 1950s, '60s and '70s, and many of them had long been out of circulation.
The judging panel responsible for selecting the finalists and overall winner consists of members of the Saatchi Worldwide Creative Board, and representatives of Genero.tv, BUG and UMe. In addition, directors from this year's Saatchi New Directors' Showcase have been invited onto the judging panel to help select the winner of the Music Video Challenge. The 12 finalists will be revealed in mid-July and the winner announced on the Genero.tv competition page on July 30.
The Grand Prize for the overall winner will be the chance to work on a project in a key office in the Saatchi global network. Additionally, Universal Music is seeking official videos for each of the songs, with each winner receiving $2,000.
This marks the third straight year that Saatchi has held a competition separate from the Showcase to find and reward a new director.
Here's a sampling of work in Saatchi's New Director's Showcase, focusing on the projects cited by Eslinger: