- Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013
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- LOS ANGELES
"When I found out I was nominated, I punched the air in the guts," said Steve Ayson, recalling his reaction to becoming a first-time DGA Award nominee for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Commercials.
Ayson, who's handled by MJZ in the U.S. and U.K., and The Sweet Shop in the Southern Hemisphere, reflected on what the nomination means to him personally and professionally.
"Personally it makes my chest push out a bit, and my shoulders relax down, my chin come up and my eyes stare off at the horizon gleaming with possibility. Professionally....the same really. I have massive respect for the past and present nominees so to be in the same arena as them is a huge mental lift for me."
Ayson earned his nom on the strength of two spots: Carlton Draught's "Beer Chase" out of Clemenger BBDO, Melbourne; and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas' "Let Me Go" for Fallon Minneapolis.
The latter deploys Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" to charmingly comedic effect while "Beer Chase" finds three criminals opting to flee the police on foot instead of by automobile because they are holding glasses of Carlton Draught and don't want to spill a drop of the libation.
As for why he selected "Beer Chase" and "Let Me Go" for DGA judges' consideration, Ayson explained, "We wanted to keep it simple, and felt that these two spots best represented my top work in the last year. These two spots gained huge notice and praise, so that shaped our strategy. So, good that the DGA judges thought so too."
Ayson is the lone truly first-time DGA Award nominee in this year's field (SHOOTonline, 1/9) for Best Commercial Director of 2012. While Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu of Anonymous Content also just garnered his first spot nomination, back in 2006 he was a nominee for Outstanding Director Achievement in Feature Film for Babel. Tom Kuntz of MJZ, who won the DGA Award based on his body of submitted work from 2009, now has five career commercial nominations (the other three for entries from 2006, 2008 and 2010). Also with five career spot noms (the other four coming for 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2011) is Fredrik Bond of MJZ. And Lance Acord of Park Pictures has earned his third career commercial nomination; his previous recognition came for his work in 2003 and 2011.
Acord has DGA commercial nominations each of the past two years, with his first coming a decade ago. For many of those interim years he didn't enter the DGA competition in that much of his schedule entailed his feature cinematography. His filmography as a cinematographer includes Sofia Coppola's Lost In Translation and Marie Antoinette, and Spike Jonze's Being John Malkovich and Where The Wild Things Are.
"I've been focused the past few years on my directing career, doing more commercial work," related Acord. "Thankfully I've been involved in some projects that are well written, have great creative and that I feel proud about. I've been fortunate enough to see that work recognized by the DGA."
Acord said of that recognition, "It's a huge deal to me. You go the DGA Awards and you're sitting in the same room as some of the greatest directors of our time. It's humbling to just be included."
Acord earned his latest nomination on the basis of four spots: Nike's "Jogger" and "Greatness" for Wieden+Kennedy, Portland, Ore.; Levi's "Thread" from Wieden+Kennedy, Portland; and Volkswagen's "The Dog Strikes Back" out of Deutsch LA.
The latter was the follow-up to the prior year's lauded Super Bowl VW spot "The Force," which also helped Acord garner his DGA nomination for his work in 2011. In "The Dog Strikes Back," we're introduced to an out-of-shape dog who has to slim down in order to get through a doggie door so he can chase a VW motoring down the street; the spot had an ending "wink" to "The Force" as we're taken to a Star Wars cantina where intergalactic customers debate over which of the two VW Super Bowl spots was better.
Meanwhile "Thread" is a style and lifestyle-driven spot as we see people in their Levi's going about their business as it unfolds to the voiceover of a poem.
The two Nike entries are part of the "Find Your Greatness" campaign for the Summer Olympics in London. The work eloquently captures the greatness in everyday people looking to improve themselves, an inspired creative departure from marquee star athletes during the Olympics. In "Jogger," the simplicity of a heavyset youngster jogging in silence down a road speaks volumes. "Greatness" is the anthem spot for the campaign with vignettes of everyday, not famous athletes from all walks of life striving to achieve, thus capturing the essence of a champion's spirit.
"I love the conceptual strength of the work," assessed Acord. "For the guys at Wieden, it's not just the creative behind the ad but also how that ad fits into the context of the world, the sport, the event—in the case of this campaign, the Olympics. 'Find Your Greatness" reminds us that greatness is in London and everywhere. In fact, the kid we cast in "Jogger," a wonderful young man named Mason, is from London, Ohio."
It's been an eventful month or so for Bond. He first learned that his feature film directing debut, The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, earned inclusion into the upcoming Sundance Film Festival (more on this in our Sundance coverage, slated for the January 25 print and electronic editions of SHOOT). Shortly after the Sundance selection, Bond got the news that he was named a DGA spot nominee for the fifth time in his career.
"It's no different the fifth time. I've been equally surprised each time," said Bond. "I see so much good work out there. It feels lucky to get chosen from all that deserving work. And with the DGA, your work is being selected by your peers and colleagues. I feel honored. It's also great to be in the company of two fellow MJZ directors [Ayson and Kuntz]."
Bond's latest nomination came for Puma's "Surfer" out of Droga5, New York, and Budweiser's "Eternal Optimism," a 2012 Super Bowl spot from Anomaly, New York.
"Surfer" is another stellar ad in the "After-Hours Athlete" campaign while "Eternal Optimism" is a period piece tour de force which takes us through time and historic moments in our country's history which serve as cause for celebration.
As for why he put these particular commercials up for DGA consideration, Bond related, "They were two of the jobs I felt most proud of. They involved great collaborative experiences with the creatives who put so much into the work. I was happy with the results of our teaming together."
Kuntz, the lone nominee this year to have won the DGA Award, copped his current nomination for Old Spice's "Terry Crews Muscle Music" from Wieden+Kennedy, and three DirecTV spots out of Grey New York—"Stray Animals," "Roadside Ditch" and "Platoon."
"Muscle Music" shows assorted sensors attached to the body of the muscular Crews which in turn are connected to various musical instruments, inviting viewers to go online, interact and move these muscles to create their own brand of high-energy music. This offbeat, tongue-in-cheek commercial featuring Crews' inspired musical performance sparks folks to test their own musical chops using Crews as the instrument.
Meanwhile, each of the DirecTV spots takes us on a wild comedic ride traversing the chain reaction of events triggered by frustrating dealings with cable TV companies. "Roadside Ditch," for example, introduces us to a man who, after an exasperating phone call with his cable company, goes to play racquetball to let off some steam. But as a voiceover explains, when you let off steam, that can lead to an accident. A ball hits the man in the eye, leading to his having to wear an eyepatch. The v.o. continues, noting that when you wear an eyepatch, you look tough. Now riding in the back of a public bus, the man is being eyed by several hooligans who want to find out how tough he is. The hooligans chase our eyepatch-wearing guy down the street. The v.o. then notes that when others try to see how tough you are, you end up laid out in a roadside ditch.
Being nominated for the DGA Award never gets old for Kuntz. "It is always exciting and affirming to be recognized by the DGA for this award and to be in the company of other great directors I admire," he related.
As for his selection of the Old Spice and DirecTV ads for Guild competition judges to consider, Kuntz simply explained, "I felt they represented the year well."
Kuntz recalled being drawn to the DirecTV fare from Grey. "When the first round of scripts came in, I liked that it was a new campaign/tone of voice for them. And I liked the challenge of doing something that demanded extremely efficient storytelling because there was so much ground to cover in each spot."
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Inarritu's spot nomination came on the strength of a single entry: Procter & Gamble's "Best Job" out of Wieden+Kennedy. It's a spot that carries considerable awards show weight, having won last year's primetime commercial Emmy.
"Best Job" shows us different moms around the world getting their youngsters up in the early a.m. for training in their respective sports and follows each through the years until their moments of competitive Olympics glory. We see these kids transition to young athletes in competition at the Summer Games while moms do everything they do all so well to comfort and support them. A supered message reads, "The hardest job in the world is the best job in the world. Thank you, Mom."
Anonymous Content's Inarritu was unavailable for comment at press time.