- BROOKLYN, NY
Production company 1stAveMachine has signed director, photographer, and interactive artist Em Cole for commercials in the U.S. and U.K. This marks her first representation as a spot director.
Cole’s most notable works include the live-action and animated short film/AR installation, “I’m Your Venus,” a modern-day twist and critique on female objectification. She has also helmed Instagram’s global #InstaGiftGuide campaign — which brought to life some of the most popular hashtags trending on social media such as #OddlySatisfying, #FingerBoarding, #CatsOfInstagram, and more. The latter was shot entirely in a vertical video format and featured on Good Morning America.
With a background in digital in addition to film, Cole works at the intersection of art, technology, and feminism. Her often satirical filmmaking is a collage of hyper-realistic production design, optical illusions, and camera tricks, all confidently assembled with a sure hand and a decidedly retro feel. “I’m very interested in the facades everyone puts out into the world and how they compare to the realities that lurk beneath, especially now with half of our lives spent online,” Cole says. “Being British, I find the whole ‘stiff upper lip’ mentality absurdly tickling. Anything that is not quite as it appears is a big part of my aesthetic, especially capturing the surface vs. reality through dramatic and comedic reveals.”
As a director, she aims to create a professional atmosphere where acting talent and crew members alike are lifting each other up to do their best work. “Unfortunately, in the past, I’ve experienced some disrespectful behaviors from those who were old school and equated a young woman director who’s nice to everyone to somehow undeserving of the role. This is something I hope to address and do my part to fix by cultivating joy from the set to the final piece.”
Along with 1stAveMachine’s international presence, Cole was drawn to its forward-thinking approach to visual storytelling as well. “1stAveMachine is the king of practical effects. I’m excited to go nuts and boggle the minds of audiences in the commercial directing space. I’m also looking forward to bringing to life interactive and technology-driven narratives with a team who can share the necessary resources for prototyping and developing. Most importantly, there are plenty of gifted and emotionally supportive women who run it from the top. These ticked off all of my boxes.”
According to 1stAveMachine partner Sam Penfield, “Em’s work is so incredibly fresh and exciting that we were drawn to it immediately. She is self-taught and, as such, her work defies norms and continually surprises the viewer with its irreverence and beauty.”