SPEC: The Cabbie Ads that Could

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Master Cabbie: Taxi drivers learn the tools of the trade.
A reel has been making the rounds that features a series of comic spots for Master Cabbie, a taxi-driver training school in Long Island City, N.Y. Inspired by lo-fi technical school ads, the spots show immigrant trainees learning how to spot fares, what to do if a woman gives birth in the backseat and -- of course -- how to give other drivers the finger. And the outrageous campaign actually ran on local cable in New York City, in time to qualify for Cannes. It didn't win anything, but not for a lack of humor. How did these spec spots make it to air?

According to co-director Larry Shanet, the concept started at Dweck!, the now-defunct agency where art director Darren Lim and copywriter David McDuffie came up with the idea for client Top Drivers, Master Cabbie's corporate parent. The spots never got made, but when Shanet -- who frequently worked as a freelance producer for Dweck! -- took part in the Group101 directing program earlier this year, the scripts seemed perfect for a spec reel. The spots were shot by Kranky -- a team made up of Shanet and Treat Films director David Rosenthal; Shanet, who has also been represented by Treat, is parting ways with the company -- and edited by Nick Lofting at Santa Monica's Chrome. From there, the group was able to convince Master Cabbie to air the spots on local cable. Qualifying the campaign for Cannes didn't lead to any awards, but the effort does lead to big laughs. See for yourself

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