4. Traktor, Partizan

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Arguably the most influential pop-culture collective to emerge from Sweden since ABBA, Traktor knows how to take things to bizarre extremes. The directing consortium is best known for their offbeat humor and ultra-real-people casting, notable in the 2001 Grand Prix-winning campaign for Fox Sports Net and Cliff Freeman & Partners, as well as the MTV spots from Fallon, featuring that hokey backwoods Jukka clan, which nabbed Gold at Cannes the year before. When broken down, Traktor factors out to seven individuals: Mats, Patrik, Pontus, Sam and Ulf, who make up the directing component, and Richard and Ole, who comprise the producing end of the team. A shooting team is usually limited to one director and one producer, so Traktor can be in at least two places at once. But that's just a bonus to what really makes them tick. "Storytelling is everything," they offer. "Without a good story well told, you might as well take a short bath in a cheeky tub. Protecting the core idea and making a clear story in a short (and shrinking format) makes our hair grey and our eyes dart from side to side." That must make Traktor look like a lineup of elderly Marty Feldmans, considering they've helmed more than 400 commercials since they started directing in 1993 after meeting in art school. Current work includes new campaigns for Nike, out of Wieden & Kennedy, as well as more real-people fare for Adidas in "Footbalitis," out of 180/Amsterdam. ("We love shoes and the people who wear them," they note.) This year Traktor also hauled creative ass on a return trip to the MTV universe, this time showcasing their bizarre POV on clips like Fatboy Slim's "Ya Mama," which nabbed the audience award at Resfest, and Basement Jaxx's "Where's Your Head At?" which featured a science experiment gone way bad, turning the band into simian songsters with eerie, all-too-human faces. "We would love to keep shooting music videos," they admit. "It allows us to create twisted worlds and stay in cheap hotels." And what about features? "We made an early attempt (on 2000's Chain of Fools). But we'll be back when we grow up."
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