Iceland's Agust Baldursson of Headquarters is a visually-oriented director trained in the States whose work includes Jaguar's "Snowplow" and spots for New Balance.
Steve Beck of Reactor came from Bob Abel's studio and later ILM to establish himself as a director of effects-laden commercials, his First Union campaign for Hal Riney & Partners being a prime example. Other notable spots include work for Gatorade and BMW. His feature, Thirteen Ghosts, was recently a top-10 rental title.
Brian Beletic came out of MTV to join Satellite, and now works through Smuggler, a division of Villains. He's directed in the U.S. and in Europe, and won a D&AD Pencil for his Nike work.
Chuck Bennett of Crossroads Films, formerly half of the directing duo Chuck & Clay (Clay being ex-TBWA/Chiat/Day creative partner Clay Williams), leans toward comedy. His recent work includes spots for Maytag and Indian Motorcycles. Somewhere in his past you'll also find a talking Chihuahua who once set the world on fire.
Anouk Besson of Epoch Films came up through the production ranks and built her own spec reel to break into directing. A lifestyle specialist, she's shot Oil of Olay for Saatchi, Dove for Ogilvy and Home Savings for TBWA/Chiat/Day.
Mike Bigelow of Space Program started his career in visual effects. His commercials work now leans toward comedy, as evidenced in a Pella Windows spot for Y&R and a series of hysterical Gumout spots featuring two guys who get banged around in a beat-up, hesitating car. His most recent work has been for Burger King, Cartoon Network and Bud Light
Tabletop king Irv Blitz of HSI has given life to the most mundane of objects: American Express Blue cards, bottles of Aquafina water, Bacardi premixed drinks, you name it. And Jell-O, too. His secret is the lighting, along with a deft mix of in-camera and digital techniques.
Pep Bosch of Rock Fight got his start directing by making karaoke videos with his family. No wonder his Orbit spots for BBDO/Chicago are so, um, down to earth. A storyteller drawn to life's quirkier side, he just shot a six-spot campaign for The Great Indoors and Y&R/Chicago.
Peter Care of Bob Industries, a music video director, has become known as a storytelling, performance-oriented commercials director. His feature, The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, was recently screened at the new Tribeca Film Festival in New York.
Steve Chase of Reactor has shot so much for Bud he could be called the King of Beer Directors. His "Paper or Plastic" Bud Light Super Bowl spot would have made even Mr. Whipple laugh, and his Doritos "Laundromat" spot would have had him squeezin' his Charmin. A comedy pro, his most recent work includes spots for Buick.
The versatile Coppos Films directing team of Mark Coppos and Virginia Lee may best be known for their artful tabletop photography and production design. Both bring solid experience in print and art direction to their partnership. Recent spot work includes numerous Apple ads for TBWA/Chiat/Day, where they make iMacs practically sing and dance.
South African David Cornell of Headquarters is a director/cameraman whose work defies the stereotype. More a performance and dialogue guy, he often shoots comedy, such as the Charles Schwab "Retirement Home" spot, filled with ex-jocks. A former agency art director, his reel also contains Visa's "Tattoo" spot and its Olympics ad with the synchronized swimmers.
Don't ask Hungry Man's Allen Coulter "How you doin'?" As director of the original Jersey Guys version of "Whassup," he's contributed to a marvelous new set of ethnic advertising stereotypes. A music video and episodic TV director, Coulter came up through the producing ranks.
Although he once made documentaries, the commercials work of MJZ's Jonathan David better reflects his time spent as a writer on The Daily Show. He shot the very funny "Yanks" campaign for Adidas and Leagas Delaney. More recent work includes Wall Street Journal and Mercedes ads.
The DGA's Best Director winner last year, legendary Leslie Dektor of Dektor Films has made an indelible impact on commercials as one of the pioneers of shakycam. A South African, he came out of documentaries and likes to refer to the form as a way of adding realism to his work. Current spots include AT&T, American Express and Boeing.
Australian David Denneen of Anonymous Content came out of animation (for which he won an Oscar) to become a top commercials director. Recent work includes Accenture for Y&R, and Citibank for Fallon. Other highlights include the Genuity "Black Rocket" launch and Nike work with Michael Jordan and Ken Griffey Jr.
England's versatile Gerard de Thame of HSI is best known in the States for car spots that deftly mix visual effects and live action, as best seen in Mercedes' "Modern Ark" and the "Shake" commercial for Jeep Grand Cherokee. Other de Thame gems include Mercedes' "Falling in Love Again," as well as VW's "Synchronicity."
Ray Dillman of Gartner Productions came to commercials work from the agency side. A performance director with an eye for subtlety, he won an Emmy for Snap.com. Recent work includes Coke international spots and Home Depot Olympics spots.
Montana native Kevin Donovan of Mad Films shot one of the biggest hits to come out of Canada, Molson's fabulous "The Rant." A former Cliff Freeman art director, his comic style can sometimes run toward the absurd. His first feature hits theaters this summer.
Lenard Dorfman of Radical Media has applied his documentary background well in reality-based work for such advertisers as IBM, American Express and John Hancock. Nominated for a DGA award last year, his commercials tell character-driven stories in a visually straightforward style.
Bruce Dowad of Bruce Dowad Associates is a visual stylist known for deftly mixing effects with cinematic live action. Examples include the "They Invented" spot for Mercedes, and an earlier Mercedes spot in which a sedan tools along with a herd of rhinos. He was the DGA Director of the Year in '98, and has major awards from Cannes and Clio.
Graphic designer turned commercials director Laurence Dunmore of RSA USA has shot AT&T "mLife" spots for O&M and part of BMW's new "Focus" campaign, out of Fallon. A Brit, Dunmore starts work soon on his first feature.
Bob Ebel of Bob Ebel Productions, a former creative director at JWT in Chicago, has become the Pied Piper of kids' commercials, eliciting performances that would melt Grandma's heart. Recent work includes McDonald's and Disney. What, you were expecting Smirnoff Ice?
Larry Frey of Villains is a former Wieden & Kennedy creative director who most recently was a partner and CD at 180 in Amsterdam. He started directing while still on the agency side and has since shot numerous jobs for clients in both the U.S. and Europe. Mainly a comedy and lifestyle director, his current work includes Amazon.com spots for Wieden. He's also shot for (surprise!) Nike and ESPN.
Elma Garcia of Elma Garcia Films moved from print into commercials and became known for an emotional style that focuses on people and performance, as best expressed by Marriott's "Floaties" and "Job Interview" spots from McCann. More recent work includes spots for Northwest Airlines and Wendy's.
Jim Gartner of Gartner Productions came out of Bonneville Communications, where he cut his teeth on those Mormon Church PSAs that used to win tons of awards. A master storyteller, he's at home with the kind of emotional, script-driven spots that Hallmark loves to embrace. Recent work also includes Cingular and Morgan Stanley.
Craig Gillespie of MJZ came out of an agency creative background to quickly establish himself as a top comedy director, working on Y&R's H&R Block campaign, as well as shooting funny spots for Holiday Inn Express and Citibank, both for Fallon.
A commercials legend, Bob Giraldi of CaseGiraldiMedia/GSP knocked critics out with his 2001 feature, Dinner Rush. Known for frequently reinventing himself, he's a master when it comes to working with actors. His current reel includes work for McDonald's, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.
Performance and character-driven, Paul Goldman of Partizan is perhaps better appreciated in the U.K. than here. He's done the bulk of his work lately for London agencies, including recent spots for VW and Land Rover. His Ikea work as a writer at Deutsch, some of which he directed, helped define that agency's sardonic style back in the '90s.
Recent work for comedy veteran Jeff Gorman of JGF includes Quiznos, Sprite, the American Legacy Foundation's "Truth" campaign and Toyota. A former creative director at Chiat/Day, he and partner Gary Johns helped create a school of zany comedy work perhaps best exemplified in the Sunkist California Pistachios campaign.
Michael Haussman of HSI is a visually-oriented director whose film school reel included documentaries and experimental films. He's worked extensively in Europe, and his current commercials work includes spots for Acura, Levi's and Lincoln.
Perhaps best known as feature directors, Allen and Albert Hughes have nonetheless directed numerous TV commercials and music videos. Their Nike "Roswell Rayguns" and "Rucker Park" spots seamlessly recreate a classic '70s Afro-chic not seen since the original Mod Squad. They work through the Oil Factory.
Bruce Hurwit of Crossroads hails from Cliff Freeman & Partners, so it's a safe bet he's not into tearjerkers. His comedy work includes automotive mayhem for Carfax, fried dough fun for Dunkin' Donuts and, of course, "Pizza Pizza."
Erick Ifergan of Serial Dreamer is a visual stylist with an eclectic background. With a flair for visual effects and a cinematic look, he's shot for Playstation, Nintendo, Cingular Wireless and Hugo Boss.
A prolific music video director, Wayne Isham of A Band Apart has applied his pop sensibilities to bouncy spots for Target (the "Sign of the Times" campaign) and Pepsi International (starring Britney Spears). He's also worked for American Express.
He goes by only one name, but when he's shooting he's all there. Jaume, who's from Spain, has recently shot for Budweiser, Black & Decker and American Express. He's repped by Partizan.
Phil Joanou of Villains has a well-rounded background, working in everything from videos to TV to features. His commercials work reflects it: UPS for The Martin Agency; Nike's "Horror" spot; "Secrets of a Tobacco Exec" for the "Truth" campaign; and those crazy roosters on Wall Street for Computer Associates.
As an agency creative on the classic "Got Milk?" "Aaron Burr" spot, Erich Joiner of Tool of North America has put his background at Goodby, Silverstein to good use, directing droll, script-driven comedy commercials with a visual flair. Recent work includes the talking dolphin spot for Yahoo, as well as last Christmas' "Panda Claus" spot for Sprint PCS.
Veteran director/cameraman Michael Karbelnikoff of HKM Productions has worked in just about every commercials genre. A former still photographer, he's recently shot for Hyundai, GE and Fidelity Investments.
When not making headlines or pulling off publicity stunts, Tony Kaye of Tony Kaye Films still makes some pretty good commercials. He's been on a tear recently, directing the controversial ONDCP ads that link drug use to terrorism, as well as the Reebok "Man's World" spot, a Chevrolet campaign and spots for Met Life. All bear his hallmark quirky casting and performance touches.
With a cabinet full of awards, David Kellogg of Anonymous Content is an ex-Propaganda star who came to commercials from documentaries and music videos. Perhaps best known as a comedy guy, he's shot Jerry Seinfeld for American Express and the famous Little Caesars "Training Camp" spot, as well as Lynx for BBH in London.
Real-people shooter Greg Kohs of Radical Media came out of NFL Films, a background that probably helped him direct MasterCard's "Trip" spot last year, which followed two guys in a VW bus visiting ballparks across the country. He also shot for New York Lotto's "If I Had a Million Dollars" campaign, which runs in New York more often than the Staten Island Ferry.
The directing team of Rick Lemoine and Steve Miller of Radical Media share a long history - schoolmates at Syracuse and partners on the agency side, their comedy work has progressed from ESPN SportsCenter to more performance-oriented work such as Computer Associates' "Amnesia" spot from Y&R, and the hysterical Lipton Sizzle & Serve campaign from BBH.
One of the few editors to move into commercials directing, Nick Lewin of Crossroads often combines humor with a strong sense of design and cinematography. He's shot for VW, Royal Caribbean and Volvo, and just wrapped a Lexus job for Team One.
Jeff Lovinger, a partner in Lovinger Mahoney Adelson, is a commercials stalwart, having directed spots for more than 25 years. His people-oriented work for American Express and Saturn is legend. Most recently, he's just wrapped a corporate image campaign for Siebel, out of Publicis & Hal Riney.
Visual stylist and Art Center grad Melodie McDaniel of The Directors Bureau made a splash in still photography, then another in music videos and commercials. Recent work includes spots for Chevrolet and the National Center for Family Literacy.
Former agency creative Gary McKendry of Go Film creates slices of life with a bit of an edge. For Ikea, he shot uptight neatniks who relax with a little S&M play, while his Downtown Alliance spots, for KB&P, showed out-of-place people doing downtown things to get NYC jumpstarted.
HSI's Dave Merhar now pursues directing comedy spots more than creating them via his agency, Fusion Idea Lab. A former DDB/Chicago senior creative, he shot the Bud Light "Falconer" spot (out of his own agency) that ran on the Super Bowl. Other Merhar laughfests include the now-classic "I Love You, Man" stuff for Bud Light.
Peter Darley Miller of Stiefel & Co. went from shooting album covers to directing music videos to shooting commercials. Now known primarily for comedy, his Raisin Bran "Slackers" spot helped make JWT/New York look with-it for the first time in decades.
Phil Morrison of Epoch is another music video director to migrate to advertising. A comedy and performance specialist, his credits include Nike's puppet-powered "Li'l Penny" campaign and Sony's witty Walkman work featuring Plato, the fuzzy purple spaceman. He also directed Comedy Central's Upright Citizen's Brigade series.
Comedy director Sean Mullens of Brand came out of FCB/San Francisco, where he worked on Levi's. His most recent work includes a Budget spot for Cliff Freeman and an anti-littering campaign for the state of Texas.
Dominic Murphy of Partizan was trained as an actor, yet worked in documentaries for the BBC. He's recently shot MasterCard work for McCann, Kohler for GSD&M and Olympus for The Martin Agency. His Heinz Microwaveable Soup spot for Leo Burnett in London, won a Gold Lion last year and just took the Grand Prize at the Andy Awards.
Partizan's Doug Nichol came to commercials from music videos, where he worked first as a cinematographer, then as a director. He works in both the U.S. and the U.K.; his recent American jobs include Mercedes and Target spots.
Marcus Nispel of MJZ was a huge name in music videos before moving into commercials. A visual stylist, his work ranges from graphic and effects-oriented to lush, sexy and cinematic, his "Wings" spot for Motorola and McCann being an excellent example. More recent work includes spots for Visa and EMC, and a Jergens ad in which women talk about their bodies.
No, he didn't star in a Fassbinder film. Klaus Obermeyer is actually a premiere director of sweeping vistas and extreme sports for Flying Tiger Films, for which he shot the Visa Olympics spot in which two U.S. women's bobsled stars brake for a bunny. On the flipside of aggression, he shot a stirring :60 for the Marine Corps and JWT.
What do you do after you've shot a guy in an arctic ground squirrel outfit for a dinky little mattress retailer? For Hungry Man's John O'Hagan, it was easy. You direct gerbils being fired out of cannons. And you follow that up with cowboys herding cats on the open range. Versatile, quick with effects and out-and-out funny is this guy's story.
Mark Pellington is another MTV alum whose conceptually driven programs and videos for the network made him the thinking man's commercials director. With a budding features career going (The Mothman Prophecies, Arlington Road) his commercials work now focuses on narrative and eclectic visuals.
Jesse Peretz of X-Ray Films played bass for the Lemonheads and directed MTV promos and music videos before moving into commercials. A comedy shooter, his most recent work includes Holiday Inn ads, starring deadbeat son Mark, for Fallon, and ESPN for Ground Zero.
Hank Perlman of Hungry Man may have made his name working on ESPN while still a copywriter at Wieden & Kennedy, but he's since developed a real knack for shooting performance-driven, script-centered comedy. Recent work includes Sears for Y&R/Chicago and Ultimate TV for Venables Bell. And of course, who can forget his "Timmy's Dream" for Sprite, when a pro wrestler puts the piledriver on a little boy. Sweet.
He bills himself as a former director of industrial films, but with this nut you never know. Rob Pritts of Backyard Productions does make funny commercials. Current work includes Sealy from Mullen, Altoids from Leo Burnett and M&M's from BBDO. Pritts classics include some Jerry Seinfeld spots for American Express and more Bud Light spots than you can shake a Heineken at.
The Go Film directing team known as Rad-Ish, aka Christoph Chrudimak and Moritz Friedel, worked in features in Europe before moving into commercials. They're masters at creating surreal, evocative environments, as seen in the recent "Reincarnation" spot for Mercedes. Other recent projects include a 10-spot campaign for Nissan.
David Ramser of The Artists Company also worked his way up through the production ranks, starting as a PA. Now an established comedy director, his recent work includes spots for Sears and Dodge. His best known work would probably be that zany Weather Channel campaign in which weather fans paint their faces to watch the national forecast.
If he can deal with Busta Rhymes, he must be able to deal with clients. Chris Robinson of Partizan came from hip-hop and R&B music videos, and has since applied his music-driven style to spots for And 1 from Fallon.
Prolific and well-traveled, director/cameraman Eric Saarinen of Plum Productions has recently seen his Grand Prix-winning Jeep "Snow Covered" spot brought back for a reprise. His more recent work includes spots for Land Rover and Jaguar.
A One Show winner for his Nike work, Ralf Schmerberg got his start with Radical Media via a chance encounter with Radical's Jon Kamen on the streets of London. He came to commercials work from a career as a photographer and filmmaker. In addition to Nike, he's also shot for American Express, John Hancock and MasterCard.
Hungry Man's David Shane came out of the agency side to direct performance-based comedy spots. He's done SportsCenter work, along with helping to create the "Matty Griper" character for MTV promos, and he's also filmed guys in bear suits playing hockey in a crazy spot for Powertel.
Floria Sigismondi of Believe Media parlayed her stylish photography work in fashion and magazine editorial into a career directing provocative, visually lush music videos and TV spots. Her commercials work includes spots for Playstation and Target.
Given her background as a fashion and celebrity photographer, Peggy Sirota of HSI naturally progressed into commercials, directing for clients like Banana Republic. Since then her work has broadened to include ads for Acura, AT&T and, oddly, Lowe's, the home improvement chain.
A former creative director at Chiat/Day in both New York and L.A., Dick Sittig now runs Secret Agent Marketing, where he writes, directs and provides the voice of the ball-headed "Jack" character seen in countless Jack in the Box spots. He directs through Radical Media.
Renowned for his work as a cinematographer and visual stylist, South Africa's Peter Smillie of Smillie Films has recently shot for Lexus and Volvo. He's won almost every award in the business. Smillie classics include Martel's "The Art of Martel" campaign for DDB.
Chris Smith of Independent Media, has a comic, storytelling style that makes him a favorite at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. He directed their "Laurel Lane" work for Pac Bell, which was Ad Age's Best TV Spot of 2001, along with work for TiVo. His campaign for Toyota Celica
("It Just Looks Fast") just won an Andy award.
Kevin Smith of Backyard Productions is another comedy specialist whose commercials take a wry, understated look at the world, as seen in recent work for Delta Air Lines. He's also shot for V-8 and Target.
Jim Sonzero of Venus came out of an agency creative background and made a name for himself as a fashion and beauty director. His recent work of note includes a Reebok spot starring Venus Williams, but he's also shot distinctive work for Lexus and Bacardi.
Zack Snyder of Believe Media came out of music videos and has since become known for a cinematic style of commercials-making. His "Respect" Super Bowl spot for Budweiser, with the Clydesdales lowering their heads in the direction of ground zero, was one of the more talked about ads on the broadcast.
Lloyd Stein of Headquarters is perhaps best known for Goodby's "What are You Doing?" parody of the "Whassup?" campaign. Other comedy spots on the Stein reel include Staples, Kinko's and Pac Bell. He came to advertising from MTV, where he wrote and directed image campaigns, spots and promos.
As a director of numerous grunge band music videos, Josh Taft of HSI has transferred the aggressive edginess of this music into youth-oriented spots for Nissan's X-Terra, as well as work for Nike, Adidas and Energizer.
Neil Tardio Jr. of A Band Apart is a former agency creative (and second-generation commercials director) whose reality-based style is seen in his United Way campaign for the NFL and Y&R. He won Cannes and Clio awards for his funny low-budget work for Borders and Butler Shine & Stern.
Pam Thomas of Moxie Pictures came out of MTV to work in advertising and music videos. She's shot visually charged work for Gatorade, Coors, Miller Genuine Draft and Revlon, but says she still likes to connect with actors. (See story on p. 87.)
Former Wieden & Kennedy CD Stacy Wall, now with Epoch, has already won Gold at both the One Show and D&AD. His "Control" campaign for pesticide maker FMC, which includes a shot of a chimp umpiring a baseball game, got him on the radar as a director. He's since shot for UPS and Nextel.