Emotional Bonding

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Fredrik Bond is a tad obsessive. As a teenager in Sweden, he voraciously taped and stockpiled videos of movies and television shows. After he watched them up to 10 times each, he'd line them up throughout his house and topple them like dominoes. "They were my little stamp collection, and I kept a log where I listed directors, actors and the length of the movie," he recalls, not even half-joking. "They were like my little friends, these films, either what was on them, or the physicality of them." Family trips to the U.K. launched a whole new fetish. "We didn't have commercials in Sweden when I was a kid because the television channels were all state-owned. On vacations we would go to our friends' house in England. I was so fascinated by the commercials there, I started to bring tapes with me and started a new collection of only commercials."

As if that weren't fanatical enough, now Bond has gone from collecting spots to making them. After trying his hand at photography, miserably, the 33-year-old worked his way up from a PA to director at various Stockholm production outfits, including the late Jhoan Camitz' Mob Film. In 1999, he joined London's now-shuttered Harry Nash and went on to rack up an impressive slate of credits in Europe for VW, Skoda Wrangler, adidas and Supernoodles before signing to MJZ last year. Known for nuanced performances and quirky storytelling subtlety, in his inaugural year in the States the director has bolstered his reel with spots for HP, Miller, Infiniti and VW. Now in Spain shooting an all-star soccer spot for Nike, Bond recently took a deja-vu trip back into his "domino" days, this time not with videotapes but live bodies for Miller, in which a massive queue of lemmings topple upon each other until one steps out of the way to break the chain. Logistically, he says the production and stunts fell into place like impeccably lined-up tiles, yet the job did pose a unique challenge. "I just felt that it was really important to not overthink it. You might think it could be done this way or that way, but sometimes you just have to take a step back and make it simple and pure because otherwise it's gonna fuck up the idea. Even though it sounds very banal, it's quite difficult for somebody who's quite obsessive."

Obsession characterizes his typical MO, as on HP's "Il Postino," a gorgeous feat of whimsy for which he strove to keep as much in possible in-camera-not exactly an easy task considering the spot features a mail carrier surmounting not just inclement weather but also a gargantuan runaway robot, loss of gravity, wily bush monsters and a black hole. "We needed to strike a chord that wasn't totally scary," he explains. "By shooting all the elements in camera, it would bring a naive feel. We wanted to create something that was in the vein of realism, but slightly off." Things, however, get a little too real in his 30-second character studies, as on a recent spot for Peugeot, in which the camera lingers on a bewildered car owner who helplessly stands by as envious onlookers wreak havoc on his auto. There's also a stunning example of cube life frustration for Europe's Monster.com, featuring a white-collar stiff who summons his inner tiger before confronting his boss, his pent-up ire palpable as the camera squeezes in on his gnarled face. "I'm really proud of that one," Bond notes. "We went through such lengths with the casting process." Bond plunged into the character's emotions with each auditioner. "I wanted to show that the character had reached total internal panic, to see it in a closeup in their eyes for half a second. Unfortunately, we had a couple guys who had maybe done too many drugs, so when I started to get them going into this mood they had very bad trips and some started to pass out. A couple of them we had to carry out, which was very scary. I'm not proud of putting them through distress," he laughs, "but I'm proud of the energy we put into it."

"I love finding those borderline performances that don't go over the top," Bond continues. "I really like those characters that you believe in and care for. I like to create some sort of empathy. That's where my forte comes in, if I may say so." Unlike some of his Swedish counterparts who have deftly tapped into the absurd, Bond strives to keep the humor low key. "To me, outrageousness always felt like a very easy route. There are directors who do it very brilliantly, but the challenge to me is to strike an emotional sensibility. Someday I hope to make a feature as well, because it is about taking people on a ride and making them get into a character, not just a situation. When you're doing a commercial, if I can connect people to an emotion, I think that's extremely powerful."

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