Adding to the frustration is the fact that Lyne, 30, is committed to staking out a piece of David Wildean comedy ground, and quality turf in that market is hard to come by. He got into comedy "more by accident than by design, but it's the arena I wish to be in," he says. "When I was editing in Britain for people like Graham Rose, I did a lot of comedy spots, and it's a side of advertising I really like. Edgy comedy on the American periphery, like the 'Got Milk?' spots, is exactly the kind of work I'm looking for."
Well, if Lyne has not quite gotten his foot in the arena door yet, it's not because his comedy reel is yockless. In a simple yet inspired Greyhound Air spot for a Vancouver agency, Palmer Jarvis, a locked-down camera looks at the landing gear of a plane, as a fuel truck passes by slowly in the background. Then a greyhound walks into the frame and pees on the tire. "We're marking new territory," the VO announces.
Indeed, most of the territory Lyne has marked so far has been outside the U.S. He's got a wickedly funny Palmer Jarvis spot for Playland amusement parks (it just won Gold at the Toronto Bessie Awards) in which two enterprising EMS workers reanimate a dead man by putting his corpse on a roller coaster, and there's a peculiar British spot for a Tefal electric fryer in which a man with a grotesquely enlarged head does a product demo. His American work is limited to two modestly amusing spots for Gardetto's snacks from Cramer-Krasselt/Milwaukee.
Lyne attributes the preponderance of Canadian work to the fact that "it's a smaller market, and the ties between agencies and the Canadian production offices are much longer there than in the States." Shut Up and Drive opened in Venice, Calif., two years ago, the first American foray of Canada's Circle Productions, with offices in Toronto and Vancouver. When he married an American and resettled in Los Angeles a few years back, Lyne signed with the Underground, but "their work is so diverse, they were having a lot of trouble marketing me," he says. "The great thing about Shut Up and Drive is it's a little boutique kind of shop, but it's backed by a very big company with financial clout."
Clout is something Lyne must be familiar with. He worked in the cutting room on his father's Jennie & Co. projects on weekends, from the age of 11, and he was an assistant editor on commercials at 14. At 16, he asked some editors for advice. "*'Well,' they said, 'you can go to college and then get a job as an editor when you're 21, or you can skip college and get a job as an editor now.' Fuck it, I'd rather do it now."
He never cut any of Adrian's commercials, though he did assist on several features (and Louis not only has features-directing aspirations, he wants to direct his own script). He directed commercials in the U.K. beginning in '91, mostly humorless effects-based jobs that are not deemed reel-worthy.
Nor does he do music videos. "I have enough experience cutting them, working with idiot bands and very difficult people from record companies-I didn't like doing them. And I get frustrated just looking at music videos, because so many of them are so appallingly badly cut."
He also gets frustrated watching Little Caesars spots: "It's kind of the Holy Grail of American comedy advertising, from where I'm sitting. Give it to me, and give it to me now.
"I may be the only person doing comedy work who's a director/editor," says a hopeful Lyne. "Jim Edwards does all this visual-paced stuff as a director/editor, and it works for him; there's no reason it shouldn't work for