There's no denying Frank Budgen has had a great year. Directing credits such as Reebok's "Sofa," Levi's "Twisted", Nike's "Tag" and "Shade Runner," plus a controversial photography campaign for erotic emporium Coco de Mer, has earned the soft-spoken director the accolade of being the most awarded director this year. His producer Paul Rothwell is philosophical about Budgen's success: "All the top guys have a great year. Daniel Kleinman has shot some amazing work and Jon Glazer has had a year off to do a film. Frank shot four amazing spots last year, which is a lot for him." Budgen became a director after several years as a copywriter at London agency BMP DDB. Although the training of a tight animatic, the right time length, with recorded performances and dubbed soundtrack is invaluable, Budgen prefers to work by shooting around the idea and allowing for the flexibility of unexpected things to happen - whether it be in the art department or casting. He also likes to experience the production process away from the director's chair by regularly lighting jobs for fellow Gorgeous directors Tom Carty and Peter Thwaites. This experience behind the lens, operating and lighting, helps him understand the crew's perspective. "The more a director can do, even if he eventually chooses not to, the better his control of the overall picture," Budgen said recently. "Just getting a good crew around you isn't enough. Besides if you rely on particular technicians who then aren't available, you're lost."
As a former agency creative, Budgen has incredibly good intuition about scripts and normally only shoots two to three ads a year. The fact that he is not money-driven obviously aids this selectivity. Says Rothwell: "Guinness 'Snails,' especially after "Surfer." was not an obvious choice but Frank saw a gem in the script. Also, Reebok looked very strange on the page with the 'sofa attacks man sitting at home watching TV' story. But Frank is not a snob about good scripts and will strip away a lot of the prejudices to unearth a good story and find a narrative that will look fantastic on film."
An example of this is a commercial he shot last year for Sweden's Forsman & Bodenfors for a local pear juice. In the ad, a pregnant suburban wife is seen being rushed to the hospital as she's watched, across a picket fence by her pear neighbor. It is only when she gets to hospital and gives birth to a little pear that her indiscretion is realized by her husband. This year Budgen shot a campaign of effective and disturbing films for the National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) through Saatchi & Saatchi London, which use a combination of live action, animation and an unanticipated slapstick soundtrack to challenge the conventions of charity advertising.