Up-and-coming commercials director Jim Byrkit draws his own storyboards. "I'd love to find someone else to do them, but until I find someone better than me, I'll do them myself," he says. "God, that sounds arrogant, doesn't it?" Maybe, but Byrkit, 32, is certainly not the only one with a high opinion of his storyboarding skills. The Flagstaff, Ariz., native studied production and theater design at the California Institute of the Arts, and then worked steadily for four years for the likes of Gore Verbinski, Keir McFarlane, Michael Bay, Sam Bayer and David Kellogg, boarding commercials, music videos and features. Yes, he did Verbinski's wildly inventive Mouse Hunt. "I drew mice -- thousands and thousands and thousands of mice," Byrkit groans. But that was just his day job. At the same time, he and several other Cal Arts grads started a production company called Bandar-Log, where Byrkit made a sci-fi spec spot for L.A.'s National Public Radio station KCRW in '96, called "Rocket Girl," which went on to become a popular local cinema spot. This led to KCRW's commissioning a second spot called "Voice," produced through Steam, with Byrkit directing and designing the graphics. "I shopped it around and got a tremendous response," he says in amazement. "I thought it would take years," but he quickly signed with Santa Monica's Atlas Pictures, where he made a gorgeously shot, retro-quirky Coke spec spot (seen here) about a sailor returning from the war, trying to get back with his girl, who's taken up with a robot.
He recently completed his first 'real' campaign, for Thomason Damerow Ford dealers, shot for Nerve in Portland -- but this is not a typical hot-to-trot-on-the-lot outing. It features spots based around scenes like a boy relieving himself in a kiddie pool and a man who gets his hand trapped in an animal's den.
"It's an opportunity to do strange, visual extravaganzas," says Byrkit. "I'm not looking just for comedy; I'm more into visual storytelling." And robots. Byrkit's latest project is a short sci-fi film about a "little girl fighting an