Horowitz is no stranger to the ridiculous situation, having spent more than a decade writing and directing promos out of MTV. There he made his debut behind the camera directing the memorable "Videos Work Here" personified clips campaign, which he also wrote, and then went on to shoot many of the 50-some promos he also penned. While Horowitz still works at MTV, he's repped for commercials out of Rock Fight, through which he has shot spots for Orbitz, ESPN, Old Spice, as well as an upcoming six-spot Gap holiday campaign, featuring actress Kristin Chenoweth. And whether the scenarios he directs are silly or not, Horowitz remains dead serious about letting the script lead the way. "Once you have an understanding of the idea and how it makes sense to you, all the decisions, how you're going to shoot it, what kind of casting you want, come out of the initial decision of what these spots are and what they want to be. I try not to come to a job thinking I like to do x, y and z. Instead, I let the job and script inform me of how they want to be approached."
For example, in the recent MTV "Not Suitable for Use by Adults" campaign, which Horowitz also wrote, seemingly grave, adult scenarios take Twilight Zone turns when MTV infiltrates the minds of the older set. A family goes into panic overdrive at a Thanksgiving dinner when Gramps collapses to the floor, only to open his eyes to tell his hobbling wife, "I punk'd you!" In another, a happily married couple undergoes an irreparable rift when the hubby complains that his wife isn't more like Jessica-Jessica Simpson, that is. "These were very un-MTV, very mature moments," Horowitz explains. "So the goal was to not wink at it all, not make it feel like you were setting something up for a big punch line and play it as straight as possible, which obviously led to a certain performance style and camera style, which was more handheld, very observational, not trying to sell the joke with the character. I think I'm mostly drawn in by things that don't necessarily feel real, but have some connection to the way people really act or live," he continues."The MTV work has a real comic idea to it and is big in a sense, but I try to do things that feel like they exist in the real world. I try to avoid hyperbole as much as possible or doing things just to get a laugh or make a noise."