Si & Ad Academy Films

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Si & Ad are relative newcomers to the commercials scene with just a few spots to their name, but they share a long harmonious history of working together. Seven years ago, the pair started out as a design team creating websites for Virgin Records in the U.K., which seems like a fitting place for 31-year-old Si, Simon Atkinson, who studied design at University of Salford in Manchester and earned a student D&AD pencil for best new media design. The label was, however, a strange landing pad for other half Adam Townley, 34, who graduated with a math degree from Kings College. Nevertheless, the numbers and arts formula must have clicked, as the team went on to direct behind-the-scenes films for music videos, and eventually their first clips job for the band The Music. Since then, Si&Ad have built up solid cred in the music video world out of Academy, shooting clever visuals for the likes of McFly's "Room on the Third Floor," a delightful depiction of the band as living breathing components of a plastic make-it-yourself model kit-inspired by the hobby shop around the corner from the duo's office. There's also Chikinki's "Like it or Leave it," which pays homage to a Guy Bourdin photograph and toys with depth perception assumptions to create a totally fresh stage for the rockers' performance. As for moving into spots, "the transition from music videos was a natural progression for us," says Townley. Natural, but requiring a kick in the pants reel-wise, so last year, the duo decided to jumpstart their commercials career by writing and directing the visually dazzling short Street Dream, in which they illustrate a jazzy, spoken word day-in-the-life tale by shooting a man in various positions on a chalked up cartoon sidewalk backdrop. "We needed a short conceptual spot with dialog," Townley explains. "People wanted to see we could work with actors ," adds Atkinson. "We did it just to fill those areas up we hadn't touched on." Turns out, the pair recently returned from New Zealand, where they reconfigured the short's idea into an upcoming PSA for Auckland City Mission for Publicis Mojo. Prior to that, they brought happy album snapshots to life in their first U.K. spot for BT Broadband.

The duo also recently made its U.S. commercials debut on HIV/AIDS PSAs for Kaiser Family Foundation, in which a cluster of young people intertwine in a massive modern dance, multiplying to the thousands to demonstrate the spread of the the virus, for which the pair shot actors in camera and used the horde-creating software Massive. As individuals, Townley and Atkinson may have their particular tastes-"Si brings the pickle, I bring the cheese," Townley quips. "I like cheesy films and and Si likes very cool arty films and high-brow books." Yet when it comes to their work, "We mix and match," explains Atkinson. "If one person is working with the artist, the other can work closely with the DP. You've got to be on it all the time and having two people allows us to concentrate more fully on different aspects of the shoot." Adds Townley, "We find that we both tend to agree on most things, and our decision process is very swift and efficient."

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