2009 Directors Special Report: Dayton/Faris

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Credit: James Joseph Kaplan
What are some of the best lessons you've learned about directing?
We fear we don't have much collective wisdom to offer. Working in commercials, music videos, and feature films, the same rules seem to apply. It all starts with building on a good idea. Throughout our career, we have never taken a bad commercial idea and made it great. We're not that clever. A good idea gives you something to rally behind, something to fight for. Our work is always based on being excited about a job and then sharing that enthusiasm with the cast and crew. The other real advantage is that behind most good ideas is a good creative team. Production is always an additive process, the more great minds, the better the outcome. The challenge becomes keeping this talent pool all working toward the same goal. We don't do directors cuts on our commercials—what makes it on air is all that matters. The worst thing that can happen on a set is doing one take for the client and one take for the reel. Our job is to make sure we are all striving for the same thing, to create one finish line.

One of the best ways to create consensus is through doing tests. Lately it seems we test everything. In a time of shrinking budgets, it is more important than ever to have no surprises on the set. With HD camcorders and Final Cut, it is easy to explore an idea early and see what challenges may arise. Sometimes we test our entire production approach. For last year's NBA "There Can Only Be One" campaign, we devoted a whole day to researching how to get what we needed from an athlete in the 30 minutes we were allotted. The best ideas are ones that force us to do things we have never done before. With the rise of TiVo and DVRs, it is more important than ever to make commercials engaging and entertaining. The sands are definitely shifting in the commercial business, but with that comes the opportunity to try new things and take new chances.

Watch some of Dayton/Faris' spots

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