Directors to Watch 2008: Autumn De Wilde

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Autumn De Wilde
Autumn De Wilde
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"If you can make the person watching something wish they were there, then you've succeeded at making something great," says Autumn de Wilde, the photographer-turned-video director who recently signed with O Positive for commercials representation. De Wilde has a reputation for doing just that and, perhaps more importantly, for having an uncanny ability to put musicians and other performers at ease. Her photo subjects have included The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Fiona Apple, Miranda July, Michel Gondry and Steve Carrell, while she has directed videos for the likes of The Raconteurs and Death Cab for Cutie. She's released a book of photos of the late Elliott Smith and shot album covers for Beck and The White Stripes, both of whom she says "understand the importance of making the record all over again visually."

"I am drawn to great performers and great artists," she says. As for how she's able to earn their trust, she says "I think I have a natural ability to get to know someone quickly." Such qualities might run in the family. Her father, Jerry de Wilde, is a noted photographer famous for his pictures of Jimi Hendrix at the Monterey Pop Festival, so Autumn grew up around both music and photography with the idea that she would eventually direct commercials. (One of her first ever photo assignments was shooting stills for a commercial directed by Gore Verbinski.) In her first such outing for O Positive, she directed Zooey Deschanel as an elusive Holly Golightly figure in a short film for eyewear manufacturer Oliver Peoples. As she builds her commercial reel, de Wilde says she's looking forward to tapping into her background in acting and theater—and to the compact storytelling that commercials demand. "I'm really excited to tell a story in 15 or 30 seconds," she says, "instead of trying to sell a three minute song."

Read about Mathias Hovgaard, another of our 2008 Directors to Watch.

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