Directors to Watch 2008: Jesper Kouthoofd

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Jesper Kouthoofd.
Jesper Kouthoofd.
Although Jesper Kouthoofd's name might not be very familiar in the U.S., it's widely known in Sweden, where the director started out as one of the founding members of creative collective ACNE, and after going solo in 2004, has gone on to become a highly respected talent—of many sorts.

Working out of his own recently launched shop, Kouthoofd, Ltd. and Swedish production company Catcom, the 38-year-old Kouthoofd has directed spots for Sony, Volvo, Ikea, H&M, Mitsubishi and more, demonstrating an all around command of storytelling, performance and visuals—often tinged with wit and humor. "Everything he does just has a great comical twist to it," explains Farfar web director Per Hansson, who also believes Kouthoofd is "equipped with probably one of Sweden's best creative minds."

In fact, film is just one of his many skills and Kouthoofd prefers to describe himself as an "experimental director," drawn more to jobs that find him not necessarily behind the camera, but in his Stockholm studio—a garage housing everything from traditional editing equipment to a complete workshop, stocked with a laser cutter, CNC router, tools and even a music studio full of vintage synthesizers for sound experiments—he sometimes does music for his own films.

The fruits of his labor include the singing robot choir that was a key component of the multiawarded Absolut Machines installation/website from Great Works. Kouthoofd created Absolut Choir out of Teenage Engineering, an "art-technology-consumer product" enterprise he launched with three software and hardware engineer buddies two years ago. T.E. has also made a "Bluetooth advertising high tech messaging system" for Sony Ericsson and has plans to soon release what Kouthoofd calls a "very special" portable synthesizer system, a modular lighting system and a new consumer product built from the technology developed for Choir. "To me, everything is interesting in one way or another," says the admitted workaholic. "I try not to be stuck in a specific discipline, but instead learn and explore anything that comes my way."

Read about Cisma, another of our 2008 Directors to Watch.

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