Directors to Watch 2008: Keith Schofield

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Keith Schofield
Keith Schofield

Many have made the argument that there's nothing more successful on the interweb than nudity and porn. Keith Schofield would be hard-pressed to disagree.

The Chicago-born, NYU film school-bred director has used both to his advantage for a creative transition from music videos to commercials. Consider Diesel's SFW XXX web film touting the brand's 30th anniversary party. Schofield and The Viral Factory decided to superimpose innocently animated images atop a musical montage of vintage porn, rendering the footage questionably SFW. The video became Creativity Online's most watched film—ever.

"Sometimes simple ideas just work," Schofield says. "You can't use porn on TV, so why not online? Maybe it seems cheap and easy but there are ideas out there that haven't been done. The Diesel thing started out as something that might be a fun little project and turned into this big web thing. So you never know how it might turn out, in terms of how audiences will respond."

The now L.A.-based director also gained international attention recently for the video Toejam for The BPA (Fatboy Slim), with David Byrne and Dizzee Rascal, that featured artfully blacked out bits of dancing naked folk, and was included in the 2008 Saatchi & Saatchi New Director's Showcase (and recently parodied on South Park).

While Schofield has done videos for Death Cab for Cutie, Supergrass, CSS and others, his visual "stunts" have translated easily to spots as well. His commercial work includes Jennie-O's Wrestler, where we meet a woman who has her hands full with a particularly slippery uncooked turkey, and a pair of spots for Belgacom, Bee and "Grandfather," that cleverly walk a collection of characters through narrated tales about internet use.

"I'd say my style's very concept- and idea-driven, which in music videos can be identified as gimmicky," he says. "But I see it as just finding the idea or trick that will get people to like it enough to forward to friends. I'm not a visual, lens and telecine director, so for me it's all about the premise and the story."

Read about Trish Sie, another of our 2008 Directors to Watch.

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