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As second careers go, Johnny Green's is off to a pretty good start. It's not quite basket weaving to brain surgery, but over the last two years the 39-year-old Green has made the transition from veteran production designer to sought-after director a smooth one. In fact, it's a transition he'd been asked to make long before it actually happened. "Many of the directors I worked with in the past were very encouraging, urging me to give it a try," says Manchester-born, London-raised Green. "I've been designing sets for 15 years and I think the first time I was asked to direct was maybe 10 years ago. But I wasn't really ready. It just sort of happened when I was working on my little Russian film (Nyemka's Dream, a personal photo book/art film project). It seemed like the right time. I'm a huge photographic person so (at this point) making films just seemed like a natural progression."
The photographic influence is evident in Green's commercials work, whether in the darkly intense scenes of Audi's "Satellite," (featured in this year's Saatchi New Directors Showcase at Cannes) or the atmosphere of adidas' "All Blacks," which he attributes to trying to keep his work based in reality, as opposed to creating fantasy worlds. "It's much nicer when it's real and I think people can connect better with it. Real people and real things, you don't need to change it or make it pretty, it's about giving people the chance to stop and look."
This photo-driven sensibility also informs the process in which Green conceives and creates his ideas. On "Satellite," for which he cites influences ranging from Nicholas Roeg's The Man Who Fell To Earth to archival footage from the Russian space agency, the first thing Green did "was gather together a million images. I literally have huge scrapbooks for every job and just collate and put together series of images that I like, and draw, and see where I get to."