SPECIAL REPORT: Emerging Directors

Young and not so young, experienced and not so experienced, these up-and-comers demonstrate fresh approaches yet to be fully tapped by the commercials market.

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Mrs. Paul's "Racquetball"
The Perlorian Brothers
Reginald Pike

Some thirty-odd years ago, in the Saskatchewan town of Nut Lake, The Perlorian Brothers emerged from a single womb, about a couple years apart. Nurtured in the warm creative embrace of guitar-strumming farmer parents, they developed a knack for telling stories as children's entertainers -- puppeteering, painting faces and hobbling about on stilts. Or so they say. Their executive producer, James Davis of Toronto's Reginald Pike, backs them up, claiming they first aroused his interest with rough but remarkable videos of their carnie exploits. Others, however, I.D. the Perlorians as Ian Letts and Michael Gelfand, former creatives behind smart laughs for the likes of Zellers, P&G and Unilever out of Toronto shops like Leo Burnett and Ogilvy & Mather. Why the two would go to such lengths to smokescreen their identities, we leave to their shrinks -- or their marketing consultants. In the meantime, one thing holds true. The ambiguously brotherly duo knows how to direct. Really well. In less than a year behind the camera, The Perlorian Brothers already have applied skewed but steady touches to standouts like Vim's "Prisoner," featuring the would-be jailbird mom who turns out to be trapped inside her shower battling soap scum. "We decided early on that it would be most funny if we treated the spot as seriously as we could," explains Letts. "So we sort of set aside the fact that some people might find it funny and treated everything -- from the choice of how it was shot to who was cast to the way that it was performed—as though it was a serious and poignant dramatic story." Every tear-jerking nuance in place, the spot earned a Cannes Gold Lion (which the directors promptly auctioned off in a buzz-creating eBay stunt). Since then, the team, also represented by Biscuit Filmworks in the U.S., has continued to titillate audiences with commercials for Saturn, Mrs. Paul's (featuring the unnervingly quiet fish-out-of-water scenarios), Bootlegger Jeans and the latest for Orbit Gum, including one spot featuring the original Pippi Longstalking actress as a bus driver with a religiously luminous smile. Most recently, the directors paired a Croatian woman and a power drill in hilarious backwoods documentary spots for Skil power tools, out of Toronto's Taxi. Although the directors seem to expend considerable creative energy on concocting their fanciful histories, on spots, they'll also devote plenty of brainpower to elaborate treatments that read like fairy tales with a bite. "They should be exciting for the people we're presenting to, a chance for them to see their work anew," explains Gelfand. "Most of the time, having talked to these people, we feel that they've been sitting with the script for a while and they've lost a sense of what makes it special. They should get excited -- what a wonderful chance for them to hear somebody talk about their script, how fun it is and what a beautiful thing it will be when it's on TV. That's a beautiful tender moment and I think we treat it very seriously." Adds Letts, "Like when the kids are sitting at the birthday party and it's time for us to come out and do our juggling or stiltwalking. That is the moment when things happen for them. We have to keep that in mind and respect it." (Ann-Christine Diaz)

MTV "Diner"
Josh Miller
Little Minx @ RSA

When viewing Josh Miller's reel, make sure to sit back and cozy up with a box of tissues. Not that his work is one big sob story, but it sure has a tendency to tug quietly at your heartstrings. The 36-year-old California native, repped out of Little Minx@RSA, can squeeze a melon of emotion from the most mundane or absurd situations. Take his charming spec spot for MINI, about a guy who befriends a duck, leading to a cross-country journey to free his web-footed pal into the big blue. "Filmmaking can be about how you treat the picture, but it's also the casting and how you treat the relationships, and I kind of cast myself in that in the sense that we all want a friend like a duck," he deadpans. Speaking of animals, there's also his self-written specs for Animal Planet, which ironically, involve not one furry beast. In one spot set in a hauntingly clinical office environment, the camera artfully travels through scenes of office drudgery -- a woman is hypnotized by the green glare of the copy machine; another idly watches the coffeemaker's drip. Closing with the tag "Free the Humans," the overall effect is simultaneously melancholy and uplifting. Miller also wrote and shot a gorgeous commercial for Schwinn, which gloriously embraces the feel-goodness of a kid posse's bike ride to nowhere. As for why Miller has penned so much of his own stuff -- surprise! -- he's a former creative. Previously a writer/creative director at Kirshenbaum, Cliff Freeman and Team One, he signed to Little Minx about nine months ago. Within that time, Miller has made some serious headway into his new career on a campaign for AAA. There's also his simply set yet stirring voting PSA for MTV, in which the camera slowly creeps toward a man who spews increasingly offensive slurs about everyone and their mother. "What was so powerful about this script is the character and what he is saying," Miller explains. "I wanted to make it feel like you're sitting next to a guy at a bar and the longer you talk to him, after a beer or two, you start talking politics, his true views start to come out and you become really afraid. Any cut would be distracting from that character. I felt like it should be a slow move into the guy's face so first you hear the story from a distance, but as his views become more un-PC, his character becomes more creepy and the viewer gets uncomfortably close." Miller (who's also currently working on a documentary as well as what he calls a marketing experiment/art project in the guise of an infomercial for "a square piece of wood with a hole in it") also demonstrates the skills of a natural visualist, each of his shots perfectly composed, as in one unforgettable nighttime scene from MINI, where the two friends sit in their little car dwarfed between two big-rigs. "It's funny, I've always felt like I was an art director caught in a writer's body," he laughs. "But now I realize all along I was a director caught in a writer's body." (Ann-Christine Diaz)

VW "Kinder"
Sebastian Strasser

Director Sebastian Strasser, born to German-actor parents in Romania 36 years ago, grew up in a house where Stanislavsky was discussed frequently, and made his stage debut at six. Though he abandoned his acting ambition for directing (with a brief journalism stint in between) his history explains the informed casting and the rich performances on his commercials reel. "I see acting as an art, like painting or writing," Strasser says. "I think that in a good play you can't tell where the screenplay writing ends and where the acting begins. I can waste nights when I'm working on something -- even a 30-second ad -- thinking about a character or a scene. I'm really focused on that; I'm not staying up thinking about the angle to shoot a new Mercedes." However, some of Strasser's best work is for automobiles, including the Volkswagen spot "Kinder." Toting the merits of smooth gear changes, the spot shows two boys on a stoop, pretending to race their cars. One frustrated boy can't seem to get in gear and gives up, while the other zooms ahead until he turns outrageously purple. Purposely casting polar opposites -- a blond, focused "very German," child, according to the director, and a dark-haired, distracted fidget. The latter turned out to be incredibly unmanageable, so for the single scene he had separate shoots for each boy. On that with the wily kid, he sat next to the boy and coaxed him through the performance, later removing himself in post and inserting the blond. A self-described outsider who calls himself German when in Romania and Romanian when in Germany, Strasser is a quick thinker and problem-solver on set. "In everyday life I can be rude," he says self-deprecatingly, "but I try to be sensitive to the actors. Sometimes you have to argue to get a reaction from someone, but it has to do with the real. You will always find a way to create a real moment." Newly signed by @radical.media for representation in the U.S. and most of Europe, Strasser has already shot for Euro clients such as Hypo Vereinsbank, Coca-Cola and eBay and also just completed a short about a strange boy in what he describes as an "un-sexy perfect" neighborhood. "I want more of it, " he says of shooting. "I'm addicted. I'm just like a football player who played in a regional league, and I've been given a chance in the NFL." (Melanie Shortman)

Lipton "Spoons"
Zach Math
Omaha Pictures

"When I look at other filmmakers who do commercials, the guys I really like are very diverse, five-tool players," reflects Zach Math. Well, from the looks of it, the 29-year-old Canadian director, repped out of Omaha in the U.S. and Toronto's Steam Films, is carving out his own place in the big leagues, given that he too has the makings of an all-around star. When it comes to laughs, he can play it straight, over the top or just downright twisted, as in a deliciously warped spot for Canadian candy store Sugar Mountain, which recounts the tale of separated Japanese lovers reunited by a candy-gram delivered by a blatantly faux stuffed bird. For his wacky stylings, Math took cues from Astroboy cards and even the mythological pulp of Clash of the Titans, modeling the avian messenger after the film's mechanical owl. He chose a more restrained approach on an equally hilarious spot for Liptons, about a soup eater who literally steals the show at a podunk town's annual spoon-hanging competition. Plotwise, not a lot is going on, but the details and pacing are calibrated to perfect narrative effect. "There are really two types of spots," he notes. "Those where the script is so crammed you start to think about compression and being really strategic about the storytelling, and others like 'Spoons,' where it's about expanding on the concept. That was such a simple idea that it was about what to do with the moments that weren't written on the page." Math can also turn it up when it comes to other emotions, as on a creepy Jaws-inspired cinema spot for Discovery Channel's "Shark Week," and a warm and fuzzy Coca-Cola commercial that apparently unearths a treasure trove of nostalgic hockey footage. "Even though we shot well over 80 percent of it, most people look at that spot and go, 'Well you probably didn't shoot any of this.' To me that's the biggest compliment because that really was the goal." Now onto work for Pizza Hut and an under-wraps Sony project, Math first got twinges of his filmic passions as a child watching movies in the attic of his grandfather, a former Canadian film exec. "It was kind of a dreamy place to hang out," he reminisces. "The walls were covered with publicity shots, and I grew up watching classics like Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon. There was very much a romantic feeling and quality about it." That he actually wanted to shoot movies didn't gel until later, after he studied film and communications at Canada's Queens University and at NYU. Now that he's directing full time, Math purposefully steps away from the camera to rejuice his creative engine, most significantly on his annual volunteer work with cancer-stricken kids, which recently led to his goofy documentary-style pro-bono short about an unlikely German rap duo (see ilovegermanrap.com). With his finger in so many pies, is there any one thread that connects what he does? "Whether it's nostalgic, or dark, psychological horror, comedy, or a bizarre 'What the fuck was that,' what I do deals with the human condition in key ranges," he says. "We're scared and uneasy, we laugh and feel nostalgic at other times. All those things connect on a human level and that's ultimately what I strive to do." (Ann-Christine Diaz)

Gill Foundation "Dave"
Doug Pray
The Oil Factory
Doug Pray's original muse was a rotten chicken -- a fetid leftover fowl that had stunk up his kitchen while he was a college student taking a summer film course in Chicago. "It smelled so bad we had to put crushed-up mints up our noses," he chuckles. He turned the bird into the subject of a punked out black and white short and his camera hasn't stopped running since. And although the 44-year-old director could surely draw character out of roadkill, he's most compelling when his lens moves onto subjects with a pulse. He shot the critically-acclaimed Sundance music documentaries Hype! and Scratch, as well as clips for bands like The Young Fresh Fellows and Presidents of the U.S.A. A Colorado College sociology grad, he developed his film chops during a post-grad stint with a San Francisco documentarian and then while earning his M.F.A. in film at UCLA. Less than three years ago, Pray, repped out of The Oil Factory, made his commercials debut with the stylishly soulful athletic montage of adidas' "One," and just this year he brought his documentary expertise to bear on the ingenious Lion-winning campaign for the Gill Foundation, which captures the nervous, pregnant moments before real-life closeted homosexuals come out in the workplace. "It was a really huge challenge," Pray recalls of weeding out the campaign's courageous stars. "It took weeks and weeks, a process of advertising on the internet, in print ads and in weekly newspapers. The most time-consuming thing was talking to hundreds of people by phone. To know that someone was right I felt I needed to have had a relationship with them, really gotten a sense that they did want to work with us, not necessarily that they were outgoing or extroverted or good on camera." Pray went through a similar process on his latest commercials projects for Valvoline and Dr. Martens, the latter a series of intimate black and white shorts shot in 16mm verite style that tell the "fearlessly passionate" stories of unexpected British risk-takers. "Most commercials I think are so much about production, but for me, it's the opposite," he says. "Directing is 90 percent research, 10 percent production, and another 90 percent editing." Also an admitted shooting addict who can't stand being more than a couple feet away from a live camera, Pray has a knack for teasing genuine, often fragile self-revelations from his real-life subjects, a skill he ironically developed dealing with actors. "Either you're working with actors and telling them what to do or you're working with real people and getting things out of them. There's not a lot in between. The process is really, really similar. It's the same process of making them feel comfortable, making them sure of what they're doing." It doesn't hurt that Pray's radar is fine-tuned to pick up flashes of brilliance from even the deadest wood. "It's the process of making an ordinary person into an extraordinary person," he says. "That's a really fun thing because we all are extraordinary. I ultimately believe you can make a feature-length film about any human being on the planet. I know you could." (Ann-Christine Diaz)

HP "François"
François Vogel
Paranoid Projects @ Tool
François Vogel makes Play-Doh out of pictures. The French-born director, repped out of Paranoid Projects @ Tool and Paris' Entropie Films, warps moving images into visually hypnotic dazzlers, most notably for Goodby and its commercials art gallery known as the HP campaign. In the "You" spot he illustrated the idea of endless picture-taking possibilities via a stunning, multi-paneled moving mosaic. "I like to play with perspective," the 33-year-old director notes of his approach. "What you see in photos or movies is never the reality, so I like to play with the way you look at things." On his latest series for the client, including a spot in which he himself stars, he pulls pictures literally out of thin air. "The first spot said that digital photography is a revolution and anything could be a picture," he explains. "The second one is a continuation of real photography, saying we can print those images as well." Given expansive scope by the agency, "I went for a walk singing the song the agency gave, 'Picture Book,' by the Kinks, I started thinking about touching photos, printing. I put a camera on a tripod, used cardboard and started playing with empty frames. I put what I shot in the computer and used After Effects to make stills and animate the photos to the frame. That test is exactly what you see in the scene where I'm making self-portraits." Morphing film represents a natural progression for the former art student, who's had an ongoing fascination with pinhole cameras and the malleability they lend to images. "In a regular camera, the negative is always flat, in front of the lens. With pinhole photography you can do anything you want with the negative. You can make it twisted like a cylinder or a cone, or scratch it. So if I have an idea about a subject, something to shoot in a still camera, I'll build the machine to shoot it. It's really connected to the way 3D software works too," he continues. "There's no optical device in pinhole photography and also in 3D software, so the way the perspective works is exactly the same." After art school, Vogel assisted a video artist before working in effects at French post powerhouse Mikros. There, he first met the Poiraud Brothers, who saw some of Vogel's short films, which led to his own signing as a director at Entropie. As adept with a real camera as he is with a virtual one, he says "for me, there are two shootings, the live action and the shooting you're doing in post, which are completely different." Recently, the director broadened his kaleidoscope of spots to Cingular, for BBDO/N.Y., and upcoming commercials for Winterfresh Gum, out of BBDO/Chicago, which fortunately, like HP, have allowed him considerable artistic leeway. "Being honest" is most important, he says. "I'm trying to choose jobs because I really want to do them because if you don't really want to do something, you don't do it well." (Ann-Christine Diaz)

Coke "Stories"
Believe Media

While Jan Vogel and Rene Villar-Rios may be known best for the scrubbed down photography and down-to-earth feel of many of their spots, including "Neighborhood" for nikelab.com, featuring a remote control shoe on wheels, as well as promos for the Andy Awards featuring a hobo Eric Silver and a maimed Alex Bogusky, the directing team also coasts easily into glossy, cinematic film, apparent in their hilarious sports spoof for Pringles Fiery Hot, featuring various "athletes" in sweat-dripping intensity as they prepare to crunch into the zesty chips. The spot can easily be mistaken for a Gatorade ad, save for the quirky cast of players, who the pair put through torturous athletic drills to get the proper exhausted look. No matter what vibe their spots take, however, "I think we try to keep it real," notes Villar-Rios, 36, a Swedish-raised Chilean native. "When it comes to casting, locations, even when it's the most stylized cinematic experience, we just try to keep the characters, the environment real." Adds 31-year-old Vogel, an Ecuadorian-born German, "For example, we try to keep the actors comfortable. I think that's why they have good performances in a lot of commercials we shoot. There's not this strict 'OK! Action! Now we're shooting.' Sometimes our actors don't even know we're shooting them. We don't try to fit them in the frame and expect them to act perfect. We try to create the right situation for them to be perfect." Which is what happened on Coca-Cola's "Stories," out of Berlin Cameron, a truly "real" spot featuring quick-cut images that speed through the festive summer days of a troupe of skater kids. The directors shot the commercial in Arizona on an assortment of film stocks and cameras, and "we had to have real kids, give them some space," Vogel notes. "You plan where to shoot, roughly set up some situations, but then give a lot of freedom. You get the chemistry between them and get all these things that weren't planned before." Represented by Believe Media, the duo first met as frustrated cinematography students at Los Angeles' American Film Institute, and offer up the added cred of being not just a directing but also a DP team. "We feed off each other," says Villar-Rios. "Almost always we shoot with two cameras and now we have it down to a ballet. We dance around each other and get tons of very good coverage." Most recently, the team shot a surprisingly restrained McDonald's spot featuring a series of kids admiring cars. With the bells and whistles of a Mercedes ad, the commercial asks, "Ever wonder why kids love cars so much?" The closer shows a family cruising through a Mickey D's drive-thru, a grim-faced cashier handing them bags of grub. The spot boasts natural, unforced performances -- from the children, as well as the burger guy who, strangely enough, was played by Villar-Rios himself. "I used to work at McDonald's," he laughs. "I just went back a little bit in time and it was all instinct." (Ann-Christine Diaz)

Diesel "Kaboom!"

Thanks to those cool "Diesel Dreams" web films, at the moment PES might be said to be the bomb. His stop-motion Kaboom! (see www.dieseldreams.com), in which a toy city is attacked by a bomber that's about to drop a nuclear peanut, is so much visually dazzling fun it makes you think maybe stop motion really does have a future in the digital age. But like the similarly named candy itself, PES is both old and new and available in many flavors.

His real name is Adam Pesapane, but no one calls him Adam, he says, not even his mother. He's known strictly as PES, he's from New Jersey and he has a cool, semi-irrelevant background, with a B.A. in English from the University of Virginia, where he specialized in James Joyce and lived in the room that once belonged to Edgar Allan Poe -- who were he alive today would probably be POE. And like Poe, "I watched very little TV as a kid," confesses PES. "It just wasn't that interesting for me, except The Wizard of Oz, which played only once a year on TV and was an event that had no comparison. As a child, I was always a little naive about popular TV shows. I remember having to vote once in school for my favorite actor and I chose Woody Woodpecker with absolute sincerity -- I watched that show every day while I devoured five bowls of Lucky Charms before heading off to school."

Well, the Lucky Charms explains the Joyce fixation. As for the rest, PES was one of those obsessional draftsman kids whose "ability to draw somehow got linked early to storytelling, so I started writing books and illustrating them," he recalls. "This continued all the way through college where I learned how to make books in the style of 15th century illuminated manuscripts. The stories I chose to depict in this style were often disgusting little tales chosen to contrast with the ornate qualities of illuminated text. For instance, one featured a story about how my grandmother served me a disgusting meatloaf by vomiting it like a volcano into the atmosphere, then it came crashing down on my plate."

It may not be a great leap from this to Roof Sex, his stop-motion tour de furniture in which two chairs fornicate plein air in a distinctly X-rated manner. PES also has a stop-motion short called Pee-nut, which is all about urinating on a fly. But that's about it for his really salacious output, which to date consists mainly of spec spots, animation tests and some shorts. He's done some very modest live action for WongDoody, featuring a few L.A. Dodgers and a host of bobbleheads. His spec spot to the soundtrack of Nike's "Wild Horses," which features Electric Football figures running around a field of meat, is prime just-do-it-ness. Which is to say PES, despite having nothing to speak of so far in the way of mainstream commercials work -- right now he's shooting live action/animation for Coinstar and Publicis/Seattle -- is hardly an unknown quantity. He's signed with Czar in the States, he's newly signed with Independent in the U.K. for commercials and music video representation in Europe, and his www.eatpes.com site pulls in the neighborhood of a million hits a month, claims his manager, Sarah Phelps.

So whither PES? Is he expecting to put all his nuts in the stop-motion basket? Is there really a future for this laborious style? He's hedging his bets on that one, though he cites the Czech master Jan Svankmajer as "a revelation, and I continue to learn and be influenced by his work. At the same time, I prefer to think of our relationship as one in which he opened a door of perception and I'm walking through it." On the other side of that door, "I'm attracted to ideas I feel have strong entertainment potential, whatever the format. If someone thinks I would be the right director for their concept, I want to see the boards, period. I think smart creatives see clearly that my animation is as close to live action as animation gets. I use locations; I have to deal with light-source consistency; and I constantly think about camera angles in three dimensions. But my real ability is not in moving peanuts -- it's in capturing and holding a viewer's attention. I believe that forward-thinking clients and agencies are pushing for more innovative and entertaining work these days, which, to some people, may point to animation. But I have ideas I'd like to create in virtually every format. I'm much more an idea person than a technician. I taught myself how to move objects frame by frame because I had to -- I wanted to make Roof Sex and I didn't have a big crew."

While animated web films are his ace in the hole, "the effort of the advertising community to pigeonhole directors can never be underestimated," he notes. And for a big change of pace, PES says his live-action spec spot "Beasty Boy" is good for "half a million to a million hits per month on my website." (It's a one-take Learning Channel nightmare about a kid who watches a sheep getting shtupped on the web, then runs to get the family poodle.) As for the Diesel triumph, "it was great to get a creative brief from Diesel and KesselsKramer that said, in effect, 'Dream for us. Just do your thing because we love that.' Of course I'd love to do more work like that. But the Diesel film is a breakthrough because it demonstrates to the ad community that when I make a short film, it can be viewed by millions of people overnight. This is a combination of me having built up a fan base on the internet, Diesel promoting the hell out of the film and the film itself being short entertainment that people want to watch. I think this will encourage more clients to commission films and to do more integrated campaigns. I can also see a cutting-edge client sponsoring something on my website to reach an underground market. Everything points to the viability of short entertainment. If you do it well, people will seek it out over and over again."

Sort of like candy. (Terry Kattleman)

Trojan "Weightlifting"
James Rouse
Thomas Winter Cooke
When asked what drives him, James Rouse simply states, "I like making things that are funny. The satisfaction that's involved in bringing to life something on paper that is funny is enormous." The former U.K. creative, represented in the States by Thomas Winter Cooke, made his directing debut on a daring online viral campaign he also wrote for Trojan condoms, featuring athletes who take canoodling to Olympic extremes: a woman sans skivvies leaps on to a naked weightlifter, suspended solely by his powerhouse member; a pantless gymnast vaults into a perfect straddle landing on her partner, spread eagle on the mat. Showcased in the 2004 Saatchi New Directors lineup, the 36-year-old Rouse has also shot for BT Yahoo, The Guardian and Fiat,the latter featuring an adulterous turtle who hatches a scion with a suspicious Panda-like complexion. Recently, he made his U.S. debut on NFL Shop's "Tackle Dummy," out of Y&R/N.Y., about a crazed fan who goes to masochistic extremes to get his paws on some gear. Rouse is quite the obsessed maniac himself -- when it comes to directing. For instance, "I love really delving deep into characters," he enthuses. "I always write long studies of even the smallest characters with the shortest lines, to give the actor something deeper than just words on the paper—how they feel having said it, before they said it, what they were doing an hour previous and an hour after. I've done that on every single script I've worked on, even in the case of NFL, where the character just grunts and groans and doesn't even deliver a line at all." Moreover, it's not hard to imagine Rouse pulling all-nighters boning up on his subjects. On Trojan, he studied Olympic broadcasts and consulted with trainers to establish believably athletic moves for the fornicators. For NFL, he pored over old game footage and attended college and professional practices. Sounds like a lot of work for just a single spot that in the end, isn't even about the plays. "I loved doing it," he insists. "I couldn't not do it. I would hate myself if I didn't do it. Apart from anything else, I needed to do it because I'm English and didn't understand what the game was about. But now I'm an expert and know all the rules. I'm very pleased with myself that I can watch a game of American football and it isn't complete rubbish to me." (Ann-Christine Diaz)

VW "Divinas"
Armando Bo
Anonymous Content

"I like sex," says Armando Bo. Not a shocking revelation from a 25-year-old, but this one gets to channel his urges onto film, in lusty work for the likes of Sico condoms, including one spot which quietly interchanges titillating scenes of a man and woman contemplating various positions, and another for Axe, featuring a randy lad who plans to use his deodorant spray as babe bait. Recently, the Argentinian-born director shot another spot featuring a geeky tennis instructor who mysteriously magnetizes the hotties on court, thanks to his VW, which took home the Lapiz de Oro, Latin America's equivalent of One Show Gold. As for the flesh fixation, if you Google Bo's name, you'll launch a stream of links to Argentinian '60s softcore classics like Naked Temptation and Fuego. But he can't take credit for those, which are actually the work of his grandfather. "In Argentina my name is synonymous for soft porn," he laughs. "People say that film is in my blood, but I don't believe it." Turns out the young Bo, newly signed to Anonymous Content, never did get a chance to attend a production with gramps. He did, however, grow up on the set with his father, a former actor who starred in some of Armando senior's films before becoming a film and TV producer. Bo junior went on to pay his own dues as a P.A. and as a film student in New York before returning to Argentina to work as an A.D. He became a full-fledged director three and a half years ago, and since then he's built the reel of an experienced storyteller with a flair for nuanced exposition, whether it inspires lust -- or laughs. Bo's unabashedly sultry work also happens to be equally infused with humor, another key ingredient of the stories he likes to tell. Currently, the director is shooting a Latin American Coca-Cola spot, featuring a crafty rockstar wannabe who gets a life through the objects hurled at him during his performances. His prior jaunts include a tale of a groggy young buck who goes through his morning routine using various objects in counterintuitive ways: his toast pops out of a pair of boots; he changes the channels on the TV with his squirming goldfish, in a spot promoting a phone card that doubles as a CD. There's also Bo's favorite, for Rexona deodorant, featuring a straight-faced soccer referee who goes through an entire game with his arms plastered to his sides in an attempt to protect his sensitive pits. Aside from the sex, "without the humor I'm nothing," Bo says. "For me it's everything. If you don't laugh, you don't live."(Ann-Christine Diaz)

Jared Hess, Moxie Pictures
Imperfectly perfect casting and character sense bolster the unforgettable oeuvre of this young director, who's shot truly wacky stuff for Nike.com, Moviefone, and Land Rover, and got us rumbling with his odd indie flic Napoleon Dynamite. Be sure to check out his latest for McDonald's starring a raging deli guy, because unlike a lot of the client's other stuff, we're seriously lovin' it.

Josh & Xander, Partizan
Don't miss the quietly powerful drama on this duo's spots for adidas, Wild Aid and their PSAs for Youth Leadership Institute, including one that artfully reveals the prison-like conditions of underfunded schools. Clips-wise, their emo-ridden snapshot-style "Movie Script Ending" for Death Cab for Cutie and the visually crisp "Such Great Heights" for The Postal Service are must-sees.

Scott Lyon, Academy
Clips maven Lyon, also repped in the U.S. out of The Oil Factory, actually knows how to tell a story instead of merely blinding us with eye candy. Check out the office park on the brink of berserk in Soulwax's "Any Minute Now," and "Blind Pilots" for The Cooper Temple Cause, which will make any dude think twice about getting his rocks off at a bachelor party ho-down.

Simon & Jon, Blink Productions
This Brit team shot W+K/London and Nike's fine piece of naked poultry ass hauling through the streets of London and the rebel furniture in Ikea's "Hitchcock." Feast on their super tasty clips too, like one for Boogie Pimps, featuring a phalanx of skydiving babies descending on a hot lingeried mama and Northern Lite's Matchbox-size version of a Ronin-style chase.

Jason Reitman, Tate USA
Reitman paints personality all over the screen with his super solid storytelling and compulsively watchable characters in spots for The Atlanta Ballet, Kyocera and the New Mexico Department of Transportation. He also directed a favorite at our No Spot filmfest, about teen would-be lovers who bring their lawyers into the bedroom to negotiate a bootie call.

(This article appears in the November 2004 issue of Creativity.)
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