On a recent road trip, Brian Aldrich gathered together a motley crew comprised of a giant afro-head, a couple in a face lock, and a goon with an acute gawking problem. Sound familiar? It's hard to forget the oddball cast that pestered the blond bus rider in "Seatmates" for Wrigley's Extra gum, out of BBDO/Chicago. The Coppos director had taken his DP and cast on a real bus tour through the L.A. 'burbs, shooting and improvising situations to craft the quirky spot, memorable for its coolly-crafted style, keen composition and, most important, its circus-like assortment of characters. The rest of his reel includes spots for Compaq, Blue Cross, and OSH. Although all of it showcases Aldrich's talent in creating visually compelling scenes, the 38-year-old director is hardly preoccupied with style-related details. Those are almost second nature anyway, considering previously he'd been an art director creative at Della Femina/L.A. Having directed on his own for three years (he spent "about a minute" teamed with another former creative, Marty Canellakis), he gears his sights on performance, a standout aspect of his work. "I treat the camera more as a person," he explains of any specific technique he might have. "Often I'll just hold it so it has a little bit of life to it, or I just like to set up the shot and shoot. It probably sounds oversimplified, but I spend more time with my characters. When you do that, the shot is always going to be interesting because the takeaway is what the character did, not necessarily the camera angle or color. You remember people."