Danish director Joachim Back has been living in New York for only six months, but what a six months it's been. As soon as he landed, he shot a campaign for Viagra out of Taxi/Toronto and Canada's Partners' Film Company that went on to win a Gold Lion, Back's first, at Cannes. "It was one of those good stories you get and you just have to do it," he says.
The job was indeed a perfect fit for the 33-year-old director, who says he thinks it's simply funny "to say the real truth." The award-winning campaign features men who tell the truth about Viagra with accounts so explicit they have to be censored with bleeps and, of course, little blue pills. "It's been very good, just in terms of the quality of work," Back, who is represented by Park Pictures in the U.S., says of his North American experience. In addition to Viagra, he has directed a darkly comic spot for KFC-in which a man learns why you should never leave the house when his ski mask causes a police action-for Canada's Silverhammer, and has a campaign in the works for the Massachusetts Lottery via Boston's Hill/Holliday.
Back got his start as a production assistant on features in his native Denmark, where he eventually scraped enough money together to create a few spec spots. After working out of European production company Metronome for several years, he founded Copenhagen-based production company Bacon with directors Martin Werner and Kasper Wedendahl in 2001. Back confesses that running a company and directing simply became "too much," so he sold his interest and headed for New York. "It was too much to manage a company instead of making movies," he says. "I'm only good at one thing, and that took all my focus away."
His focus restored, Back says he is about "good solutions and a bunch of fun" and that getting the time to consider all the angles is the most important factor in his best work. "The pre-pro is the most important for me," he says. "I'm this person who has to walk all the miles. There are so many ways you can do things. There are thousands of ideas that have to come together to make one idea. Usually, if I walk the miles, I can find it. When I am smiling in the pre-pro before shooting, I know it's going to be good."