Lena Beug

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Just last month, Lena Beug finally said goodbye to her longtime gig at MTV, where she spent the better portion of the last decade. Born in Cork, Ireland to a German literature professor father and a New Jersey painter mother, the 30-year-old Beug moved to New York eight years ago and soon after landed an internship at the music channel, eventually working her way up to becoming art director in the graphics design department, where her swan song was to help oversee the recent massive redesign of MTV2. Having recently signed to Reginald Pike and U.S. outpost Reginaldo for representation, Beug finally made the leap to directing full-time, just a year and a half after her first official live action job. It was then that Beug had decided to turn her camera on her longtime friend Clay Weiner, a Publicis copywriter and bad Justin Timberlake impersonator. That film turned into a teaser for the Video Music Awards, announcing, of course, the best dance clip, and eventually paved the way to the full-blown "Intro Guy" promo campaign.

Although "Intro Guy" was Beug's first live action directing stint, "It was just so clear in my mind what every detail of the campaign was supposed to be," she says. "You only get the tip of the iceberg in those spots, but in my head, it was a whole world. I could have made a whole movie about the guy." That obsession with character and detail is paramount to Beug's M.O. "Whenever I see a script, I'm really intrigued with the person who's in it, the back story," Beug says. "That's what I find most fascinating, trying to create a viable world in which that person lives. When I was a kid, if I went anywhere with my mother, she would stare at people to the point where it would get really embarrassing. She would totally get lost in other people, and I definitely inherited a bit of that." Beug has gone on to conduct more character studies for MTV2, on promos featuring the shiny-faced, self-obsessed "Mean Girl" as well as the quirky teen-cum-plastic surgeon girl who performs The Swan-like operations on her entire stuffed animal collection. "That was kind of a torturous casting," she recalls of the latter. "I wanted to find someone who represented that moment when you're still playing with dolls but you're definitely starting to become aware that the world is not such a safe place-someone who hasn't figured out who she is yet, like Christina Ricci in The Ice Storm." Recently, Beug finally applied her directorial touches to her first agency-sponsored job, on PSA's for Canada's MADD out of Saatchi/Toronto, in which toked-up hipsters get their minds rerouted when unexpected characters hilariously come out of the woodwork, cautioning them not to drive.

When it comes to her vision, Beug also notes that "art direction is very, very important for me. That's something I'd love to do if I wasn't directing. I love trying to control the palette in really subtle ways. If a room is in blues and purples, I might put the talent in a bit of yellow and orange. Working with color is my favorite thing." Nevertheless, she likes to keep her sense of style in check. "You know how some commercials are so stylized that's the first thing you notice?" she asks. "That's not what I'm going for. I'm trying to make you enjoy the action of what's happening, but not knock you over the head with style. I approach things definitely with character first. That's why I think the details are so important. You can forget about yourself for a moment and live in the world of that person. When all the elements come together in the right way-they way it's shot, the location, the person, the acting, the colors-that's the element of magic in the whole thing."

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