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Sometimes you just know. For Brazilians Manitou Felipe and Bernardo Dutra all it took was a phone call. After meeting three years ago at a Rio-based agency where they both had directed odd jobs, they made a choice to enliven both their careers, and over a two-hour phone conversation in 2004, 300 ml was born.

"We decided to sit together and create this brand, with a strategy," recalls Felipe. "The lack of opportunities made us believe in something bigger. We started out with just an idea, and nothing else in the beginning—no money, no contacts, no reel and no production company. It was a great challenge to begin from zero, it means a lot to us. But we still have a long, long way to go."

Obviously the ambition remains, but in three short years 300 ml have built an impressive body of work. In 2006, their spot "Hands" for Fiat Brazil and Leo Burnett landed the film Grand Prix at the Rio International Advertising Festival. This year, in addition to being featured in the Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors Showcase in Cannes, their Discovery Channel spot "In a Man's Life" won a bronze lion.

As for a working relationship, the two, both in their 30s, say there isn't a specific task one does that the other doesn't, adding that one of their primary strengths is that each adds his own talents to every directorial task. "At the end of the day, the client gets two complete directors for the price of one," says Dutra.

While a good many of the duo's spots exude a mischievous humor and quirky sensibility, the two prefer not to be constrained by a particular niche. "The fact that people recognize that 300 ml has a particular style is great," Dutra says. "For us it's not about humor or drama, it's about a project that makes us think and experiment. This is a risky business and the clients won't let you in unless you are doing something different, and original, that somehow will add something to their idea. Our style, it's more in the realm of: 'How can we make this thing look different than what people have done before?'"

Currently, the two are working on their first feature, tentatively called The Moving House Project, which they'd like to shoot completely in the U.S. Their non-spot projects also include the short film Tarantino's Mind, which made its American debut in July at the MoMA and went on to win Best Editing at Creativity's No Spot Short Film Festival. The film depicts two cinephile friends, played by musician Seu Jorge and Brazilian TV actor Selton Mello, as they discuss the connections and coincidences between all of Quentin Tarantino's films. "This is the kind of dialogue that we love," Felipe says, adding it was great to "work on a project with complete liberty of time and decisions. Creatively we could go further and deeper into a story. It's important to be always testing new ground, with no fear of it going wrong."

Hungry Man

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