Dante Ariola, MJZ

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After nabbing his fourth nomination and first Directors Guild Award in commercials for such impressive 2006 spots as Johnnie Walker's "Android", Travelers' "Snowball" and Coke's "First Taste," Dante Ariola kicked off 2007 in similarly impressive fashion, turning out the scrap paper monster mayhem of AMP's "Paper," the showbiz nods in JC Penney's "Life Imitates Art, " and the eclectic collection of character vignettes on the Sony PS3 promotional site thisisliving.tv. (JB)

He says: The creative process, specifically directing, can feel like navigating your way through a pitch dark room filled with someone else's furniture. You bang into a lot of things along the way, but eventually you find your way to the door at the other end of the room.

My approach has not changed essentially since I first started doing this. I think I have maintained a certain gut level trust in my basic aesthetic instinct and what I think has the potential to be funny or touching or just plain weird. I really believe that, if I have any real talent, that is what it is, gut instinct. Sometimes it doesn't even really make sense to the people around me or can make things seem more difficult in terms of the process, but at the end of the day it has been what I truly rely on when I have felt out of my depth or creatively unsure.

The technical aspect of this job, all the sort of hard science of film making, has been where I have really evolved and progressed as a director. I have a much, much better idea of the technical limits and capacities now than I did when first started. I still like to try my hand at projects that push me both creatively and technically to the breaking point. It keeps the work interesting and fear of failure is a really good motivator. The vastly larger well of knowledge that I have now definitely informs my thinking (and lowers my stress level) but, regardless of what has happened in my career, I still trust my gut above all else.
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