The Next Wave: Steve Burrows, Backyard Productions

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Steve Burrows has already made it to the Super Bowl. "I was dandruff boy," he recalls of performing in a Selsun Blue spot. He started out a decade ago as an actor, often for Rob Pritts and Don Rase, now his fellow directors at Backyard, which he joined in August 2001. Also a writer and comedian, he made his way to the other side after penning and directing his own films, Chump Change and Soldier of Fortune, a semi-autobiographical doc about being the lowest scorer ever on Wheel of Fortune. In spots he's helmed Budweiser, "Hey Der," the Midwest take on "Whassup?" and a Glass Nickel Pizza campaign, in which he also played the role of a fast talking adman. Thanks to his own experience, Burrows could draw a performance out of a rock, or maybe a weiner, like in Leo Burnett's odd Ball Park corndog campaign. Simply staged and shot, it features action-starved kids eerily treating their hotdog-on-a-stick like a genuine man's best friend. Then there's one for Texaco, every second pumped with side-splitting scenes of bored station attendants trying to amuse themselves, including one precious moment in which a guy maneuvers a toothpick from nostril to nostril with his bottom lip. "I wish I could take full credit for that one, but that's not my bit," Burrow admits. "I was just perceptive enough to notice it. I love actors. I use them as a huge resource, not just as cattle in scenes. Even if nine out of 10 of their ideas suck, if the 10th is a grand slam, I'm trying to find it."
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