The Next Wave: Tim Godsall, Epoch Films

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Tim Godsall tends to slip into something uncomfortable when he's directing. The Montreal-born helmer in just three years has become something of a master when it comes to capturing awkward situations. In one spot he directed for AT&T, a panty hose-headed bandit is struck dumb during a holdup when the cashier perkily identifies him through the distinctive melody on his cellphone. A PSA for Canadian elections shows a boss surrounded by a roomful of mutes when he asks for a project volunteer - that is until one smug worker bee pipes up to offer the services of the peer on his right, now forced into a tight spot of his own. "I wouldn't say my entire interest is doing people stuck in uncomfortable moments, but I seem to be getting a lot of that," explains the 35-year-old. Repped out of Epoch and Toronto's Untitled, he's also directed spots for Molson, Eastern Bank and Crispin/LA's Fine Living Network, featuring a pouty-faced Grim Reaper bored because his victims-to-be are out partying to the "Get out and live" tagline.

Godsall also masterminded a wacky campaign for Leerdammer cheese, out of McCann/Zurich, which enlisted the former Kirshenbaum Bond CD for both the creative and directing. It features two kooky men in curiously humdrum situations - playing cards, doing leg lifts to a workout video - while they drably bicker in accented prose about the dairy product. Thanks to the terse dialogue, the performers' dry delivery and intentionally no-frills art direction, humor rips through the campaign's quiet framework of imposed normalcy. "I wanted to take the idea of those Life in Hell cartoons and bring it to life in Eastern European glory," Godsall explains. His actors had zero experience. "They'd never been in front of the camera. My casting guy beat the bushes to find the specs, which were 'two Eastern European men of indeterminate relationship.' I sifted through all these 'real people,' because the advantage you have with them is that they don't invest it with a lot of acting. They don't put in built-in winks. They don't varnish it with a bit of comedic embellishment. Basically, I told one of the guys to stare at the other for five seconds and solemnly say 'I hate you' with his throat full of cheese. He didn't question it, he just did it, and it all came together really nicely." Perhaps to the director's dismay, this campaign, as does much of his reel, effectively conveys laugh-out-loud comedy in an unassuming way. "It's like wall-to-wall stimulus on TV," he notes. "If you have a simpler, quieter moment within that, it becomes jarring in its own way. Then again, I looked at my reel two days ago and I thought, 'My God it's just so quiet and boring!' So I want to do something that has some sort of life to it. Print that and see if I can get something out of it," he laughs.

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