Dante Ariola, MJZ

By Ad Published on .

MJZ's Dante Ariola has a flair for transporting us into atmospheric, darkly comedic worlds. The two-time DGA nominee's landmark work includes Volkswagen's "Big Day," and the Gold Lion-winning Budget Rent-a-Car campaign. His subtle sensibilities continue to inflect recent projects like the apocalyptic Sony Playstation campaign, Hotjobs' "Daydreamers," as well the deliciously disturbing yet humorous spot for Virgin Mobile, wherein residents of a sanitarium find devilish ways to occupy their idle thumbs.

Anything interesting about your experience on Virgin Mobile? "We filmed the spot in a vast mental institution in the Czech Republic. It was an intense insight to what it must be like to live in an Eastern bloc country and, more importantly, what it must be like to lose your mind."

What do you do with your idle thumbs? "Play Grand Theft Auto:Vice City."

What's the most important consideration for a commercials director? "Have an opinion, and be right."

Name some of your influences. "I'm spurred on by my contemporaries in this business. I have a deep love for film and I'm influenced my many directors, but I don't look at them as reference material. Influence is a big amorphous shape in the back of your mind, made up of little pieces of everything there is in this world."

What do you consider a milestone or turning point in your directing career? "The day I stopped thinking for anyone else and just did the things that were right for the job, that made it better creatively."

What's your philosophy of getting great performances? "A carrot and a stick. It's also good to try to get different shades of gray within the tone of a performance. For instance, in a comedy commercial, a very small take, then a broad take, etc. You might stumble across a unique moment that somehow makes the spot."

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