‘Shoot’ Stages New Directors Showcase

MIAMI Shoot named 15 up-and-coming directors to its New Directors Showcase and held a panel discussion about breaking into commercial directing at the 45th annual Clio Festival taking place here today.

Roberta Griefer, publisher of Shoot, opened the discussion with some statistics about the production industry provided by Pam Maythenyi of The Source Maythenyi. There are 779 production companies this year, as opposed to 823 last year, she said. And there are 6,444 commercial directors this year, just a little shy of the 6,417 there were last year. Of those, 1,000 or less are working directors.

It takes three to five years to become an established director, Griefer said, and while in the past directors could stay at the top of their field for 10 to 15 years, now, that time period is down to 5 to 10 years.

Nine NDS inductees were part of the panel: James Rouse of Thomas Winter Cooke; Nelson Cabrara of HKM; Elliott Lester of Merge@Crossroads; Ted Bourne; Gregg Simon; Stephen Gill; the two-person directing team of Gary; and Jeffe Labbe.

The panel also included Texas East, who last week left his job as co-director of production at Ogilvy & Mather to start a production consultancy, and Stephen Dickstein, president of Partizan.

Cabrara, who started his career as an editor, said that he learned from directors he had worked with as a first assistant director, like Noam Murro, Rocky Morton and Kinka Usher, to “deal directly with the agencies on your spec spots.” Using that tactic, he ended up directing Mini spots for Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami.

Jeff Labbe, who worked at Wieden + Kennedy before becoming a director, said that experience helped him become a director because he got to work with top directors in the field.

He spoke about the importance of keeping direction to a high standard.

“This is a great craft,” Labbe said. “Commercials are just the time slot your craft is going to be shown in.”

East said “there needs to be more opportunity” for young talent. Agencies “get mired in redundancy. They can only shoot with the last person they shot with before.”

He noted there is a greater need for content of all types and many more opportunities for directors now. “TV is not going to be the primary medium of the future,” he said. “You can do anything.”

He pressed directors to forge relationships with clients. If people you’re working with are worried that it would damage your agency relationships, he said, “Screw ’em. Go make films.”

Dickstein stressed the work it takes to make it as a director.

“The decision to become a director is an extraordinary commitment,” he said. “People don’t know how hard it is.”

Writer/directors have an advantage, Dickstein said, especially the ones that have an agency background and have the “understanding of the DNA of a brand. It isn’t necessarily an expertise that even the most talented directors have.”

NDS members who did not participate in the panel discussion include Overall & McQuoid of Go Film, Ted Melfi of Area 51, Kyuma Keiichiro of Taiyo Kikaku, Justin Reardon of Turnpike, Sam Ketay of @radical.media, Sebastian Reed of Hungry Man and Cole & Roy of Raw Progressive.

Shoot magazine and the Clios are properties of VNU, parent company of Adweek.