10 Directors Who Are Advancing Ads, Film and Interactive Experiences

They’ve got visual storytelling on lock

When one thinks of directors in this industry, the first default is to look for the big, expansive brand work that captures the imagination of consumers and drives culture. The next thought is: Super Bowl. Yes, there are Super Bowl ads in this year’s Creative 100. But there are also films addressing race and content for wildly popular TV series, social campaigns and activations.
Melina Matsoukas
Represented by: De la Revolución Films and Prettybird
Based in: Los Angeles


Recent work: Her first feature film, Queen & Slim, tells the story of a young Black couple who kill a police officer in self-defense and then must go on the run. “Every aspect of the process was challenging, from telling an original story that deals with systemic racism both in society and on screen, to maintaining ownership of the narrative surrounding the film. It had real purpose, and although challenging, it was a privilege to honor those people of color who lost their lives to police brutality,” she says.

Advice for aspiring filmmakers: “Educate yourself. Hone your craft,” she says. “For me, that meant both studying film, its history and production in a classroom setting, while also gaining experience on set. But education comes in many forms, and I believe deeply in learning your craft, immersing yourself in your passion to create great art.” —Doug Zanger


Tim Godsall
Represented by: Anonymous Content
Based in: Toronto and Los Angeles


Recent work: Squarespace’s Super Bowl ad featuring Winona Ryder in the Minnesota town that inspired her first name. “The experience had elements of ambition, chaos and Arctic temperatures that made it challenging and rewarding,” Godsall recalls. “David Lee [Squarespace CCO and also a 2020 Creative 100 honoree] and his gang are both agency and client, so things can move at a nimble pace. That’s key when you’re about to shoot with a famous person who may or may not have actually agreed to the scripts, locations which may or may not allow shooting to take place and skies that may or may not cough up a blizzard or two—they did. Always a fun adventure with them, and something I’d sign up for any time.”

Advice for aspiring directors: “Make things you like,” he says. “Don’t wait for others to catapult you into orbit, and don’t wait for permission.” —D.Z.


Ali Ali
Represented by: Good People, Little Minx and Caviar Paris
Based in: Athens, Greece


Recent work: Diesel’s “Be a Follower,” which poked fun in 2019 at influencers by joking about their challenges, such as eating a meal without taking countless photos of it.
What fun looks like: “We had quite a challenging time with styling [“Be a Follower”]. As you can imagine, Diesel can be very involved—a bit too involved—when it comes to styling. They were looking to style according to what sells, while I was trying to style for the better shot. We had very little time, just two days, to make a huge film, and timing was crazy,” Ali says. “But it [came together] and remains my most fun project from that year.”
Personal mantra: “Respect the product, not the process,” he says. —D.Z.


Fx Goby
Represented by: Nexus Studios
Based in: London


Recent work: VW’s “The Last Mile,” a tribute to the carmaker’s discontinued, beloved Beetle. The animated 90-second film captured the car’s cultural significance. “It’s rare in advertising to make a film that is not selling anything but just paying tribute to one of the most iconic pieces of design of all time,” Goby says, describing feedback from “generations of people relating to this car like a moving box of memories.”

This story first appeared in the June 8, 2020, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

@zanger doug.zanger@adweek.com Doug Zanger is a senior editor, agencies at Adweek, focusing on creativity and agencies.
@jasonlynch jason.lynch@adweek.com Jason Lynch is TV/Media Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.