Wednesday, October 03, 2007

How Much Difference Does A Good Director Make?

A lot.

That's what occurred to me, looking at the three new pieces of work that kindly readers and PR companies have forwarded to me today.

Have you seen the new Ladbrokes ad (below)? The strategy's not bad - "got an opinion on football? put your money where your mouth is" - though arguably a little convoluted, and the script is pretty fresh, with a cracking twist at the end. But the direction is excellent - the banter between the professional footballers feels amazingly natural, and that's what makes the spot.

Then there's this charming website for Virgin Trains. Everyone's jumping on the environmental bandwagon nowadays, and the idea of Britain's flora and fauna getting together to write a letter extolling the benefits of trains could have been hectoring and/or naff. However, the direction of the film is both deft and daft, and so the whole thing just works.

Finally, this ad promoting the Vancouver Film Festival. Admittedly, it's a great strategy - 'after 16 days of films, nothing will faze you' - but the direction (from the Perlorian brothers) is truly outstanding. Casting, performance, special effects, wardrobe, make-up... all the 'production' bits.... are first-class, and together they raise the work to another level.

That's what a good director can add.


Lunar BBDO said...

Do you mean the twist of Kirsty Gallagher (or whatever her name is) popping in at the end, or Jimmy Hill's appearance?

It is really well directed, though.

Anonymous said...

Undoubtedly a good director can add a lot in the production process. But watch out creatives because the Planners think they can sort us out and that THEY should be there at the edit, sound dub or even on the shoot to make sure we don't screw up. See here for more

Unknown said...

The Ladbrokes advert totally bypassed me: the direction was probably non-existent, as these former players are all cheeky chappy / rent-a-mouth's for either the BBC or Sky anyway, and all that the advert needed was for them to get them in costume, roll the digital and edit accordingly.

Is it special? No. Is it disposable? Yes.

The Virgin advert would be great, if their target market was ten year olds. No-one cares about whether taking a train in better for the environment, for Gods sake. They would care if Virgin could make a train arrive on time, they were guarantee'd a seat in a clean carriage and the cost of the ticket was not extortionate.

Now there's a thought...a train company that can organise itself to be like EzyJet or RyanAir...

The link for the Toronto clips is screwed, by the way.

Alan Wolk said...

Wow. Can't even imagine a planner here in the US thinking of asking to attend a shoot, let alone an edit session.

I'm always amazed to see the kind of influence they have in UK. It's a double-edged sword though: too many of our so-called planners are glorified research people, and the ones that are good tend to spend much of their time in turf battles with the accountniks, who suddenly have no real purpose.

Scamp said...

LBBDO - I meant Hill of course!

Anonymous - good find. This planner is out of his box. Would all right-thinking creatives please follow that link and re-insert him immediately.

Security Dog - not sure I agree "No-one cares about whether taking a train in better for the environment". It may not be the No.1 concern, but it may tip the balance for some people. Well, metrosexual London ad people, at least. And I've fixed that broken link, thanks for pointing it out.

Alan Wolk said...

BTW, you don't have a copy of the Ladbroke's spot with subtitles, do you? Guessing I'm not the only American who's missing large chunks of it ;)

Anonymous said...

toad, it would never make sense to an american. like southerners talking about nascar would never make sense to a brit.

Scamp said...

Okay Toad, I'll do my best to explain just ONE of the 'Britishisms'.

At a certain point in the ad, the players refer to someone's "Barnet".

Barnet is a town just outside London, where there used to be a big fair (carnival).

Barnet Fair = Hair (in Cockney rhyming slang).

Clear? Good.

p.s. Dog means phone (dog & bone, phone)

Anonymous said...

Fine, so the UK process produces great ads, but the 3rd of the three examples is a North American campaign (presumably coming out of North American agency practices).

Your initial point about the contribution of great direction stands. (reinforced by this other example i found on youtube after watching your link: )

Great planning and writing is all academic unless your director can make it great (or, ideally, even greater) so make your choice wisely then support him or her.

Anonymous said...

choosing the right director is a skill unto itself. most commercial directors are wannabe former creatives without any experience of directing talent.

if it's performance based, make sure the director has some theatrical/tv episodic experience. sounds obvious but most good advice usually is.

Anonymous said...

Agreed -- choosing the right director is critical -- but there are no easy formulae.

A film school series or movie man (or woman) may bodge up when forced into :40 or :20 seconds (a D&AD pencil is much harder to win than a BAFTA).

And let's not forget that a great many world-class commercial directors have come from the ranks of ad agency creative departments (even some mentioned in this very article above). (and a few have moved on to become world-class film directors -- so nothing is mutually exclusive here).

It really comes down to a question of who's got the chops and you can only see that in a great reel and an even greater treatment.

The rest is trusting your gut, making that leap of faith and, as a previous poster said, trusting in your director from that point onward.