With the tools to become a director now at everyone’s disposal, has that made finding new talent that can genuinely compete in the marketplace more or less difficult?
I believe the ubiquity of tools to make films has made things more difficult for new talent in two ways. Firstly, because of the sheer volume of material and players trying their hand at directing, there is a saturation of personal projects in the market that makes it difficult to pinpoint those directors that really have the talent necessary to succeed in this business. We’ve also noticed that because there is less at stake in shooting a personal project, the approach is slightly different…we’ve traded the belief that the film has to make you say “wow” in some way for “anything goes.” Second, for those filmmakers who do have talent, we’ve noticed that the same saturation in the market has made it more difficult for them to grow as directors because of the reduced volume of films that he/she can pitch on and win each year.
How important would you say the annual YDA competition is to the industry at large?
I believe that the YDA is an important reminder to the industry that nurturing young, new talent is the only way to preserving the quality and consistency of commercial filmmaking.
Last year The YDA introduced a new, socially aware category called Changing the World Frame By Frame; what role do you think directors and the ad industry at large has to play in global social education?
To me, it seems like a win-win situation. We know that advertisers don’t generally do anything for reasons purely altruistic. However, when they make ads with messages that raise our social awareness, it helps us as a community while at the same time allowing advertisers profit off of being socially proactive and give themselves a pat on the back.
As more agencies and some clients continue take production in-house, what do you think these companies are missing out on by turning away from the more traditional model of commercial creation?
I think agencies lose out on being able to place the film in the hands of the ideal director by limiting their options to only those directors that they can work with in-house. I believe that it is a losing situation for both agencies and the directors that work for in-house productions since there is generally no long-term commitment to the director’s career.
What will you be looking for in the shortlisted work when you sit down with your colleagues to judge the YDA?
I generally look to see young directors demonstrating a precociousness or maturity of cinematic language in their films. I also make it part of a director’s job to take “the concept” of the ad to a second level. This makes it difficult sometimes to separate the director’s contribution to a film that has a weak idea. I also look for films by directors that are able to surprise me with new and innovative techniques or approaches. Sometimes there are films that “you just know” should be on the list!