THE WORLD’S HOTTEST NEW DIRECTORS: The New Directors’ Showcase keeps growing. This year Saatchis looked at 500 reels before revealing the top 30 newcomers. Claire Cozens profiles ten of them

By CLAIRE COZENS,, Friday, 25 June 1999 12:00AM

When Saatchi & Saatchi unveiled its annual New Directors’ Showcase to an expectant crowd of delegates at Cannes this year, the usually sun-soaked event was tinged with darkness. Not due to any unseasonally bad weather on the French Riviera, but because the agency had chosen to give this year’s event a funeral theme, complete with wreaths, a coffin and a black-clad Bob Isherwood, Saatchis’ worldwide creative director.

When Saatchi & Saatchi unveiled its annual New Directors’ Showcase

to an expectant crowd of delegates at Cannes this year, the usually

sun-soaked event was tinged with darkness. Not due to any unseasonally

bad weather on the French Riviera, but because the agency had chosen to

give this year’s event a funeral theme, complete with wreaths, a coffin

and a black-clad Bob Isherwood, Saatchis’ worldwide creative


Launched in 1990 by Paul Arden, then Saatchis’ creative director, the

Showcase is about identifying and promoting the star directors of the

future. So it was apt that this year’s event began with a ritual

killing-off of such advertising legends as Tony Kaye, Paul Weiland and

Frank Budgen, before the unveiling of the 30 new directors. Cannes

delegates were invited to ’commemorate the passing of the old and

celebrate the birth of the new’. The event was flagged in Cannes with

posters of ten of the world’s top directors bearing the words, ’In


Every year, agencies across the Saatchis network are asked to come up

with an idea to fill one of the ten poster sites available to promote

the Showcase. But for 1999, Saatchis’ Brussels office came up with the

funeral, a theme considered strong enough to carry the whole event. All

ten poster sites were filled with the ’In Memoriam’ idea, and the event

kicked off with a hearse pulling up to deliver a coffin on to the


The US emerged as the strongest region, reflecting the success of

American advertising at this year’s D&AD awards. Many European directors

have decided to go where the work is, and are now working out of US

production companies.

Isherwood believes that US economic prosperity is encouraging braver and

more creative work: ’There is an air of confidence about the work coming

out of US production companies that we are not seeing elsewhere,’ he

says. ’Economically, the US is very strong at the moment and I think

that is reflected in the work.’

Putting the showcase together is a lengthy process, particularly now

that it is truly international. This year, Saatchis looked at more than

500 reels and 2,000 pieces of film before reaching its final selection

of 30 directors and producing a 50-minute film.

David Perry, head of TV at Saatchis in New York and Mark Hanrahan, head

of TV at Saatchis London, drew up the initial shortlist, and the final

selection was made by Saatchis’ worldwide creative board.


Fredrik Bond began his career as a stills photographer in Sweden before

being hired by a Swedish TV station as an editor, a job that took him on

an around-the-world trip making short films. He stopped off in New York

to study film at New York University and began working as a director on

his return to Sweden. Since he began directing commercials in 1996, Bond

has worked on a number of high-profile campaigns, including

Staropramen,Citroen and the US magazine, Now. He joined The End in March

and his first UK commercial, for Hewlett Packard, launches at the end of

this month. Isherwood describes the Now commercial as ’an excellent

example of the difference that good directing makes,’ adding: ’This

could have ended up looking just like The Guardian ad but he has made it

into something very different.’


Dawn Shadforth is best known for her highly stylised music videos, which

she edits as well as directs. She was voted best new director at the

1999 CAD Awards, and also picked up the best editing award for All

Seeing I’s The Beat Goes On, of which Isherwood says: ’This is a

brilliant example of editing for music videos. Her use of special

effects is impressive.’ Shadforth’s music directing career took off when

she moved to London from her home town, Sheffield, in 1997 and in August

last year she continued her run of success by directing Special for

Garbage. In 1997 she directed a documentary for Channel 4’s Battered

Britain series entitled The Friend’s Tale. She followed this up with a

film documenting a Warp Records tour, The 7 Year Glitch. Shadforth

signed to RSA Films in June 1998 and has yet to make a commercial.


The 25-year-old Quentin Dupieux was catapulted into the limelight this

year by the worldwide success of the Levi’s Sta-Prest campaign featuring

his muppet creation, Flat Eric. He began making films at the age of ten

using his father’s camera and casting his school friends, and has

already sold three short films to the French TV station, Canal +.

Dupieux’s feature film script is being jointly developed by Canal + and

Partizan Midi Minuit, the production company he joined in March 1998.

His first commercial, for BSM, won a gold award at the IAA Awards, and

the Levi’s Sta-Prest campaign has attracted plaudits from around the

world, with Dupieux’s single, Flat Beat, reaching the number one slot in

the charts in its first week on release. ’These are my favourite ads on

the tape,’ says Isherwood of the Sta-Prest work. ’Dupieux has created

this brilliant character out of what is really just a puppet.’


Like many European directors, the Swiss-born Marcel Langenegger moved to

the US to pursue his career. After graduating in visual arts and graphic

design he set up his own design studio in Zurich, handling projects for

Saatchi & Saatchi, Young & Rubicam and Vogue. In 1995, he moved to the

US to study film at the Art Center of Los Angeles. Langenegger graduated

in 1998 with a reel containing two shorts and three spec-commercials and

was immediately signed by Propaganda Films. His debut commercial, for

Chanel No. 5, caught the Saatchis judges’ eye. Shot in 30s-style black

and white, it features a scientist commissioned by Coco Chanel to create

the ultimate perfume. The film, which won a silver at this year’s Clio

Awards, is described by Isherwood as ’very powerful’.


Tom Vaughan may be a relative newcomer to commercials directing, but he

has contrived to work on some of the biggest campaigns of the past year.

His credits include ’confession’ and ’special mission’ for Birds Eye,

’referee’ for Weetabix and ’cleaners’ for Yellow Pages, for which he won

a Golden Arrow at this year’s British Television Advertising Awards.

Vaughan studied theatre, film and television at Bristol University as

part of a drama degree. After graduating, he made several documentaries

and short films including Sculpting in Cyberspace, a documentary about

cyber artists that was screened on LWT and Channel 4. Four of his short

films have received national cinema releases and have done the world

festival circuit. Vaughan is represented by Helen Langridge Associates.

Isherwood says Vaughan was chosen for his skill as a storyteller, both

in his short films and his commercials.


The US director, John O’Hagan, has had a good year by anyone’s

standards, but for a relative newcomer to commercials directing, it has

been spectacular. He was responsible for the multi-award-winning campaign for Cliff Freeman & Partners, winner of this year’s

Grand Clio award, as well as a silver pencil at this year’s D&AD Awards.

O’Hagan graduated in modern culture and media from Brown University in

1991 and went on to do a masters in Film at New York University. He left

in 1996 and went on to direct the film, Wonderland, which premiered at

the Sundance Film Festival in 1997. O’Hagan’s commercials credits

include three Wieden & Kennedy Microsoft campaigns. He has directed

several award-winning short films and his next feature film is in



Peter Cattaneo is a household name in the UK industry since his first

feature film, The Full Monty, became one of the most successful UK films

ever released. But like a number of the directors in this year’s

Showcase, he turned to commercials directing only after having become

established in film and TV. Cattaneo graduated from the Royal College of

Art in 1989 and went on to direct a number of productions through

Channel 4, Thames Television and the BBC, including Diary of a Teenage

Health Freak and The Full Wax. In 1995 he directed Loved Up for BBC2’s

Screen Two strand, before turning his attention to The Full Monty.

Academy signed Cattaneo for commercials in 1997and since then he has

directed three spots for VW, including the multi-award winning ’ruler’.

Other work included two spots for Pot Noodle as well as the widely

acclaimed Audi ’golf’ commercial. He won best new director at last

year’s British Television Advertising Awards and is now working on two

feature film projects.


Ringan Ledwidge graduated from Ravensbourne School of Design with a

first in graphic design. He worked as a photo journalist in the Middle

East before directing his debut commercial for Boots in 1997. He is now

represented by The End in London. Ledwidge’s VW ’self defence’

commercial, which was created by Andy McLeod and Richard Flintham at BMP

DDB, won a silver and two bronzes at the Creative Circle and a silver at

the British Television Advertising Awards. He went on to shoot a

campaign for Radio 1, again with Flintham and McLeod - the first TV work

through the newly opened London offices of Fallon McElligot. Ledwidge

recently finished shooting the new NCR campaign, which involved shutting

down New York’s Fifth Avenue.


Nick Livesey graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1995 with an MA

in graphic design and art direction. He began his career as a freelance

designer in New York, and his work for Paul Smith R. Newbold’s

autumn/winter campaign won a pencil at the 1996 D&AD Awards. He signed

with RSA Films and Black Dog Films as a director in February 1997. The

film that caught the jury’s attention was the title sequence for a

trilogy of short films based on Tony Scott’s 70s film, The Hunger.

Livesey worked on the title sequence with Scott in February 1997.

Isherwood says: ’The titles really stand out - they are very

distinctive. We particularly liked his interesting use of type on the

film.’ Livesey is concen-trating on commercials and music video

directing, and recently directed his first ad for the World Forum.


The Canadian Steve Williams began his career as an animator in1986, when

he left Sheridan College with a degree in classical animation. Two years

later, he became the first animator at Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light &

Magic division, and his feature film credits as an animator include the

likes of The Hunt for Red October, Jurassic Park and The Mask. Williams

made his commercials directing debut last year with a campaign for Intel

and has since worked on a number of high-profile campaigns for clients

including Nintendo and Listerine. His ’death’ commercial for Lexus

begins as a traditional, macho-looking car ad, before we are shown an

X-ray view of the driver, as the G-force of the moving car sends his

brain and eyes to the back of his head. Richard Myers, chairman of

Saatchis’ UK creative board, says: ’This is beautifully shot so you

don’t see the guy coming. As with all the best special effects, you

don’t start wondering how it was done until long after you’ve seen the


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