CANNES ’97: THE WORLD’S HOTTEST NEW DIRECTORS - Where are the bright new directing stars? Harriet Green is given a sneak preview of the Saatchi Showcase

By HARRIET GREEN,, Friday, 27 June 1997 12:00AM

On Wednesday, Saatchi and Saatchi unveiled its annual New Directors’ Showcase to the sun-soaked delegates in Cannes - giving its considered judgment on the star commercials directors of the future. Campaign gives an exclusive preview to ten of the chosen few.

On Wednesday, Saatchi and Saatchi unveiled its annual New

Directors’ Showcase to the sun-soaked delegates in Cannes - giving its

considered judgment on the star commercials directors of the future.

Campaign gives an exclusive preview to ten of the chosen few.

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

New Directors’ Showcase is about locating and promoting new talent in

directing. Last year Saatchis pinpointed Ivan Zacharias who has since

directed the Whiskas films. Further back, the showcase has predicted the

rise of many of today’s top directors such as Tarsem and Jeff Stark.

This year, Saatchis was in a tough mood. Bob Isherwood, Saatchis’

worldwide creative director, who is responsible for the global

consistency of the project, blames technology for many of the below

average reels that Saatchis rejected.

He recalls a comment made by the photographer, David Bailey: ’Computers

can make really bad people good and really good people average.’

Isherwood explains the link with this year’s compilation: ’There was a

lot of work that was totally technical, post-production stuff done on

Harry and Flame.

Overall there was a lack of what I see as basic film-making - casting,

acting, dialogue, music and human emotion.’

That’s why, for the first time, Isherwood decided to feature two short

films - Shona Auerbach’s Seven and Tessa Sheridan’s Is it the Design on

the Wrapper?. Isherwood explains: ’Most of the ads that were sent in

tended to be visual assaults on the senses. Our selection may be a

longing for directors who can follow through on basic film-making.’

Putting the reel together is not an enviable task. Since the showcase is

now truly global, Saatchis splits the job into five regions - UK and

Europe, Asia, Australia, US and Latin America. A London creative

director, John Pallant, and his partner, Matt Ryan, were responsible for

compiling the UK and European lists, going through 120 reels. In the US,

Saatchis considered 200. Europe ultimately emerged as the strongest


What was Pallant looking for? ’Anything that stands out - in any way.’

Isherwood offers a further consideration: ’Directors on this reel don’t

screw up good ideas.’ He says you should move quickly if you want to

sign up one of the chosen for your next campaign. Today Joe Bloggs,

tomorrow Tarsem. Isherwood laughs: ’This year you don’t know them. Next

year they won’t know you.’


Eric Coignoux studied graphic art at the celebrated French school, Des

Arts Decoratifs, and then went on to become a graphic artist, working on

Edit Box and Paintbox. He started directing with various projects for

MTV and in 1995, at the age of 27, joined Partizan Midi Minuit. His

Electrolux ’jungle’ commercial, which uses technical wizardry to

dramatic effect, won a silver at this year’s D&AD, a bronze at the

Clios, and a silver and bronze at the Creative Circle Awards. He has

also made a commercial for Nike with Wieden and Kennedy and has recently

completed a short film called Mange and a music video for No-one is

Innocent. Pallant says: ’He is fantastic at making the impossible look

good. The Electrolux film, for example, is just stunning and incredible

to watch.’


Dominic Murphy established himself as a TV documentaries director. He

switched from studying fine art to film at Leeds Polytechnic. In 1988 he

won the Network 7 Young Directors Competition and went on to direct

title sequences for all the UK TV stations as well as a number of TV


He has built a reputation for extracting ’real’ performances from his

actors. His commercials debut was on BMP DDB’s Ministry of Sound ’use

your vote’ work, which this year won a D&AD silver. Murphy then directed

Sony Playstation’s 1996 campaign showing, among others, a retired racing

car driver and an ex-Kung-Fu movie star. His most recent work is for VW

Passat. This month Murphy left Produktion for Blink. Pallant says: ’He’s

about well-observed, subtle performance with lots of rich detail. He has

a very dry sense of humour.’


Pat Holden joined Blink in August 1996 as a new director. In the ten

months since then, the 30-year-old has shot more than 15 commercials -

including films for the Halifax, Vauxhall Vectra and Boots 17. He

started his career as a writer at TBWA and then in 1995 moved to Rainey

Kelly Campbell Roalfe to work on Virgin, VH1 and Courage. His first film

was a documentary of the 1992 Berlin Love Parade for Marlboro. His next

projects were two short films, Madly in Love and Must be a Good Dancer,

both shown on ITV. His first film to be completed through Blink was The

Golders Green Formation Leaning Team, which Holden describes as ’a piece

of deranged whimsy’. A gritty spot for the British Medical Association,

entitled ’conkers’, through DMB&B, marked his commercials debut. Pallant

says: ’For someone of his experience, the Golders Green film shows

tremendous maturity. Because he’s been a writer he doesn’t

over-complicate things.’


Shona Auerbach wrote and directed her short film, Seven, while at the

Polish National Film School. Inspired by the ’seven ages of man’ speech

in Shakespeare’s As You Like It, her film describes a woman’s life as

she relives the seven roles she has played; as a grandmother, wife,

mother, lover, sister, daughter and baby. Set in Poland, it is a

stunningly photographed piece. It won Best British Short Film and Best

British Student Film at the British Short Film Festival last year.

Auerbach is represented for commercials in the UK by Nexus. Isherwood

says: ’Seven is classic film-making. It has all the disciplines - music,

dialogue, human emotions and humour.’


A 26-year-old Irishman, John Moore is a graduate of the Film and

Television course at the Dublin Institute of Technology. In his graduate

year he wrote and directed a ten-minute drama, Jack’s Bicycle, set in

Ireland during the Second World War. The film won Best Irish Short Film

at the Cork International Film Festival in 1990 and was shown on BBC


He also wrote and directed a short film, He Shoots He Scores, which won

Best Short Film at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1995. Moore

has directed pop videos and worked on features. He is represented in the

UK by Helen Langridge Associates and his advertising output to date

includes a spot for the Commission for Racial Equality through Saatchis

and an eerie piece for Chanel. Isherwood comments: ’This guy knows how

to use powerful visuals.’


Charley Stadler’s ’tabu’ commercial for Guinness, which was aired in

Germany, is a stylish film that features glamorous women describing a

pint of the black stuff using phallic gestures. Based in Munich, Stadler

started work as a photographic assistant. He became a freelance

photographer working for fashion magazines and shot ad campaigns for

Diesel, Premier TV and Manhattan Cosmetics. In 1995, he started

directing for clients such as BMA Ariola, Joy magazine and the RTL TV

channel. He won the gold award at the New York Advertising Festival for

an ad entitled ’against prejudice’, which starred the British model,

Polly Fey, plastered in white mime make-up. Stadler is represented in

Munich by German Answer Production. ’He’s hard to put in a box,’

Isherwood explains. ’The Guinness film is incredibly stylish in the way

it’s shot, like something from Vogue. The ’against prejudice’ ad, on

other hand, is shot almost on 8mm, and is very candid.’


Tessa Sheridan is basking in the success of her short cinema film, Is it

the Design on the Wrapper?, in which a neglected child tells of a

strange encounter with a bubble-gum saleswoman. Distributed with the

feature film, Shine, it won the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival

this year for Best Short Film. Other Sheridan films include the

Chocolate Acrobat, which tells of an elderly woman and a young nurse

incarcerated in a nursing home who are brought together by a ghost

acrobat. Sheridan started her career as an animator on the feature film,

When the Wind Blows.

She is represented by Freedom Films. Isherwood comments: ’In Is it the

Design on the Wrapper? the little girl was brilliant and the shots were

beautifully framed. There is an element of suspense that feeds through

the entire film.’


Chris Cunningham got into film-making when he met up with the techno

band, Autechre, and persuaded them to let him make their promo. The

ensuing film was given huge amounts of airtime on MTV and Cunningham was

then commissioned by several more bands, including Placebo, the Auteurs

and Lodestar. He has just finished filming the promo for Geneva’s new


He is the newest and, at 26, the second youngest recruit to the RSA

Films roster. His first break into commercials came from Mustoe Merriman

Herring Levy with a film about blood transfusion - an edgy number which

features a shaven-headed young woman enjoying the pain caused by

body-piercing and tattooing. Isherwood says: ’He is a good example of

someone who has made a film that is stylish and contemporary but has

managed not to hide the idea.’


Austrian-born Markus Blunder lives and works in Europe and the US. He is

best known for his highly stylised music videos. In 1991, he won the

Best Director and Best Video categories at the Billboard Music Video

Awards. He has now directed more than 30 videos for artists such as En

Vogue, Toni Childs and Des’ree. His short film, the Visit, won a bronze

at the Houston Film Festival in 1991. In the last two years Blunder has

been concentrating on commercials and has completed projects for Lexus

cars, Samsung, American Express, Mercedes and Nintendo. He is currently

working on a 60-second Marlboro film. Isherwood comments: ’His use of

special effects is impressive. His ad for Samsung (which features crows)

was shot from the bird’s point of view which is a very difficult thing

to achieve.’


Eden graduated from Middlesex Polytechnic with a degree in art and

sculpture. He then joined the London Film Makers’ Co-op and became

interested in performance art. He filmed and edited his own performances

but after a while realised he preferred being behind the camera rather

than in front of it. He began creating title sequences for the BBC, NBC

and Sky among others and moved on to film trailers for studios. Eden has

written and directed two speculative commercials for Aiwa and Converse

and has recently completed three spots for Sol, which were shot in

Mexico for an American agency. Pallant says: ’The Converse film was hard

to pull off. He manages to capture the tension of an interview in a very

engaging way. It’s fascinating to watch.’

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