Bob Isherwood, the worldwide creative director of Saatchi &
Saatchi, has had to sift through 500 submissions to compose this year's
New Directors Showcase. From these he has chosen 27, which were
presented toan eager audience at the Grand Palais in Cannes this
Now in its 11th year, the Showcase has become an important means of
spotting and rewarding new talent. Saatchis' global network enables
Isherwood to see films from all over the world: hence this year's
entries from as far afield as Japan and India.
However, identifying new directors from remote parts of the world has
become easier for Isherwood, as these days the smartest, and richest,
production companies have talent spotters trotting the globe attempting
to sign the youngsters before anyone else gets to them.
This year's entries show a return to traditional crafts. There are many
animated submissions as well as short films. Yo and To's "star sheep",
Johnny Hardstaff's "PlayStation", and Darren Walsh's "angry kid" among
Isherwood surmises that this is because the advertising industry is not
handing as many big-budget scripts to new directors as it used to. He
says: "This may be because there is more money around at the moment so
they don't have to use the cheap directors."
His other observation is the continuation of a trend he identified in
last year's Showcase: "Pop promos just aren't there," he says. "They
don't seem to be giving a chance to new directors, or if they do, it's
with lots of restrictions."
In contrast to the drama of last year's event, staged by the Cirque de
Soleil, this year Isherwood went for a more edgy style. The event was
themed on the cult short film, Truth in Advertising, which has hit most
people's e-mails at some stage over the past 12 months.
However, its makers, Tim Hamilton (writer and director) and Dave
Chiavegato (writer), came up with a director-themed version called The
The event was promoted along La Croissette, with posters carrying lines
such as "This new guy would be perfect for the job. He hasn't got a
reel," or "I'm really excited about directing this project. Now I can
afford a swimming pool".
This year Isherwood was unable to introduce the Showcase, as he was busy
being president of the Cannes jury. Instead, it was presented on film by
Ridley Scott, who stated his commitment to new directors, pointing out
that he was one once.
Having graduated from St Martin's with a degree in graphic design,
Hardstaff directed a test film for hip-hop band Freestylers. He was
spotted by PlayStation, which commissioned his ten-minute film. He has
now been signed by RSA/Black Dog Films. Isherwood is impressed with the
PlayStation film, which is backed by an intriguingly obscure sound
track: "It's very, very arresting animation that seems to capture all
video game techniques and imagery. It keeps you moving along with
It seems obvious in retrospect that a copywriter as talented as Tom
Carty should enter the New Directors Showcase as he embarks on his
directing career. Represented now by Gorgeous Enterprises, Carty has
also directed a promo for Jamie Oliver's band, as well as some
Sainsbury's commercials starring the chef. His commercial for The
Economist has given him a freer creative rein, which has demonstrated
his directing credentials. Isherwood is full of praise: "This could have
been very ordinary. It's not something that is stunning on a piece of
paper, but it has been made stunning on a piece of film. He has made the
idea stronger. He has done the task of all creatives, which is to make a
simple idea memorable."
A film/video graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, Jhaveri was born
in the US to Indian parents. Soon after graduation he joined MTV's
On-Air Promotional department in New York and after three years moved to
Bombay with the company. In 1996 he returned to New York, where he
continued working with MTV. Isherwood praises the vitality of Jhaveri's
work: "Barbershop is beautifully directed and edited. The music and
images bounce along together."
ANTOINE DESCHAMPS and JOVANN LEBLANC
"Yo&To", both French, met in Valenciennes at Supinfocom, a computer
graphics and multimedia college. The pair, aged 26 and 25 respectively,
are now working on ads and clips through Wanda Productions. Their short
animated film, "star sheep", was in part inspired by Yo's (bottom)
life-long fascination with all things military. Isherwood explains why
he included the film in this year's showcase: "I always like to include
something that challenges people's intellect, boredom threshold and eye
Patrick Sherman claims to be the son of an American diplomat that was
separated from his parents and raised by a tribe of Batu Pygmies. He
attended USC and the American Film Institute before being taken on as a
director by Anonymous. Although evidently equipped with an active
imagination, Sherman has not let it run wild in his commercial for
Pepsi. Isherwood says: "When you have such brilliant, single-minded
simplicity the temptation to screw it up must have been huge.
Fortunately the director has done the idea justice by staying out of the
CARL ERIK RINSCH
Although only 23 years old, American-born Rinsch has the unusual
accomplishment of having helped to develop the FlexiCAM, beloved by
plumbers the world over, under his belt. While at Brown University he
was hired as a photographer by Rolling Stone magazine before making
three commercials for his final thesis. He was rapidly signed by RSA. In
May, Campaign Screen and D&AD named him the Best New Director 2001,
citing his test film for Pepsi in particular. Isherwood is also
impressed with his Tampax spot. He calls Rinsch "a really good visual
director", adding "as you would expect from RSA".
Nakao began making 8mm films at school and continued while at
university. The simplicity of 8mm enabled him to work alone, which he
says he has been able to continue doing but now using digital
technology. He now hopes to make a feature film. Isherwood was bowled
over: "The images are just so extraordinary. You don't see animation
done like this in the west. He's borrowing from film with the flickering
style. He was chosen on craft, originality and the idea. He has a
visually disturbing style."
Smith already has some formidable film credits to his name. His first
feature film, American Job, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
Three years later, American Movie won the Grand Jury Prize at the
festival. His most recent film, Home Movie, was produced in conjunction
with TBWA/Chiat/Day. His "Laurel Lane" spot for Pacific Bell and his
"cop" spot for TiVo firmly establish him as a talented comedy director.
Isherwood says: "Directing humour takes a really special skill. There
are a lot of really famous directors who can't direct comedy."
SVEN GELIN and CARL LARSSON
No list of new creative talent would be complete without a Scandinavian
entry. This pair joined forces in 1999, Larsson (bottom) having been an
editor at SVT-Drama and Gelin (top) having worked as a copywriter in TV
productions. Now represented by Harry Nash, they have directed
commercials for McDonald's, Thorn and Twist. Isherwood points out that
running a film backwards, as in the Twist spot, is not a new technique.
He says: "That idea has been seen and done a lot, but I've never seen it
done so well. Everyone who does a reverse-the-clock ad should consider
Walsh graduated with an animation degree and his first film is called
Oozat. The film, which used a mixture of pixillation and mask animation,
won Best European Short Film at the Cork International Film Festival and
the Jury Prize at Hiroshima. Walsh's series of 20 "angry kid" films,
which use a refined version of the mask/pixillation technique, got him
noticed by Aardman Animations. The films, promoted using the internet,
have already developed a cult following.