Saatchi & Saatchi’s New Directors Showcase has become as much a
part of the Cannes International Advertising Festival as cocktails at
the Martinez or the familiar pack of Brazilian journalists marching up
and down the Croisette in matching T-shirts.
Almost every creative director in the Saatchis network wants to be
involved in putting the list of bright young things together, and this
year’s crop of new talent was voted on to the showcase at a high-powered
worldwide creative board meeting in Beijing.
This year, each of the three main regions of the network has created a
poster to advertise the showcase presentation, all of which will be
plastered around town for the duration of the week.
The London agency was so pleased with its own poster that it extended
the idea into a film version, which will introduce this year’s showcase
to the audience at the Palais du Festival. The film shows a woman in
hospital, legs open wide, bearing down hard as she fights through the
final stages of childbirth. Eventually, after much groaning, a ray of
light is projected out from between her legs, giving the birth a
mythical, almost religious, feel. The light is projected on to a screen
which announces the arrival of the 1998 Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors
When the directors’ work is finally seen, all the films will (hopefully)
have one thing in common. Adam Kean, the creative director of Saatchis
in London, describes the defining criterion for inclusion in this year’s
reel: ’We looked for directors who bring something to the idea. Too
often, directors are given a fireproof script and then get in the way of
it by showing off.’
This year, Kean adds: ’There are more funny ads on the reel than we have
seen recently. Humour is coming back.’
Not everyone whose work is included in the showcase has declared an
ambition to work in commercials but Kean and his colleagues have picked
out directors who they think would make good commercials if they chose
Georg Misch’s inclusion inspired the director to think seriously about
ads for the first time. ’I want to put on film what I have in my head -
commercials allow you the budget to do that,’ he says.
The directors on the 1998 reel who are not included in this feature for
space reasons are: Dan Nathan at Serious Pictures, Brian Baderman at All
Films (UK), David LaChapelle at Venus, Noam Murro and Richard Sears at
hkm, Dante Ariola at Propaganda (US), Ralf Schmerberg at Trigger Happy
(Germany), David White at Peepshow Films (Australia), Antony Redman at
Renaissance (Singapore), Pucho at 2001 (Argentina), Peder Pedersen at
Locomotion (Denmark) and Pen-Ek Ratanaruang at the Film Factory
Chris Dada directed a Club 18-30 ad for Saatchi & Saatchi in the summer
of1996 but the achievements that won him a place in the showcase are two
Ikea spots for St Luke’s, ’Belinda’s letter’ and the infamous
’downsizer’. Kean comments: ’The ads are well cast and nicely paced.
It’s a lot harder than it looks to do deadpan and he has not done wacky
shots just for the sake of it.’ The Club 18-30 film was included in
the1996 D&AD annual, shortlisted at Cannes that year and won a Creative
Circle bronze award.
Dada, represented by the Directory, has a reel which includes FHM for
Bartle Bogle Hegarty and Goldfish for TBWA GGT Simons Palmer. He
graduated from university in Los Angeles, where he studied acting and
playwriting, and made his mark with a documentary about a dance workshop
with prison inmates and handicapped children which was screened on
The spot for Philip Treacy, the high-fashion milliner, which is used to
showcase Sanders’ talent on the reel, reveals the director’s background
in graphics, which he studied at St Martin’s School of Art. He graduated
in 1995 and went to Los Angeles where he decided to pursue a career in
directing after working with Tony Kaye on a Tag Heuer commercial.
Sanders’ first break into commercials was a test film for Sony Walkman,
which was accepted by Sony’s ad agency, BMP DDB, and subsequently
broadcast in cinemas and on television throughout Europe. The work
earned him a place on the Tony Kaye & Partners roster at the start of
1997 and since then he has made commercials for Capital Radio Help a
London Child, Woolworths, Sony Playstation, BT and the Daily
’He makes middle-of-the-road ideas feel fashionable,’ Kean says. ’Still
life is hard to do and he always makes his work look pretty. I have
respect for him because you can see that he is really progressing.’
After 15 years spent working in agencies, Kevin Thomas is a well-known
face in British advertising but he became a full-time director with
Blink only a couple of months ago. Thomas made the move after a
successful couple of years at M&C Saatchi, where he worked on accounts
such as British Airways, Foster’s and Whiskas - the last of which won
him a clutch of awards.
Last year he wrote and directed nine commercials for ITV, as well as the
two films that are presented in the showcase - a cinema commercial for
Sekonda and a test film for Stolichnaya vodka.
Kean particularly likes the Sekonda ’backslap’ pastiche, which has a
group of executives from the watch company smugly congratulating each
other on their achievements - until they come to the man who set the
prices so terribly low. ’It is nicely judged and as a pastiche it
couldn’t have been done better,’ Kean says.
’I pushed for this one to be included,’ Kean reveals. ’He is very young
but this is an incredibly mature and ambitious piece of film.’ Misch’s
1996 short, called Insight, has been broadcast in Germany and Australia
and screened at 30 festivals, including the New York Film Festival. It
is a very moving piece, which deals with the experiences of a blind man
who discusses his limited visual experience as he is led around city
Misch, who is finalising his representation in London, has just
graduated from the National Film and Television School where he studied
documentary direction. He also earned a degree in Film and Media Studies
from the University of Stirling.
Recently, Misch has been working as a sound recordist on commercials in
Germany and London, and was finalist in the Stella Screen Short
Competition this year, organised by Lowe Howard-Spink.
Avery has a degree in fine art photography and a CV to match. While at
art school in the US, he worked as an assistant to the celebrity
photographer, Annie Leibowitz. He continued to assist top photographers
after graduating but moved on to fashion photography in 1993, working
with Steven Klein, Steven Meisel and Richard Avedon, as well pursuing
his own photographic projects and developing his experience in moving
’He has a very trendy background but he’s not pretentious,’ Kean
Avery is represented on the showcase by a short film he wrote and
directed, called Hitch, which shows an elderly lady getting one over on
a very big-boned, long-haired rocker. Avery, represented by Freedom
Films, is ambitious for success in features and he is in negotiations
with Universal Studios.
But Kean says: ’If he wanted he could definitely do ads. Hitch is
beautifully shot but it is real, not pretty.’
Three spots for ESPN Sportscenter are enough to illustrate the talent of
this directing duo, who are working through @radical.media in New
’Kidscenter’, ’pairings’ and ’around the world’ all carry off a deadpan
humour that is craftily sustained throughout the whole campaign. ’They
are very nicely done in the Cliff Freeman tradition,’ Kean says. ’I
particularly like the touch with the Eskimo gloves - I bet the directors
thought of that themselves.’ Kean is referring to ’around the world’,
which shows two news anchormen dressing up in different costumes to
present the news to different countries.
When they are in their Eskimo outfits, they have trouble turning over
the pages of their scripts because of the huge furry gloves they are
Rick LeMoine and Steve Miller are both from the East coast of the US and
went to Syracuse University in the mid-80s. They have worked together at
ad agencies in the past and both directors can boast Dancer, Fitzgerald,
Sample, Ammirati & Puris and Cliff Freeman & Partners on their CVs.
Rad-ish is the name adopted by a two-man team based in Austria and
represented in Los Angeles by U Ground and in Germany by
Their work for Tchibo underwear caught Kean’s eye. ’There are a lot of
charlatans around but you just know this pair are real directors. It is
hard to do sexy ads without being offensive but these two really think
filmically and they have created a powerful ad.’
The second spot on the Rad-ish showcase entry is for Sony
It uses a familiar theme for computer games - a player mistaking a
computer-generated world for the real thing - but approaches the script
The result, Kean says, is ’beautiful cinematography’.
Rad-ish describe their own work as ’smooth with bimorphic shapes,
aquatic themes and real-time manipulation’. They are prolific directors
of music videos in Austria.
JAUME COLLET SERRA
Two very different films demonstrate the diversity of this 24-year-old’s
talent. Serra wrote and funded a short film which he persuaded America
On Line to run as an ad. It shows a man at home, playing around with the
effects of plugging and unplugging various electrical appliances,
including a fan, a light and a record player. Kean comments: ’Serra is
technically fantastic and very witty with his detail.’
The second spot is for the Entertainment Industry Foundation and shows
actors playing troubled figures - such as an Aids victim and a drug
addict - to show that the entertainment industry knows the difference
between real suffering and dramatic recreations. Kean says: ’It is very
subtle in the way it creeps up on you - it could have been more
Serra was born in Spain and studied at the Columbia Film School in Los
Angeles. He is represented by the End in the US and the UK.
A black-and-white spot for the charity, NAPCAN, imploring parents not to
beat their children is the work that gained Dudley her place on the
showcase. Set in a nursery, it shows the baby acknowledging how
frustrating he can be. Kean describes the film as ’effortless’ - the
matter-of-fact tone really makes the ad stand out.
’Despite the smaller budgets in Australia, it is technically well done,’
The director began her advertising career as a copywriter in London
before moving to Australia where she worked her way up to become group
head at DDB Sydney.
In October 1996, Dudley decided to direct full time and joined Rowan
Dean Films where she is steadily building a reputation as a director
with a talent for strong, emotional performances.
An ambitious, epic-style commercial for Ergo (a New Zealand insurance
company) has already won Murphy a number of trophies down under.
It recreates an enormous mining operation, with hundreds of slaving
bodies performing routine but dangerous work. ’It is an impressive tour
de force, let down only by the casting,’ Kean says.
The hero who throws off his shackles at the end of the commercial looks
more like a Calvin Klein model than an Old Testament refugee.
The second spot by Murphy is for the Singapore Navy. It is based around
an action sequence set in a submarine, which is manned and captained by
surprisingly young cadets. The final sequence shows that the entire
scene was a fantasy dreamed up by a boy in a bath with a rubber
Murphy, whose parents were both film-makers, started out as a freelance
lighting technician on feature films and moved on to production design
for films, television and commercials before being taken on by Silver