The Annual 2004: The 10 Hottest directors

1. Danny Kleinman, Kleinman Productions

With no Frank Budgen or Jonathan Glazer to spar with, Danny Kleinman stands head and shoulders above the rest of the pack in 2004. So what if his spot for Foster's Ice earned him his first-ever Turkey of the Week, or his production company, Large Corp, closed? His "someone to turn to" work for the NSPCC, John Smith's "doorstep challenge" and the new PlayStation campaign more than makes up for that momentary lapse of judgment. Now gone solo, Kleinman will still be top of most agency wishlists in 2005, although with Budgen and Glazer rumoured to be looking at scripts and hankering to get behind the camera again, competition might be a little tougher next year.

2. Fredrik Bond, MJZ

Fredrik Bond's work for 3, "jellyfish" and "cherry tart", confounded and annoyed as many people as it delighted. But scripts aside, Bond is clearly nearing the height of his powers as a director, as equally comfortable with emotional performance as he is with whimsical and sometimes eerie special effects.

3. Ivan Zacharias, Stink

Almost as picky as Frank Budgen when it comes to his choice of scripts, Ivan Zacharias deserves his top-three position for his Stella Artois "pilot" film alone. His casting, direction of performance and attention to detail are second-to-none, and, with the competition increasingly focusing on feature films, his place among the top commercials directors in the UK is assured.

4. Ringan Ledwidge, Small Family Business

One of those directors previously mentioned for their move into features, Ringan Ledwidge nevertheless managed to get behind the camera on Adidas' "road to Lisbon" and "getting dressed" for Lynx. The latter is an utterly charming commercial. Adland must be hoping he gets the feature bug out of his system sooner rather than later.

5. Bryan Buckley, Hungry Man

The Hungry Man director remains Britain's favourite US comedy director, and he seems to spend as much time here as he does in New York or Los Angeles. A questionable Barclaycard campaign starring Jennifer Aniston notwithstanding, it's been another good year for Buckley.

6. Tom Carty, Gorgeous Enterprises

Just two years on from his first entry in Campaign's list of the top-ten directors, Tom Carty has built a strong, diverse reel. His work this year has included Pepsi Max "can-fu" and Nike "home game", in which the footballer Thierry Henry takes on all comers in his minimalist bachelor pad.

7. Chris Palmer, Gorgeous Enterprises

Chris Palmer completes a strong showing from Gorgeous Enterprises this year, with his Volkswagen "a life in a day" commercial scoring well in the domestic awards, and Barclays "managers" and HSBC "okey doke" spots gaining wide coverage in the national press, although not always for the best reasons-Sir Bobby Robson was sacked by Newcastle United days after Palmer's Barclays ad broke.

8. Dante Ariola, MJZ

With the new Stella Artois spot under his belt and a string of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic, Dante Ariola, the MJZ director, has had another good year. "Money tree" for Barclays and "coincidence" for Orange stand out on his UK reel, while "urban legend" and "walk" for Levi's with Bartle Bogle Hegarty New York won him plaudits in the US.

9. Traktor, Partizan

2004 has been a relatively quiet year for Traktor, but a strong, late entry in the form of their film "diamonds" for Smirnoff catapults the ex-pat Swedes back into the directors' top ten. Look out for more from them next year.

10. Smith & Foulkes, Nexus Productions

Directing two of the best animated spots of recent years - "Abba to Zappa" for The Observer Music Monthly and "grrr" for Honda Diesel - the animation team Smith & Foulkes will be in high demand for 2005. Get them before they disappear to the US forever.


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