For Paul Gay, 1997 was the year he felt he cracked the directing
game in terms of being offered high-calibre scripts. His showreel boasts
BMP’s Volkswagen ’affordability’ campaign and Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s new
’mum’ One-2-One ad. It was also his first year working as a solo
director, following his split with Steve Reeves.
No mean feat for someone who started his career as a paste-up artist in
an agency in Bromley High Street where the main client was David
Sullivan. ’I used to paste-up all the sex and dildo ads in Razzle,
Parade and Escort,’ Gay reveals.
After this distinguished first foray into advertising, Gay moved to a
design company - which he hated - and began to do D&AD evening courses,
where he teamed-up with Reeves and got a job at BMP DDB.
While at BMP, the pair directed two condom commercials for the Health
Education Authority and others for Marmite and Terry’s through Stark
They left BMP to direct full time at Blink in 1995 but decided to go
their separate ways in 1996. Gay briefly went to Tony Kaye Films and
then moved to Outsider.
The break with Reeves was, according to Gay, a ’natural progression’.
’Directing is more difficult for a team as it really is about a single
view. Steve and I were so similar that we wanted to do the same things
and this could have a negative effect. Also, the crew had to ask two
people if it was OK to do something,’ he says.
Gay admires the directors, Mike Figgis, Chris Palmer and Frank Budgen,
for their ability to work in a variety of styles. ’I know that, probably
because of the success of the Volkswagen campaign, everyone perceives me
as only being able to do documentary work. It’s frustrating that
everyone wants to put a label on you. As I’m an ex-creative, I’ve a good
eye for an idea and if you’re a good director you should be able to
communicate an idea in a different way. That’s why I really like the
The ad combines my docu-realism style with good performances from the
actors and post-production. It’s exciting to think about how I’m going
to work in new ways. New challenges sharpen the brain.’