"Story, story, story." This was the refrain of legendary filmmaker Sir Ridley Scott as he opened the 28th New Directors’ Showcase on 21 June, at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
Each year the New Directors’ Showcase offers a definitive view of the best up-and-coming directing talent. Scott curated the 2018 showcase in partnership with visual-effects and production studio MPC, selecting 12 directors from hundreds of entries. Despite advances in technology, "great storytelling" was Scott’s guiding light in narrowing down the shortlist, he says.
"The increase in digital platforms has made film a far more accessible art form and, as storytellers, we have to be mindful of how we use this opportunity," Scott adds. "If you keep storytelling at the heart of everything you do, you’ll be able to adapt and change alongside innovation in the digital realm."
Mark Benson, chief executive of MPC, echoes this principle: "It’s important to remember that it’s not about budget, it’s about the experience and story – there are always innovative ways of achieving a great aesthetic."
For new filmmakers vying for the secret to Scott’s success, the director maintains "there is no formula".
"Just keep trying new things, know your craft, and always push yourself forward," he says. "Pick up a camera and start filming, but before you do, make sure you have a great story to tell and a great team to tell it. Filmmaking is a collaborative process."
ABOUT THE FILMS
Showcase producer and co-creator Andy Gulliman and MPC’s Mark Benson review the films on this year’s reel, while Sir Ridley Scott reveals his favourite work
‘The kids’ • Kristof Brandl
AG This is an outstanding piece of traditional film. It’s well crafted, with great performances.
RS A particular favourite of mine. It really stood out and I wasn’t surprised to learn that it was directed by a cameraman. It engaged me as a viewer and some of the shots were spectacular.
MB The idea, storytelling and craft are all excellent. A truly outstanding film.
Tom Misch ‘Waterbaby’ • Georgia Hudson
AG This promo has impressive shots and beautiful images. It’s subtle, sophisticated and very engaging. It’s a pleasure to watch each time.
‘Frozen’ • Ben Proulx and Joyner Lucas
AG The idea is strong and the execution is exceptional. The co-direction between Ben and Joyner gives a writer and art director combination that enables the lyrics to be influenced by the visual intention of the film. The film filled the room on Thursday – and the room is huge.
‘I’m not racist’ • Ben Proulx and Joyner Lucas
AG "I’m not racist" is a clever, provoking film that shows the strength of the writer/art direction combination, making it a massive online film.
‘Deupsi’ & ‘Goats/La legende de la chevre qui connaissait le vrai sens de la montagne’ • MegaComputeur
AG The characterisation in both these films is fantastic. It is hard to believe the team is so new to directing.
MegaComputeur’s level of competence is incredible at such an early stage of their career. Everything they have done is so enjoyable to watch, so it was difficult to choose which work to show in Cannes. They had to make their own render farm [for the CGI] by borrowing computers from family members.
Honda ‘Dream makers’ • Mike Skrgatic and James Allen
AG "Dream makers" is an amalgamation of four different short films, in four different genres. The film takes viewers on a brilliant whistle-stop tour of the different stages in movie production. We see CGI skeletons, storyboard sketches, grading annotations and printed scripts in this mini movie. It’s incredibly well crafted and memorable. It’s an excellent directorial debut.
PSA ‘In real life’ • Win Bates
AG Bates has gone from agency producer to director. "In real life" was spearheaded by Monica Lewinsky and created by BBDO to mark National Bullying Prevention Month in the US. We have seen many versions of this hidden-camera idea but PSA in real life used this technique to deliver a very strong film that stood out. Casting is great; edit is great; message is delivered brilliantly.
Mashrou’ Leila ‘Roman’ • Jessy Moussallem
AG What’s not to like and praise about this promo? The idea of using 100 women to represent the strength and grace of ongoing feminist action in the Middle East, and each shot beautifully composed. The craft and concept needs to be awarded.
Zhu X Nero ‘Dreams’ • Erik Ferguson and Elliot Seller
AG A very clever and strong promo that has amazing FXs. A totally engaging piece of art that feels unachievable to those who qualify as "New Director".
MB The craft within this piece is exceptional. This strangely surreal and encapsulating promo shows great skill in combining VFX techniques. It is both intriguing and provocative.
‘Thunder road’ • Jim Cummings
AG This black comedy is the Marmite film on the reel. Some didn’t get it. Some absolutely loved it. For me, it’s one of the strongest films this year because I know the guy who wrote it also directed it, plus he is the main character that makes this black comedy so brilliant.
London Grammar ‘Non believer’ • Jodeb
AG This is a visually arresting promo that is beautifully crafted. The visuals complement the track and it looked so good when it played out on the big screen in the Palais.
Confidence Man ‘Boyfriend’ • Schnabel & Schnabel
AG This is a simple and cheeky idea that has been delivered with such care and attention. The pace of the edit carries the humour. An enjoyable film.
‘Happiness’ • Steve Cutts
AG Happiness is pure joy to watch. The narrative is brilliant and the animation style and characterisation makes the film exceptional. It was a highlight of the reel.
MB The story, incredible attention to detail, juxtaposition of animation styles and very clever ending kept me glued to this throughout.