World: My Portfolio - Jason Smith

You can't accuse Jason Smith of always taking the easy option. He began his career as a runner, assisting directors such as Roger Lyons (of Levi's "launderette" fame). Throughout his career, he's devoted himself to directing ambitious projects on tight deadlines. "Covert" for Nike stars the cyclist Lance Armstrong pedalling alongside a truck until the mammoth vehicle swerves and meets a sticky end. The ten-day shoot in Spain was "nerve-wracking", according to Smith. Armstrong could spare only four hours and disposing of the truck caused several headaches. "In the end, we found a quarry on private land and gave a guy a load of money to chuck it in," Smith says. Two days in an editing suite and the ad was on air. It's now preserved at the Museum of Modern Art in New York after winning an Art and Technique of the American TV Commercial award in 2001.

Mountain Dew was another nail-biting shoot, with just a two-week turnaround.

The ad shows a man in a kayak who goes out into the ocean to enjoy his drink and gets swallowed by a whale. "We had to build a bridge and an 18-foot rig to plunge the man and the kayak underwater," Smith recalls.

"The idea was that the world and his uncle was in there." The interior of the whale was, in fact, a 70-foot, rocking construction, complete with water sloshing around.

From whale insides to stupid cows: Smith directed "supermarket heist" for Cravendale milk, which shows a herd of cattle trying to get their milk back. "Cows are very stupid," Smith says, "so it was a very slow process. The ad was shot in Prague, so we had to herd them around the city. We had a huge fog machine to give it that early morning atmosphere. It was all a gentle nod towards the 70s heist film."

More recently, Smith directed "wacky races" for the Vauxhall Corsa. "My approach was to keep it as close to the original (cartoon) as possible and that's why you have that cartoon feel to the whole thing." The ad was filmed in New Zealand and used a lot of the same locations as the Lord of the Rings trilogy. "There's amazing height in the mountains and we accentuated that in post. We shot it in November and the light was very clean, as opposed to South Africa, which is more atmospheric."

The fact that South Africa (in the same time zone and only a short flight away) was rejected in favour of New Zealand (opposite time zone, long flight) shows just how far Smith will go to get the required look in his work. He is considering scripts for feature films.

- Jason Smith was talking to Lucy Aitken.