World: My Portfolio - Larry Frey

Larry Frey was a creative director at Wieden & Kennedy before spending two years as a founder of 180 Amsterdam. It was then he decided to try his hand at directing. That was in 2000, when Frey was 46. "I thought, 'time's running out if you want to do this, and you can't do it as a hobby'," he says. Clearly, he's no amateur - in the past four years, he has directed numerous ads through the California-based production company Villains.

While at W&K, it was hard for Frey to avoid Nike. He was the creative director for the agency in Tokyo, Portland and Philadelphia, so it comes as no surprise that one of his first directing jobs, before he decided to quit agency life, was for the sports brand.

"Level playing field" shows different elements of the office workforce playing football. The ad uses split-screen and each element finishes with a freeze-frame, ending with the ad's title as the endline. "I like to go slow and use different tempos and techniques such as split-screen. And I love to get involved in editing," Frey says.

He directed and edited "rain" for Adidas last year. The spot features a man walking in a rain-soaked street with no shoes so he can keep his trainers dry. Frey describes how the ad called for ingenuity as well as skill in the cutting room. "I had to shoot the vaguely West Village-looking scene on a 75-foot backlot street in the San Fernando Valley that was used for Seinfeld. We were eventually able to achieve the appropriate grit by adding trash, dirty taxi cabs and grumpy-looking extras."

The Nike connection has led Frey to plenty of jobs with a sports theme.

He feels a little typecast, but he is also being given more work directing funny dialogue. He is passionate about quirky humour. "I'm a huge fan of Woody Allen and I think Ricky Gervais is a genius actor and writer," he says.

One of his non-sports spots is for the job search company HotJobs. The ad features a silver ball flying off an executive toy and travelling through various scenes before ending up with a small group of children playing marbles.

His sense of fun is evident in his recent ad for Toyota, "hurdles", in which a truck enters the 110-metre hurdles. Humour is something he wants to do more of. "If I ever have an opportunity to inject that into an ad, I will do it," he says.

And his plans for the future? Apart from more funny dialogue and fewer sports scripts, he wouldn't say no to a script from the UK - one country where he hasn't yet directed and where he reckons there's a far higher batting average of good work than in the US.

- Larry Frey was talking to Pippa Considine.

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