If it hadn't have been for a cash-strapped client, American Paul Goldman might not have become a director.

While working on the Ikea account at Deutsch in New York, the Swedish retailer's advertising budget was as limited as its self-assembly instructions. Unable to afford a director on its $25,000 budget, the client urged Goldman to try his hand at directing a 90-second spot. He reflects: "I realised that directing was more challenging than being a creative director, which is far more administrative."

For two years, Goldman continued to direct at Deutsch before committing to his new career full- time. He frequently directed ads for quintessentially British brands which often led to him being mistaken for a British director, something his recent move to London will no doubt compound.

One of his British ads was "apartment" where a man dramatically disentangles himself from snogging his other half after she's been munching on a Marmite-smeared bagel. He recalls: "There were differences of opinion over the casting. I wanted a different guy and the agency wanted a different woman. In the end, I got the woman (Alex Gains) and they got the guy: the perfect compromise."

Goldman also worked with BMP on the Volkswagen Passat spot "disturbance" which shows a man irritated by everyday noise after the luxurious silence of his car. "When BMP sent me the script, I said 'I'm this guy', so I could tap into my own neuroses. I have a real soft spot for that ad."

More recently, Goldman directed "haircut" for Yellow Pages starring James Nesbitt. He says: "You want to feel James' embarrassment as well as gratified by his solution. I loved working with James as he understands the relationship between his character and the camera."

Goldman also enjoyed working on Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R's Land Rover spot where a man examines artefacts from his girlfriend's adventure-laden travels, although the shoot was not without its challenges. "There was one place where we couldn't get insurance because there are still cannibals there. It was the ideal place to shoot but none of us wanted to be eaten!"

- Paul Goldman was talking to Lucy Aitken.