THE WORLD’S HOTTEST NEW DIRECTORS: Saatchi & Saatchi’s New Directors Showcase turns the spotlight at Cannes on directing’s international rising stars, Emma Hall writes

Saatchi & Saatchi’s New Directors Showcase has become as much a part of the Cannes International Advertising Festival as cocktails at the Martinez or the familiar pack of Brazilian journalists marching up and down the Croisette in matching T-shirts.

Saatchi & Saatchi’s New Directors Showcase has become as much a

part of the Cannes International Advertising Festival as cocktails at

the Martinez or the familiar pack of Brazilian journalists marching up

and down the Croisette in matching T-shirts.

Almost every creative director in the Saatchis network wants to be

involved in putting the list of bright young things together, and this

year’s crop of new talent was voted on to the showcase at a high-powered

worldwide creative board meeting in Beijing.

This year, each of the three main regions of the network has created a

poster to advertise the showcase presentation, all of which will be

plastered around town for the duration of the week.

The London agency was so pleased with its own poster that it extended

the idea into a film version, which will introduce this year’s showcase

to the audience at the Palais du Festival. The film shows a woman in

hospital, legs open wide, bearing down hard as she fights through the

final stages of childbirth. Eventually, after much groaning, a ray of

light is projected out from between her legs, giving the birth a

mythical, almost religious, feel. The light is projected on to a screen

which announces the arrival of the 1998 Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors


When the directors’ work is finally seen, all the films will (hopefully)

have one thing in common. Adam Kean, the creative director of Saatchis

in London, describes the defining criterion for inclusion in this year’s

reel: ’We looked for directors who bring something to the idea. Too

often, directors are given a fireproof script and then get in the way of

it by showing off.’

This year, Kean adds: ’There are more funny ads on the reel than we have

seen recently. Humour is coming back.’

Not everyone whose work is included in the showcase has declared an

ambition to work in commercials but Kean and his colleagues have picked

out directors who they think would make good commercials if they chose


Georg Misch’s inclusion inspired the director to think seriously about

ads for the first time. ’I want to put on film what I have in my head -

commercials allow you the budget to do that,’ he says.

The directors on the 1998 reel who are not included in this feature for

space reasons are: Dan Nathan at Serious Pictures, Brian Baderman at All

Films (UK), David LaChapelle at Venus, Noam Murro and Richard Sears at

hkm, Dante Ariola at Propaganda (US), Ralf Schmerberg at Trigger Happy

(Germany), David White at Peepshow Films (Australia), Antony Redman at

Renaissance (Singapore), Pucho at 2001 (Argentina), Peder Pedersen at

Locomotion (Denmark) and Pen-Ek Ratanaruang at the Film Factory



Chris Dada directed a Club 18-30 ad for Saatchi & Saatchi in the summer

of1996 but the achievements that won him a place in the showcase are two

Ikea spots for St Luke’s, ’Belinda’s letter’ and the infamous

’downsizer’. Kean comments: ’The ads are well cast and nicely paced.

It’s a lot harder than it looks to do deadpan and he has not done wacky

shots just for the sake of it.’ The Club 18-30 film was included in

the1996 D&AD annual, shortlisted at Cannes that year and won a Creative

Circle bronze award.

Dada, represented by the Directory, has a reel which includes FHM for

Bartle Bogle Hegarty and Goldfish for TBWA GGT Simons Palmer. He

graduated from university in Los Angeles, where he studied acting and

playwriting, and made his mark with a documentary about a dance workshop

with prison inmates and handicapped children which was screened on

Channel 4.


The spot for Philip Treacy, the high-fashion milliner, which is used to

showcase Sanders’ talent on the reel, reveals the director’s background

in graphics, which he studied at St Martin’s School of Art. He graduated

in 1995 and went to Los Angeles where he decided to pursue a career in

directing after working with Tony Kaye on a Tag Heuer commercial.

Sanders’ first break into commercials was a test film for Sony Walkman,

which was accepted by Sony’s ad agency, BMP DDB, and subsequently

broadcast in cinemas and on television throughout Europe. The work

earned him a place on the Tony Kaye & Partners roster at the start of

1997 and since then he has made commercials for Capital Radio Help a

London Child, Woolworths, Sony Playstation, BT and the Daily


’He makes middle-of-the-road ideas feel fashionable,’ Kean says. ’Still

life is hard to do and he always makes his work look pretty. I have

respect for him because you can see that he is really progressing.’


After 15 years spent working in agencies, Kevin Thomas is a well-known

face in British advertising but he became a full-time director with

Blink only a couple of months ago. Thomas made the move after a

successful couple of years at M&C Saatchi, where he worked on accounts

such as British Airways, Foster’s and Whiskas - the last of which won

him a clutch of awards.

Last year he wrote and directed nine commercials for ITV, as well as the

two films that are presented in the showcase - a cinema commercial for

Sekonda and a test film for Stolichnaya vodka.

Kean particularly likes the Sekonda ’backslap’ pastiche, which has a

group of executives from the watch company smugly congratulating each

other on their achievements - until they come to the man who set the

prices so terribly low. ’It is nicely judged and as a pastiche it

couldn’t have been done better,’ Kean says.


’I pushed for this one to be included,’ Kean reveals. ’He is very young

but this is an incredibly mature and ambitious piece of film.’ Misch’s

1996 short, called Insight, has been broadcast in Germany and Australia

and screened at 30 festivals, including the New York Film Festival. It

is a very moving piece, which deals with the experiences of a blind man

who discusses his limited visual experience as he is led around city


Misch, who is finalising his representation in London, has just

graduated from the National Film and Television School where he studied

documentary direction. He also earned a degree in Film and Media Studies

from the University of Stirling.

Recently, Misch has been working as a sound recordist on commercials in

Germany and London, and was finalist in the Stella Screen Short

Competition this year, organised by Lowe Howard-Spink.


Avery has a degree in fine art photography and a CV to match. While at

art school in the US, he worked as an assistant to the celebrity

photographer, Annie Leibowitz. He continued to assist top photographers

after graduating but moved on to fashion photography in 1993, working

with Steven Klein, Steven Meisel and Richard Avedon, as well pursuing

his own photographic projects and developing his experience in moving


’He has a very trendy background but he’s not pretentious,’ Kean


Avery is represented on the showcase by a short film he wrote and

directed, called Hitch, which shows an elderly lady getting one over on

a very big-boned, long-haired rocker. Avery, represented by Freedom

Films, is ambitious for success in features and he is in negotiations

with Universal Studios.

But Kean says: ’If he wanted he could definitely do ads. Hitch is

beautifully shot but it is real, not pretty.’


Three spots for ESPN Sportscenter are enough to illustrate the talent of

this directing duo, who are working through in New


’Kidscenter’, ’pairings’ and ’around the world’ all carry off a deadpan

humour that is craftily sustained throughout the whole campaign. ’They

are very nicely done in the Cliff Freeman tradition,’ Kean says. ’I

particularly like the touch with the Eskimo gloves - I bet the directors

thought of that themselves.’ Kean is referring to ’around the world’,

which shows two news anchormen dressing up in different costumes to

present the news to different countries.

When they are in their Eskimo outfits, they have trouble turning over

the pages of their scripts because of the huge furry gloves they are


Rick LeMoine and Steve Miller are both from the East coast of the US and

went to Syracuse University in the mid-80s. They have worked together at

ad agencies in the past and both directors can boast Dancer, Fitzgerald,

Sample, Ammirati & Puris and Cliff Freeman & Partners on their CVs.


Rad-ish is the name adopted by a two-man team based in Austria and

represented in Los Angeles by U Ground and in Germany by


Their work for Tchibo underwear caught Kean’s eye. ’There are a lot of

charlatans around but you just know this pair are real directors. It is

hard to do sexy ads without being offensive but these two really think

filmically and they have created a powerful ad.’

The second spot on the Rad-ish showcase entry is for Sony


It uses a familiar theme for computer games - a player mistaking a

computer-generated world for the real thing - but approaches the script

with originality.

The result, Kean says, is ’beautiful cinematography’.

Rad-ish describe their own work as ’smooth with bimorphic shapes,

aquatic themes and real-time manipulation’. They are prolific directors

of music videos in Austria.


Two very different films demonstrate the diversity of this 24-year-old’s

talent. Serra wrote and funded a short film which he persuaded America

On Line to run as an ad. It shows a man at home, playing around with the

effects of plugging and unplugging various electrical appliances,

including a fan, a light and a record player. Kean comments: ’Serra is

technically fantastic and very witty with his detail.’

The second spot is for the Entertainment Industry Foundation and shows

actors playing troubled figures - such as an Aids victim and a drug

addict - to show that the entertainment industry knows the difference

between real suffering and dramatic recreations. Kean says: ’It is very

subtle in the way it creeps up on you - it could have been more


Serra was born in Spain and studied at the Columbia Film School in Los

Angeles. He is represented by the End in the US and the UK.


A black-and-white spot for the charity, NAPCAN, imploring parents not to

beat their children is the work that gained Dudley her place on the

showcase. Set in a nursery, it shows the baby acknowledging how

frustrating he can be. Kean describes the film as ’effortless’ - the

matter-of-fact tone really makes the ad stand out.

’Despite the smaller budgets in Australia, it is technically well done,’

Kean adds.

The director began her advertising career as a copywriter in London

before moving to Australia where she worked her way up to become group

head at DDB Sydney.

In October 1996, Dudley decided to direct full time and joined Rowan

Dean Films where she is steadily building a reputation as a director

with a talent for strong, emotional performances.


An ambitious, epic-style commercial for Ergo (a New Zealand insurance

company) has already won Murphy a number of trophies down under.

It recreates an enormous mining operation, with hundreds of slaving

bodies performing routine but dangerous work. ’It is an impressive tour

de force, let down only by the casting,’ Kean says.

The hero who throws off his shackles at the end of the commercial looks

more like a Calvin Klein model than an Old Testament refugee.

The second spot by Murphy is for the Singapore Navy. It is based around

an action sequence set in a submarine, which is manned and captained by

surprisingly young cadets. The final sequence shows that the entire

scene was a fantasy dreamed up by a boy in a bath with a rubber


Murphy, whose parents were both film-makers, started out as a freelance

lighting technician on feature films and moved on to production design

for films, television and commercials before being taken on by Silver

Screen Productions.