- Friday, Apr. 1, 2016
With this year’s Oscars and Guild awards behind us—and the AICP Show, Cannes Lions and Emmys looming ahead—we are in an interim stretch which allows for some reflection on the awards season.
And strangely it’s not the gala award shows that stand out for me but rather a less heralded event that took place two evenings prior to the DGA Awards ceremony—the Guild’s Meet the Commercial Nominees session.
I remember back in 1979 when the Directors Guild of America opened up its awards to the ad industry with the creation of a commercials category. It was a milestone breakthrough in terms of recognition for the art of spot filmmaking, with Rob Lieberman winning the inaugural award.
Now the DGA stepped up its recognition with a rejuvenated Meet the Commercial Nominees panel discussion, moving the venue from Theater 2 to Theater 1 at the DGA headquarters in L.A., accommodating a larger audience and the screening of all this year’s nominated spot work on the Guild’s marquee cinema screen. Also for the first time, a montage of entries from some 50 directors for this year’s DGA commercials competition was showcased for the industry gathering, providing a taste of the high caliber work that was done in 2015.
Another highlight of that evening didn’t materialize because director Joe Pytka couldn’t appear as planned due to a shoot. Nonetheless the reason for Pytka’s originally scheduled participation also underscored how commercialmaking’s stature has grown in the eyes of the Guild. This year Pytka became the first spotmaker to receive the DGA’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Achievement in Television Direction.
The Meet the Commercial Nominees session was moderated by director David Cornell of Committee LA. This time around, four of the five nominated commercial directors were on hand for the panel discussion: Andreas Nilsson of Biscuit Filmworks, Juan Cabral of MJZ, Tom Kuntz of MJZ, and Miles Jay of Smuggler. Not in attendance was nominee Steve Rogers of Biscuit.
In our Spring Directors Series, SHOOT profiles three of this year’s DGA Award winners: Nilsson, Alejandro G. Iñárritu who took the feature honor for The Revenant, and Matthew Heineman who won for the documentary Cartel Land.