- Monday, Sep. 26, 2016
- CULVER CITY, Calif.
Rod Blackhurst--who teamed with Brian McGinn to direct the Netflix Original documentary Amanda Knox, which recently debuted to plaudits at the Toronto International Film Festival--has joined the roster of bicoastal production company The Famous Group for commercials. Blackhurst has had a strong showing on the festival circuit this year; back in April the post-apocalyptic drama thriller Here Alone, which he directed, won the Audience Award at the Tribeca Film Fest.
Blackhurst is no stranger to short-form fare. He has to his credit a client-direct Airbnb branding campaign which through five one-minute shorts captured the core idea/company mantra of immersing oneself in different cultures and communities when traveling. “Creatively, we wanted to create a series that captured a day in that specific place/destination from dawn to dusk, with imagery that felt like still images coming to life, single actions activating each frame,” explained Blackhurst. The campaign entailed shooting globally, including in Korea, Croatia, France, London and San Francisco.
Blackhurst also had a hand in directing Funny or Die comedy pieces starring Dave Franco and Chris Mintz-Plasse, and work for such clients as Nintendo and Wilson Tennis. The director is now looking to return to spot work via The Famous Group which is headed by managing director David Kwan.
Blackhurst said, “I’ve always loved short form storytelling--commercials in particular because my job in the format is to find a way to fit all the emotion and tone and pace of a full narrative into 30 to 60 seconds.”
Kwan described Blackhurst as “truly a multi-faceted director. Very few have sensibilities that run from comedy to suspense, over to drama and documentary work. His branding work for Airbnb is perfect, transporting the viewer to a certain place and time, making you want to be there. At the end of the day, Blackhurst knows how to direct beautiful film and performances.”
Reflecting that wide creative range are Here Alone and Amanda Knox. The former introduces us to two groups of survivors deep in the woods who’ve encountered a ravaging virus. One group has managed to avoid infection; the other has been driven to violence, madness and blood lust. The cast includes Lucy Walters, Gina Piersanti, Adam David Thompson, and Shane West.
Amanda Knox takes us inside a much publicized murder case in Italy. Twice convicted and twice acquitted by Italian courts of the brutal killing of her British roommate Meredith Kercher, Knox became the subject of global speculation over the decade-long case. Featuring unprecedented access to key people involved and never-before-seen archival material, the film explores the case from the inside out. Amanda Knox is a human story that moves past the headlines to examine the twisted intersection of true crime tragedy, justice and entertainment.
Regarding the Knox documentary, Blackhurst commented, “People weren’t looking past the headlines to understand what had happened. They had developed these passionate ideas of who these people were, but nobody seemed any closer to figuring out what had really happened despite the global media scrutiny. Past that we felt there was a place for the personal, human side of the story--to actually hear from the people involved--and to see how such a tragic event was turned into entertainment.”
Amanda Knox will be released worldwide on Sept. 30.
While Blackhurst is handled exclusively for spots by The Famous Group, when it comes to branded content, long-form commercial projects, corporate films and industrials, he continues to work with a variety of production companies, including Table of Content, Heist, Something Massive and Rival School Pictures.