- Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016
- LOS ANGELES
The commercialmaking recipients at the DGA Awards last night (2/6) in L.A. ranged from a first-time nominee earning distinction as the best spot director of the year to a storied helmer who has won that award thrice, been nominated for it 15 times and has now garnered the Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Achievement in Television Direction.
On the former score, Andreas Nilsson of Biscuit Filmworks topped this year’s commercials category on the strength of three entries: “Emily’s Oz” for Comcast/Xfinity out of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, New York; GE’s “Time Upon A Once” for BBDO NY; and Old Spice’s “Dad Song” from Wieden+Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
In his acceptance remarks, Nilsson thanked DGA voters, quipping “I don’t know you personally but I love you. I want to kiss you.” He also thanked table 64 at the awards dinner, expressing gratitude for “not the table per se” but “the people around it” consisting of his cohorts at Biscuit and other collaborators.
Nilsson topped a field of commercial director nominees which also consisted of: Juan Cabral of MJZ; Miles Jay of Smuggler; Tom Kuntz of MJZ; and Steve Rogers of Biscuit.
Venerable director Joe Pytka of PYTKA won the Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Achievement in Television Direction. He has helmed more than 5,000 commercials, been nominated for the DGA Award and won it more times than any other director, garnered the first primetime Emmy for a commercial (HBO’s “Chimps” out of BBDO NY), and is the only director to be awarded the Cannes Lions of St. Marks.
Among his many notable commercials are Nike’s “Bo Knows,” Pepsi’s “Uh-huh” starring Ray Charles, McDonald’s “Nothing But Net” with Michael Jordan and Larry Bird, and the launch spot of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America campaign, “This Is Your Brain On Drugs.” Pytka has directed more than 80 Super Bowl ads with seven winning the USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter annual ranking.
In accepting the DGA’s Lifetime Achievement Award for TV Direction, Pytka brought up on stage with him Austin McCann and Randy Fletcher. McCann was Pytka’s since retired long-time first assistant director and was succeeded by Fletcher. Pytka cited McCann and Fletcher’s dedication to their work, adding that “both sweat blood for me” and are part of an ensemble of people who have helped to make his career body of work possible.
Pytka said he was “so touched” by this latest Guild recognition, adding that “I love the DGA more than I can say.”
Later that evening, Ridley Scott, in accepting a DGA nominee medallion for The Martian, also acknowledged Pytka. Scott hearkened back to his beginnings as a commercial director (which saw him helm some 2,000 spots, including Apple's seminal "1984"). He recalled that whenever he saw a spot he liked and wondered who had done it, pretty much it came down to two directors: his brother, the late Tony Scott, and Pytka. Ridley Scott said to Pytka, who was seated in the audience, “I used to steal stuff off you all the time.”
The evening’s DGA honors for Pytka and Nilsson capped an eventful stretch for the commercialmaking community relative to the Guild. Two nights earlier, the DGA’s annual Meet the Commercial Nominees session graduated to a higher profile with a venue change from theater two to the main theater 1 at the DGA headquarters in Los Angeles, 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 screened for the industry gathering, providing a taste of the high caliber work that was done in 2015.
As in year’s past, the Meet the Commercial Nominees session was moderated by director David Cornell of production house Committee LA. Cornell himself is a past DGA Award winner as best spot director of the year. This time around, four of the five nominated commercial directors were on hand for the panel discussion: Nilsson, Cabral, Jay and Kuntz.