- Friday, Jun. 6, 2003
LOS ANGELES—Director Kathryn Bigelow—whose feature film credits range from the suspenseful submarine thriller K-19: The Widowmaker to the cult classic vampire flick Near Dark—has inked a deal with Crossroads Films, bicoastal and Chicago, for exclusive worldwide commercial representation.
"After meeting with Kathryn, there was no doubt that we wanted to work with her," said Cami Taylor, co-owner/executive producer of Crossroads. "She is an extremely powerful and serious filmmaker—an extraordinary visualist."
Bigelow isn't a stranger to the commercial production world. Over the years, she has directed spots for American brands such as Coca-Cola as well as European clients. Her last significant spotmaking affiliation was with bicoastal/ international @radical. media; according to Bigelow, @radical. media represented her from 1996-'98.
She has been too busy helming features in recent years to focus on spots. But Bigelow said she looks forward to delving back into commercials via her new association with Crossroads. Currently, Bigelow is developing her next feature (an adaptation of Erik Larson's bestseller The Devil In White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America). "So while I'm working on that, there is a great opportunity to focus on commercials," the director pointed out.
As for the appeal of directing spots, Bigelow discussed the enormous challenge of making an impact in :30 or :60. "When you're working with so much compression, there is a kind of necessity placed on every single frame. In features, it's a slightly more languid approach," she explained, adding, "and I do like a hyper-kinetic canvas, so [the short form] suits itself very well to my sensibilities."
Bigelow cited a Rexona deodorant spot she directed as one of her particular favorites.
The fast-paced, action-packed commercial centered on a girl who broke out of prison and couldn't be detected because the dogs sent out to track her can't pick up her scent.
That spot was shot at a minimum-security facility outside of Los Angeles. Bigelow said she enjoys finding visually interesting locations. She once shot a spot for a French insurance company at a scrap metal yard in Oakland, Calif. The ad depicted the demise of a vehicle and showed a car being reduced to dust. "It was just beautiful," she recalled.
"The [car-crushing machines] were like prehistoric creatures against a post-apocalyptic landscape."
From location selection to post, Bigelow said she likes to have a hand in all aspects of a spot job-particularly casting. "Casting is so critical. [Performance] is your primary tool, and I love working with actors," Bigelow said. In her filmmaking career, Bigelow has directed the likes of Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson in the aforementioned K-19: The Widowmaker; Sean Penn and Elizabeth Hurley in The Weight of Water; Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett and Juliette Lewis in Strange Days; and Keanu Reeves in Point Break.
While Bigelow is passionate about filmmaking, she actually began her career as a painter.
"I was going to paint and/or teach art history," she shared. "That was the game plan, and here we are."
So why direct? "It was really an opportunity to work in a more popular medium and a feeling that the art world, though an arena I covet, can also be a little too erudite and a little too sophisticated for an extremely diverse audience," explained Bigelow, who earned a masters degree in film from Columbia University, New York. "The opportunity to reach across class and cultural lines, I think, is the Holy Grail."