Saturday, October 22, 2016
  • Friday, Jun. 22, 2007
Saatchi New Directors Showcase Raises The Bar
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On one hand the numbers for this week's Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors Showcase in Cannes were slated to be larger than ever with a capacity audience at the Grand Auditorium and for the first time a webcast enabling people worldwide to view the event live.
    But another tally--the number of directors--was actually lower for the 17th annual Saatchi Showcase, which was presented on Thursday (6/21) during the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival proceedings. This time around the Showcase featured the talent of 18 emerging directors (with the agency counting several teams as individual entries) from around the world. By comparison, last year there were 22 directors.
    "We felt we had to raise the standards even higher," explained Bob Isherwood, Saatchi's worldwide creative director. That decision, he noted, was triggered by last year's experience, in which the depth of talent was so great that Saatchi felt it could have easily had enough directors to fill three Showcases.
    That raised a red flag of sorts for Saatchi that the bar needed to be raised further. "We wanted to up the ante a bit, make the judging even more rigorous," said Isherwood, adding that logistics also came into play in that a high percentage of the selected directors this year had longer form fare, including shorts, virals and music videos.
    Such work of longer duration meant fewer directors could fit into the allotted time for the festival presentation and screening.

Spot ratio    Indeed whereas the norm years ago for the Showcase had the vast majority of projects being commercials, now maybe some 20 percent of the directorial lineup's work consisted of spots.
    As for what caused this shift, Isherwood reiterated his assessment from last year, namely that the ad industry "isn't creating as many good creative opportunities as it used to for young directors. There are just so many good scripts to go around and frequently established directors are stepping in and taking them. From an agency standpoint, it makes more sense to entrust a job to an established director instead of a new director, all things being equal otherwise."
    At the same time, other forms of content are gaining momentum with new media experimentation. Hence some of the aforementioned longer form projects are gaining prominence in the Showcase mix.
    Economics also come into play. For example, Isherwood said that this year the number of animation/effects projects up for consideration was larger than ever. In canvassing Saatchi's network of creatives worldwide as to why, Isherwood said the answer was that with viable software becoming more accessible and affordable, the animation/digital route is for many an easier way to showcase their directorial talent and break into the filmmaking ranks.

Animation    Animation was well represented in this year's Showcase, with Isherwood citing the work of such directors as Josh Raskin (I Met The Walrus, an animated/motion graphics short) of Electric Company, Toronto, and Minivegas (the John Cale clip "Jumbo") from the U.K.
In terms of short films and music video fare, Isherwood singled out respectively, Showcase directors Amy Gebhardt and Trish Sie.
    The latter directed the music clip "Here It Goes Again" for OK Go, which won a Grammy for best short form video earlier this year. Sie is with Bob Industries, Santa Monica.
    Gebhardt of Wildyam Films, Sydney, scored Showcase inclusion on the strength of Look Sharp, a short film she wrote and directed about a female artist who spends time with gang members to document their brutal world and lifestyle.
    On the commercialmaking front, Isherwood pointed to director Tony Barry of Academy, London, for his "Baby Roadies" XFM music station spot out of Mother, London. The humorous tongue-in-cheek promo chronicles the life of child roadies who work backstage for musical acts on tour. The spot was produced by bicoastal/international Hungry Man.

In the mix    U.K. houses fared particularly well in the Showcase directorial mix this year. Academy had two directors make the Showcase: Barry and the Conkerco collective (based on its short film Marjorie Daw), as did London-based Gorgeous Enterprises with Vince Squib (Transport For London's public service spot "The Day You Went To Work") and Joaquin Baca-Asay (who's stateside home is Park Pictures, New York). Other Showcase directors from U.K. shops were: Rozan & Schmeltz of Partizan, London; Ramon Bloomberg of Blink Productions, London; and Johnny Green of Knucklehead, also in London.
    Stateside helmers included Sie from Bob Industries, and San Francisco-based Lev Yilmaz.
    Brazil also scored a couple of Showcase directors: 300ML from Hungry Man Rio in Rio de Janeiro, and Nando Cohen of Lobo, Sao Paulo.
    Rounding out the Showcase roster were Luciano Qulici of Landia, Buenos Aires; Borgato & Berte of H Films, Milan; and Jonas & Francois from El Nino@75, Paris.