Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors' Showcase
We pick our favourite films from the amazing NDS reel and talk to the directors following this morning's event.
The audience was in for a treat at the Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors’ Showcase in Cannes this morning as an array of riveting films from fresh talent was screened.
The event, now in its 24th year, presents a reel of Saatchi & Saatchi’s picks for some of the world’s most promising young directors.
Once again, shots was excited to get exclusive access to the reel before the showcase and, although we loved all the films, we decided to narrow it down to our personal top five and find out a bit more about them.
Below, you can find further insight into these top five picks from our interviews with the directors themselves.
Us (Christopher Barrett and Luke Taylor)
UK, age 28, signed to Academy Films
We met at Kingston University studying graphic design. We kind of fell into directing, it wasn’t something that we planned but the graphic design course at Kingston is very much about ideas and applying those ideas to whatever medium is correct. We thought it would be fun to make a music promo for the D&AD student awards. The promo was for Thom Yorke and went on to win but we didn’t think that we were directors so continued with graphic design. Then a few years down the line we found ourselves back directing promos for friends.
We both have a very similar background – we were massively into hip hop and skating, the only difference was I (Luke) lived in Gloucestershire and Chris lived in Eastbourne.
There is something so exciting about an image you have in your head becoming a reality on film. Directing is such a collaborative process and we have been lucky enough to work with some amazingly talented people. We also love the unexpectedness of what and where the next job will be.
It’s challenging to communicate a clear idea/narrative in such a short space of time and trying to create something new and fresh that an audience will engage with. Our style is witty concepts and techniques mixed with a graphic cinematic tone.
We shot the Icons spot in Black Island studios in West London. It was a two-day shoot, the first day was a pre-light and the second a rehearsal and shoot day. We had a total of 26 takes and captured the magic one on take number 16 (this was probably the biggest highlight of the day because it was so magic everything came together in that one take). You couldn’t have made it any better, but we still did another 10 takes after that. The biggest challenge was the choreography between the actor, camera operator, props and lights. It was so hard to get all those timings exact.
It feels kind of crazy to be in the NDS as some of the previous nominees are our heroes. We just want to keep learning and having fun. We feel very lucky to be doing what we love with the trust and support of Academy.
I studied editing films in Paris, I'm also a musician and I’ve made music videos for my friends since I was a teenager. I grew up in La Rochelle in South West France near the sea, and then I moved to Paris for studying.
I love creating something that makes people react, to laugh, and play with illusions like a magician. I try to offer something different and absurd, inspired by what I like the most – absurdity and old films like burlesque, Z-movies and British humour.
I love the challenge of finding crazy effect behind a good agency idea and would describe my style as a mix between Georges Méliès and Monty Python. I called it Georgy Pyliès style.
Grab Her was shot in the Parisian suburbs, in old 70s offices. We shot the film in two days. I wrote this script two years ago and I was waiting for a good song to match with it, and then the Disclosure's song was perfect for this story. My best memory of shooting is that everyone laughed a lot during the dance scene. It was really hard to keep serious sometimes.
It's a real honour to be included in the New Directors’ Showcase. It gives me more confidence and the power to keep going with this fantastic job.
Ian and Cooper (Ian Schwartz and Cooper Roberts)
USA, age 27 and 29, signed to Prettybird
Ian: I studied Film at the University of Michigan. Directing is something that I've been interested in for as long as I can remember. Films from my childhood like Jurassic Park and Edward Scissorhands just seemed fun as hell to make.
Cooper: I studied philosophy at the University of Colorado. I wanted to be more like Willie Friedkin.
Ian: I grew up in LA. I was lucky enough to be born into a very creative environment. My grandparents were artists, my dad and younger sister both work in music and my mom is a sort of artistic Renaissance woman.
Cooper: I grew up half-Jew, half-Mormon in Atlanta, Georgia. My favourite film growing up was Beetlejuice.
Ian: To me, the joy of directing lies in the collaborative process. Not just between Cooper and I, but an entire crew of people working together to achieve a singular vision. There's a similar concept in science called "emergence" -- it's the idea that a group of relatively stupid individuals can create something highly complex. Like ants and a colony. Directing sometimes feels the same way and it's a very cool experience to see our crazy visions start to form into realities.
Cooper: For me it’s the flexible hours, free craft food and getting to collaborate with awesome people.
Ian: We would like to tell stories that are surprising -- visually or narratively, ideally both -- but that are also grounded in something universally human
Ian & Cooper: Joel Compass was one of the first videos we directed together. We probably would have directed just about anything at that point, but we happened to like the song and the brief from the video commissioner, so that was an extra incentive. We shot in Los Angeles over two days, and post production lasted about two weeks. The biggest challenge was realising that we couldn't afford any VFX artists -- so we had to completely learn After Effects from scratch within those two weeks of post and execute nearly 60 VFX shots. Not a lot of sleep was had, but it was fulfilling to have figured it out on our own.
Ian: We're excited to work more! We want to continue to hone our craft and have the opportunity to create films that inspire us.
Cooper: We built a pyramid-shaped chicken coop last week and it turned out surprisingly well. Maybe we'll become carpenters…we hear David Lynch is good at building stuff too
Israel, age 28, singed to Prettybird
I studied visual communications at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem. I actually left in my second year as I discovered my passion lies mostly in the world of video and I was eager to spend all of my time on video.
I grew up in Jerusalem. My parents both moved to Israel from France and I was born in Jerusalem and grew up in a French speaking home. I was brought up in a modern orthodox home, and eventually in my late teens drifted out of that world. Though I grew up in a religious home it was an environment where I had access to the full scope of Western culture, so I defiantly grew up watching tons of movies and even spending hours on the couch staring, in fascination, at MTV.
The ability to conceive an idea and see it through the whole process until a fully realised visual work is what I enjoy most. In many lines of work that the modern world provides us the worker is deprived of the ability to ever see the results of his labour, I’m grateful to have a job where this isn’t the case.
My first videos we’re school assignments that to my amazement went kind of viral. Then I started making music videos (for Asaf Avidan) and commercials simultaneously. The first commercial was a web spot for Pepsi Max. I later made ads for beer companies, AMEX and others.
In Israel I directed on Eretz Nehdert which is the Israeli equivalent of SNL, I directed their digital shorts. In the US I started working in the interactive arena, the first big project was the Like a Rolling Stone video. In between I shot Walking Contest, a text written by my friend Daniel Koren.
The ability to tell a story is interesting to me in any field and I find that commercials have proved to be a powerful platforms to tell stories. The innovation in the world of commercial video is astounding. Some of the most ground breaking work comes from commercials and I’m proud to direct commercials along with all the rest of the arenas I try to create in.
I would describe my style as evolving, I think it’s changing constantly; I’m always trying to explore new directions that trigger my mind.
It’s a great honour to be on a list that has included so many of my favourite artists. I plan to keep on creating stuff that doesn’t bore me, and to make a Yiddish Western full feature film.
Truman and Cooper
Anthony: I studied architecture and urban design in Paris and Stockholm. I grew up in the suburbs in a family that was not interested in art or cinema. I didn’t know anything about it. When I was 14, I thought that Armageddon was a masterpiece. When I moved to Paris for my studies, I found an apartment in Odeon, which has one of the largest concentrations of cinemas in the world. It was a revelation. It spent all my time watching movies, mostly old ones. I began to dream of being a director at that time.
Jonathan: I was living right next to a videoclub. I was watching movies all the time. Those movies had a big influence on me. It always took me (and it still does) a few days to get out of the movie after watching it. For a couple of days I feel like I’m still in the movie and I’m a part of it. It was a bit annoying for my sisters after I watched a Jean-claude Van Dame movie. Then I started to make films with my friends when I was 12, using my father’s old VHS camera. I kept on doing this when I grew up, trying to make films that looked more and more professional and interesting. I’m still working on it.
We both grew up in the suburbs of Paris. We started to make music together when we were 19. We had a band. Then we became friends and we moved to Paris and were roommates for a couple of years. During this time we made many stupid and surreal videos with our friends. Anthony carried on making music on his own. He wrote a song called The King or the Bird and that’s how we made our first music video. It wasn’t the best film ever but it won the first prize at Protoclip music video festival in 2012 and encouraged us to continue.
Jonathan: What I enjoy most about directing is seeing the story I had in my mind taking place for real in front of me. It happens on the set and in the edit room.
Anthony: Like when I do music, I feel like doing a film is the most powerful way to express deep feelings that I cannot share in everyday life.
We try to always tell a story. We always have a narrative base and we want this story to look real. Our key words are “realism, emotions and style”. We try to find the right balance between those three parameters but we don’t want to stick to a style. There’s many things that we love and we want to continue to experiment new ways of telling a story.
We contacted Kid Wise one year before the shoot because we liked their music. They called us when they wanted to do a music video but they had no money at all. So we decided to shoot around the singer’s house in the centre of France and chose some of their friends for the casting. We shot for several days because we only wanted to shoot on the magic hours. It was a big challenge to work with people who had never acted before. We now think it was a strength because we had no other choice than seeking for sincerity.
We are very proud to be in the New Directors' Showcase! It makes us really happy to know that more people will see our work.