What’s the most creative advertising idea you’ve seen recently?

It’s not a spot, per se, but I loved what the folks from CD Projekt did with Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, the Netflix anime adaptation of the video game Cyberpunk 2077. Extending the brand and IP to a new platform not only boosted sales of the video game but also served as a reminder that the strongest advertising stems from true storytelling. It also shows that the myriad channels and platforms within the larger media ecosystem can be leveraged to complement one another. 

What website(s) do you use most regularly?

Lately, it’s been ChatGPT and Midjourney. I am incredibly intrigued by these tools, and AI in general. I love to use them in the research phase and narrative development stages, or when I’m pitching on commercial work. It has served as a source of information and can be an incredible tool for visual references or ideas for concept art. I'm currently using AI to develop an action-adventure feature set in France during WWII. It has proven valuable for discovering and learning about different types of weapons and warcrafts of the period, as well as the vernacular and slang of the time. However, as an author and screenwriter, I’m well aware of the dangers these new technologies carry – a  sticking point in the recent SAG/AFTRA strike. While AI is a creative and collaborative tool worth exploring, it must be regulated.

What product could you not live without?

I can’t live without my AirPods Pro. Besides the fact that I have very young kids, it’s a great way to tune out the noise sometimes. I need them to isolate and focus. I’m always on the move, and it allows me to create and focus, whether it’s in the streets, airplanes, trains or anywhere else. It allows me to be in my own bubble and to write and develop visuals, even amidst chaotic environments.  

What’s the best film you’ve seen over the last year?

I watch a lot of movies, both for pleasure and research. Recently, I binged on over 50 international movies featuring monsters, and it was a lot of fun! Besides Everything Everywhere All at Once, which I absolutely loved, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is the one that comes to mind. It was a strong inspiration for an amusement park short film I directed, and a superhero feature I have in development. It was exciting and refreshing to see one of the most successful franchises in history expressed with such creative freedom and talent. The result is singular and original, showing that there’s still room for creativity and experimentation, even in locked-off blockbuster genres. 

What film do you think everyone should have seen?

Blade Runner: another strong artistic vision that doesn't compromise and goes all the way. It’s still hugely inspiring today, more than 40 years after its release. Dark, geeky and dystopian, the film does not fit in any box. Ridley Scott gives so much detail to each moment, and each environment, creating a singular universe that is packed with good storytelling. It was an instant classic and a huge inspiration for my first feature, The Last Journey.

What’s your preferred social media platform?

I use Instagram and dig TikTok. What distinguishes these platforms from traditional ones is they welcome authenticity in how you promote yourself or your brand; you can be more 'in the moment' with what you create and share. For instance, to promote my latest feature film, Apaches (2023), our distributors ran a year-long marketing campaign on TikTok, encompassing daily 'making-of' videos and live feeds from the set. This strategy generated buzz and anticipation leading up to a successful release. 

What’s your favourite TV show?

The Sopranos. It was really groundbreaking back then, and marked the tipping point between the old and new generations of TV shows. It’s still cool to see Tony Soprano hearing talking fish, and the best TV series finale ever. I also enjoyed watching The Haunting of Hill House during the Halloween season this year. The Stephen King-inspired narrative structure is brilliant and full of genius transitions, pan sequences and performances. Every visual effect and technical choice is in the service of the story, which is always the aim for me as a director. It gets tiring when advertising only draws inspiration from advertising. Every story deserves the same considerations. 

What’s your favourite podcast?

I binge on Scriptnotes, hosted by John August and Craig Mazin. Their podcast really geeks out on scriptwriting, diving into the process and various techniques behind stories for the screen. I love to bring the same processes to commercial filmmaking, especially in character development. Fleshing out their backstory, traits and personality shapes the overall vision and aids everyone involved, including the actors, clients, agency, crew and post production, in visualising what I'm trying to achieve and how the results should be. I recently read a Harper's Bazaar interview with Martin Scorsese where he said that telling a story in a minute is "probably the most difficult thing to do". It's true. There's no room for errors or mistakes with advertising formats; everything needs to be calculated.

What show/exhibition has most inspired you recently?

A couple of weeks ago, while in Madrid for a shoot with BBDO Atlanta for Voya Financial, we managed to visit the Museo Reina Sofia to see Picasso’s Guernica, amongst other masterpieces. It’s such a powerful work of art that was created in a complicated historical context, not dissimilar to our current world events. Scary and upsetting, yet beautiful and pop, it is filled with symbols and visuals that linger, showcasing the absolute power of images. 

If you could only listen to one music artist from now on, who would it be?

That’s a hard one! If I had to choose, I’d probably pick the band that has followed me throughout my life: Radiohead. Their genre-bending evolution spans rock, electro, jazz and indie pop, and they represent everything I love about an artist: boldness, risk-taking and innovation. The same goes for their music videos. I'd probably end up feeling very depressed after a while if I was only listening to them.

Apple – Apple: 1984

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If there was one thing you could change about the advertising industry, what would it be?

Clients and agencies that are afraid of being bold. We need more risk-taking and greater trust in the creatives and directors. Many scripts look alike, even across continents. We need more creativity. The advertising world often feeds on itself, which is boring. We must seek inspiration elsewhere and broaden our horizons. The Ridley Scott 1984 ad for Apple is a classic for a reason. 

Who or what has most influenced your career?

The films I discovered between childhood and adolescence: Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Ridley Scott, the pioneers of Japanese cinema like Kitano, the New Hollywood of the '70s, and the French Nouvelle Vague. Pierrot le Fou by Jean-Luc Godard was the first to break the fourth wall. Almost 70 years later, it's still absolutely relevant, cool and modern. All these influences shape my filmmaking style and personality. I love both pop movies and blockbusters, as well as smaller, intimate films. No matter what kind of film you’re making, the beauty of cinema is the way in which so many art forms surrounding images, music, storytelling and movement converge within it. 

Tell us one thing about yourself that most people won’t know.

Back when I was a teenager, I wanted to host a show about indie pop-rock on the local radio. The slot was taken, but they offered me the opportunity to run a jazz program. I was cracking too many jokes on the air, so they had to shut down my show.