The filmmaker: Beyond the Brief, featuring Law Chen, BBDO

BBDO director Law Chen

It’s “the work, the work, the work” that goes down at BBDO on a daily basis, or in director Law Chen’s case: the shoot, the shoot, the shoot.

The award-winning director has been with the New York office since 2010, shooting content for Foot Locker, GE, Snickers and countless others in the agency roster. His eye for detail and flexibility hasn’t gone unnoticed, back in 2015, he was the 8th most awarded director at Cannes for his work on projects such as Foot Locker’s “Play My Tweet” with James Harden.

So much can be said for what he produces for the agency, but Chen has also sat behind the camera for a handful of short films and music videos. This includes shooting the visuals for fellow Duke Blue Devils, singer/producer Mike Posner and folk-rock band Delta Rae. Impressive enough, but he’s found a way to give back to the filmmaking community as well—he and BBDO created the resource CineSurf. This one-stop tool allows filmmakers of all levels, all budgets to find the right camera for their projects.

A young director who’s known from Tribeca to Cannes, someone who advocates for as many great stories to be told as possible, Chen’s crystal-clear vision takes him beyond the brief.

What makes you excited about going to work every day?

As a commercial and film director at an advertising agency, I find myself in a unique position on a daily basis. Every day, I come in with the exciting challenge of bringing an idea to life through the medium of film. A story can be told a million ways and it’s always been my passion to find the most creative, human, and emotional solution. Finally, because each brand has a different story to tell, it’s thrilling to be able to learn about a completely new world along with a team of like-minded creatives and producers.

If you weren’t in advertising, what would you be doing?

If I could do anything else other than advertising, it would be directing feature films or long form episodic. It is a natural extension of my passion for storytelling within commercial directing. The stories we are able to tell in advertising are succinct expressions of filmmaking, and I would want to further explore that in the world of TV and film.

What’s your favorite thing about your hometown? What (in)tangible thing have you taken from there?

Although I was born in the USA, I grew up in Beijing, China. My formative years in Beijing shaped me both as a person and as a filmmaker. While Beijing is China’s historical and cultural capital, it is also one of the world’s fastest modernizing cities. It’s unique blend of East and West as well as Old and New have instilled in me a desire to tell cross cultural stories. Also, growing up and traveling around Asia opened my eyes to a world of different cultures, and since then I’ve traveled to over 50 countries and counting.

What non-advertising things do you draw inspiration from?

Dance has always been a source of inspiration for me. As a breakdancer myself – now retired of course, I always used dance as a creative outlet. Breakdancing is about finding the balance between style, rhythm, and improvisation - elements that are all critical in filmmaking. The ability to understand, capture, and direct movement has been extremely helpful for me as a director. While I often direct and shoot dance films as an artistic outlet, at the end of the day, pulling out some breakdance moves at a wedding is always a great party trick.

To celebrate its 100th Anniversary, the 4A’s has partnered with us at The Drum to pull back the curtain and look at an industry full of problem solvers, creative types and analytical minds. But what keeps them going once the briefs are written, the campaigns executed, and the pitches won (or lost)? We’re interviewing 100 people at 4A’s member agencies — across all disciplines, levels, regions, and agency types — to get a glimpse into what drives them at work and what fuels them in life.

To pitch someone from a 4A's member agency for Beyond the Brief, please complete this linked form.

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Bennett Bennett

Bennett D. Bennett is a staff writer at The Drum covering agencies, the media landscape, creativity and innovation. An NYC native, MAIP alum and City College of New York grad, Bennett previously was an award-winning copywriter at BBDO New York and lends his unique perspective and voice to The Drum's editorial staff. Previously a member of the Adcolor Advisory Board, he currently sits on the AAF's Mosaic Next-Generation Leadership Council and the 4As Steering Committee.

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