The latest in The Drum’s Director’s Chair series is answered by directing collective Traktor, fresh from signing a huge global partnership with Stink.
Comprising directors Sam Larsson, Pontus Löwenhielm, Patrik von Krusenstjerna, Ole Sanders, Mats Lindberg and producer Richard Ulfvengren, they tackle the questions we’ve previously asked the likes of Zoe Mcintosh, Eli Roth and Andrew Lang.
Who or what inspired you to be directors? (or who are your creative heroes and why?)
Growing up in Scandinavia there were no commercials on television (but a lot of Czech claymation with a strong moral core). The only commercials were in the cinema. There was a tradition and responsibility to entertain the captive licorice-fuelled audience with very entertaining and idiosyncratic comedy. We would rush to our seats in time for the ads and giggle with gusto.
The best ones were made by Roy Andersson (the thinking woman's Joe Sedelmaier) and so he is our hero. And he could be yours.
Outside of work, what are you into?
Since 1998 we have played a badly played game of volleyball every Sunday at 2pm on Venice beach. If you mess up (or get too big for your boots) you have to hoist your shorts up so high that you get a male camel-toe. It's called 'Shorts of Shame'. Because it is. Everybody is welcome.
How would you describe your style of commercial/film making? What are you known for?
We are known for ‘comedy’, but after almost a thousand commercials between us we'd like to think we have a decent range. We think that the ‘style’ is whatever fits the project and gets to the core of the idea and the fun. This was a hard question to answer, but don't tell Stink. Blush and win!
When you’re looking at scripts and projects that come in, is there anything in particular that you’re looking for?
We look for evidence of heart, and then try to protect and inflate that heart by going deep and thinking hard.
What's your funniest moment on set?
What's your best piece of work?
That's hard to say. According to the world, as such, it is probably the three times we won the Film Grand Prix in Cannes and the Emmy win (and current nomination). This year that would be 'It's a Tide Ad'.
If given a Sophie's Choice as we got on the train to TastyTown, we would probably say 'Evil Beaver' for Miller Lite. It slips off the tongue faster than most things and got us through immigration when we moved to LA.
Which ad do you wish you'd made?
We wish we hadn't passed on John West Salmon with the bear from Paul 'Sideburn' Silburn.
Blackcurrant Tango on the white cliffs of Dover is also up there.
Lately it is the bear commercial for Canal Plus. Basically anything with a bear. We've shot a Panda but that doesn't count.
How well does the information flow between client, agency and production company on a job?
That varies tremendously. The trick is to use the flow to your advantage whether it is fast or slow. Horses for courses. Pick your battles, then avoid them. But commercials are relatively expensive precisely to make room for this information flow and decent Wi-Fi in video-village. To take it personally is to give yourself grey hairs. Wait, are those grey hairs? On my shoulders? We love speakerphones.
What's been the biggest change to the industry during your career?
Nothing, really. There are always great intentions floating like a soap bubble over a table with curiously sharp obstacles. Somebody pays. Everybody prays. And more often than not everybody laughs at the end. Wherever the end is shown. Making commercials is the best job in the world, but don't tell anyone!