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14 - 18 June

Media and Tech

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In the director’s chair: Bruce St Clair on proving people wrong and the speed of tech

The latest director to answer The Drum’s questions in our Director’s Chair series is Bruce St Clair, signed to Rattling Stick for representation in the UK.

Previously in the series, The Drum has quizzed Miguel Campaña, Matías Moltrasio, Jamie Jay Johnson, Emmanuel Adjei, Henry Busby, Andrew Lang, Camille Marotte, Mea Dols de Jong, Klaus Obermeyer, Eli Roth, Mate Steinforth, Pamela Romanowsky, Traktor and Doug Liman.

Who or what inspired you to be a Director? (or who are your creative heroes and why?)

Above all Terrence Mallick and Jonathan Glazer. I actually wanted to be an interior designer but I dropped out because making ads seemed very cool back in the day! I’ll never forget when I saw Guinness Surfer and thought that it really couldn’t get any better. But he just kept on rolling them out!

I drive a lot through Spain and am always marveled at the beauty of the landscapes in the evening sun.

A very famous UK producer who told me, when I was a runner, that I was no good for this business. I wanted to prove her wrong!

Outside of work, what are you into?

I love skiing, films and cooking! I know.....

How would you describe your style of commercial/film making? What are you known for?

I’m terrible at this! I think that I’m a storyteller with visual esthetic. I love challenges and I make sure that I always try to update myself in style and technique. I look for performances that are seamless and try to get as much out of the characters as I can by letting them improvise too.

I hope I’m known for being patient and getting the most out of performers.

Have you got an idea about what sort of projects you’d like to work on or are you quite open-minded about what work comes your way?

I’m very open-minded because you never know where there’s a good story. It can be in a car ad, a supermarket one or even a tool appliance store! Good ideas are hard to come by and when they do come, the race is on because there are loads of really talented directors out there!

When you’re looking at scripts and projects that come in, is there anything in particular that you’re looking for?

The opportunity to enhance an already great idea and add my touches to the story. In particular one with emotion, with a soul even if it is for just 30 secs!

What's your funniest moment on set?

Loads, but here’s one that I was actually telling the other day. I was in the south of Spain on a mountain road just before dawn, around 4am, alone. I quickly realized that there was an amazing echo and started screaming, Hello..............and then the echo came back HELLO, HELLO, HELLO, HELLO.....

I kept going at this for a minute or so when suddenly I heard another echo which wasn’t mine!

I guess he must have been a very irate farmer, who shouted from a long way away because the echo was pretty long,

F....K OFF, F....K OFF, F....K OFF, F....K OFF,

What's your best piece of work?

I find this very hard to say because if I’m honest with you, I’m really critical about all the work I do. But the ones that I am quite fond of are Ikea and Audi. I like the innocence of the kids as they kidnap a Christmas tree. The simplicity of the story is very childish and yet mature at the same time.

IKEA Treenapping - Bruce St. Clair from TheBoardRoom on Vimeo.

Audi is one of those scripts that immediately reminded me of the classic LEVI’s ads from the 90s. It was a no brainer to pitch that one.

AUDI d: BRUCE ST. CLAIR p: TEMPOMEDIA from SCHNITTHAPPENS alex jurkat edit on Vimeo.

Which ad do you wish you'd made?

There are loads of ads which are amazing, I have a lot of respect for directors making brilliantly crafted work, the level of talent is surprisingly high right now.

How well does the information flow between client, agency and production company on a job?

Depends on the type of job and the relationship the agency has with their client. I’ve been on all sorts of jobs, most with good communication and some with terrible ones. If the latter is the case, I’m generally stuck in the middle, so I do my best to contend with the two and make everyone happy.

What's been the biggest change to the industry during your career?

Most definitely the digital era and of course the internet and social media. Speed is essential in filming and editing. With today’s technology, you can be shooting and have an edited cut within a couple of hours if needed. The resources with internet are amazing, it’s all up there!

Have you worked on any client direct commercials (no agency involved)? What's been the difference?

I have yes. Hard to say really. I’ve worked on a job where the client was the direct contact with me from the start to the finish and the agency was basically on set, being politically correct, quite awkward.

I think it all depends on the creative judgment a client has. In this case, the client really didn’t have any creative idea whatsoever, so the job was a continuous struggle to get the best out of the story. On another occasion, the client basically let me shoot whatever I felt was needed, and the result was fantastic... naturally!