Welcome...SHOOT’s 14th annual New Directors Showcase—which was just celebrated with an evening screening, panel discussion and reception on Thursday, May 26, at the DGA Theatre in New York City—offers a total of 36 up-and-coming helmers, filling 33 slots (30 individual directors and three duos).
The field includes freelance directors (11, including two duos), editors and DPs who have broken into the directorial ranks, a pair of current ad agency artisans and some who have moved over from the agency sector, and a theatrical motion picture art director who has successfully settled into the director’s chair.
The latter is Kasra Farahani whose work in the art department has had him collaborating with the likes of David Fincher (Farahani served as conceptual illustrator on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Steven Spielberg (assistant art director on The Terminal), Tim Burton (assistant art director on Alice in Wonderland), Sam Raimi (concept artist on Spider-Man 3), Michael Mann (conceptual illustrator on the feature Miami Vice), Barry Sonnenfeld (art director on Men In Black 3) and JJ Abrams.
For the latter, Farahani was an art director on Star Trek Into Darkness, part of a team which earned an Art Directors Guild (ADG) Excellence In Production Design Award nomination two years ago in the Fantasy Film category.
“Interpreting the written word and translating it into the world in which the story takes place, solving all sorts of creative problems, the practical aspects of picking locations and doing ambitious stage builds, makes for a great filmmaking education,” said Farahani who’s used these learning experiences in the art department as a path to a directing career.
As a director, Farahani earned inclusion into SHOOT’s Showcase for his short film Concerning the Bodyguard (for which the trailer appears on the SHOOT NDS reel). He is represented for commercials and branded content by Chromista, the production house launched in 2013 by director Darren Aronofsky and EPs Sandy Haddad, Ted Robbins and Scott Franklin.
Artisans currently with ad agencies and those who have prior agency experience were prominent in this year’s Showcase lineup. On the former score, Emily Anderson, an in-house filmmaker at Ogilvy & Mather New York, and Quentin van den Bossche of Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam garnered Showcase slots—van den Bossche for the Booking.com online film “Wing Everything” and Anderson for a piece of branded content for Dupont, Dare Bigger Profiles: Gary Linden. Van den Bossche broke into the industry working in visual effects production at Double Negative in London. He later successfully applied to Wieden+Kennedy’s creative incubator “The Kennedys” where he shot and edited small content pieces, eventually graduating straight into directing commercials at the agency.
Among those Showcase directors with significant agency experience are: Ayse Altinok of Biscuit Filmworks who was an art director for many years, working at such shops as TBWA Istanbul, and Wieden+Kennedy in Amsterdam and then Portland, Ore.; and Zak Razvi of production house Knucklehead who spent five years as a producer at BBH London before shifting over to the production house side of the business.
Altinok was selected for the Showcase on the strength of such work as the short film Respite while Razvi made the cut for the powerful Sara Charlton Foundation PSA “Twelve Days.”
Editors have also extended their reach into directing. Showcase helmer Sonejuhi Sinha is an editor at Final Cut USA who has diversified into directing. Sinha, who’s not affiliated with a production house, earned Showcase inclusion for her short film Love Comes Later.
Showcase director NORTON, who’s repped in the U.K. by production house Archer’s Mark, sports a background with includes serving as a commercials editor for six-and-a-half years. NORTON made the Showcase grade for “Ousadia Alegria,” a commercial for Nike.
Justin Shipley of The Traveling Picture Show Company gained a Showcase slot for the Tanzania Tourist Board commercial “The Soul of Africa.” His background spans editing and even more so cinematography. After shooting over the years for a coterie of talented directors, Shipley made the transition to directing.
Among the directors in the Showcase who are as of yet unaffiliated with a production company are, in addition to Sinha: Jacqueline Dow whose selection was based on Spotify’s “Music Everywhere” spec spot; Patrick Finnegan for Freedom, a piece of branded content for the United States Naval Academy; Michael Fiore and Erik Sharkey for the documentary Floyd Norman: An Animated Life; Elle Ginter for the docu short Sugar Plum; Michael Gluckstern for the feature Tom’s Dilemma; Jai Jamison for the feature TRI; Laura Somers for the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority’s spec spot “Cindy”; and Rachel Han Xu and Joshua Reis for the Barclaycard online spot “Ms. Harris.”
Additionally, Alexander Thompson, who’s repped for music videos by The Uprising Creative, has no production house affiliation for commercials. Thompson’s short film Reverie earned him a Showcase slot.
While the duos Fiore and Sharkey along with Xu and Reis are sans production house affiliations, the third duo in this year’s Showcase lineup, Sean & Steve (Sean Patrick Kelly and Steve Figueiredo) are handled by Cause + Effect.
Besides Sean & Steve, Altinok, Razvi, Farahani, NORTON, and Shipley, the rest of the Showcase field affiliated with production companies consists of: Herman Asph of Quriosity Productions for Fjallraven’s online video “Family”; Marie Constantinesco of MacGuffin Films for Organic Valley’s “Happy Chickens”; Marius Crowne of Community Films for The UN Refugee Agency PSA “1.5 Million”; Adam Donald of Honor Society for Cross Country Adventure, a piece of branded content for The North Face; Randal Ford of charlieuniformtango for the InnovAge commercial “Tour”; Charles Frank of Voyager for the docu short Beyond this Place; Sean Frewer of Radke Films for Urban Beard’s online spot “Bartender”; Maris Jones of Adolescent Content for Above the Influence’s “Who Controls You?” PSA; Gevorg Karensky of B-Reel Films for his MINI “Real Memories” VR experience; Brad Lubin—who’s repped by Joinery in the U.S. and Radke in Canada—for Living Nutz’s “Nut Allergy” commercial; Natalie Rae of Sanctuary Content for Wrigley’s Extra Gum branded documentary A Second Chance; Celia Rowlson-Hall of m ss ng p eces for Derek Lam’s branded content piece Silent St.; Floyd Russ from Tool of North America for Scott McFarnon’s poignant “Crazy Heart” music video; Erik Shirai of Superseed Content for the feature documentary The Birth of Sake; and Jason van Bruggen of Suneeva for Greenpeace’s “Traveller” PSA.