NIKE - "BE A BALLERina" (Spec Commercial)

David Kobzantsev

unaffiliated

1) What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
My first directing piece was the NIKE “BE A BALLERina” spec commercial. It was completed in November 2017.

2) How did you get into directing? 
After high school, I attended the acting conservatory of The Theatre School at DePaul University, Chicago. I was cut from the program at the end of my first year. Devastated. The world as I knew it had ended (for an 18 y.o.). The Head of the Program (and also my acting professor) told me I was cut because he thought I was meant to be a director. I didn’t understand it at the time. It wasn’t till a decade and a half later, after being an actor/screenwriter, and then working in advertising up until last spring, that I came full circle. Starting over as a new director is the culmination of countless dots that I’ve gathered so far in my time on this planet. Directing was the one thing that was able to connect them all. My professor was right. 

3) What is your most recent project? 
I’m currently directing a promotional video for an innovative non-profit organization, Rightfully Sewn. Rightfully Sewn offers seamstress training and job placement assistance in the fashion industry. The women recipients of the Rightfully Sewn program are formerly homeless, asylum seekers, survivors of addiction, abuse, or prostitution. The organization asked me to direct a piece that will showcase their new state-of-the-art designer Altelier and seamstress training facility (currently undergoing construction). The video will tell the story of the organization’s founding team coming together to discover the space. The space they discover is in its raw form, untouched by design. The energy and spirit of their union transforms the space right before their eyes. 

4) What is the best part of being a director? 
For me, the best parts of being a director are: 
- Finding your team. The Rolling Stones said it best: “You can’t always get what you want, but you might just get what you need.”
- Defining how you want your audience to feel. 
- Power of the camera. It’s providing you a glimpse into someone’s (or something’s) core; their essence. It’s then up to you to bring those qualities out however you can in a performance and find beauty within. 
- The sensation that my brain is operating at 100% capacity. I’ve never felt anything like it, until I started directing. 

5) What is the worst part of being a director? 
There is no worst part.

6) What is your current career focus: commercials and branded content, TV movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre—comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.? 
1. Commercials and branded content. I’d like to continue creating edgy, fun, unexpected stories that connect an audience to a brand’s core value system in 30 - 60 seconds. 
2. Music Videos. I’m a TRL (the Carson Daly version) kid. I grew up being transfixed by the theatrics and fantasy world of music videos. I would record every episode on MTV, then come home from school and watch the videos from that day over and over. I still feel the same today about music videos and definitely want to direct them. That would be SO. RAD. 

7) Have you a mentor and if so, who is that person (or persons) and what has been the lesson learned from that mentoring which resonates with you? 
My biggest mentors have been my former peers from the advertising industry. When I worked agency side, I learned from the most fearless, compassionate, and imaginative creative directors, art directors, producers, and clients. Their influence and guidance have definitely shaped how I want to tell stories to an audience as a director. 

8) Who is your favorite director and why? 
Hands down, Luc Besson. To this day, I am obsessed with The Professional and The Fifth Element. To me, he is a master of detail. He is exceptional at hand-crafting every single layer of a world that he’s built in his mind and then bringing it to life. 

9) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content? 
Well, per the above by Luc. Also I have a few all-time favorite movies: The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and Never Ending Story. 

There are so many favorite television shows. Nip/Tuck is one (Ryan Murphy is an idol of mine). Currently, The Handmaid’s Tale has blown me away on every level. 

I have three favorite commercials: 
1.”The boy who beeps” directed by Lance Accord
2. “Jess Time” - Google Chrome, directed by Nanette Burstein
3. Fiat: “Immigrants”, directed by Robert Logevall

10) Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?) 
Grew up in Overland Park, KS - a suburb of Kansas City. Headed to Los Angeles after college, where I worked as an actor. Career highlights were playing an assassin in the feature film, Bobby. I was also a recurring on ABC’s Scrubs Season 9. In addition to acting, I had the privilege of developing a couple TV Pilot scripts. From 2012 to 2017, I produced at ad agencies VML Kansas CIty, and Hill Holliday Boston/NY.

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David Kobzantsev

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