State Farm's "Everyone's Unique"

Zack Seckler

Station Film

What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
My directing career was birthed from the womb of hard cider. You can’t choose your parents but in this case I was fortunate to have the responsible drinkers at Strongbow take a chance on me back in 2018.

How did you get into directing?
My story is kind of like the realization Bruce Willis has at the end of The Sixth Sense...I discovered that I had actually been a director all along. After a decade working as an advertising photographer I one day awoke to the fact that I was already a storyteller and actually “directing” projects — just not in 24 frames per second. I found that my visual skills and love for quirky humor were useful ingredients in comedy directing. Much like I had fallen in love with conceptual photography I started to fall in love with comedy spots and began creating specs.

What is your most recent project?
I’m currently in production with my two sons on a piece called Brush your Teeth Before School. We’re in the weeds already running into meal penalties. But they tell me that’s what I get for going non-union. I also just wrapped a campaign for Intel with VMLY&R and have some other client projects in the works.

What is the best part of being a director?
Simultaneously talking and pointing. Also anytime I’m in the act of creating. One thing I love about being a director is getting to be creative in so many different ways. From working with actors, to writing alts, to thinking about lighting, production design, music...it’s all creative and I love each of those moments.

What is the worst part of being a director?
Losing a bid. It’s like being slapped in the face with a large wet fish. It hurts and it stinks. But it’s part of the experience of working in commercials and I try to learn from each impact.

What is your current career focus: commercials and branded content, television, movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre--comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.?
I enjoy directing clever quirky humor with a strong visual component. Most of my experience is in directing comedy spots and I really love the challenge of quickly grabbing viewers’ attention and entertaining them with a unique well-crafted story.

What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
I’m a comedy ad nerd. Choosing a favorite commercial is impossible. But one spot I’ve watched dozens of times over the years is Snickers’ “Recovery Room” directed by David Shane for BBDO. I admire this spot for it’s strong kernel of an idea. For the simplicity of the execution. For the straight-faced performances. For the clever visual comedy.

Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I was raised in Massachusetts by quirky intellectual parents and an emotionally vacant cat. My love for comedy emerged during elementary school with a fascination for New Yorker cartoons, George Carlin and SNL. I studied psychology at Syracuse University and followed the next logical step: freelance photography.

After a few years my photography career took off. I developed an award-winning portfolio of print advertising, editorial and fine art photography, including several major solo exhibitions praised by Architectural Digest, CNN and Wired.

In 2018 after a decade working in stills, I began to direct. Working in the motion medium quickly became fertile ground for my interests as a comedic storyteller. My sense of humor combined with a highly visual aesthetic seemed to strike a unique tone with creatives.

How has the pandemic impacted your career, art, craft, shaped your attitudes and reflections on life which in turn may influence your work, approach, spirit, mindset?
My biggest directing opportunity was awarded during the pandemic. I was tasked with writing and directing eight spots. We were to shoot over two days with all the safety challenges of, well, a pandemic. Oh, and I was asked to direct from a grainy zoom feed over 2,000 miles from set. It was as easy as running a foot race in flippers and a fur coat.

The experience forced me to sharpen my creative vision and communicate with extraordinary clarity to our cast and crew. I think it also made me a stronger leader and gave me the confidence that I could get a challenging job done. No matter what.

Contact

Station Film: On the East Coast, Contact Partner/EP, Michelle Towse, via email   
Station Film: On the West Coast, Contact Managing Partner, Caroline Gibney, via email    
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