Zeke Anders

When the Motor Stops (commercial)

Zeke Anders


What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
My first professionally directed commercial was for a Detroit-based hospital system in June 2018. It was originally scoped as just filming pick-up shots for a revised edit, however the agency was so pleased with the additional scenes that they turned it into a brand new spot. Up to this point, I had a few docu-style/humanity films under my belt and an evolving collection of black and white street photography featuring candid shots of people from around the world. I think the agency Creative Director and Producer saw the potential with my ability to connect with people and gave me the opportunity to helm their project.

How did you get into directing?
I have always been keenly interested in directing ever since high school. A handful of my student-films won some prestigious awards, including the top honors from the Los Angeles International Student Film Festival. Movies and television were (and still are) a huge influence in my education… but so is theatre. I did theatre all through college which helped shape my perspective as an aspiring director – not only did it teach me how to work with actors, crew, upper management, but how to effectively and efficiently tell a story: the narrative. It was during this era where I also experimented with short films, cinematography and editing. It was an incredibly creative time for DIY filmmaking.

What is your most recent project?
A recent highlight was the opportunity to work on a photo campaign collab with CreativeSoul (photography duo team based in Atlanta) for AveenoBaby. This project brought awareness of the underrepresentation of BIPOC skin affected by eczema. I had the privilege of serving as director/DP conducting heartfelt interviews and capturing beautiful moments of parents with their children across two days. The agency cut a wonderfully raw and genuine 2 minute docu-film telling the story of these parents and how AveenoBaby is helping to change the narrative.

What is the best part of being a director?
The best part of what I do is to always be evolving. The creative process naturally lends itself to this but if you can align yourself with the right people to collaborate with, the right brands who aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo, being open to culture and new ideas, directing becomes way more than just calling out, “action” or “cut”. A director becomes a voice, a challenger, advocate, storyteller, renegade, partner, co-conspirator… and along the way you can make some life long friends too. That’s what I love about directing.

What is the worst part of being a director?
I never like it when I start to feel that I’m getting pigeoned-holed into a single genre/category. That’s why I believe it’s important to continually evolve your craft and diversify. I understand a lot of directors have had great success in their niche, but I don’t think I could do just one thing over and over – that sounds boring and habitual. Maybe bidding would be the worst part? I’m always second-guessing my approach, treatment and the numbers.

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 don’t [think] I necessarily have a specific focus… the way I look at it is, I tell stories. Some stories are :30 seconds while others are two hours… or anywhere in between. Drama and visual effects are two genres that intrigue me and whenever I see these two categories intersect successfully, it is so inspiring to me. Bottom line: I’m focused on always being creatively challenged. It’s how we grow as artists.

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?
I don’t think I ever really had a “mentor”. I’ve had people throughout my life who I’ve looked up to and have learned from… but I also stay open to learning, so it comes very naturally.

Who is your favorite director and why?
This is hard… I don’t have one favorite director. I can give you two of my top five fave directors… Steven Soderbergh and Danny Boyle. Both of them for the same reason: they are not afraid to take risks or experiment.

What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
Milos Forman’s Amadeus is at least in my top five favorite films of all time. It is perfection on every level.

Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I was born in South Korea, raised in Detroit, and lived in L.A. My first real job was working as an agency producer for a Detroit-based agency for nearly six years before moving to L.A. where I began my career in production as a P.A. and working my way up. I detoured into the world of reality television and feature films working for companies like A Band Apart, Magical Elves, and Universal Studios. In 2016 I moved to Chicago and took a content producer position helping the downtown agency grow their internal capabilities before returning to Detroit in 2018. It was here that I joined Doner agency and legitimized their production department while being given the opportunities to bid, treatment, win and fully produce (aka: direct) broadcast campaigns for a variety of national clients.

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?
The pandemic, as horrific and tragic as it’s been for so many of us, I think has also made creatives more aware and sensitive to the notion that in order to execute ideas, one does not necessarily need a six-figure budget, or 35 people in a room together… but with some thought and resourcefulness we have learned to pivot and evolve our craft in new ways to accomplish the same or similar results. Change is often never easy but it is inevitable and whether we were ready or not, this forced us to change many aspects of production. For me, the key is to remain nimble and fluid… this mindset has always seemed to help me along the way.


Unaffiliated: Contact Zeke Anders via email