Commercial production and ads support many independent would-be filmmakers dreaming of shooting their first feature film. Some may look at these ads as a troublesome stepping stone to the “big break”. But for seasoned feature filmmakers like Wes Anderson, directing commercials offers a fertile playground for experimentation.
Many great filmmakers have made advertisements, including Fredrico Fellini, David Lynch and Ingrid Bergman. Great filmmakers of our time like Ridley Scott, and David Fincher, launched their early careers shooting and directing tv ads. It is a great way to work on short, lower-budget concepts that actually get made and not just talked about.
In-between directing films like The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic and Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson has been directing TV commercials for brands like Sony, AT&T, American Express, Stella, Ikea, and Hyundai. He works with his own production company, Moxie Pictures. Anybody familiar with the Anderson style can see him practicing in these ads. From stop motion, to whip-pans, to beautifully choreographed long-take tracking shots, these commercials use all of the classic “Andersonian” techniques.
Here are 5 popular ads directed by Wes Anderson along with quotes and links to a series of in-depth commentaries on the subject.
American Express: My Life, My Card. Directed by Wes Anderson
I love the density of detail here. The version of the spot I’ve seen is two minutes long but has material enough for a 15-minute short. So many dry-yet-fanciful Andersonian moments, one after another: He asks for a mock-up of a .357 pistol with a bayonet attached … and the prop guy comes back with a drawing in about eight seconds. Anderson is told that the production can’t afford a $15,000 helicopter shot (I believe this actually happened during the filming of Rushmore), so he whips out his wallet, says he’ll pay for it himself, and asks his assistant to save the receipt (note that the sell is so soft that the ad doesn’t even bother to have him use his AmEx card here). Finally, as the spot closes, some pigeons fly past, and Anderson wonders, “Are those my birds? I need those.” – Slate.com
Sony Xperia: Made of Imagination. Directed by Wes Anderson
Anderson built a visual world around Jake’s audio track. The agency wanted something animated—it’s more childlike. Anderson suggested stop-motion over CGI to make it more tactile and enchanting. First, he created an animatic of drawings, which became a blueprint for the whole process. Animation company LAIKA/House brought everything to life. The visuals are rich in detail. Many of the phone’s interior structures look more analog than digital, with cogs and levers—as a child might imagine it. The sets were small but not tiny; the robots were about three inches tall. The ad uses nine custom sets and 37 handcrafted models, and took over 10,000 man-hours to produce. – Adweek
Stella Artois: Directed by Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola
Prior to its acquisition of A-B, InBev had long positioned Stella Artois, which is distributed in some 80 countries, as a premium Belgian beer. Jorn Socquet, global brand director for Stella Artois and Beck’s at A-B InBev, describes the target demographic as “unisex” consumers who are well-educated, have slightly higher income, and value ambition. To appeal to that audience, the brewer brought in two directors with bona fide indie credentials and a knack for creating distinct worlds- AdvertisingAge
At&T: Reporter. Directed by Wes Anderson
Anderson’s style is actually a great fit for advertising. It’s tough to get viewers to pay attention to a TV ad, especially after they’ve seen it (and hated it) once. But Anderson packs in so much detail, one YouTube commenter said he’d been sitting in front of the first frame for 30 minutes, soaking up the visual jokes. Now that’s sticky advertising. – Guardian
Hyundai Azera: Talk to My Car. Directed by Wes Anderson
The strangest element proves, ironically, to be the car itself. In Rushmore, Bill Murray drives a Bentley; in The Royal Tenenbaums, Owen Wilson drives an Austin-Healey. What self-respecting Wes Anderson character would be caught dead in this year’s sensible, gray, Bluetooth-enabled four-door, no matter how many luxury-car features it brings into its affordable class? So many of us long to live in Wes Anderson’s world, but the Hyundai Azera seems a highly unsuitable vehicle to take us there.
Whether taking on as his subject Belgian beer or wide-range calling plans or Japanese cellphones or self-satire by way of American Express, Wes Anderson remains Wes Anderson down to the last detail. The word “integrity,” I realize, tends to be reserved specifically for artists who don’t do commercials. But if Anderson’s unwavering respect for his own fascinations and aesthetic impulses in every project he works on doesn’t count as integrity, what does? – Open Culture