So COVID, Omnicom, the pandemic, whatever you want to call it, has completely changed the way we do … well … everything … but this is how I survived, and dare I say thrived, as a commercial director in advertising during that time.
First, I got my hands dirty. That sounds more romantic then it actually was. If you were like me coming up in the business, you pretty much did everything at one time; you shot, you edited, you wrote your own content. At some point I was able to just focus on directing, which is the skill you have when you know what needs to happen by who to make a successful production. When crews dried up with the work, it was time to go back to the old ways and do it yourself.
So what are the two things I did?
- I rebranded. If we’re talking career path I wanted to continue to focus on directing, however, I had all these other skills that allowed me to produce content without needing a crew or producers and that is what brands needed. So I rebranded. Instead of putting only my director hat on I put on my protean hat, and showed off my full scale 360 turnkey production skills. I built a simple little website, threw some self produced work on there and got down to business.
- I reached out. I started with brands and products I had a personal desire to work with. Everyone was cooking so I reached out to Ooni because I really wanted to make pizza’s on my balcony. I reached out to Allen Brothers because I really love their meat. I said hey to MAX ID cause their glassware is stunning. The first jobs I traded product for concept and had the best time of my life creating unique, authentic content for these truly remarkable brands. Then, once they were out in the world, and the name one man one camera was with them others came knocking like Dosist, Indian Motorcycles and Aegis.
The end result is that perhaps I’m not making my director day rate, but I’m working more then I ever had, and whats more, on projects I am in love with working closely with brands to deliver content that would never get past the first round of an agency. The shoots are fast and fun, a fraction of the budget of an industry shoot, and perform well beyond and above what brands are expecting.
I’m not saying I don’t miss big budget commercial production, with big crews and working with advertising elites, after all that’s exactly what taught me everything I know to to pour into these hand crafted projects. What I am saying is that like anything if you want to not just succeed but be fulfilled, you have to adapt constantly. Sometimes like now with something like a pandemic you’re forced to transform yourself a bit faster then normal, but for me, a kid that grew up in a basement in Long Island with dreams of travelling the world, the best thing to happen is sometimes the worse thing. That might just be a Long Islandism but I’m telling you, it’s true.
The bloodhounds over at Daily Ad Brief caught wind of my goings-ons and we did a little skype interview where I break it down a bit more… check it out … if I can do it you can too.