Congratulations to Gary Samson on getting a Vimeo Staff Pick for the Disappear music vid (for Andrew Austin). We’re proud to have produced it.
What happens when Toronto’s downtown becomes a Honda pitstop?
What were you doing before you made the jump to directing, editing and producing?
After university my first job was financial advising and consulting to high-profile entrepreneurs and small business owners while working at the Business Development Bank of Canada and CIBC. Crazy right? But learning business acumen from such successful business owners on how to build a great company was an early experience worth it’s weight in gold. I did make my first film when i was 13 years old, however. So I must have known as a kid somewhere that this industry was in my blood.
What is it that you love about advertising?
After working in film and TV for ten years, I can definitely appreciate how in advertising it doesn’t take an entire year to finish one project. I love how a project can begin, end, and be broadcast in a single month. The near instant gratification and feedback is enticing. I once wrapped an ad for ITravel2000 on a Monday at 5pm and saw it on TV Thursday morning during Breakfast Television. That’s quick!
You pitched a Nissan campaign to Chiat/Day when you were 19. Tell me more about that.
When I was 19 years old I had what I thought to be a slam dunk idea for a Nissan commercial. I had zero knowledge of advertising whatsoever. I wasn’t even a filmmaker yet. I was so convinced of my idea that I phoned Nissan Headquarters in the U.S. to tell them about it. A nice (read: placating) woman there told me that they didn’t make the commercials themselves, but gave me the phone number of something they called their “advertising agency”. It was some company called Chiat/Day.
I wrote out my story idea and added photos to it to help sell the concept. I’d learn many years later that these are called storyboards. I finished my document, printed it in brilliant/cutting-edge inkjet colour, and mailed it to Chiat/Day. Hilarious now, in retrospect. I still have those boards somewhere. I had completely forgotten about this event until I saw a new Volkswagen ad this year. The concept in the ad is almost the same as my concept so long ago, but instead of “Tiguan” in the VW ad, my horse said “Niiiiiissaaaan”. Unfortunately the work was not produced.
And you also drove from Victoria to Halifax in an ice cream truck for ITravel2000 and Sun Media. Is there anything you won’t do?
Weddings. I’ve always refused to shoot weddings. Of course, I’m quite past that now, but way back in 1999 when starting out I promised myself I’d never shoot nor edit a wedding video. I’m glad I kept this pact with myself.
What is it that you love about the culture of advertising in Toronto?
I love being surrounded by dynamic, creative people who feel most comfortable having their foot on the accelerator. There’s never a dull moment. There’s also a lot of demands on us production companies, but I learned so early in life that it’s much easier to retain a client than it is to win a new client. So I love bending backwards to make sure the clients we have are happy at the end of the day, and that they stay with us.
Where could Toronto’s ad industry improve the most, in your opinion?
When I see these smaller and more nimble agencies who are executing high concept creative with flawless execution, but have also mastered the digital side, I get very hopeful about where we’re headed. The larger traditional agencies are almost there as well, so after years of disruption we might actually be on the verge of a somewhat stabilized industry. Until the next big thing anyway.
What attracted you to Cartilage?
I felt I was ready to join a CPAT-level company. When I saw that Cartilage had produced the “Sea Dog” and “River Monster” spots for Rain43 and Ontario Power Generation, that was all I needed. I was sold. They were risky, bizarre, hilarious, and just plain awesome. Of course the excellence and high-concept quality of all of Cartilage’s other productions didn’t hurt either. Now that I’m here and actually meeting the directors on our roster in the flesh I know I made the right move. Cartilage has a great family feel to it while retaining its serious business edge. It’s a perfect balance. I’m feeling lucky to have found such a great team.
Who reached out to who first?
I sent William a one line email saying “Hey William, do you have some white space in your calendar to grab a coffee?” Directly below that line was a link to my LinkedIn profile. I guess that’s the power of LinkedIn because he responded a few hours later with something to the effect of “hellz yeah!” What I love about our industry is that you never have to apply to a job. You can just create your own job by reaching out to people and convincing them how you can help.
What was your first impression of William?
We met at a coffee shop and hit it off instantly. He began our chat by asking me to tell him my story. I gave him my pitch and when finished he looked away, smiled, hatched his chin and said “You have a good story.” During that first meeting we had figured out that I was actually his banker 17 years ago for one of his previous companies, and although I never met him then, I did meet his partners at their Berkeley Street office.
So it’s feeling rather serendipitous to come full-circle almost two decades later and be working with him now. His idea for our third meeting was to invite my fiancee and his wife out to dinner so everyone could meet. It was a classy and thoughtful move on his part and that gesture alone almost sealed the deal. It was the first time in my life I felt like a high-school football player being recruited by a U.S. college. I’m glad he pursued me so aggressively and that I get to work with him now.
If commercial production were a 10-level video game, I’d be at level 8, but William is at level 25 and has earned “Neo-from-The-Matrix” types of powers. So, I get to do my thing at Cartilage but also learn from someone who’s forgotten more than I know.
Where do you see advertising heading in the next 5-10 years and how do you see your role in its progress?
I believe our industry is finally figuring out that you can’t just throw a passive-viewer-style TV ad on the web and have it work. On the web you have about four seconds to show a viewer why they should care and not click “skip”. Yes it’s catering to the A.D.D. side in all of us, but it’s making storytelling more exciting. We’ve arrived at the point now where it’s the tail wagging-the-dog because traditional TV broadcast spots are even catering to this style as well.
As for my role, I’m just the son of blue-collar auto-parts factory-worker in Cambridge Ontario. I’m not sure how I’ve made it here but I’m just glad to have a seat at the table. As long as I can contribute to my industry I will dream big, work my butt off, and hopefully never lose my smile or enthusiasm.
This just in: Some sweet and strange puppet mastery from Peter Rhoads. We promise it’ll make your Monday a whole bunch better.
Sweden-based art director Castor created this hilariously bizarre and dramatic “Buy My Volvo” commercial to sell his ’93 Volvo station wagon.
You can now find him at Cartilage Inc. Scott is one of the newest additions to our roster. His classic, untouched visions of Americana were what first caught our attention, but it was how they translate so beautifully to film that made us sure that he was right for commercial film.
Canadian-born Scott currently lives and works in LA and we when we caught up with him for an interview he was just coming off of shooting a fashion film for Flaunt Magazine. Tres chic!
Without further ado, we present our man Scott:
Name: Scott Pommier
School: One year of OCA, which they now call OCAD I think. Either way, I’m not sure I learned anything there, maybe just that I didn’t want to go to school anymore.
Directorial Debut: I shot, directed and edited some VHS projects using two VCRs in the late 80s. My mom was very upset that I taped over part of the sequel to Anne of Green Gables.
Favourite Film(s): Andrei Rublev, Virgin Suicides and Airplane!
Favourite Album(s): Roman candle - Elliott Smith; 1st - Beegees (it’s not disco…not that there’s anything wrong with that).
If I wasn’t a director, I’d be: The leader of a small military junta. or maybe just a guy that does yoga. What’s that called, a yogi?
What was the weirdest or worst job you’ve ever had? I worked in a shed polishing jewelry for a couple of months. No air conditioning, no real ventilation and a giant Mastif named Louie would always eat my lunch. I’m really hoping this directing thing works out, I really don’t want to go back to that job.
Why commercial film? I want to expand on what I’ve learned as a commercial photographer and to work with some really talented people.
How did you make the jump from stills photographer to motion? It had been in the back of my head for a while, it really started when I picked up a camera that was capable of shooting what i had in my head.
What ads have influenced or inspired you? There was a Canadian Tire commercial that made me cry when I saw it as a boy, I want to make everyone cry.
What happens in the Canadian Tire ad? I remember it was about a boy who cuts something out of the Canadian Tire catalog; the boy’s dad discovers the missing page, and figures out what had been cut out. When the kid’s birthday rolls around his dad pulls the bike from the catalog out of the back of a pickup and the voiceover says something to the effect of “I’d give anything to see my look on my face that day..” It’s pretty straight-forward, but I related to it enough that the nostalgia really worked.
What can you tell us about upcoming projects? I just shot a fashion film for Flaunt magazine. I’m really happy with the footage, can’t wait to start cutting.
What’s unique about your creative process? You know, it’s a funny thing. I don’t know that I’m terribly familiar with the creative processes of others, at least when it comes to fellow directors and photographers. I never assisted or worked as a grip, almost all of my experience on set comes from my own shoots. My approach is always to have a plan, something fairly specific mapped out…and then to not use it.
How do you deal with creative blocks? I tend to scratch my head quite a lot, not sure how that helps, warms up the neurons maybe. Either way, it’s the result that matters in the end.
How did you get your start in directing? I bought a camera, and I talked a bunch of friends into helping me out.
What person or piece of advice helped you the most in your career so far? The words printed in giant letters on the hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy: Don’t panic.
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: NFP/Fundraising/Public Service: Gold
DIGITAL: NFP/Fundraising/Public Service: Gold
ADVERTISING: NFP/Fundraising/Public Service: Bronze
INTEGRATED: NFP/Fundraising/Public Service: Bronze
With the puck officially dropped on the 2013/2014 NHL regular season, Molson Canadian has rolled out its latest hockey program, the “Anything for Hockey” campaign.
The brand is looking to engage with avid hockey fans who will do whatever it takes for their favourite sport. Working with creative agency Rethink, Cartilage director, Brett Blackwell, shot “The Hockey Sacrifice,” which debuted on CBC during the last night’s game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens.
The spot, which will also run on sports specialty channels like TSN and Sportsnet, features a hockey fan who sacrifices an antique grandfather clock he planned to pass down to his son in return for tickets to an NHL game.
It’s been a long wait, but now we can finally share the new campaign from Ontario Public Health, shot by our Jamie Way, which points out that it’s not always better to give than to receive.
Developed by Toronto agency Rain 43, the “Friends don’t give friends Chlamydia” campaign uses a series of 15-second videos, English and French posters located on college campuses, and a dedicated website to inform young adults about the disease and help them avoid the shame of passing it on to an unsuspecting partner.
The videos tell fragments of a story about a young man named Jason who contracted Chlamydia after a sexual encounter with a woman he met at a party.
CLICK TO VIEW JAMIE WAY’S REEL
After much secrecy, we can finally show you our latest project, theundeading.ca. The campaign, created by Agency59 for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, aims to equip the pubic with the right moves to perform hands-only CPR. The PSA (seen above), directed by Vincenzo Natali and produced by Cartilage, was launched on October 4th with a public event in Toronto’s Yonge and Dundas Square.
Cartilage devised a digital strategy, including theundeading.ca site, the Facebook page and a multi-character Twitter narrative, that will continue to unfold throughout October. The entire campaign is set to finish on October 25th with an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for CPR training at Canada’s Wonderland.
In just one week the video has gotten over half a million views on YouTube, along with praise from Marketing Mag, CBS NEWS, the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail and CTV News. It was featured on the home page of Mashable, the Financial Post called it a “viral hit" and George Strombolopolous says it might be the “Best. PSA. Ever.”
Check out our behind the scenes video, Bringing #theundeading to Life, for interviews with Agency59, Cartilage Inc, Heart and Stroke Foundation, and Vincenzo Natali.
Thank you to everyone who made this possible:
Agency59, Married to Giants, Alter Ego, RMW, Cartilage’s digital team, Actra, Space Network, Toronto Zombie Walk, Canada’s Wonderland, Vibe Dance and Fitness Studio, Laerdal, Angus Rowe Macpherson