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9 prestigious filmmakers who have also directed adverts

Wes Anderson in a commercial for American Express

(American Express/American Empirical)

We’d like to think of our favourite film directors as uncompromising artists, who would never sell out and make something that wasn’t wonderful. But more often than not, big name auteurs are offered crazy amounts of money to direct commercials for television.

You will have seen many of these, but you might not have known who directed them:

1. Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson directs Tilda Swinton in The Grand Budapest Hotel

(image: 20th Century Fox)

Of all the quirky ads Anderson has created, the one that’s closest thing to an actual Wes Anderson movie is this American Express commercial in which the director plays himself as a Max Fischer-style busybody.



2. Darren Aronofsky

(image: 20th Century Fox)

(image: 20th Century Fox)

Having directed Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan and The Wrestler, Aronofsky is one of American cinema’s most admired figures. But a man can’t live on kudos alone. So for a bit of pocket money, he filmed this commercial for the department store Kohls, starring Jennifer Lopez and a number of costume changes.



3. David Lynch

(image: StudioCanal)

(image: StudioCanal)

Famous the world over as a distinctly weird film-maker, it’s strange to think any company would let the director of Mulholland Drive and Dune anywhere near their product. But for some reason, he was the go-to-guy for perfume ads throughout the 90s, directing strange TV spots for Giorgio Armani, Calvin Klein, Yves Saint Laurent, Lancome, and Karl Lagerfeld.

Here’s a Gucci advert from recent years, in which three models fall into a Blondie-induced perfume trance.



4. Joe Wright

(Jasin Boland/Focus Features)

(Jasin Boland/Focus Features)

Speaking of perfume ads, you might remember a nonsensical ad Brad Pitt did for Chanel No 5? Well that was directed by the guy who made Pride and Prejudice, Atonement and Hanna.



5. Martin Scorsese

(image: Universal)

(image: Universal)

Is it a rule that perfume ads must be bafflingly obtuse? This beautiful black and white piece for Dolce and Gabbana is shot by America’s greatest living director and stars two of Hollywood’s biggest stars; but we cannot for the life of us figure out what it’s supposed to mean.



6. Ridley Scott

(image: 20th Century Fox)

(image: 20th Century Fox)

The undisputed godfather of commercials directors, the man behind Blade Runner and Gladiator is the founder of Ridley Scott Associates, the world’s leading producers of film and TV ads. Back in his heyday, Scott produced some of the most iconic pieces of advertising, including that Hovis commercial and this Orwellian Super Bowl ad for Apple Computers:



7. Michel Gondry

(image: eOne)

(image: eOne)

Before he went and made the greatest film of the 2000s in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the French-born director was one of the most creative minds working in adverts and music videos. His style blended a home-made aesthetic with cutting edge visual effects technology. We could have picked any one of his commercials and be guaranteed to see something special but this Poloroid spot is probably our favourite:



8. Terry Gilliam

(image: Optimum Releases)

(image: Optimum Releases)

The Monty Python star (and director of Brazil) called the shots on a hugely popular advert for Nike. You’ll remember it: a load of famous footballers compete in a 3-a-side tournament presided over by Eric Cantona. And they’re on a boat.

The ad permeated the public consciousness so thoroughly that the remix of Elvis’ A Little Less Conversation went to #1 in over 20 countries.

9. Alejandro González Iñárritu

(image: Paramount)

(image: Paramount)

In fact, the Gilliam-created ad was so popular, Nike made a point of release star-studded commercials before every major international tournament. Each of them would be directed by a well-known director.

To co-incide with the 2010 World Cup, they hired the Oscar-nominated Mexican director to create this corker:

Note how Iñárritu’s Babel and Amores Perros star Gael Garcia Bernal makes an appearance!

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