By 1987 I decided that being a Canadian fashion photographer was a contradiction in terms since most of the fashion world still equated Canadian fashion with the fur trade. Diversifying my portfolio at that time to include lifestyle and product was one of the best decisions I ever made. I began to dabble in 16mm film and re-animating stills sequences to tell the story. My first big outting won a Bessie in 1987 and my commercial directorial career was off and running. Within a year, I was shooting national ads for agencies like Grey Advertising, J Walter Thompson, BBDO, FCB Ronalds Reynolds and others in Toronto. My first breakout piece ( which also won a Gold Multi-Media award from Marketing Magazine ) was Black Label Beer with Palmer, Bonner advertising.
that transpire in seconds.
"The group mind does not think in the strictest sense of the word. In place of thoughts it has impulses, habits, and emotions." Edward Bernays
"Bernard, we will now perfect, imperfection."John James Wood
I love to quote my original mentor John James Wood, he had a deep influence on my creative approach and he just said the funniest things. Shooting auto running-packages for Ford at J.Walter Thompson out of Denver Colorado, presented some interesting production challenges and after weeks of shooting, you see so much of your work fly by in fleeting seconds on the screen. The result is a high concentration of visual images and stories at an intense frequency, the persuasive effect is irresistible for some. In America in the 90s, everything was a big send up, like a Broadway show.
This offering is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to my commercial archives. Many of these spots, especially the early days look so primative to me today. The production values may have change alot since these days but the visual literacy that I was trained in, is quite evident through out the spots.
I wish I could say I directed my early film career with the same determination I directed so many individual spots, but the truth of the matter is some work comes to you, some work you have to seek out and some other work comes to you whether you want it or not. Always the pragmatist, I weighed out the options and more often than not, if I could take on the job, I did.
Looking back over years of work like this, I finally begin to see what I'm actually doing, that keeps me producing commercials to this day. From my very first spot GUCCI Parfum, there is an approach to this kind of work which I've adopted and find to be adaptable to many situations, subjects or causes.
I love to work with people and apparently they enjoy the experience as well. If a production is well prepared, everyone concerned should know their part inside out on the day we arrive to shoot. If that is so, then there's not much left to do but enjoy the ride. If the production and crew are prepped and ready on the day, I expect everyone to have a positive experience because I believe that can manifest greatly in what is captured for the screen.