On June 6, DGA members and guests gathered in the DGA’s New York Theater to hear a discussion of the evolution of television commercials and how innovations in commercials changed the aesthetic in film and television. Entitled 30 Seconds to Impact: Celebrating Game-Changing Commercial Direction, the evening featured a notable panel of leading commercial directors whose combined experience stretched far beyond the 75 years of the DGA’s existence.
The evening began with a reel of clips curated by director Laura Belsey, featuring from some of the most iconic commercials of the television age. DGA Sixth Vice President Vincent Misiano stepped to the podium and declared, “I remember all of those.” Welcoming the audience to the evening, Misiano framed the event in its proper context of the 75th Anniversary celebrations, and added “Commercials are to film as haiku is to poetry. At their best they are so concentrated that they reach directly into the brain and inspire emotion out of all proportion to their length. This evening we celebrate the craft, contributions and the art of the commercial director. These folks toil at the intersection of committees and commerce and yet they produce laughter, tears and magical images.”
Misiano then turned proceedings over to director Jeff Goodby, Co-Chairman and Creative Director of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners who served as moderator for the event.
Speaking about the panel he was about to introduce, Goodby said, “I think that all these guys looked at the culture around us and used it to create a vision of what was likeable and humorous and beautiful in their eyes in a way that we all saw. Even though people try to make it a science, the only thing that makes it worth doing is that commercial directing is an art. All the guys you’re going to meet here tonight realized that and worked hard to make that be so.”
After a second reel of clips from commercials directed by members of the panel, they took the stage. The panel featured 1999 DGA Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Commercial Directing award winner Bryan Buckley, once dubbed the “King of the Superbowl” by the New York Times, having directed over 40 commercials for the big game between 2000 and 2010; Jim Gartner a two-time winner and three-time nominee for the DGA Commercial Directing award; Bob Giraldi who has directed over 4,000 commercials and set the tone for music videos in the early days of MTV; George Gomes, a DGA member for more than four decades and 1988 winner of the DGA Commercial Directing award; and Joe Pytka, who has directed more than 5,000 commercials, earned three DGA Awards for commercial directing as well as 15 nominations—the most for that category.
Goodby led the panel through a lively evening where they told stories from the field and revealed how many of the innovative techniques now seen regularly in film and television were conceived and perfected in the commercial arena, and spoke candidly about the lengths they sometimes needed to go to in order to get the necessary shot.