Play-By-Play: Directing Innovative Super Bowl Commercials

Play-By-Play: Directing Innovative Super Bowl Commercials

February 13, 2020 An Eastern Region Special Projects Committee Panel Discussion

Each year, the tradition of the biggest football game of the season is amplified by some of the wackiest and most wonderful advertising spots ever conceived. On February 13, DGA members gathered in the Guild’s New York boardroom for the Eastern Region Special Projects Committee’s panel discussion, Play-By-Play: Directing Innovative Super Bowl Commercials. The evening featured 1999 DGA Commercial Award-winning Director Bryan Buckley and DGA Commercial Award-nominees Jim Jenkins (2004) and David Shane (2018) in an enlightening evening of conversation and exploration about their work moderated by Director Sorrel Brae.

Following a welcome and introductions by DGA Eastern Region Special Projects Committee member Daniel Hank, the panelists screened a few of their most memorable commercials including Buckley’s DGA Award-winning Monster.Com spot, When I Grow Up, Jenkins’ Jeep commercial, Groundhog Day and Shane’s Apple TV spot with the late Kobe Bryant and Michael B. Jordan. In conversations with Brae, they each discussed some of the challenges involved in creating these ads and more. Following the moderated portion of the panel discussion, the panelists took questions from the audience.

About the Panelists:

Bryan BuckleyBryan Buckley
Dubbed the “King of the Super Bowl” by The New York Times, Buckley has directed more than 60 commercials for the big game in his career. A three-time DGA Award-nominee in the category, Buckley took home the 1999 DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Commercials for his ads: Broker and Trimount Studios (E*Trade), Friends (Onhealth.Com) and When I Grow Up (Monster.Com). He has been a DGA member since 1995.

Jim JenkinsJim Jenkins
Jenkins has directed multiple Super Bowl spots, including four straight years for Snickers, starring such names as Joe Pesci, Steve Buscemi and Willem Dafoe, as well as a live Super Bowl spot starring Adam Driver. His Jeep spot for the 2020 Super Bowl starred Bill Murray and topped the 2020 USA Today Ad Meter. A DGA member since 2000, he was nominated for the 2004 DGA Commercials Award for his spots: Antlers and Milk Truck (Discovery Channel), Dance Party (Nextel) and Strange Fruit (TBS).


David ShaneDavid Shane
In addition to directing award-nominated commercials, Shane has also directed award-nominated short films and is set to direct the upcoming series Driven. In the realm of commercials, he received a DGA Award nomination for his 2018 spots: An Alien Abroad (Babbel) and Daughter & Mother (Cure Alzheimer’s Fund). Shane has been a DGA member since 1997.


Sorrel BraeSorrel Brae (Moderator)
Brae has directed over 50 commercials for brands including Procter & Gamble, Firefox, Don Julio, Mizuno, NFL, Motorola, PNC Bank, Blue Cross, Rocket Mortgage and American Express while working with Anonymous Content, Humble and Native Content. He has been a DGA member since 2008 and currently serves as an Alternate to the Eastern Directors Council.

About the Committee:

Special Projects is the educational and cultural arm of the Directors Guild of America. It provides opportunities for creative exchange with programs for members and industry colleagues to celebrate the history and achievements of its members, advance their professional skills, and prepare them for the technological changes of the future. The Eastern Region Special Projects Committee is chaired by Raymond DeFelitta.


photos by Marcie Revens

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