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How to Break into the World of Commercial Directing

The Commercial Process: A Director’s Point of View
by Tony Johns © Tony Johns, 2001

There are various ways you can break into the world of commercial directing but the first step for all aspiring directors is to put together a Showreel. Think of it as your Curriculum Vitae with moving pictures. Without one to show your abilities, you won’t be offered a script.

A number of directors start out directing music clips and short films to build their reel. Another approach is to write and direct your own spec (speculative) commercials – i.e. commercials that have not been commissioned. In other words any cost involved is the director’s burden. A number of established directors, myself included, still write and direct spec commercials. It is one way to try out new ideas or to add variety to one’s Showreel.

Luckily for me, I have built up a rapport with crew and post-production houses over the years and can usually get time and facilities donated for nothing. After all, if the spec commercial is good enough, they can put it on their Showreels as well. For those of you, who are starting out, don’t despair; there are plenty of DOP’s (Director of Photography), grips, editors, etc. out there who are starting out also.

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