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How Miguel Campaña Turns Challenges into Unexpected Possibilities


After signing to CANADA’s US roster, the director speaks to LBB’s Ben Conway about his upcoming plans, working with Mads Mikkelsen for Carlsberg and more

How Miguel Campaña Turns Challenges into Unexpected Possibilities

A filmmaker known for his short films and characteristic precision, Miguel Campaña joined the US roster at LA transplant production company CANADA at the start of the year. Making entertaining campaigns with rich craft, he has worked for brands such as AT&T, Canon, and Volkswagen, in collaboration with top agencies from all around the world. His work has been awarded at prestigious shows including Cannes Lions, Clio and Ciclope to name a few.

Stating in the announcement that he aims to “create meaningful pictures with a common background” as part of CANADA’s US offering, Miguel considers the move a natural step forward after previously working with the company’s Barcelona and London offices. These ventures include several well-received projects like Carlsberg’s ‘The Danish Way’, featuring Mads Mikkelsen, and the acclaimed short film ‘Into The Following Year’ with Rachel Keller.

After recently premiering a humorous commercial for Citizen and settling into his new surroundings, Miguel spoke with LBB’s Ben Conway about his career journey so far, the type of work that drives him and why great ideas should always come before new technology.

LBB> What creative content inspired or interested you most when you were growing up? 

Miguel> I’m a child of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, so the multiplex was home for me. Spielberg, Scorsese and Coppola were early heroes. From there, I discovered a small film club in Madrid where I was exposed to European and Asian cinema. Some of those films were life-changing, others were terrible, but it was always fun - especially because it only cost a buck to get in. 

LBB> When did you know you’d be a director? 

Miguel> When I was 10 years old, I was lucky enough to visit a movie set for the first time. It was like getting to see how a magic trick is done. The thought was immediate: I want to be part of this. 

LBB> Congratulations on joining CANADA for US representation - how did this come about? And what are you working on at the moment?

Miguel> Over the past five years, CANADA has helped me make some of the best commercial and narrative work of my career. I’m based in LA, so when I found out they were opening an office here, it was the perfect way to further our collaboration. They’re my team and I love having them in my backyard. 

I’m working on a feature that will start shooting this winter. It’s a thriller with a twist. I can’t say any more! 

LBB> What excites you in the advertising industry right now, as a director? Any trends or changes that open new opportunities? 

Miguel> Covid was a long period of caution: logistically, emotionally, and creatively. Coming off such a risk-averse period, I’ve noticed the concepts getting bolder again. I think we’re just relearning how to have fun, which makes this an incredibly energising time. 

LBB> What elements of a script get you excited to shoot them? How does a script or brief capture your interest? 

Miguel> This sounds like a cliché but it’s true: we’re all searching for a killer idea. Sure, there might be a pull to a certain agency or client, but whenever I read a new script, my excitement level depends on the same two factors: 1) Do I love it? and 2) Can I make it play? 

LBB> What type of work are you most passionate about - and what working relationship is vital in helping you achieve that?

Miguel> Storytelling, period. The visuals are essential to directing, as is the craft, but for me, the emotional pull is the bottom line. The pleasure of making commercials is getting the audience to feel something within a short format. The challenge is what makes it fun. Great work always comes from trust and honesty between directors and each agency’s creative team. When we share the same vision and intentions, and each side wants to make it shine—that’s when we end up with something special. 

LBB> Your work is now presented in so many different formats - to what extent do you keep each in mind while you're working (and, equally, to what degree is it possible to do so)? 

Miguel> They’ve become essential questions. How do we make this idea shine regardless of the media? Does it have sound? How is the framing? Can the TV film work for Instagram? Instead of just cropping a film to fit different formats, can we play with a frame in a way that serves the story and remains adaptable to different formats? What I love is that those questions always unlock creative possibilities that no one expects. 

LBB> What’s your relationship with new technology? How do you incorporate future-facing tech into your work?

Miguel> Trust me - new toys can overshadow an idea quickly if you don’t pay attention. I’m always eager to try new things. That might mean shooting in a virtual set, trying a brand-new series of lenses or using AI to engineer the atmosphere of a film. But the fact is, outside of our little bubble, nobody really cares if a desert was virtual or shot on location. Is the film compelling? Does it move them? Are we getting the emotion we need? That’s what matters. Technology, however advanced, is just another tool to tell a great story. 

LBB> Which pieces of your work do you feel show what you do best – and why? 

Carlsberg 0.0 - ‘Probably the Best Beer in the World’

This is one of the projects I've enjoyed the most working on. First off, it's always great when you work with amazing artists, and Mads Mikkelsen is one of the best actors out there. He brought so much to the project. Not only with his performance but also being flexible and open to trying new ideas we came up with during our shoot. I also love the visuals of this campaign. This is a piece about what being Danish means, so we really had to incorporate that into every frame without being too obvious. It was a fine balance, particularly since my producer and I were the only non-Danish people on the crew, but we had a lot of fun. In the end, it actually worked so well that we repeated the experience the following year. 

Land Rover - '#OtherTerrain'

What I like about this film is the scope and human side we managed to capture in the story. Car commercials can easily get formulaic, so I always try to balance out the amazing vehicle performance moments with unrehearsed snippets of life. In this case, we made the decision to shoot only with real people instead of actors, which really paid off. The climber is an actual climber, the friends were friends in real life… and I think you can feel that when you watch the film. Hopefully, it makes you connect with their lives - and their cars - in a more direct way. 

ATRESplayer - 'Mr. Boredom: Lake'

OK, shooting this is the coldest I've been in my life. I normally operate the camera, which I've always enjoyed, but in this case, it proved to be a big mistake when I found myself submerged in a nearly frozen lake in the middle of winter. I learned a lot about what wetsuits can and can't do for you that night, too. Despite the trauma, I must say I really like the result. I've always wanted to shoot a horror movie and I finally got my chance.

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CANADA, Thu, 09 Mar 2023 10:50:00 GMT