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Into the Library with Jim Jenkins



The O Positive director takes us through some of his catalogue’s proudest moments, discussing the pieces that mean the most to him - from working with Scorsese for AT&T, to Mike Tyson for Foot Locker and Bill Murray for the Jeep’s ‘Groundhog Day’ Super Bowl spot

Into the Library with Jim Jenkins

'The Creative Library' is LBB’s exciting new launch. It’s been months - years, probably - in the making and we reckon our re-tooled archive will change the way you work, whether you’re a company looking to store and share your work, or a marketer or creative looking for new partners or inspiration for your latest project.

This isn’t a dusty old archive. It’s an easy-to-search, paywall-free library where all our members can store and share all of their reels and creative work.

To coincide, we’re also launching a new regular feature called ‘Into the Library’ where we catch up with the industry’s most influential directors to talk about their directorial highlights past and present. Think of it as a director’s reel showcase with a big dollop of personality. We interview directors about their favourite commercials and music videos from their reel to find out about how these works shaped them as a director.

Today comes the turn of Jim Jenkins, the iconic commercial director known for his comedic spots and a penchant for getting the best out of Hollywood’s biggest stars. He spoke with LBB's Ben Conway.

Companion Animal Placement - The Dogfather

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This was one of the earliest spots I directed, and it was the first time I realised how fun and freeing it can be to be on set - and to play with how a story gets told. We had so little time to shoot this, plus we had to borrow someone’s dog and some crew guy’s car, but I love the whole tone of the piece. As ridiculous as it is, you accept it because it’s based on a truth: dogs love you no matter what.

It’s about as sweet as a story about a guy who beats people to death with baseball bats can get.

Land Rover - Sword Collector

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I’ve directed a lot of FedEx spots that I like. Nextel ‘Dance Party’ is another favorite, but if I’m only going to include one office spot in this list then it has to be this one. This concept is so good it would have been hard for a director to mess this up. I like everything about it, particularly the actor who played our sword collector who, in a bit of predestination, was named Peter Looney.

AT&T - Scorsese

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I had shot Scorsese in an American Express commercial a few years prior and he loved how that one turned out, so it meant a lot that he wanted me back for this AT&T cinema spot. I think it was because of him that I also got to shoot with [Joe] Pesci (Snickers) and [Robert] De Niro (Santander). As for working with Scorsese, well, I think it changed me in that pretty much nothing frightened me again after that. Plus, I was proud that he went on to have a fairly decent career as a filmmaker.

Snickers - Brady Bunch

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I was fortunate to be able to direct a few of the spots in BBDO’s ‘You’re Not You When You’re Hungry’ campaign, and while I loved putting Willem Dafoe in Marilyn Monroe’s dress and hitting Roseanne with a log, nothing beats putting Danny Trejo in the Brady’s living room and having him slam an axe into a table while yelling at Mr. Brady to shut up. If that won’t sell candy bars, then I don’t know what will.

Foot Locker - Week of Greatness 

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It isn’t lost on me that my favourite spots all had good creatives and good agencies and, yes, good clients behind them. The creative team at BBDO and its Foot Locker client knew that their media money was limited, so whatever they shot had to get talked about. That’s how I got handed a script that featured Mike Tyson giving Evander Holyfield his bitten-off ear back, and travellers at JFK cheering because Dennis Rodman was buying a one-way ticket to North Korea.

People would look forward to watching commercials much more if more clients approved work like that.

Jeep - Groundhog Day

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I was boarding a flight home after shooting Post Malone for a Super Bowl spot when Chad Broude (Highdive co-founder, CCO) called to say that Bill Murray might be interested in doing a Super Bowl spot for Jeep - if we could send him a script he liked. So, within a few hours, we sent him a script that he liked. After a mad production scramble, we shot the weekend before the Super Bowl, editing in a local hotel room until late each night. By Monday evening, we had a locked cut.

After he saw the spot, I got a text from Bill that said, “It’s great, Jim. Attaboy.” I had never gotten an ‘attaboy’ from anyone before, much less an attaboy from Bill Murray. If you ever get the chance, you should get an attaboy from Bill Murray. Best attaboy I ever got.

Chevrolet - Walter the Cat

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Since I started this list of favourites with a spot about a dog, it only seems fair to end with this - although I really don’t like cats. It was honestly my dislike of them that pushed me to make sure all of the actions of our cat, Walter, were true dog-like actions, and that our main character completely saw his companion as being a dog. It also helped that we took the time to train multiple cats to do very specific actions, because that in-camera approach made the whole thing more legit. That’s why I like Walter, although he’s the only cat I can say that about. 

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O Positive , Mon, 19 Dec 2022 18:00:00 GMT