Wake The Town
Stuck in Motion
Contemplative Reptile
  • International Edition
  • USA Edition
  • UK Edition
  • Australian Edition
  • Canadian Edition
  • Irish Edition
  • German Edition
  • French Edition
  • Singapore Edition
  • Spanish edition
  • Polish edition
  • Indian Edition
  • Middle East edition
  • South African Edition

Into the Library with Joachim Back


Stink repped director Joachim Back traces the journey of his irreverent humour, meticulous timing and cinematic sensibility in a conversation with LBB’s Zoe Antonov

Into the Library with Joachim Back

'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.

The latest stage of this launch involves you, our readers. If you have ever been credited on campaigns or music videos, you can now personalise your creative profile - find out more about why and how here.

To coincide with launching The Creative Library, we launched a regular feature called 'Into the Library' where we catch up with the industry’s most influential directors and creatives to talk about their career highlights, past and present. Think of it as a reel showcase with a big dollop of personality. We interview directors and top creatives about their favourite commercials and music videos from their catalogues to find out how these works shaped them.

Next up is Joachim Back, who has a gift for directing films that will leave you unexpectedly smiling as the ad draws to a close. His appreciation of the absurd and understanding of human nature is intrinsic to his creative process – and means he can take a story where you’d least expect it to go. Combining cinematic visuals with a well-tempo-ed pace, Joachim retains impeccable control over the narrative, suspending his viewers in disbelief and transporting them into sublimely-comedic worlds. With a number of accolades under his belt, including an Oscar for his short ‘The New Tenants’, Joachim’s work constantly surprises yet its relatability makes it truly hit home. Read on to uncover the world of his best and most impactful work.

My career began in the movies, working as a runner before getting hired as a production assistant in advertising. At the time, I was tailing some of the best directors in Denmark and that must have rubbed off on me… it wasn’t long before my curiosity grew and I felt compelled to try my hand at directing. So, I got a group of industry friends together and I built a small set at the studio. 

We crafted a simple storyline about an old lady sitting in her living room, basking by the fire. She wants to put more wood on it, but the basket of wood looks quite similar to the cat’s basket. So she ends up throwing the cat into the flame. 

That ended up being my first ever campaign. An optician brand bought it, because the tagline was along the lines of: ‘Do you need to get your eyesight checked?’ 

It won at The Golden Swan, the Swedish advertising awards, beating Traktor, so that got me started and validated my craft. And my curiosity in filmmaking kept me going. Filmmaking has such depth to it and I wanted to know everything about it. In learning, I discovered my interesting sense of humour, which tends to lean towards absurdity, and my understanding of timing. Filmmaking felt familiar. It’s a place where I finally fit in.

Viagra - Office

I believe this was the first piece of work that drastically changed my career. I think it was the series of these Viagra idents I did (one of them was ‘Office’) that helped me take off. It was the most-awarded campaign of 2005 and that success drastically changed my career, it helped me level up and made me known to some of the best advertising agencies around the world. Which was fun. 

Tetra Pak - Milkman

Regardless of the fact that I believe Viagra was the series of ads that changed the tilt of my career, my personal favourite has to be the series I did for Tetra Pak. I did seven films in 2004 (one of which was 'Milkman') and that really was the moment when I felt like I knew what I was doing… Which helps a lot when you’re starting out as a director. Overall, the Tetra Pak series required a lot of detail and it was conducted at a huge scale. We also needed very good acting to make it seem believable – but these are the main ingredients for any strong commercial and with this job in particular, I felt I learned how to balance all three.

Audi - The Swan

The piece of work at which point I felt like I was fully in control and knew what I was doing was my work for Audi, in ‘The Swan’ campaign. It was inspired by Hans Christian Anderson's tale, 'The Ugly Duckling', and the 2012 spot promoting the Audi A5 took a nostalgic look at the vehicle’s previous incarnations, reviving the unique concept model of the ‘20s, designed by engineer Paul Jaray – which actually never launched commercially.

The re-bodied Audi car travels through the streets of a sleepy Bavarian village but it’s shunned by disapproving locals who do not like its aerodynamic design. In the spot, while retiring in a nearby forest, the 'ugly' car transforms into the new Audi A5, metaphorically embodying the journey of the duckling growing into a beautiful white swan. 

The creative process was easy – the shoot required just me, the crew and two agency creatives, whereas today, shoots are so different and house much busier environments. But shooting in monochrome and on film, using a hand crank no less, was extremely fun.

Air Miles - It’s All Gravy

In parallel, my most recent spot was ‘It’s All Gravy’ for Air Miles, which was great. We had to build a whole aeroplane… The captain takes the viewer through different moments of pleasure as they’re taking place on the plane, so it was all about getting the timing and consistency right – and to make it seem like it was filmed in one take. 

The parallel between Air Miles and Audi? Probably the humour and my cinematic sensibility. I don’t see any directional change in my style, storytelling is storytelling after all and the medium of filmmaking hasn’t changed (much) in a thousand years. But visual expression has - that’s always moving and evolving.  

Stella Artois - The Rivals

It’s hard to pick a project I’m most proud of, but if I have to choose, I’d have to say Stella Artois, ‘The Rivals’. I love the lightness of the spot and the flirtation between characters. You can’t help but feel good when you watch it… And that must be the main purpose of advertising. 

Chivas Regal - Big Bear

I absolutely loved executing ‘Big Bear’ for Chivas Regal. We shot it in Chile and the shoot meant I spent a month and a half with my best buddies and very clever colleagues delivering the project. We filmed two brand shorts – one was eight minutes long, the other 12 – and they were about friendship, and all the tools and toys that accompany the journey of life, which was an unusual angle for Chivas.

Thinking back on this project, the biggest ups and downs with bringing it to life were the dryness of the locations… The conditions were very hot to work in and we had to have a low loader fit onto an 18-ton truck. The scale and surreal nature of the job made it feel like I was part of the ‘Mad Max’ franchise. We all had cracked lips, sand in our eyes and burnt skin. We were absolutely in the thick of it and just kept at it with filming. It was very intense.


The project that involved the most ups and downs must be my work for Yellowpages. I had to shoot beneath a famous spa/sauna in Budapest which was 60°C and we had to be there for six hours. We got through about 100 litres of water during the shoot and I alone drank six litres!

You can imagine how difficult it was to film. The plot centred on a man chasing a plumber which we filmed on a steadicam and actually had to do a lot of the running for. There was steam on the lenses but we made it through (somehow).

Range Rover - Days Like These

To finish off on a fun note, the most fun I’ve had on a project is probably Range Rover, ‘Days Like These’. We filmed it across three different countries, traversing the mountains in the South of France, the cityscape of Milan and the tranquillity of Lake Como. It was a breath-taking journey with some very talented people – which is always such a pleasure and an honour.

The New Tenants

Through my career I’ve worked with some exceptional people including DOP’s Jan Velicky, Rodrigo Prieto, Emmanuel Lubezki, Jim Frohna, Jeff Cronenweth, Tom Siegel and Ellen Kuras. I’ve also worked a lot with Pawel Edelman, he’s such a huge inspiration. We did my debut short, ‘The New Tenants’, together and are working on an upcoming feature, ‘Corner Office’, due for release in August of this year. I just really love working with him.

view more - Creative
Sign up to our newsletters and stay up to date with the best work and breaking ad news from around the world.
Stink Films, Tue, 06 Jun 2023 16:00:38 GMT