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The Directors: Jordan Rodericks

The Directors 103 Add to collection

Spang TV director on scripts that put the viewer in a cool location and why behind the scenes is the best place to be

The Directors: Jordan Rodericks

Jordan Rodericks wears many hats and always has. Professionally speaking, Jordan started his career making documentaries with a band of filmmaker collaborators. The resulting Capital Emmy award solidified his desire to tell stories in intimate circles, large groups, and on the screen. Jordan has produced and directed films far and wide — from Doha to LA, NY to Warsaw. He’s at home on set — behind the camera and holding it.

Name: Jordan Rodericks

Location: Virginia

Repped by/in: SpangTV in the USA


2022 Official Selection of Tribeca

Emmy – Documentary – Capital Region

AdShow Gold, Silver, Bronze

LBB> What are some recent projects that you're excited about? Tell us a bit about them?

Jordan> Hands down, I’m most excited about going to Tribeca! A music video I co-directed with THE Lucy Dacus and creative director Marin Leong was just selected to screen at the festival. I cannot wait to be there surrounded by other filmmakers and creatives. It’s a total dream and honor.

I’m also flying high with an experience I just had with the Martin Agency for UPS. The Real Caddies of Augusta are the UPS drivers who help the small business owners on Broad Street, Augusta, GA. It struck me that we were really embarking on a photojournalistic exploration of Small Town USA. One of my favourite things to do is to drop into unfamiliar territory, with my camera, and explore; so that’s what I pitched. I wanted to wander the town, meet the people, do a little casting and location scouting before production got underway. Finding creative options is the best part of my job, and on this job I found myself right where I wanted to be.


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

Jordan> Coming out of the pandemic-found-footage boom, we’re leaving behind the stock shots, but we’re all accustomed to mixed formats and aspect ratios so we’re bringing those with us. We can be freer than ever to explore these tools to help shape our stories. Who cares what you shoot with, just shoot.


LBB> What elements of a script sets one apart from the other and what sort of scripts get you excited to shoot them? 

Jordan> I love to go where the general population doesn’t have access. It’s such a bonus in our line of work. Any script that puts the viewer in a cool location, or around cool people, means we get to actually be there and that’s so exciting. Once we’re there it’s fully professional, but more often than not, when I’m somewhere cool, there are some moments where I am geeking out on the inside. Behind the scenes is the best place to be!


LBB> How do you approach creating a treatment for a spot?

Jordan> Research. I will dig and dig for tonal or thematic references, and I love to draw from my library of photography. The more clearly I can present my thoughts to everyone involved, the happier all of the stakeholders will be in the end. If I could make the spot for them in advance, I would gladly do that. And in some instances, I’ve come really really close to doing just that.

LBB> If the script is for a brand that you're not familiar with/ don’t have a big affinity with or a market you're new to, how important is it for you to do research and understand that strategic and contextual side of the ad? If it’s important to you, how do you do it?

Jordan> I know the word is played out, but I believe in authenticity. I always want to present the best of whatever story we’re telling and getting the talent comfortable with that story is essential too. If I’m not familiar with the subject, I will do everything I can to find out more. I need to be the authority on the story, to do the story justice.


LBB> For you, what is the most important working relationship for a director to have with another person in making an ad? And why?

Jordan> I think it’s my job to be able to relate to anyone on set. From PA to the lead client, I have to be able to communicate the vision and the priorities of the job clearly. I do think that the cinematographer needs to be able to operate in parallel, and maybe that trust is the most important – but there are no small parts, as the saying goes.


LBB> What type of work are you most passionate about - is there a particular genre or subject matter or style you are most drawn to?

Jordan> I like cinematic projects, the more movie-like the better, for me. I think my work presents as docu-style, but I think good movies, even science fiction films, make you forget that they’re movies at all. We’re trying to connect with the viewer in a way that is relatable. I want scenes that are beautiful and interactions that feel real. While he’s not a director, Roger Deakins’s work always feels that way to me. He’s said he draws inspiration from his friend Alex Webb, a photojournalistic photographer, and maybe now we’ve come full circle.


LBB> What misconception about you or your work do you most often encounter and why is it wrong?

Jordan> I’m a 'real people director'. I’m honoured and love real people, but that term implies that you might not be qualified to work with actors (who are also real people). When I’ve worked with incredible actors and musicians, their performance allows me to be mindful of other parts of the creative. Put me on set with Samuel L. Jackson and Jennifer Garner. Please. Capital One friends, I’m talking to you.


LBB> Have you ever worked with a cost consultant and if so how have your experiences been?

Jordan> I don’t have to work with them too much, but my favorite agency producers are the ones who help production cover what they need for success. Itemizing the budget for what is needed for the job, not just where we can save. I did see a funny meme recently about an award for “best cost consultant of the year” and that made me laugh.


LBB> What’s the craziest problem you’ve come across in the course of a production – and how did you solve it?

Jordan> We were supposed to film a rodeo in Texas, it was a one day shoot and they canceled the rodeo the night before. The agency producer and I were at a dinner together and I calmly suggested we just call the talent, a national champion rodeo rider. She was amazing and was able to get us hooked up at a local community college that had an indoor rodeo ring with incredible lights. Sight unseen, we pushed the calltime, so we could shoot it at night – and in the end the spot was better for it. In those moments of doubt I like to think that we have an opportunity to make our worst thing our best thing. I ran out of gas in the rental car in the middle of Texas after we wrapped – but that’s a different story for another question.


LBB> How do you strike the balance between being open/collaborative with the agency and brand client while also protecting the idea?

Jordan> The agency’s team are the heroes, it’s their vision first. It’s my job to deliver them through the production process, and at every turn I want to explore with them  the impact of the decisions we’re making. I will visualize as much as possible and explain my priorities with each decision. I hope we’re on the same page, of course, but sometimes we see things differently. The collaboration is part of the fun.


LBB> What are your thoughts on opening up the production world to a more diverse pool of talent? Are you open to mentoring and apprenticeships on set?

Jordan> I love to share information, and I’m always looking for ways to share my experiences – past and present. I’m trying to be more intentional with that process. A tangential problem that we have in the production world is the exploitative nature of the work. It’s cool! So people are willing to do it for cheap, but that means that we’ve historically given entry level opportunities to the kinds of people who are available whenever the phone rings – perhaps inadvertently excluding the people who have less financial flexibility. I’d love to see every job have an ‘opportunity line’ where we can fund the development of new talent, bringing people to set and giving them the financial support to do so. I’d love to see agencies get involved here too! Imagine the cost consultant saying: “…and make sure you have 1k for the opportunity line.”

LBB> How do you feel the pandemic is going to influence the way you work into the longer term? Have you picked up new habits that you feel will stick around for a long time?

Jordan> Our collaborative workflow is vastly improved and streaming technology seems to have hit its stride too. I love a tidy set, the fewer the people the better for the performance, and technology is really helping. With live links we are able to get the footage immediately into the hands of more people on set while keeping them comfortably away from the camera. It’s really better at every level.


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)?

Jordan> Despite the medium, we’re making little films and as someone who’s primarily a commercial director, it’s my job to make sure that those films are as well told on whatever screen they may end up on. I want that screen to be the big screen in the living room, personally, but as with everything that happens in production we have to prioritize (and sometimes more importantly deprioritize) at every step. Finding the best solution is the name of the game!


LBB> What’s your relationship with new technology and, if at all, how do you incorporate future-facing tech into your work (e.g. virtual production, interactive storytelling, AI/data-driven visuals etc)?

Jordan> Ironically, I want to shoot film all the time. In my photography and in my films, that’s my preference. There is a timelessness to the medium and a familiarity in the resulting images. There’s a limit to the resolution of the human eye, and film can go beyond that. So the future of filmmaking is in its origins. I’m a tech nerd at heart, so I love to learn about the new stuff, but analog is tech too.


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

Jordan> Lucy Dacus. Hot & Heavy. Tribeca Festival! 

This UPS project allowed me to drop into Augusta a few days before the shoot; I was able to cast the talent, choose the locations, and decide when the natural light was best for shooting them. I threw in some still photos to add a little texture, and I dined all up and down Broad Street. It was a blast and I’m pretty proud of the results.

This music video with McKinley Dixon was concepted by the two of us, and with the help of my long-time collaborator and friend, David Muessig, we did pretty much everything ourselves. To be that hands-on with a project, featuring such a talented musician, was a really freeing and fulfilling experience.

The McKinney team called to collaborate on this ACCN spot for ESPN. We had a few very specific scenes that needed to fit into a really cool hype reel that they had built. Megan Stacy joined me again for this project and we had a robot on set, to get some very repeatable tailgating footage! It was a HOT day which ended in a massive thunderstorm, but I love the resulting commercial.

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Spang TV, Fri, 13 May 2022 14:26:33 GMT