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The Directors: Lorenzo de Guia

The Directors 146 Add to collection

The Backyard Productions director on mentorship, collaboration and the fundamental joy of storytelling

The Directors: Lorenzo de Guia

Lorenzo de Guia is a Filipino-American writer and film director originally from Southern California, and currently based out of Brooklyn. By taking a story-first approach, he's built a career based on bold, emotional, and visually rich narratives with humanity and heart. Each of his worlds is crafted with realism and, along with it, a deep sense of empathy for the story. Ultimately, his goal is to make something everyone is proud to have been a part of. 

He's worked with a range of clients from 3M, Nike, the NHL, General Mills, BMW, Goldman Sachs to celebrities and athletes like Lebron James, Steph Curry, Mark Ronson, and more. 


Name: Lorenzo de Guia

Location: Los Angeles

Repped by: Backyard


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

Lorenzo> I love projects that I tend to know nothing about. When a project comes to me with an  opportunity to learn about a new world, a story I hadn’t heard about, or a fresh way of looking at something - that makes me excited. I’d add to that any project where the creative team obviously has a ton of passion around the idea. The energy that they bring gets me excited to jump in and craft with them. 


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

Lorenzo> With the exception of one time in my career, I have fully written and done the image search for my treatments. I think unlike most directors, I enjoy the treatment writing process as it forces me to make decisions early and start making choices that I believe will bring success to the idea. For me, the writing of the treatment is so vital to the process and it allows me to show my voice and POV to the creative team. 


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?

Lorenzo> While I will always do some amount of research, I have to rely on the experts to be my guide here. In the case of most spots, that would be the creative team that has spent months and sometimes a year tinkering with an idea and getting to know the brand. In those cases I make sure that I ask the right questions to get myself sorted and best prepared for the job. From there, I do what any storyteller does and try to connect those dots to my own life experiences to find my connection to the story.


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

Lorenzo> This is a tough one but I think it would have to be the Director of Cinematography. Our medium is visual and the DP is the gatekeeper to that realm. Having that short hand and partnership with the DP is vital to making sure that the crazy ideas and visuals I have in my head make it to celluloid (or a hard drive). 


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?

Lorenzo> I’m drawn most to stories about people. I had this fantastic opportunity to work with a client where the job took me to Mexico, Minneapolis, and India. I got to meet and work with so many wonderful people and learn about their lives, their fears, their stories…. It left me feeling so grateful for the experience but also struck me with this huge sense of responsibility to tell their story. That responsibly at times can feel so daunting but rewarding when you get it right. 

Don’t get me wrong - I love to do the stylish, visceral stuff you might do with a car client or a sports client. But the stuff that really is lovely to do are the jobs where you have the chance to tell an important story that hopefully, will bring positive change. 


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

Lorenzo> I think all of us as storytellers, especially in advertising, tend to get boxed into a lane. That if we are comedy directors, we can’t tell a dramatic story. Or if we do a lot of sports work, that we can’t do a healthcare spot. At the end of the day, any good storyteller understands the emotional journey it takes to bring ideas to life and finding fresh perspectives can sometimes lead to something special.


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

Lorenzo> Personally, I have not. I know they have been part of the jobs I have done in the past. But just like anything, we are given a sandbox with a particular set of boundaries. I think most commercial directors would agree that finding success in this part of the industry is simply finding good, creative solutions to whatever obstacles might arise. 


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

Lorenzo> I always lean towards collaboration. The work of a director/filmmaker/storyteller is incredibly collaborative. We rely on other artists, technicians, and crafters to tell our stories. I have to trust not only myself but all the people I work with as well. 

That said, there is something to be said about finding and knowing the best path a story should take. Sometimes that path is clear and other times it takes smart minds to hash it out and find that. I work in a way that allows a lot of happy accidents on set and for me, that surprise and uncertainty in creativity is fun to play in. 


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?

Lorenzo> Well, as a Filipino-American filmmaker I welcome and want these changes. Coming up, I hardly saw faces like my own (both behind and in front of the camera) and I remember being in entire rooms where I was the only person of colour. These days we always push for diverse cast and crew and it’s been such a fresh experience. 

In terms of mentoring, I volunteered for a few years in NYC working with high school kids interested in photography and filmmaking and it was such a rewarding experience. Covid put a bit of an anchor into it but I hope to find that again in Los Angeles. 


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? 

Lorenzo> The short answer is, I don’t know. What I do know is that I have to remain flexible and ready to pivot to new ways of working if and when that time arrives. 


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)? 

Lorenzo> It’s certainly something that is always at the back of my mind knowing that campaigns find themselves on broadcast, YouTube, social, etc. But for me, it normally doesn’t change the main focus - story. While all the different platforms offer their own unique way to capture that story, I believe if you tell a compelling enough story, the work will have the legs to find their audience. 


LBB> What’s your relationship with new technology and, if at all, how do you incorporate future-facing tech into your work?

Lorenzo> Since it debuted, the iPad has been my right hand. It replaced all the paperwork I used to carry with me (and lose) on set. I think honestly I could not do a job without. 

In terms of other tech, I am always looking to incorporate new things in the work flow or how we capture story. Most of the time I find myself in real locations but I am looking for the right project where I do get two experiment more with some new tech. 

I did though recently do an entire job for VR and we had a multitude of tricks filming the talent in the VR world. It was a lot of fun and definitely broadened my mind to the possibilities. 


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


3M

Lorenzo> This was an especially rewarding but also heartbreaking campaign to work on. We had the opportunity to shoot in Mexico City, Mumbai, and St. Paul and met some fantastic people who we collaborated with both on crew and on-camera. The main edit and the accompanying mini doc were incredibly powerful pieces regarding child safety and the walk to school. The agency, McCann and their creative team out of New York were amazingly collaborative partners that really pushed this to become something special. 


Leeper

Leeper was a personal project of mine that I did in the lead up to the Tokyo Olympics (pre-pandemic). I was looking for a story and a friend of mine had sent me Blake’s instagram and a couple of YouTube videos about him. I was floored. I reached out to his team and told them how inspired I was about his story and that I would love to fly out to LA and chat with them and maybe film a few things. We ended up hanging out with him and his trainer for the weekend and got to know the man. Having started my career as an editor, I knew before I even cut anything together that we had something special. 


Blue Shield

I really love this spot. The team over at BSSP were so thoughtful with their approach and concept and they really folded me into the process in creating this spot. I think early on we had over 50 scenarios we were toying with, that then got whittled down to about a dozen. IT was such a beautiful spot to create and required a soft touch to pull off. 


BMW - Poetry in Motion 

I’ve worked with a number of athletes in my career (Lebron, Steph Curry, Tim Anderson, etc) and what I always love about athletes is their work ethic. They aren’t normal humans - they operate at such an insane level that talking with them and getting to know how they grind is always inspiring. This particular campaign was a special one because last minute there was a huge change to the concept - we couldn’t put the athletes in the car while moving. Period. So I worked with the client and creative team on how we can tell the story with our athletes essentially static in the car. The idea to make the drive in their mind was mine and the rest came together nicely. 

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Genres: People

Categories: Movies, Media and Entertainment

Backyard Productions, Thu, 21 Jul 2022 06:56:00 GMT