An Ugly Trend in Filmmakers

by Glenn McDonald

30 April 2007

Strapped for cash, aching to free their creative impulse from the grind of the same old story, over and over and over, our best modern film directors turn their talents toward the vastly untapped world of TV commercial-making.
David Mamet directing Alec Baldwin 

In an effort to get more people to notice its new vehicles, Ford Motor Co. has enlisted the help of filmmaker and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet to direct some of its commercials.
—Associated Press


David Mamet, directing

David Mamet, directing

Ford F-150: 30-second network spot
Director: David Mamet
Draft #3b

Establishing shot, B-roll TBA: Montage of images with new model F-150 traversing various rugged terrains. Music: Menacing jazz bass line

VO: Your Metro Ford dealers are pleased to announce the Sixth Annual President’s Day Sale. First prize is a new 2008 Ford F-150. Second prize is a set of metric wrenches. Third prize is YOU’RE ON THE STREETS, PAL! HIT THE BRICKS! You think you can handle this truck? The available 5.4 liter Triton V8 means more low-speed torque and high-speed power. More than you can handle, maybe. Still undecided? You CHILD? How about best-in-class payload and towing, ranked #1 three years in a row by J.D. Power and Associates. Am I making you uncomfortable? Yeah, well go home and tell your wife your troubles. You wanna buy a truck, you know where I’m at. My name? My name is Screw You! Buy a truck!

Ford F-150. Built Ford Tough. At participating dealers only. 


John Woo, directing

John Woo, directing

Old Navy Spring Collection: 30-second teaser spot
Director: John Woo
Draft #5a

A multiethnic collection of smartly-dressed, perky, clean, incessantly smiling young people strut through an upscale urban shopping district. Laughing and throwing up their arms, they exchange looks of sassy glee as generic pop builds to a crescendo.

GRETA, a tall Nordic woman in a fleece windbreaker, notices a REFLECTION in a shop window of a MOTORCYCLE ASSASSIN bearing down on the group. As the action drops into SUPER SLO-MO, GRETA leaps into the air, twisting horizontally, and throwing two BARETTA HANDGUNS to her friends MARCUS, a clean-cut African American male; and MOEKA, a pixie-ish JAPANESE-AMERICAN female.

MOEKA and MARCUS catch the weapons in mid-air as they leap into the decorative plaza fountain. In a sequence of balletic grace, the vivacious young people splash into the water while training their firearms on the helmeted MOTORCYCLE ASSASSIN.

As doves scatter and fly, the ASSASSIN slowly removes his helmet. It’s CHOW YUN-FAT, sporting a puckish grin. CUT TO: Smiling young people discarding their weapons and dancing joyously.

VO: Get some color! Brighten up in vibrant tanks, tees and polos. Only at … Old Navy!


Quentin Tarantino, directing

Quentin Tarantino, directing

Celesta Natural Spring Water: 15-second bumper spot
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Draft #4a

POV inside automobile trunk, looking out: Two urban hipsters/gangsters stand looking into the trunk, each holding a bottle of CELESTA NATURAL SPRING WATER. Music: obscure ‘70s AOR radio collage

FIGURE 1: It’s ridiculous. You can’t even compare the two. Land of the Lost, that had everything—you got dinosaurs, you got them crystal pyramids, you got a monkey boy, lizard monsters—

FIGURE 2: Sleestaks.

FIGURE 1: Yeah, the sleestaks. ElectraWoman and DynaGirl—man, that’s just two skirts in capes jiggling into the camera.

FIGURE 2: Yo, let’s ice this mother[BLEEP]er

The two gangsters draw handguns and fire into the camera/POV automobile trunk.

VO: From some of the most pristine natural springs in North America, Celesta bottles a spring water with both exceptional taste and an adherence to strict quality and purity standards. Celesta: Pure. Clean. Water.


Crest Glide Dental Floss: 60-second network edit
Director: David O. Russell

Memo to staff: Proctor & Gamble and Crest Glide Dental Floss regret to announce immediate termination of the David O. Russell project. 
Creative differences between Mr. Russell, our marketing team, and cameo actors Ms. Tomlin and Mr. Clooney have resulted in an untenable situation. Furthermore, we will be unable to make any further official comment on the matter until various litigation issues are settled.


David Lynch, directing

David Lynch, directing

Dannon Danimals Yogurt Fruit Swirls: 30-second network spot
Director: David Lynch
Draft #1a

A series of juxtaposed images as Roy Orbison’s “Mean Woman Blues” plays ethereally throughout:

- A dark red curtain flutters slowly

- A woman in heavy theatrical makeup stares at her reflection in a mirror.

- Extreme close-up of a lawnmower shooting blades of grass onto a suburban yard

- PANNING UP from a pile of shattered stained glass, we see HARRY DEAN STANTON rotating slowly on a rotisserie spit

- an 18th-century medical illustration of the lower jaw

- SUDDEN TIGHT ZOOM PAN on a French baguette

- The dark red curtain again, slowly opening…

- a photograph of a pigeon. Superimposed title card reads: AMERICA’S SEXXXIEST BIRD

- a deluge of multicolored wristwatches falls on two identical 1940 Harley-Davidson EL Knucklehead motorcycles

- the dark red curtain is open, revealing only inky blackness beyond…

- in extreme slow-motion, a naked bald woman sinks ball-peen hammer into the skull of a Tibetan antelope

- FULL SCREEN TITLE CARD: Dannon® Danimals® Yogurt Fruit Swirls .. Now With Sprinkl’ins!

- VO: Dannon Sprinkl’ins is the only lowfat kids’ yogurt that lets you mix in fun toppings for a totally cool eating experience. You never know what you’re gonna get, till you flip your lid!

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