Award-winning film and commercials writer/director Alan Parker (Midnight Express, Mississippi Burning) and one of the UK’s top commercials directors Dougal Wilson have been sharing the secrets of making effective commercials with 2nd year NFTS students who are developing pitches for the annual NAHEMI/Kodak Student Commercials Competition.
Dougal Wilson, whose iconic music videos and commercials have influenced filmmakers and artists around the world, said he was impressed: “The students’ ideas have been imaginative, entertaining, and made me laugh, which is a key way to engage the viewer and win their trust.”
Alan Parker agreed, saying: “Humour is the fastest way to communicate with someone who you want like your product – it endears them to whatever you are selling.” And he gave this advice to anyone starting out in making commercials: “Keep it simple – you only have 30 seconds to get your message across so don’t forget that your job is to sell the product.”
NFTS students won 4 out of 6 Best in Brief prizes at last year’s Kodak Commercials Competition, plus two other awards and 1st and 2nd prizes for best Commercials Overall.
Alan Parker started his career in commercials working for the famed London agency Collett Dickenson Pearce where he directed many award winning commercials, including the famous Cinzano vermouth advertisement, starring Leonard Rossiter and Joan Collins, shown in the UK. Parker and Lord David Puttnam collaborated in a (1979) sixty second 'Heineken' television commercial for the U.K. which was ground breaking as it used one hundred actors in an elaborate galley slave film set.
His Oscar nominated films include Midnight Express (1978), Mississippi Burning (1988) and musicals Bugsy Malone (1976), Fame (1980), Pink Floyd—The Wall (1982), The Commitments (1991) and Evita (1996).
Dougal Wilson’s advert for John Lewis, Never Knowingly Undersold with Adam & Eve transcended mere commercial status to become a widely talked-about part of popular culture. His follow-up for the brand, The Long Wait continued this success, collecting several awards at the 2012 D&AD and Cannes Lions awards as well as being named "Commercial of The Year" at the 2012 British Arrows. He received D&AD Pencils in 2006 for his Orange 'Dance' spot, in 2008 for Big Yellow Storage, and again in 2010 for COI 'Fire Safety'. Other commercial work includes Coca-Cola’s Yeah Yeah Year La La La, as well as spots for Olympus, Becks, Vodafone, BBC, JCPenney and Amnesty International. Recently, Dougal has filmed spots for Safestore through WCRS and Lurpak through Wieden + Kennedy, which earned him two golds and a bronze at the 2012 Cannes Lions. He has made music videos for a wide range of bands including Coldplay, Goldfrapp, Will Young and more recently Bat For Lashes and Temper Trap.
Pictured above: Dougal Wilson, Alan Parker, and NFTS Head of Cinematography Brian Tufano.