What’s the most creative advertising idea you’ve seen recently?

I loved the CeraVe, Michael Cera commercial. Such a simple idea, executed perfectly. It gave the sense that they’d just made it for their own enjoyment. It really made me laugh, and I gave it multiple, voluntary watch-throughs. Something in Michael Cera’s eyes pierced my soul. I’ve since found myself purchasing CeraVe products in my sleep... scarily powerful stuff.

The team from Ogilvy and PRETTYBIRD will be discussing this project at next week's Out of the Box LA event. Tickets available here.

CeraVE – Michael Cerave

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What website(s) do you use most regularly?

YouTube, Reddit. I'm guessing that Google doesn’t count. That would be too boring an answer, but is technically correct. There's nothing particularly exciting. I love to watch the science channels on YouTube, it makes me feel smart. I immediately forget everything I’ve learnt, but always manage to hold onto that feeling of intellectual superiority. It’s very rewarding.

What’s the most recent piece of tech that you’ve bought?

I got a new TV and Sonos system. HDR and gigantic, complete with Dolby Atmos glory. I’ve been in movie and video game heaven (as have my neighbours). It was definitely an essential purchase that is completely justifiable.

What product could you not live without?

iPad. I do all my directing work on an iPad, using the pen, along with scripting and drawing apps. I used to look like an over-prepared GCSE student, carrying multiple, gigantic folders around with everything printed out. Now, I always look cool and hip. Right? RIGHT?!

What’s the best film you’ve seen over the last year?

Anatomy of a Fall. I absolutely adored this film. So simple, but had me on the edge of my seat the whole time, analysing every moment and conversation. I loved how it didn’t play the same game as other films in the genre, didn’t offer multiple suspects, or the Cluedo games of your Sherlocks or Agatha Christies. It just sat you with this small group of characters and left you to analyse behaviour and character. A story that focussed you on the humanity within, rather than a technical analysis of crime scene investigation. It was beautiful.

What film do you think everyone should have seen?

I guess there are films that everyone thinks everyone should have seen. But my answer to this changes regularly, depending on the moment. In Bruges popped into my head, so I’ll go with that. The plot of this film is perfectly constructed. Everything is set up and answered within its short runtime. It’s one of the rare examples of a film that manages to be sad and poignant, but also incredibly funny. Phenomenal performances, extraordinary writing, and an end sequence that feels magical but is as grounded as the rest of it. What more do you want?

What’s your preferred social media platform?

Reddit probably, it has created such beautiful communities, healthy conversation and everyone’s so civil and friendly at all times…maybe not, but I like to read reactions to TV shows/film/news to see what my opinion should be on things so I can pretend to be informed. I often get stuck in that endless scroll through Instagram and TikTok as well but I feel more guilty about that and not sure I should admit to enjoying it.

What’s your favourite TV show?

I can’t say my own, can I? [Clough has directed shows such as People Just Do Nothing and Things You Should Have Done] No. No, I shouldn’t. Hmmm... there’re too many. Shōgun is one I’m absolutely loving at the moment. Not only beautifully shot and performed, but the storytelling effortlessly introduces you into the complex political and cultural world of Japan. It’s not funny. But, if you want a laugh, you should watch one of my shows.

What’s your favourite podcast?

Not a podcast fan to be honest. If I’m in a listening mood I prefer to listen to music. It makes me feel even cooler walking down the street (with my iPad) if I’m playing Little Green Bag on an endless loop. I’m one of those annoying people who listen to a bit of everything, but I love to write and think with music. It’s a lovely way to create a movie in your mind. And, as a director, I find it a real joy matching up audio with visuals, even if I’m just watching real life go by. Ah, actually scrap all that, I’ll say the Kurupt FM podcast, as it’s the only podcast I’ve listened to and I laughed a lot (I am biased though).

What show/exhibition has most inspired you recently?

I haven’t made it to many shows or exhibitions over the past year-and-a-half because my producers have kept me locked away in an edit suite. I was allowed out at Christmas though, and while I don’t think this counts as either a show or exhibition, I did find it quite inspiring. My parents live in Kent and there was this group of bizarre, old school British sailors dancing around, fundraising for the lifeboats. It was so weird, funny and absolutely shoddy in a way only us Brits can pull off; charming and brilliant, like walking into The Mighty Boosh, but in real life. They had pulled a big crowd and everyone was loving it, and they raised money for a good cause. 

If you could only listen to one music artist from now on, who would it be?

That’s an impossible question. Even Desert Island Discs gives you at least a few options, and I’d struggle with that. I don’t think I could even pick a single genre! I was just listening to Wolf Alice [above], about to switch it over to Casisdead, and I might do some writing with Clint Mansell later. At least I’ve said some names of artists. Better than nothing. 

If there was one thing you could change about the advertising industry, what would it be?

Nothing! It’s the perfect industry, how can you improve on perfection? I love a great five minute short film. I love a great 30-second advert. Less keen on trying to take a brilliant five minute idea and cramming it into 30 seconds... Or a 30-second idea and stretching it out into a feature length film... but that’s less of an advertising issue. 

Who or what has most influenced your career?

My mum. That’s what all the cute boys say.

Tell us one thing about yourself that most people won’t know.

As a kid, I played Ray Winstone’s son in Casualty.