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Who are three contemporary sports directors that you admire, and why?

I don’t think the best directors need to be, or should be, pigeonholed. Give Fincher, Tarantino & Nolan the same sports script and tell me you wouldn’t expect 3 incredible films, yet all tonally so unique. With that in mind I’ve chosen 3 directors who have sport on their reels, but also incredible work in other genres too.

Christopher Hewitt: I love the aesthetic, tone and mood to all his pieces. The Lucozade AJ and Dunlop spots are particularly strong.

Martin De Thurrah: His Under Armour spots, especially with the USA Gymnastics team, are incredible. His music choices whilst so opposing of each other, work perfectly. His framing. The way he moves the camera. Sublime.

Kahlil Joseph: Whilst not exactly a sports director, his skate spot for Vans really changed the way I looked at filmmaking. It taps into the true essence of skateboarding, and again uses a great track. Music is everything.

Lucozade – Made To Move

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Can you point to some work that you think best embodies excellence in sports advertising?

Nike - Write the Future. It’s hard to leave this out. Incredible start to finish, and having seen what Alejandro Inarritu has achieved in cinema, it’s not hard to understand why. It also just adds to my point above; if you’re good then you’re good regardless of the subject.

Nike – Frozen Moment. Nike again. As I mentioned above, Glazer’s work has always been a big reference of mine, and I just love the elegance and simplicity of this spot. I also just love that era of filmmaking, coupled MJ. There’s a raft of incredible basketball spots I could reference, but this one came to mind immediately.

Nike – Nothing Beats A Londoner. Ok so there seems to be a theme here, Nike again, but this spot has had such a dramatic effect on the industry that it can’t be left out. Stylistically, tonally, socially, it just hit the nail on the head and resonated with an entire generation.

So I’m trying to resist naming Nike four times – with Reebok's ‘A5’ Allen Iverson shoe release being the weapon of choice – BUT there’s actually two more Nike spots that I simply can’t leave out. Airport and The Cage. Seminal moments in sport advertising, and in my adolescence. I’ll never forget them, and as the saying goes ‘They don’t make ‘em like they used to”.

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Nike – Write The Future

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Nike – Nike: Frozen Moment

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Nike – Nothing Beats a Londoner

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Nike – Nike: Airport 98

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Reebok – Answer V

What do you like most about the work that you do?

The places in the world it can take you (shooting cars ripping through the sand dunes in Dubai). The people you get to work with (Harry Kane, Gordon Banks, England Rugby team). The experiences it rewards you with (ringside at Eubanks v Groves).

What is the process for becoming a director who specializes in sports?

Obviously, you need to channel your filmmaking energy into the subject in one way or another, but I don’t think it should be too targeted. You need your passion to drive the thing, and kind of allow that to lead you to wherever you’re needed. Whilst I was in Hong Kong shooting a BTS for a big car commercial, myself and my Creative Director went straight from a third successive night shoot to the top of a local mountain to film a taxi driver we found who runs every day. That became ‘Adidas – Happy’ and helped me get into the industry beyond being in-house at an Agency. Do it because you want to do it, not because you feel like you should.

What is one thing all sports directors need?

Patience and unwavering self-belief – or at least someone close who can talk you off the ledge after every failed pitch. The industry is changing – more directors, fewer jobs – so it’s a battle, but one you just have to fight to the end.

Guinness – Guinness: Surfer

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Who was the greatest sports director of all time?

Hopefully they’re yet to come… but for now, maybe Glazer? Surfing’s a sport after all.

Did you have a mentor? Who was it?

Walter Campbell. He joined Anomaly when I was there and saw that I was a little lost. I’d (badly) taught myself how to use Final Cut and he really helped channel that. I knew very little about the industry, and he opened my eyes as to what’s out there, and who the major players were. I wouldn’t be doing this without him.

Who’s the next sports director to watch out for?

I can’t say there’s anyone out there that I haven’t mentioned above. I’m sure they are, and I’m excited to discover them. So I’ll throw my hat into the ring and say myself. I’ve barely touched the surface in a genre that excites me greatly. I know there’s far more within me than I’ve shown to date.

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