“...Some of the most brilliant work I've ever seen.” - Stanley Kubrick in Rolling Stone
Agency DDB Needham
Director Joe Pytka
Editor Lawrence Bridges

A few years after the Lou Reed Honda commercial by Wieden + Kennedy, edgy, documentary style commercials set in bustling streets at night, driven by a recognizable music track, became the go to aesthetic. In this series of spots, Joe Pytka and a tiny crew shot street scenes on as little as 10,000 feet of film (about 2 hours,) which is both highly effective and unheard of for the resulting quality of cinematography. While it looked totally improvised, almost everyone in the spot was an actor, and you see Pytka at his best.

While DDB and the client were happy with the results, I never felt these ads reached the level they aspired to, being so constrained by archetypes of beer commercials. I tried to create a story of missed connections between a guy and a girl, a dance of tangential edits against the tracks by Phil Collins and Wang Chung, and use Pytka’s incredible footage to try and combat being bogged down by too many yuppies and lifestyle tropes.

There was one particular sequence I am proud of, in which there’s a man on a motorcycle. The shot is maybe ⅔ of a second long, so to lengthen the viewer’s analysis of the shot against the snare drum roll in the music, I made single frame cuts, threw them into a box, and had the agency creative each pick one at random, at which point I would number them and then splice them in. It gave me a random series of jump cuts, but also gave them a sense of involvement. I’ve heard some other people in the industry say that this trivialized editors, or that it was a dumb idea, but it was easier than throwing them in the air and then picking them at random off the floor. I’d written a computer program that randomized numbers specifically for this purpose, but involving the clients turned it event in the style P.T. Barnum (as an old assistant editor of mine told me at NAB in Las Vegas this year.) I believe that to sell ideas, it is sometimes a good idea to include the person you are trying to convince.

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