For all of the talk in recent years about the impact that technology and interactivity have had on filmmaking, the 2015 batch of films from upstart directors in the New Directors Showcase from Saatchi & Saatchi puts on display an astonishing level of craft and quality storytelling. It’s almost as if to mark the Showcase’s 25th anniversary the bells and whistles have been back-burnered in favor of more traditional, craft-heavy films.
Also different from previous years is how it diverges from the dark and rather violent tendency prevalent in earlier NDS reels. Instead, the 2015 Showcase is a testament to the fact that a great story well told and beautifully executed is enough to grab global attention.
"All of the films feel like they’re beyond the title of new director," says Andy Gulliman, worldwide film and content director. "They’re productions that feel like they should have come from established storytelling."
As is the case every year, Gulliman says that the creative directors and producers from across the Saatchi network didn’t set out curate the list of new directors based on any theme; it just emerged.
"At the end we always assess the list and see what the common thread is. Some years it’s been violence, though we haven’t purposely done that, or humor. This year it’s that the standard of work of the productions is very, very impressive," says Gulliman.
Acknowledging the more genteel tone of this year’s films, Gulliman points out that there are far fewer pieces with "short, sharp humor," something he attributes to the fact that there are no commercials in the collection.
Perhaps it's this lack of titters that makes The Gunsfighter, the only comedic piece, standout, but in reality it’s likely the incredible writing and masterful narration from Nick Offerman. Without giving too much away, this piece is the story of one rouge gunslinger who enters a saloon, only to have his inner intentions outed by an omnipresent–-and audible to all-–narrator.
Other standout pieces include Ben Knight’s "Denali," which is a beautiful piece of branded content for Patagonia that mines the emotional depths of the master-dog relationship, and Guillaume Panariello’s video "Unconditional Rebel" for Siska, which is a technical feat of slow-motion filmmaking.
The work featured on the reel also feels highly aligned with 25x25, Saatchi’s theatrical piece that opened the New Directors Showcase. A longstanding tradition, the opening theatrical piece usually offers some sort of spectacle, which in the past has included wearable tech, drones, and circus performances. This year, rather than looking to the future, Saatchi looked to the past, digging deep into the New Directors Showcase archive, illuminating all of the directors that have been included since 1991, and inviting 25 directors to collaborate on a single piece of film.
Read more about the 25x25 film here. Check out this year's films in the slideshow above.