The Directors in association withLBB Pro User
The Directors: Bernie Roux
Creative Production Studio
New York, USA
Alkemy X director on growing the seeds of ideas, drawing the viewer in and the importance of hands-on learning

Bernie is an internationally acclaimed and award-winning director. His recent work for Samsonite has garnered the Bronze Lion at Cannes in the film category and the Silver Clio in NY. Bernie brings more than 20 years experience in the film and animation industry with more than 200 commercials under his belt. Originally from South Africa, Bernie has lived and worked around the world, from Auckland to Moscow, Johannesburg to Mumbai, London to Stockholm and currently resides in New York City.

Name: Bernie Roux

Location: NYC

Repped by/in: Alkemy-X in USA

Awards: Cannes Lion, Clio, D&AD, PIAF, EuroBest, ADCP, ADDY, Golden Drum, VUKA, Epica, Art Directors Club, Pixie, EFFIE, AWARD Award,, Loeries, New York Festivals.


LBB> What elements of a script sets one apart from the other and what sort of scripts get you excited to shoot them?

Bernie> Scripts that have a percentage of breathing room are particularly enticing to me, ones with a place for me to not only make my mark on but also to add and layer to the existing idea. The opportunity to shoot beautiful and enticing visuals or incorporate an interesting camera technique is always exciting. Scripts that are story-driven are an instant plus.

LBB> How do you approach creating a treatment for a spot?

Bernie> It’s important for me to find a seed, or angle, that will separate my pitch from the competition. Once I can visualise that seed, it begins to grow. I then simultaneously begin finding visual references while starting to sketch out a storyboard. During this time words and sentences begin percolating in the back of my head. In the final stretch, I write out the text and begin to structure the document.


LBB> If the script is for a brand that you're not familiar with/ don’t have a big affinity with or a market you're new to, how important is it for you to do research and understand that strategic and contextual side of the ad? If it’s important to you, how do you do it?

Bernie> It is important, but what is crucial is that I can find a way to relate on a simple creative level, a level that will allow the idea to grow within the brand parameters. If I can understand the core of the client's need or intention then I can steer my direction in a way that will accommodate and punctuate it.

LBB> For you, what is the most important working relationship for a director to have with another person in making an ad? And why?

Bernie> For me, it is my wife, she is most definitely my muse and inspiration. Aside from her, there are a number of very important and valuable relationships, each for different reasons. Working closely with the agency to best deliver their promise to the client, my relationship with my EP/ Producer to ensure that I can deliver what I promised within the production parameters are both key. Then my relationship with my DOP and Art Director are crucial in taking my vision to the next level. Surrounding myself with professionals that both inspire me and enhance my vision is crucial.

LBB> What type of work are you most passionate about - is there a particular genre or subject matter or style you are most drawn to?

Bernie> I am drawn to ideas that have a depth that resonates on a level that isn’t in your face, a script that draws the viewer in, allowing them to complete the sentence. Scripts that have characters that I want to get to know always intrigue me, characters that even if they are stereotypical, are, in a way, the ‘original stereotype.’ I like scripts that make me chuckle rather than laugh-out-loud.

LBB> What misconception about you or your work do you most often encounter and why is it wrong?

Bernie> That I only shoot in slow-motion. In all seriousness, that makes up a bulk of my work, but from time to time I shoot footage in real-time too.

LBB> Have you ever worked with a cost consultant and if so how have your experiences been?

Bernie> They have been involved in the production but I haven't had to deal with them myself.


LBB> What’s the craziest problem you’ve come across in the course of a production – and how did you solve it?

Bernie> The fight for the ‘craziest problem’ would be tough, but generally speaking by simplifying and stripping the idea down to its core, most often presents its own solution, often a stronger one than the big bucks ‘bells n whistles’ solution.

LBB> How do you strike the balance between being open/collaborative with the agency and brand client while also protecting the idea?

Bernie> I try to isolate the parts of the idea that are integral to my treatment working and fight for those, I don't always win, but I strongly believe that there is always more than one route between two points. In many cases, finding an alternative solution has resulted in a stronger end product. The key word is balance. If the balance is maintained and respected the result is always better.

LBB> What are your thoughts on opening up the production world to a more diverse pool of talent? Are you open to mentoring and apprenticeships on set?

Bernie> I believe learning hands-on is incredibly valuable and puts you in a position of problem solving while simultaneously seeing problems solved. 


LBB> How do you feel the pandemic is going to influence the way you work into the longer term? Have you picked up new habits that you feel will stick around for a long time? 

Bernie> Directing remotely has definitely had me apply a very different skill set. Not being able to walk up to an object or person and physically interact with it has been incredibly frustrating at times. I find much of my direction is a form of pantomime and I have been forced to find better, stronger ways to explain myself. I’m sure that this knowledge will open up a larger scope of how to work with cast and crew. I look forward to the end of this $@#%storm and a return to a form of normality.

LBB> Your work is now presented in so many different formats - to what extent do you keep each in mind while you're working (and, equally, to what degree is it possible to do so)? 

Bernie> We have to constantly be aware of all the ratios the product is intended for, however it isn’t always possible to cater for them all equally. I tend to prioritise the TV/Cinema format and provide a resolution based safety-net to best accommodate the others.


LBB> What’s your relationship with new technology and, if at all, how do you incorporate future-facing tech into your work?

Bernie> In my experience most, if not all, technology driven aspects, have roots in traditional filmmaking and storytelling. Personally, I try to surround myself with specialists who are able to translate and take my ‘traditional’-based direction forward to the next level.

LBB> Which pieces of work do you feel really show off what you do best – and why?

Bernie> Any opportunity to showcase a slice of life that is layered with characters that are multi dimensional and slightly flawed,  and present them in a cinematic light, rocks my world. 

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