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The Directors: Eno Freedman

The Directors 179 Add to collection

EVO Films director on sticking to storytelling and the simplicity of the idea

The Directors: Eno Freedman

Photo credit: Jorge Grau

Eno Freedman is a commercial and music video director, designer, and classically trained musician. His voice gravitates towards mindful comedy and tasteful satire. Usually painted in rich colors, his filmic worlds try to make the audience laugh and then also feel heartwarmed. His muses are Pedro Almodovar, Charlie Kaufman, George Carlin and Matthew Frost.He began as the in-house Creative Associat e at award-winning commercial production company PRETTYBIRD. Prior to PRETTYBIRD, Eno worked with A-list directors and development teams at Wanda, Anorak, Somesuch, and Iconoclast. His work as a director includes campaign films for Samsung, Soulection, Tidal, Ultra Records, L’Imperatrice, Cherokee, and Anne et Valentin. His training and passion for sound has landed him opportunities to curate music for LVMH, Soho House, Art Basel Miami, and Norwood Arts and many music-geared projects. 

Originally from New York City and an NYU TIsch graduate he currently lives and works in Los Angeles, and is part of the growing roster for award-winning production house EVO Films. ENO really knows how to get creative with budgets and has some amazing collaborators.


Name: Eno

Location: Los Angeles / NY

Repped by/in: Evo Films / US


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

Eno> I’m excited by scripts that are inventive and have some creative twist on the product. Certain scripts are very self-aware, which is great, because it allows you to insert a ton of the product and client goals, while still poking fun at the fact that it’s an advertisement. I’d argue that when the audience feels like they’re really being sold to, they pull back. But, an ad that can deliver all the information about the product needed, and still throw a wink to the viewer, can gain the respect of the audience and hopefully many laughs! I also love satirical scripts, which can be incredibly creative to talk about the product and build a world that is highly imaginative and fun for the audience. While I do gravitate towards comedy, I like when a piece can hit the heart a bit. I think films like Swiss Army Man, Goodbye Lenin and Pedro Almodovar do this very well. Absurd situations or wildly imaginative worlds that are hilarious, but ultimately about something very emotional.

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

Eno> When I first moved to LA and wanted to be a commercial director, I called a friend at Iconoclast and he told me to make treatments for other directors for awhile. Then, to take that knowledge into my own presentations. I followed his advice and spent about three years making treatments for other directors, which was an incredible view into the worlds of what makes a successful pitch. Naturally, I have a lot to say about ‘creating treatments’ as my mind pretty much burned out at doing them daily.

Sometimes I’d be there to create a 60-70 page document with moving images and tons of text which was overly poetic fluff that, in the end, clients wouldn’t even read.

The treatment is a contract. So, I think many agencies take the PDF and really trust that’s what they’ll get. I think references that demonstrate your idea are very important. But, not just what’s ‘trending’ or the newer stuff. I like to sprinkle in references from older films, an older photographer, maybe even a painter. Whatever communicates the IDEA and not just the exact look. The writing is also very key, throwing in many creative ideas and directions to get them excited. Of course, it’s also beneficial to lawyer the document up to express it’s time dependent and budget dependent and you’re open to collaboration. It’s a safe balance. But, I do like to overwhelm them with ideas about where it can go, and then dial it back and choose the parameters for our adventure.


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?

Eno> I tend to work mostly with brands, record labels and artists I know a lot about and am a fan of. But, if I were to be with an unfamiliar brand I’d definitely like to delve into their previous work and their website for more information. I think I’d also spend a bit more time on the agency call and be asking more holistic questions about their approach and how they got to this idea and the script. It’s about pushing agencies on the call to go beyond the buzz words sometimes, as the core of the brand and idea is really where the magic comes from. More of an inside out approach than an outside in approach. I also like to stay away from references they give me sometimes while we’re talking so we’re not just trying to make something LIKE something else. I’m hesitant to ever say things on a call like ‘it will be like something no one has ever seen and insanely mind-blowing and stunning’ but I think finding the originality in the spot and cracking the code is really the fun part.

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

Eno> My first inclination is to say a director needs a good relationship with the creative director at the ad agency. But, if you’re already ‘making’ the ad, chances are you’ve gained their trust and have beat out other directors to win it. So, I think the most important working relationship is the DP. It’s the other pair of eyes for the director.

Since I was brought up focusing more on writing, acting and blocking, I usually like to give a sense of the shot type and worlds and then see where their brain takes it. It’s incredibly fun to see how they work and imagine the concepts you discuss. Camera placement and lensing is also so important and their experience is vital to adjust what I might have had in my head but didn’t see it with their unique eyes.

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?

Eno> I went into this a bit in the first question! I like tasteful satire, deep comedy and imaginative subjects. Places where we can be really creative and have fun. I think Matthew Frost, Kristoffer Borgli and Keith Schofield nail a really fun voice in this world. Nathan Fielder too.

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

Eno> I think many people might think I do primarily work related to music and I really want to try and push to do more scripted comedy in all brand fields. I primarily love comedy in the food and fashion space.


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

Eno> I have not yet worked with a cost consultant but used to sit next to a few when at my in-house job. I think they’re an invaluable tool to help producers get their budgets on target and see the realties of their spending. It can truly add up so quick.

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

Eno> We had a nightclub exterior where there was a long line of people waiting to get in and a car pulls up and the talent is escorted out of the car down the red carpet. A sudden flash storm came over, delaying the shot for hours. Everyone was waiting for us to call it and ditch the shot as we had 15 minutes left at the location. I thought that perhaps the scene could work to our advantage since everyone waiting in the rain to get into see the show made the artist look that much more desirable. We had everyone in line soaked in the rain and made a waterproof enclosure for the camera and ran a few takes until time was up. The result worked out great and added such a nice texture and mood to the scene.


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

Eno> So, even before it gets to the director the agency and copywriters have sometimes worked up to a year to finally sell a script to the client. They’ve slaved away for months and been through so many different iterations of the idea that there needs to be a respect that it’s their baby. I think if you begin the conversation with this in mind and trying to distill what they love the most about their idea, it’s nice to build and expand on it. It makes them feel heard rather than trying to overly re-write and break their idea.

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?

Eno> Absolutely. My in-house job before was at PRETTYBIRD and it was an incredibly diverse workplace. It’s been great to see this year bring forward a lot of unspoken issues in the industry and bring more minorities to the table. I will say, that I also see some more disingenuous approaches to the situation from other companies, and have overheard many producers or creative directors on calls trying to check off the boxes of who to feature or who to have on set so they are ‘covered’ and ‘safe’. While I’m glad they’re pushing to fill the roles with minorities, I don’t think it’s enough. There needs to be some understanding of why it’s being done and attention to the actual people to develop them instead of treating them like a prop.


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? 

Eno> Well I hope we’ll see the end of this sometime sooner than later. I don’t know if I’ve picked up new habits completely as I worked from home before and did many shoots with more nimble crews and development over video calls. However, the pandemic did force us to simplify our ideas and approach which I think is a very valuable tool.

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)? 

Eno> It’s fun to think about the script and how it can be cut-down so even in it’s simplest format, the story or idea can be told. Sometimes it’s just about having a couple great moments, visuals or jokes to translate to the cutdown or even designing a special social-media idea that’s separate (if there’s time of course). For my last film which pokes fun at chicken nugget commercials, we did a whole stills campaign that we could turn into fun boomerangs and film strips. Each platform is important to be understood for the fun and magic that can happen only there. The more the platform is understood, it also takes away from it feeling forced and that somehow we have to translate this to socials and TikTok videos. Maybe it’s user generated content, or a contest… something engaging.


LBB> What’s your relationship with new technology and, if at all, how do you incorporate future-facing tech into your work (e.g. virtual production, interactive storytelling, AI/data-driven visuals etc)?

Eno> I try to stick to story telling and the simplicity of the idea. Personally, I feel that many cutting edge technology tricks can distract from an idea and just be eye-candy. There are some really poignant and mindful ways that future-facing tech is used, but I haven’t yet felt so inclined to incorporate them into my own work. I think it also comes from my writing and theater background. I don’t really like having any tech in my room or having technology be added where it’s not needed. Classic pen and paper, good casting, and sharp ideas with a good DP.


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

Eno> The Pitch

This is based on all my time doing treatments and hearing these wild agency calls. It’s extremely close to my voice and my feelings on the industry and also functions as a reel showing the different looks and approaches a commercial might have. It was a project I made for my reps who said I needed something a bit wackier and still had my voice to get certain boards in. The result was this film!

Anne et Valentin - Eye Contact

I love this piece because the brand is close to my heart. I befriended the workers from living closely to the store and we discussed film every morning on my way to work and passing them by. We had some sidewalk coffees for a few minutes before we parted ways and eventually I pitched an idea about eye politics and flirting in NYC, using their glasses as a fun branding piece. They loved the idea and we worked closely together like a family to make it work. They also let me completely run with the script and costumes and were very open to the wild creative side. It shows my script writing for a brand and also an original topic.


8PM

This is a good example of a one-punch joke that keeps ramping up and my humor about relationships. I love the deconstruction of the guy as his date is sixty-seconds late and how much we pack into such little time. I also experimented with making the look a bit more moody and cinematic while still being a comedy. I like making the worlds look more like a drama than an overly-lit comedy and it brings the viewer a new perspective to the ‘sketch’.

Someone In LA

Another French client! As you can see I love their music and fashion. The artist and I met for dinner and he explained his whole idea for the story and how he really wanted to stick to it. Essentially it was that a washed up celebrity wakes up from a party and is disconnected to the industry, going to photo shoots and parties but not really getting the roles he likes. I kept his idea but asked if we could place a background extra in every scene, almost like an easter egg, that is watching the celebrity and really the one wanting to be someone in LA. The party scene would have some type of transformation (almost like the movie BIG) where the background actor would become our celebrity and finish out the rest of the music video as our main character. It was a great exercise to keep the original idea the artist wanted and adding in a new original element which also had my voice.

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EVO Films, Fri, 13 Aug 2021 16:48:00 GMT