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The Directors: Paco Cruz

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Director at NB on getting lost in the Amazon jungle and capturing a sense of ordinary madness in his work

The Directors: Paco Cruz

Paco Cruz has a strong passion for character based work, comedic performance and finding the right visual language to support the development for each of his characters.

He explores and integrates a diverse range of disciplines into his work, including stop motion, animation, CGI and 3D. Before graduating from the University of Porto, in Portugal, he directed the short Film Without a Story which won a Grand Prix at the European Capital of Culture Festival - Odyssey of the Images and was screened at the Cannes International Film Festival. He had the opportunity to direct and to start working with some of the most important brands in the local market together with some of the most creatives and significant agencies.

During the last few years he has worked around the globe with recognized brands such as Axe, Vodafone, Honda, Paypal, McDonald's, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Danone and National Lottery. As well as some of the worlds most established creative agencies; Young&Rubican, VCCP London, McCann, TBWA WorldWide, JWT, Publicis, BBDO, Havas WorldWide and Ogilvy. Paco is currently based in Europe.


Name: PACO

Location: based in Lisbon 

Repped by: NB

Awards: Winner Silver Cannes Lions in Film Craft (Bad Barista), Winner Bronze Cannes Lions Cinematograph (Bad Barista), two times Gold at Epica Awards, among others. 


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

Paco> As a director, I always look for something unique, ideas that I can explore and to which I can add something of myself. 

Comedy, dry humour, characters and unique situations - I always find myself pulled into scripts that have a distinctive identity.

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

Paco> The treatment becomes the first step toward the visualization of the script, and a statement of how and what I want to add and propose to the agency and to the brand. I like to start working from the core, from the idea of the movie, and then develop the story and breakdown of the action and frames. 

Each scene of the movie, each frame, every character, every action will be portrayed very richly, with vivid words. Everyone who reads it will find themselves pulled into the movie.


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?

Paco> It's critical for me to understand the brand and the context of it. There is no other way to work and to add value to an idea without understanding the brand and what it stands for.


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

Paco> It can sound cliché, but everyone is important to the process. In different moments, different stages, different relationships will emerge as crucial. 

In the end, we all contribute to the final result.

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?

Paco> Comedy, comedy and comedy… all types of humour: dry, quirky, satirical, physical comedy, deadpan and slapstick. And we could keep going. 

We can try to tag it and give a name to the style that attracts me, but most relevant is that I always try to capture a sense of ordinary madness, the feeling in the audience that everything can happen - or maybe not, that narrow and blurred line between reality and fiction, that is where I like my characters to stand.


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

Paco> A lot of projects nowadays have a cost consultant; it’s just one more piece in the puzzle. Everything works out as a team.


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

Paco> I guess I’m a bit boring (no big surprise there). I really can’t recall any crazy problems that I have come across. Maybe I’m lucky enough to have had amazing production teams who solved all incoming adversities. 

Oh, there was this one time we were lost in the fringes of the Amazon jungle (somewhere near the Brazil and Bolivia frontier), looking for the perfect framing and light, and we got so deep into the jungle that we literally had no idea how to get back. We spent three days lost, walking around, until to our surprise, we came across… 

Well, no spoilers ahead, but I will reveal the rest of the story in my memoir book!


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

Paco> It’s part of the process; it comes with the job. In my experience, if you base your creative ideas in a very solid argument, people will follow it. Of course, like everything in life, sometimes we win and sometimes we lose.

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? 

Paco> Maybe it’s too early to understand the real impact of it. Besides the obvious - masks, sanitizer, tests, etc. - for the moment I can’t say that it has impacted our daily life on set.


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)? 

Paco> It’s a story and it always will be. Formats come and go and keep changing, but the way we engage our audience in a story is always the same. 

At a certain point in the preproduction process, we will have to make decisions based on different formats, but if we stick to the plan, everything will work out in the end.


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

Paco> If I need to pull four pieces of my showreel, I believe I would go for “Karma”, “Bad Barista”, “PopCorn” and “The Gold Brotherhood”. Mainly they represent the diversity and humor that reflects the type of works I like to develop and to shoot.

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Nicholas Berglund, Fri, 15 Oct 2021 12:23:00 GMT