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Saatchi & Saatchi's latest showcase unearths sparkling new directing talent from around the world.
Paul Arden, Saatchi & Saatchi's executive creative director, stopped the reel and demanded of the booing, baying audience in Cannes' Debussy Theatre: 'I don't know what's wrong with you people. Do you have tin eyes?'
It was 1991. He had just begun rolling the first of Saatchis' now annual showreels of fresh directorial talent from around the globe.
When Cannes came around the following year, it was the turn of Bob Isherwood, now Saatchis' worldwide creative director, to present the crop of new directors. As the booing crescendoed, he, too, halted the reel. 'I said: 'OK, I'd just like to point out that the work you've just seen is that of Ridley and Tony Scott when they were at the same stage as the directors you're about to see now,'' he recalls. 'That got quite a different response.'
That's not to say that the showreel that now plays to 3,000-plus in an overspilling Palais des Festivals totally avoids all cat-calls these days. But the event was 'reframed', Isherwood says, and viewers understand the purpose of seeking out unpolished work.
In fact, now that the showcase is so eagerly anticipated and one of Cannes' best-attended sessions, the aim is most certainly to jolt the audience into a reaction - whether positive or negative. Richard Myers, Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide's creative director, ideas company culture, admits: 'We're always in favour of having stuff that frightens the horses. You're not successful if you don't get a reaction.'
This year's tally from those who have directed commercials for less than two years - if ever - fits that brief entirely. Humour is thin on the ground. 'There's a certain viciousness, a meanness of spirit around,' Myers …