If you saw Cindy Crawford and Ray Charles pitch Pepsi, or Bo Jackson and Michael Jordan selling Nike or the infamous frying egg demonstrating that “This is your brain on drugs,” then you’ve seen the work of Joe Pytka.
The director has made more than 5,000 commercials and had more than 30 debut during the Super Bowl. Global giants such as Nike, Pepsi, Amex and IBM have hired Pytka to trigger emotional response in the minds of their consumers.
Pytka has covered the gamut in filmmaking. He began as a documaker for PBS before segueing into advertising.
“We’re honoring Joe for his overall body of work because the DGA believes that commercials are essentially minifilms. His commercial work exemplifies this fact,” says Russ Hollander, eastern executive director at the Directors Guild of America.
Pytka also found the time to direct two features: “Space Jam,” which mixed live-action stars such as Bill Murray and Michael Jordan with the animated Looney Tunes gang; and “Let It Ride,” starring Richard Dreyfuss.
He has further used his filmmaking talent to assist public service, most recently coming to the aid of New York after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
He donated his services to film commercials for Project Miracle — New York, which featured celebrities such as Woody Allen, Ben Stiller, Henry Kissinger and Kevin Bacon living out their fantasies in the Big Apple.