Gillespie’s direct dial: features and commercials

'Lars' helmer navigates between both worlds

Switching between directing commercials and features requires a certain right brain-left brain dexterity.

Few are as nimble as “Lars and the Real Girl” helmer Craig Gillespie, who moves seamlessly between the two disparate worlds. The Aussie native, who recently notched his fifth DGA nomination for his commercial work in 2010, is currently in post-production on the Colin Farrell starrer “Fright Night” – a remake of the ’80s horror classic – all while shooting a slew of high-profile ads on the side, including a Comcast Xfinity spot that will run during next month’s Super Bowl.

“They are really different beasts in a way,” says Gillespie, who moved to Gotham as a teen to attend the prestigious School of Visual Arts on scholarship. “With a film, you have so much more time to tell a story, which was a difficult transition for me. In commercials you have zero time, no time even for a pan.”

Gillespie, whose film credits also include the Billy Bob Thornton comedy “Mr. Woodcock,” says feature storytelling allows him to draw from a much larger palette of visual tricks. Still, he enjoys the instant gratification inherent with commercial directing.

“Commercials are such a quick fix,” explains Gillespie, who nabbed a DGA Award in 2006 for a series of ads that included the Altoids “Fable of the Fruit Bat” and “People of Pain” spots.

In fact, the response to his Betty White Snickers ad that aired during last year’s Super Bowl was so immediate, it prompted a successful Facebook campaign for the octogenarian to host “SNL.” Many industryites cite the spot for kick-starting the actress’ current career revival.

“It’s been really fun to see her resurgence,” notes Gillespie, who is also an accomplished TV helmer with smallscreen credits that include Showtime’s “United States of Tara.” “But it’s all because of her charisma and charm. She should really take credit for that. After all, she ran around in three inches of mud.”

More on the DGA Awards:
DGA spirits alive at 75 | DGA milestone marked in multiple media | Gillespie’s direct dial | Bigger battlefield

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