Director Scott Corbett from NYC-based production company IDENTITY infused cinematic influences -- notably Spaghetti Westerns and Fellini's surrealist masterpiece "Amarcord" -- into a new :60 spot for Greek telecom Conn-X via Leo Burnett / Athens.
“The Magician” opens against a desolate landscape overlooking the Aegean Sea, as a magician sits with his few belongings, staring forlornly into his top hat. In the distance, the sounds of a motorbike come closer. The traveler gets off his scooter and asks the man if he's OK. As the ruined magician begins his tale, the viewer is taken on a series of flashbacks into a vintage theater as the man performs in front of a listless, expressionless audience. He attempts to pull a rabbit out of a hat, but grabs a Conn-X box. A dove doesn't just disappear; in its place a Conn-X router appears. A woman sawed in half spills entrails of Conn-X boxes. “Don't worry, believe in yourself,” encourages the agreeable young motorist. “Go on...pull out a rabbit.” The illusionist concentrates and waves his hand over the hat. A Conn-X box materializes, which the young man eagerly snatches before sputtering away on his bike.
Director Scott Corbett was inspired by the mood and aesthetic of both 1960s Spaghetti Westerns and the surrealist filmmaking of director Federico Fellini, in particular his 1973 movie “Amarcord.” But the look of “The Magician” wasn't originally meant to be so cinematic. Set in a park and intended to play out as a traditional 30-second comedic spot, Corbett and Identity Executive Producer Joe Masi read the script and knew there was something richer that could be drawn. And once Corbett reviewed the location photos, that's when the idea hit him.
“I tend to let locations set the tone for a lot of my work,” explained Corbett. “So when I saw the photographs of the abandoned windswept Athens shipyards, I knew we could take the commercial to a more desolate and desperate place, yet still retain its off-beat humor, which highlighted Conn-X as an object of obsession -- and a little bit of magic. Identity's relationship with the agency was incredibly collaborative from the start, so we were able to convince Leo Burnett and the client to go in this new direction and also turn the spot into a :60.”
Corbett shot the spot when temperatures in Athens reached 110 degrees. Despite this minor challenge, Corbett's experience was overwhelmingly positive, in large part due to the agency's inherently compelling story and the friendly all-Greek cast and crew. There were serendipitous moments too, like discovering the family-owned magician's school shown in the flashback scenes, which needed little art direction because it was so perfect.
In a world where sameness is on the rise, Identity wins by imprinting every project with a distinct level of visual sophistication and refreshing individuality. Leveraging a highly-sought after and talented directorial roster, Owner/EP Joe Masi has made his mark on award-winning work for Nintendo, Honda, Budweiser, 7UP, Tommy Hilfiger, Infiniti, and Gucci. The firm fosters and supports an environment where creativity can flourish. Headlining the visual-style genre, Identity's directors cover the complete range of storytelling and effects. Identity's directorial roster includes: Anthony Atanasio, Javier Blanco, Laurent Chanez, Scott Corbett, Pierluca de Carlo, Sophie Caretta, Mathilde De L'ecotais, Leo Kocking, and Robert Leacock.
Title: The Magician
Airdate: September 2009
Agency: Leo Burnett/Athens
Creative Director: Giannis Sorotos
Account Director: Vangelis Tsaras
Writer: Andreas Dimitroulas, Vassilis Klissouras
Art Director: Paris Godenopoulos, Nikos Andriopoulos, Vassilis Papadopoulos
Agency Producer: Giannis Akiozoglou
Director: Scott Corbett
Production Company: Boo Productions, Identity
Executive Producer: Hercules Mavroeidis, Joe Masi
Line Producer: Sevi Morou Kelly
Director of Photography: Christos Voudouris
Editor: Rick Lobo
Editorial Company: Cutters
Post Production: post + beam
Sound: Scott Burns