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Bicoastal production company Durable Goods has signed director Tamer Shaaban for exclusive representation in North America. Hailed for his visual storytelling combining film, design, and technology, Shaaban has directed commercials and branded content for such clients as Audi, Microsoft, Dove, Lay’s, and the UEFA Champions League. Born to Egyptian parents and splitting time growing up between New York and a multicultural community in Saudi Arabia, Shaaban brings a distinct worldview to the director’s chair, where he applies his former experience as a UX designer. The signing marks his first exclusive representation in the U.S.
"I had the privilege of meeting Tamer two years ago when he was accepted into the AICP and DGA's Commercial Director Diversity Program,” says Rebecca Wray, Executive Producer at Durable Goods. “Mentoring him and intimately collaborating with him through the program, I could tell right away he was a rising star in the commercial world. We are thrilled he's entrusting us with his career as he hits the ground running!"
“Durable Goods is like family to me,” adds Shaaban. “Rebecca, Roxanne and Hani were mentors early in my career, and the support they have given me over the last couple of years has been priceless. Their reputation speaks for itself, yet they remain humble and hungry. I can’t think of a better group of people to have my back as I take my career to the next level.”
Shaaban’s early commercial filmmaking exploits took place at Microsoft, where he was Lead UX Designer for experiences spanning AR/VR, Windows, mobile, and more. During his tenure, Microsoft routinely called on Shaaban to direct marketing and brand films, including a documentary about its Hurricane Sandy relief effort, which garnered him the Microsoft MVP Leadership Award. These experiences deepened Shaaban’s lifelong calling to pursue filmmaking, and in 2016, he traded the comfort and security of his career and dove head first into the world of directing. This journey would inspire an original web series he wrote and directed called "The Crazy Ones” via Jubilee Media and Mantis Films. Shaaban’s follow-up short film, “Redefine Ability,” went viral. Shot in Egypt, a country which has more Paralympic than Olympic medals, it beautifully showcases the amazing talents and stories of differently-abled athletes.
Shaaban is a cinephile who found training wherever he could – from shadowing directors and assisting on sets to workshops and webinars to shooting his own original projects and spec work. His commitment paid off when he landed his first commercial gig with Audi Global. Spearheading the creative for the entire integrated campaign, he leveraged his UX expertise to create the campaign’s digital components. As more brands and startups came calling, Shaaban soon found his voice as a “user experience designer in motion pictures,” as he describes it.
“I’ve found that the fundamentals of UX are much the same as those of storytelling and filmmaking,” says Shaaban. “Both are highly psychological. In UX, you’re studying how human beings interact with technology and exploring ways to fine-tune the experience. Similarly with filmmaking, every choice is guiding the viewer – from composition and camera moves to editing, lighting, performance direcion, and every choice in between.”
Shaaban credits the Commercial Directors Diversity Program (CDDP) as a catalyst for making a name for himself in the U.S. market – and the relationships he has developed with the team at Durable Goods. Created by the AICP and the Directors Guild of America to bring underrepresented directors to the forefront, the organization twice named him, once as a finalist, and again among five Fellows who were paired with mentoring companies to produce a spec spot. Here, Shaaban directed the Heineken Heiress Campaign, celebrating great women, in collaboration with Saatchi & Saatchi and Durable Goods.
Meanwhile, Shaaban has quietly made a name for himself in the global market, directing spots via TBWA Cairo for the Nissan Juke “Move You” campaign; a Dove spot featuring Egyptian Olympic Medal-winning Taekwondo athlete Hedaya Malak; a recycle campaign for Environmental Ministry of Egypt, sponsored by PepsiCo; and a humorous US campaign for Brumate, which he directed and creative directed.
Shaaban says he is driven to partner with brands and make films that impact culture and inspire future generations. One such example is his Clio Award-winning spot for Lay's and the UEFA Champions League, featuring football legend Leo Messi, for the girls and women of the Zaatari Refugee Camp which he directed and creative directed. More recently, he directed a spot for Pepsi celebrating International Women's Day.
“I genuinely want to make things that live beyond my time, so I try to choose projects that serve a larger social purpose in some way,” concludes Shaaban. “I’ve found that you can make big changes with even the smallest of choices, without even saying a word. It could be something as simple as a casting choice or a character depiction.”
Shaaban is also represented by GoEast in Eastern Europe and the MENA region (except for Egypt).