Inside Story: From Adland to Tinseltown

Alex Benady profiles the directors whose visions are as spectacular - and successful - on the silver screen as they are on the small screen


Eton and Harvard educated Hudson is a graduate of Collett Dickenson Pearce, often described as the best advertising agency in the world ever. His greatest moment was Chariots of Fire, which won the Oscar for best film in 1981, and he is credited with single-handedly reviving the ailing British film industry. Subsequent efforts such as American War of Independence movieRevolution and Greystoke: the Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes failed to achieve the same high standard.

Perhaps better suited to the world of advertising imagery, he is responsible for a clutch of commercial classics. Greatest hits include the surrealist masterpiece "Iguana" for Benson & Hedges cigarettes and "Christmas", a £2m epic for BA.


While brother Ridley is seen as an "intellectual", Tony is often dismissed as "visceral" (critic-speak for bombastic and reactionary). This view is largely based on his greatest hit, the beautiful but shallow Top Gun (1986) starring Tom Cruise. But he can also do funny - Beverly Hills Cop II - brutal and funny - True Romance - and paranoid and funny - Enemy of the State.

Scott has also directed 2,000 commercials including his classy but ill-fated "Big" for Barclays (made by agency Leagas Delaney). Starring Anthony Hopkins, it boasted of the bank's huge size at the very moment the bank was chopping unprofitable branches.


Another Collet Dickenson Pearce alumnus who went on to better things. Parker made his name initially as a commercials director in the 1960s and 1970s in partnership with David Puttnam. His biggest moment ad-wise was the Cinzano campaign for CDP, starring Leonard Rossiter and Joan Collins.

Filmically, Parker is best known for his musicals. He made his feature debut in 1976 with the implausible Bugsy Malone, a gangster musical acted entirely by children. He went on to direct Fame, Pink Floyd The Wall, The Commitments and Evita. His commercial success is surprising considering how often his films end on a depressing note.


Directing can be a crazy business and they don't come any crazier than the "temperamental" Kaye who demanded a credit as "Humpty Dumpty" on his first film, American History X, after a row with the studio. Critical acclaim rather than commercial success has been the hallmark of his film career to date.

Nevertheless he is one of the most brilliant commercials directors of his generation - and it's not only he who thinks so. Responsible for a string of highly innovative ads, his most outstanding work was the disturbing "Tested for the Unexpected" for Dunlop tyres, which with its Velvet Underground soundtrack deliberately blurred the distinction between advertising and art.


Aged just 40 Glazer is still a baby in directorial terms, yet he is responsible for some of the most striking visual images on television in recent years. "Surfer", his iconic AMV commercial for Guinness, was voted best ad of all time. His ads for Barclays bank with Samuel L Jackson set new standards in intelligent (some say unintelligible) advertising. Music videos for the likes of Radiohead, Jamiroquai, Blur and Massive Attack bolstered his reputation for originality.

Glazer moved into feature films in 2000 with the release ofSexy Beast, starring Sir Ben Kingsley and Ray Winstone, followed by the highly acclaimed Birth in 2004.


Martha Fiennes, sister of Ralph and Joseph, has the distinction of being one of the very few women to direct both features and commercials. She says her best commercial to date is an ad for Yardley with Linda Evangelista, although she is probably better known for her Peter Greenaway-inspired film for Archers - and let us never forget her follow-up to Ferrero Rocher's infamous "Ambassador's Party".

Fiennes made her feature debut in 1999 with her version of Pushkin's Onegin and followed it up last year with the star-studded Chromophobia about the disintegration of a bourgeois London family. Her forte lies in creating tantalising atmospheres and delicate webs of relationships.


When it comes to directors of films and ads, prolific Ridley Scott is the daddy. Allegedly worth £75m, he is by far the most successful British director in Hollywood with four of the biggest grossing films of all time, Alien, Thelma & Louise, Gladiator and Hannibal, not to mention his magnum opus Blade Runner and this year's Crusades film Kingdom of Heaven.

He also owns Pinewood Studios, and advertising production company RSA where he has made thousands of commercials including the 1970s nostalgia-fest for Hovis bread, also for CDP, and widely regarded as one of the all-time great British ad campaigns.

Despite being one of the greatest visual stylists working today, he is also often described as "an actor's director" and his films feature surprisingly strong female characters.

Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
filmThe singers widow and former bandmates have approved project
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

h2 Recruit Ltd: Graduate Consultant - Sales Recruitment - £35k ote

£18000 - £25000 per annum + £35k ote: h2 Recruit Ltd: Looking for your first s...

Recruitment Genius: Advertising Media Sales - Print, Online & Mobile

£19000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This publishing house has been ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Designer

£20000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Award winning Peterborough base...

Langley James : PHP Developer; Linux, MySQL, MVC, GIT; Blackfriars; £40k

£35000 - £40000 per annum + progression, upskilling: Langley James : PHP Devel...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire