The Directors: Max Luz
With a name that evokes the reflection of light, London-based writer and director Max Luz brings a raw elegance to the art of filmmaking. His talent lies in creating a space where contradictions feel natural, where inner thoughts reflect outer visuals, where street style becomes high style. His work is a glance through a mirror where viewers are transported to a world of self-reflection, in seeking to experience both others and themselves.
Name: Max Luz
Repped by/in: Rekorder, Object & Animal
What elements of a script sets one apart from the other and what sort of scripts get you excited to shoot them?
I like concise scripts based on a strong creative platform. It is important that the core idea is well thought out, as it informs everything that comes after. It’s like in music - a lot falls into place naturally if the main motif resonates. I applaud campaigns that promote brand and product while respecting their audience’s intelligence.
How do you approach creating a treatment for a spot?
I read the brief, I think about it, then talk to the agency. If we align I write down what I have in mind. That’s all the science there is.
If the script is for a brand that you're not familiar with/ don’t have a big affinity with or a market you're new to, how important is it for you to do research and understand that strategic and contextual side of the ad? If it’s important to you, how do you do it?
I think it is important to understand the brand, market and product your are working for. In fact, having the opportunity to work in such different environments and markets with their own set of rules and codes is part of the appeal of working as an advertising director. Having to adapt to every new project is exciting and keeps you on your toes. I enjoy working for a Fashion House one day and for an Automotive Company the next. For me the capacity for empathy is of great importance both professionally and personally. It’s all about being able to put oneself in somebody else’s shoes. Listening to other people’s perspectives and needs and communicating with integrity are essential work/life skills.
For you, what is the most important working relationship for a director to have with another person in making an ad? And why?
I couldn’t single out any one relationship. The politics of each project are different. It really depends on the job and the people involved and their personalities. Doing what we do is always a group effort: Clients, Brand Managers, Creatives, Accounts, Media Planners, EPs, Ghost Writers, DOPs, Caterers and Runners - all play and crucial part at different stages of the journey that needs to be respected.
What type of work are you most passionate about - is there a particular genre or subject matter or style you are most drawn to?
I like timeless things that have purpose and meaning.
What misconception about you or your work do you most often encounter and why is it wrong?
In the past I often missed out on jobs because my reel was deemed “too artsy and mysterious”. But lately I have been allowed to show how my work would translate into larger brand campaigns and it seems to have worked out for everyone involved.
Have you ever worked with a cost consultant and if so how have your experiences been?
What is a cost consultant? Isn’t the budget always too tight?
What’s the craziest problem you’ve come across in the course of a production – and how did you solve it?
From inclement weather to corrupt police, a lot of things can jeopardise a project. It’s important to be flexible and coming up with solutions on the spot is part of the job.
How do you strike the balance between being open/collaborative with the agency and brand client while also protecting the idea?
Well, ideally it’s not “us versus them”, the client and agency versus the filmmakers and their interpretation of the idea. To me the best case scenario is when we are all talking about the same thing. I don’t believe in commercials being a playground for director’s creative fulfilment - the core message and and product should always be at the centre of the task at hand. I believe with mutual trust and transparent communication we can work together instead of against each other, which is more beneficial for everyone. I am glad to be repped by companies that manage this dialogue very well and share my view that our work should be a creative eco system, not an ego system.
What are your thoughts on opening up the production world to a more diverse pool of talent? Are you open to mentoring and apprenticeships on set?
Production has always been notoriously exclusive. I found it extremely hard to break through and therefore I am very happy to share what I’ve learned on the journey.
How do you feel the pandemic is going to influence the way you work into the longer term? Have you picked up new habits that you feel will stick around for a long time?
Oh dear, I suppose in the best case it will make us more conscious about the choices we make as individuals, as collaborators and as society as a whole.
Your work is now presented in so many different formats - to what extent do you keep each in mind while you're working (and, equally, to what degree is it possible to do so)?
This harks back to the creative platform and general idea. If the framework has been built with distribution of all assets in mind it’s not such a problem. What has become more important than before to talk to people you hadn’t much contact with before, like activation or media people. The better we understand how and with which goals our content is going to be distributed, the better we can execute it.
What’s your relationship with new technology and, if at all, how do you incorporate future-facing tech into your work (e.g. virtual production, interactive storytelling, AI/data-driven visuals etc)?
New technologies and trends come around, you explore them and things start to look slightly different - it’s fun to experiment and explore. But for me the priority always stays the same: technical trickery should never be self serving and is always to champion and support story, to elicit emotion & to convey meaning.
Which pieces of work do you feel really show off what you do best – and why?
Infinite Silence: A film for Adidas | SSENSE
VW Jetta DC
Balenciaga - AW2019
Cas de Luz - Up to the waist in water