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The Directors: Katja BB


Antonella Perillo Agency and Nouri Films director Katja on the importance of ingredients for a commercial and balancing relationships between creatives and clients

The Directors: Katja BB

Katja BB’s started her career as a photographer for a fashion magazine after studying Fine Arts at Konstfack, Stockholm. After Fine Art, she then studied for a master’s degree at Film Academy Baden Wurttemberg in Germany. 

She moved weeping in the world of documentaries, short films and scriptwriting, strengthening her work as a commercial director and completed several short films and documentaries that were shown on television and at festivals. 

Katja lives between Los Angeles, Paris and Barcelona. 

Name: BB Blue

Location: Los Angeles/ Paris

Repped by/in: Antonella Perillo Agency and by Nouri Films in Spain

Awards: VDW Award, Clip Attack, Viva Award, Greta Garbo Award

What elements of a script sets one apart from the other and what sort of scripts get you excited to shoot them?

While I’m working on a beauty commercial my brain switches to pure visuals. I’m reading the script with lights, skin and visual effects in my head. My Goal is to have every frame screaming high-class beauty!

Either way, a good story and a great plot also makes a beauty commercial more interesting and unforgettable. A script, which allows me to see strong visuals and end with a smart and charming plot, gets me fully excited. 


How do you approach creating a treatment for a spot?

I first spend some time feeling the atmosphere of the spot, creating a world for each particular spot and a mood board which is mainly only for me, including : a strong colour scheme, light atmosphere, skin appearance, fashion etc.  

You might say: I’m choosing the ingredients in order to mix a tailor made cocktail.

Once I’m sure all ingredients do fit together and merge into a special fancy taste, I will start working on a treatment.


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?

As I’m working all over the world it’s of course not possible to know every product by heart but thanks to all research tools on the Internet I find it very easy to get information and an overall feeling of each product.  After my ‘research homework’ I’m eager to get a personal opinion from someone who is living in this country. That always leads to connections again with some friends in these countries or even sometimes friends of friends. Either way, it’s interesting and always helpful to hear a front line consumer opinion.

For you, what is the most important working relationship for a director to have with another person in making an ad? And why?

I worked myself in an ad agency and I understand very well the pressure the client and the creative’s are having. I always respect the goals and marketing strategy of the client and the ideas of the creative’s and I’m aiming to work with creatives and clients together in order to create an AD which fulfils all needs and makes each party proud and happy. A successful ad needs to live up to all goals not only to my director goals.


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 love working with natural light. The ultimate beauty light is still sunlight. I also love to work fast and filling each shot with a lot of motions. That might sound controversial when you think about beauty commercials but it isn’t. In fact, as I’m mostly working with photo models rather than with actors, I learned in the past that working fast and asking for a constant movement, leads to the most authentic and beautiful acting of each protagonist. 


What misconception about you or your work do you most often encounter and why is it wrong?

Hehe, that is a good question! Actually, it's funny,- I remember when I worked as a young director for Mekano film in Stockholm. I had five other male colleges and we all have been in charge of shooting music videos. I was the only woman and guess what: I was the only one who got all love songs and slow pop songs while my male colleagues did work on heavy metal, rock etc. music videos.

I have a big passion for cars and tried very hard to shoot some car commercials, specially as I believe beauty and car commercials are very similar, but I didn’t manage to get a proper car commercial except 2 spots for Ford, which mainly shows a naked woman and no car and a BMW teaser again with no car images included.

I’m sometimes upset that the commercial world is easy to put you in a box. Just because I have shot mostly beauty commercials doesn’t mean I’m not able to shoot comedy, food, cars and other lifestyle products.

In my career I have shot documentaries, short films, music videos and commercials and I have a masters in script writing and wrote several screenplays for feature films.

The medium film has no boundaries and it’s only a tool to realise your story you want to tell, - no matter what the story is about.


Have you ever worked with a cost consultant and if so how have your experiences been?

Yes I did and I appreciate the work of a cost consultant. I prefer to know about the cost and budget even before I start working on a treatment. It gives me the chance to work effectively and gives me a kick to find a visual language, which fits in the budget. Beside that, I have to say, I find it very inspiring to know about the budget: I like to work in a frame with limitations and I enjoy the journey to find creative and outstanding solutions in this frame. I would even say it leads to better results. Karl Lagerfeld said that he prefers the style of women with limited budgets because every detail is smartly chosen and shows more personality than a woman who has an endless budget to spend! I couldn’t agree more!


What’s the craziest problem you’ve come across in the course of a production – and how did you solve it?

Wow, how much time do you have? Well just of the top of my head: aggressive penguins chasing me during a shot in Cape Town, high minus temperatures so the camera didn’t work and we had to dig a hole in the ice to keep the camera warm or amazing beautiful models with the need for a foot, hand, hair and skin double or a cameraman who slips in the canal of Venice Italy (apparently it means good luck) 

I could keep on going if you have time…?

How do you strike the balance between being open/collaborative with the agency and brand client while also protecting the idea?

I believe in the respect of each position. As I said before, every position in a commercial process comes with pressure to succeed and in a way a successful commercial is only successful if every position gets their needs satisfied. That being said, shooting a commercial is also like making a good pizza. You need to balance all ingredients in order to have a delicious pizza. Somehow I’m in charge of advising everybody to be careful with toppings and tomato sauce in order to find a good and tasteful balance for the story/pizza. 

And last but not least, the clients and creative’s are hiring me and by doing so I want to believe that they trust my judgement, expertise and vision of the spot.


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?

Definitely! I’m always open for mentoring and apprenticeships and have helped in the past young students and filmmakers to fulfil some of their dreams. I also would love to see more young women in the position of film directors and would be happy to encourage them.


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?

The past year has been momentous for so many reasons it’s hard to even begin to describe them. But beside all the horror it was also an eye opening time for me: I remember sitting in my garden in LA and recognising that the plants I honestly believed had darkish/black colours appeared suddenly after three weeks of less traffic, in a bright green! To understand the impact of human pollution on nature was shocking to me!

The way we did live and work before the pandemic would have led us in a miserable cul-d-sac and the pandemic is giving us the chance to change and rethink old behaviours!

That also includes all kinds of film productions! During the pandemic we learned to reduce the old standard ways of producing by working in small crews, be mindful of location and avoiding nonsense travelling. It's absolutely not harming the result of any projects and it brings a new and fresh creativity on board. I would love to continue to work in a more sustainable production and consider each move carefully: ‘do we need this?’ ‘Does it make sense?’ ‘Is it really necessary and changing the result for better?’

Your work is now presented in so many different formats - to what extent do you keep each in mind while you're working? 

Ideally I would love that everybody could see my commercials in an editing suit with perfect calibrated screens and dark lights. That would be wonderful! Reality is, that even I watch Netflix on my phone, - I try not to but I do.

I force myself during shoots to look at images on my phone, - a strong image works on a phone. By doing so I develop a kind of hate/love relationship to all small formats and I’m trying to consider them as my ‘mini format teachers’.


What’s your relationship with new technology and, if at all, how do you incorporate future-facing tech into your work?

If new technologies are helping me to visualise the message of the spot, I’m glad to use them and I’m excited to do so! Everything that can make the AD stronger and underlining the idea of it, is welcome and appreciated. If new technologies are just a new toy someone wants to play with I’m pretty bored about it because it mostly sucks valuable time and money during production.

Which pieces of work do you feel really show off what you do best – and why? 

Gillette Venus





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Nouri Films, Thu, 29 Apr 2021 12:09:39 GMT