What if, in sort of a highbrow Punked, major Hollywood producers were pitched auteur-driven French films by a pseudo up-and-coming director—without knowing that the same films had already been realized and won both commercial and box office success?
Commercial director Alex Grossman was hired by ad agency Ogilvy & Mather in Singapore to make spots under this very premise. In shorts intended to promote the Alliance Francaise, Grossman set up an actor posing as a filmmaker to pitch three former Palme d'Or-winning films to producers of Hollywood mega-hits like Bridesmaids. Of course, hilarity ensued.
As there's nothing the French like more than laughing at Americans from atop their cultural high horses, Grossman was awarded with three Gold and two Silver Lions at the 64th Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, making him the most-awarded comedy director at the prestigious ad world event.
Watch the hilarious spots below, featuring pitches of Abdellatif Kechiche's Blue is the Warmest Color, Laurent Cantet'sThe Class, and Michael Haneke's Amour, and then read on to hear how Grossman pulled it off.
Wiped the tears out of your eyes and are now wondering how Grossman convinced these Hollywood hard-hitters to participate? The director told No Film School that they "weren’t totally in the dark about the gag." However, he couldn't reveal every detail, so "I told them a French producer was going to pitch film ideas to them and that they shouldn’t hold back if they don’t like the ideas. To be brutally honest."
Of course, it was their "brutal honesty" that made the gag work so well. But Grossman knows that they were only doing their jobs, acknowledging that they evaluate pitches differently than a French producer might. He said, "They all work on big Hollywood blockbusters, where the parameters for success are significantly different from small, French art pieces. Namely, garner a wide audience and make lots of money. To me, both American and French films have a place in cinema, they’re just very different and created for different reasons." But that doesn't mean we can't get a little laugh out of them in the meantime.