The NYFA 20/20 Series: A Conversation with Commercial Director Jordan Brady

July 30, 2021

Guest Spotlight: Who is Jordan Brady? 

Stand-up comedian turned Director, Jordan Brady is a self-taught filmmaker with narrative feature films and commercial videos within his professional portfolio. 

Brady directs advertising campaigns for global brands and agencies. With a focus on comedy commercials, he has directed comedy giants including Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart, Keegan-Michael Key, Rory Scovel, and more. 

Commercial Director Jordan Brady

Brady received multiple Clios, National Gold, ADDY’s, Gold Promax Award, One Show, D Show, Pencil, and AICP Awards. His work is routinely spotlighted on AdWeek, Ads of The World, and Agency Spy. You can catch Brady on his filmmaking podcast RESPECT THE PROCESS, described as “The Rosetta Stone of filmmaking.”

What does it mean to respect the process?  

For Jordan Brady, it’s important to respect the process. So what does that mean? For those new to filmmaking, the shoot is a day (or many days) of executing a vision. More work than play, Brady experienced his fair share of experiences observing unfocused crew members. 

As a director, he understands that while there are opportunities throughout the filmmaking process that encourage play and exploration. However, the day of the shoot is not one of those times. When you arrive to work on set, you should be ready to perform the tasks defined before the big day. 

What excites you about directing commercials?

For some, it may be challenging to see the glamour of commercials, but as Brady so aptly put it, “it’s a one-time assignment. So you mount an army of love, and everyone’s in a great mood, because it’s a one day or five-day shoot,” as opposed to feature-length films which can run for weeks at a time. 

For those wondering what a strong commercial director looks like, it’s someone like Jordan Brady. According to the expert, the indecisive director is the mood killer. A director needs to be firm in the decisions they choose on set, in addition, focused on the vision. 

“It’s ok to be wrong,” says Brady, “but if you set the party train to go in one direction, you better have a good reason to stop.” According to the director, it’s almost better to get the shot even if you change the course or vision afterward.

Given the new world of hyper-short video for social media ads and other mobile platforms, the six-second ad is the new 30-second ad. Described as a liking to calligraphy, it’s important to gather the essence of the vision in about three shots because you are limited on time and resources. 

How do you handle the special effects for your shoot? 

Hands-down, Jordan Brady believes in doing your homework. According to Brady, you don’t try to figure out the effect on set. The day of the shoot should be kept focused on getting shots. To figure out the logistics of an effect are expensive, time-consuming, and generally not received well by the client. 

Brady recommends trying things out before you bid for a job. In fact, for some projects, Brady works with everyday objects and his phone to work out an effect before sending in a bid. Regardless of whether the agency moves forward, Brady graciously gives away comedy bits as a professional courtesy should the content fit the narrative. This is a helpful technique to keep your name on an agency’s radar even if you don’t land a project. 

What are the main challenges you face as a commercial director? 

For Brady, the biggest challenge is communicating your vision over and over….and over…again. While time management is tough, communicating with an agency, client, actors, assistants, copywriters, and producers can become burdensome. 

The one area Brady agrees is NEVER a challenge, is the actual screen direction. For him, that’s the fun part of the job. To achieve success is to simply use your imagination, bring some fun and personability to the set, and bring out the best of your actors by remaining focused on the original vision. 

According to Brady, the trending comedic bit across commercials is the awkward ending. The moments of silence at the end with the meta focus and acknowledgment of the silence is an industry favorite. 

Keep in touch with Jordan Brady

You can follow Jordan Brady on Instagram by following @thatjordanbrady. You can also see his work on his Linktree

Don’t miss our next 20/20 Online Series with Liz Hinlein by registering directly on our NYFA Events page. The virtual event is held every Wednesday at 3 pm EST

About Liz Hinlein and The 20/20 Series

Liz Hinlein
20/20 Online Series Moderator Liz Hinlein

Liz Hinlein is the Creative Director of Filmmaking and Cinematography with the New York Film Academy. During her tenure, she created our popular weekly virtual event, The 20/20 Series

Hinlein is an award-winning DGA director and graduate of the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Her background in filmmaking and media content includes a robust portfolio of work that spans feature-length films, commercials, and music videos for artists including Mary J. Blige, Britney Spears, Quincy Jones, Incubus, and Fishbone.

The 20/20 Series is a pop-up virtual event that takes us into the homes, hubs and workspaces of an array of dynamic creative visionaries to allow for relaxed, engaging conversations on craft, creation and artistic vision.

Each conversation with a creative visionary features 20 minutes of discussion with a moderator and a 20 minute Q&A from YOU, the audience.

This event is open to the public, as a means of promoting global connection and creativity, a key mission of NYFA.

You can catch videos from The 20/20 Series as they are released, here