Spotlight on Commercials

Spotlight on Commercials

November 17, 2021 A Focus on Women Committee Virtual Event

On November 17, ahead of their online meeting, the Focus on Women Committee (FOWC) hosted the discussion, Spotlight on Commercials. In a conversation moderated by Director Sarah Pirozek, Directors J.J. Adler, Liz Hinlein, Savanah Leaf and Anh Vu and 1st AD Andi Budman shared their experiences, showed clips from their work and discussed the obstacles they've faced as women in this field.

During the conversation, the panelists covered topic including Adler revealing how starting her own company has helped her and other Directors gain more from booking commercials and Hinlein discussing how booking commercials differs from other projects. Leaf shared how she transitioned her athletic career into a successful commercial directing path and Vu spoke about the extra scrutiny placed on her as a woman and how she overcame that to have a successful career. From the directing team perspective, Budman recalled how a moment on a music video shoot set her on a path to Assistant Directing.

Following the moderated portion of the conversation, the panelists fielded questions from the audience.

See video from this event in the gallery below.


J.J. Adler Director J.J. Adler
Adler has helped create comedy spots for GEICO, P&G, SC Johnson, Virgin Mobile, Nestle, Coke, Verizon, McDonalds and Pepperidge Farms. She is also a founding creative and Head Director at The Onion’s Peabody award-winning webseries, The Onion News Network, as well as co-executive producer and director on season one of the IFC television series, The Onion. She has also directed episodes of Astronomy ClubAdam Ruins EverythingClench and Release and the feature, A New McDonalds. Adler has been a DGA member since 2012.

Andi Budman 1st AD Andi Budman
A DGA member since 2000, Budman is an Austin, TX based 1st AD on the Southern California commercial list since 2003. Her list of clients include Disneyworld, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Nike, Mercedes, Coca Cola, McDonalds, ESPN, Pepsi, Budweiser, Lowes, Cadillac, American Airlines, and Austin’s crew beverage of choice, Topo Chico. In addition to working commercial productions, she has also worked as a 1st AD on music videos; specials such as Super Bowl Greatest Commercials; and episodes of Queen of the SouthThe Good Guys and Prison Break
Liz Hinlein Director Liz Hinlein
Hinlein has directed commercials, VR/AR experiences, and music videos for artists and well-known brands such as Walmart, Castrol, NFL, Dove, Lifetime, Revlon, Gillette, Maybelline, A&E, Wella, NARS Cosmetics, Bare Minerals, Clairol, and MAC Cosmetics among others. Her directorial resume also includes the feature film Other People’s Children; and episodes of the series Chosen Kin and Chosen Kin Origins. She has been a DGA member since 2000. 
Savanah Leaf Director Savanah Leaf
Leaf’s experience as part of the 2012 Olympic volleyball team of Great Britain gave her a unique insight into the work of an athlete competing at the highest level, and she has applied this skillset to successful collaborations with Nike, Adidas, and Fila among others. In addition to commercial work, her directorial resume also include the short-form documentaries, The Heart Still Hums and The 4th Wave; numerous music videos; and the first film of Universal Music’s “Never Made” series for great songs that never had a music video, Marvin Gaye’s 1971 classic ‘What’s Going On. Leaf has been a DGA member since 2018. 
Sarah Pirozek Director Sarah Pirozek (moderator)
Pirozek’s directorial credits include the feature, #Like; the movie for television, Sade; the documentary feature, Free Tibet; episodes of the series, Sonic CinemaMTV Fake ID Club and World’s Apart; the short film, The A-Z of Being a Whore; and over 100 television commercials, for the US and international markets. She has been a DGA member since 1998 and serves on the Focus on Women Committee. 
Anh Vu Director Anh Vu
Vu is a first generation American whose French-Vietnamese background brings a unique perspective to every job she touches. Her focus is on creating powerful and impactful films that combine compelling stories with humanity and poetic visuals. She has contributed to award-winning campaigns for Barclay’s, Dell, Volkswagen, Buchanan’s, Qualcomm and Franklin Templeton. Most recently, she directed spots for Entresto, Macy’s and SK-II Japan Olympic. She also directed the short film, Falling Lessons: Erasure One. Vu has been a DGA member since 2015. 

About the Committee:

Originally a sub-committee of the Eastern Directors Council, in 2020 the Focus on Women Committee (FOWC) was designated an official and permanent committee of the DGA National Board for women members residing in the Eastern Region. The Committee would like to remind members that while their events are designed with a special focus on women directors, all DGA members are welcome to attend.

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