The Breathtaking Ivan Cash
By Alixandra Rutnik on May 22, 2023
Young Guns 10 Winner directs an unnerving film for SAAS company Air
Imagine your worst nightmare. Is a murderer chasing you, but you wake up right as he is about to slit your throat? Are you taking engagement photos when suddenly all of your teeth fall out? Or maybe, you’re in the middle of a math test when you realize you forgot how to divide? What about the slow removal of oxygen from the room you’re in?
A Behavioral Study of the Creative Process for SAAS company Air directed by Young Guns 10 winner Ivan Cash is unhinged, concerning, and a little bit disturbing. It narrows in on four creatives being interviewed as they find it increasingly difficult to breathe. This dark comedic film reminds us all that we simply cannot live without Air– oxygen or the software.
We talked to Ivan to hear more about the film and what he’s working on now.
How did you get involved in provacative, crazy unhinged film project with Air?
Our client Air came to us with a wide-open brief and big aspirations. We had never worked together and they reached out. They wanted to make some noise and get the attention of their target: creative directors. Luckily, we know CDs very well. We wanted to be playful and irreverent about our own industry, so all our ideas played with tropes - tropes in character, form, and aesthetic. And all our ideas were a little insane. This was the insane idea that stuck. We worked closely with the Air team, who were fantastic collaborators. They trusted us implicitly and were able to take big risks and back us up 100% on the creative. The campaign utilises their namesake—which is so spectacular we had to lean in and highlight it—and branding.
"We wanted to be playful and irreverent about our own industry, so all our ideas played with tropes - tropes in character, form, and aesthetic. And all our ideas were a little insane."
This film attracted a lot of adverse reaction on Twitter. What is your take on the reaction and engagement of this film and what are some of the best comments you’ve read about it thus far?
We knew the campaign would be polarizing and we’ve never shied away from controversy. The late designer Tibor Kalman had a quote, “If you make something no one hates, no one loves it.” Here are some of our favorite responses:
What were some of the other ideas before you landed on A Behavioral Study of the Creative Process? Clarification on the no oxygen room… Everyone was just acting right??
From the beginning we wanted to be self-referential and a little cheeky. We told ourselves to “just have fun with it” and let that be our “North Star.” We came up with a couple of other concepts, but the slow removal of air from the room was one of our first (if not the very first) ideas, and we couldn’t shake it.
"We came up with a couple of other concepts, but the slow removal of air from the room was one of our first (if not the very first) ideas, and we couldn’t shake it."
And as far as the clarification question goes: our lawyers have advised us not to comment.
In terms of the campaign’s ultimate message, about everyone needing a SAAS company to survive– in particular Air– what were the underlying goals of this campaign?
The goal was to impart the importance of having a creative ops solution that works FOR the creative mind, not in spite of it. Sometimes this is so important during the creative process, it can feel like a matter of life or death. So we took that concept and found a way to both educate and relate. Not only was it fun, but also it was cathartic. We started by making a list of the most distinct people we’ve worked with in the industry and dialed them up 10 notches. Then we took notes on all the times we ourselves sounded like a parody of a “creative” (there were a lot) and threw those lines into the script too. We were constantly poking fun at ourselves, all with love of course. The hardest part was narrowing down to our four distinct characters. Our initial list was upwards of 10 “creative minds.” RIP.
"We started by making a list of the most distinct people we’ve worked with in the industry and dialed them up 10 notches."
No bloopers are jumping out, but there is a great BTS video of Creative Director Matt Kalish as a stand-in dead on the floor. Stay tuned for the leak.
What are you working on now/next?
As a studio, we’re always cooking on different creative projects, ranging from commercials to television shows, feature films, and even products.
Individually, Director Ivan Cash is working on a feature documentary Executive Produced by Emmy-winning actor Mandy Patinkin and developing a TV show Executive Produced by renowned street artist Shepard Fairey.
Creative Director Julienne Jones is working on a photography book coming to coffee tables worldwide very soon, as well as a documentary about death.
Creative Director Matt Kalish is in the process of launching a new wine company and a butter brand (sold separately, enjoyed together) and is happily on the freelance prowl.
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