Dani Hynes is the rather funny director from Egg Films who has worked on commercials for the likes of Nando’s, Wimpy, Revlon and The Yellow Pages. She has been directing for about 8 years now, after having been persuaded by her husband and a very good friend to do so, and hasn’t looked back since. We were recently able to speak to Dani to find out more about her work – among other things.
Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
The day I realized that being a dragon wrangling-philanthropist-veterinarian-astronaut-pop star-princess was probably not going to happen (thanks reality check) I started to investigate other options. Where does an over imaginative, academically unmotivated but wildly enthusiastic teenager start their career? Advertising College, apparently. 18 years later I am still here albeit on the production side, doing a job that I know for sure my 9 year old self would be just as proud of.
When did you first get into directing?
8 years ago I literally fell into it – it’s an interesting story involving an outrageously priced, impractical pair of heels and one too many cocktails. I had flirted with the idea but never really pursued it until destiny, a very patient husband and a very good friend (to whom I will be forever grateful) intervened. Suddenly I was directing and I can honestly say I am now in the worlds luckiest 0.01% of people for whom work really is a labour of love. I know we live in an era where it is considered uncool to say how blessed you feel but I do. I also now, ironically, only ever wear flat shoes.
How did you learn about directing? Is it something you studied?
I was that agency creative who obsessed about every aspect of radio and tv production. I couldn’t know enough. I realise now that aspects of each process allowed me to hone different skills. Good, practical training for what was to come I guess. Radio taught me the value of imagining something without the help of visuals and then selling it as an idea. It also taught me that there is no pride in presenting the ridiculous. My poor producer has had to watch me sing, pretend to hump a tree and also “be” a crayon. In real meeting rooms with actual people, some of them clients, so I think I have scarred her for life.
The truth is no matter what you do nothing you do is wasted. We all improve our skill set every day even if we do it subconsciously. Learning is happening all the time in the background. So years of scripting taught me that every choice affects the final outcome. Having to tell stories in 30 seconds teaches brevity. Pursuing human truth illustrates what resonates with people and why, regardless of their demographic. Advertising across lsm’s helps you come to understand that our job is to reach people in a way that leaves them enchanted or at the very least intrigued.
What have been some of your favourite projects to work on to date?
By the time you finish a job it’s really a collection of shared experiences for every one involved. I am lucky enough to work with some pretty smart people both on the crew and in the agencies, and together we get to see and do some pretty incredible things. We make a krumping robot one day and a giant pink gloved hand the next. Sometimes your job is to pick out a material swatch for a pair of pants on a troll and then roll on the ground blowing bubbles for a baby who needs to look outraged. It’s not about favourite projects, but rather a series of stand out moments. Every board has them. I hope you don’t think of this as a cop out but its my job to find and help create the those moments and we find something memorable in each one.
Has being a director changed the way you look at things?
I definitely people watch more intently (read, stare openly) and I mentally move things round in my mind to improve on “framing”. Tragic I know, but you did ask. I am also married to an editor so ad breaks in our house are kind of a big deal. I also operate on a highly unrealistic but often proved right policy of “anything is possible if the right people come together”, sadly I am learning not every industry gets to have the same ratio of doers that we do. I mean when you are surrounded by people who can create an 80 story building out of pixels and good intentions in a weekend, its pretty hard to hear a plumber say he’ll get to your burst pipe week from today unless something comes up.
What influences your directing style?
For someone who swears as much as a bad tempered pirate with Tourette’s, I am actually pretty boring. By that I mean the influences never really waiver…I remain dull and steadfast in some unchanging principles. We give each project that comes our way the attention it deserves. We find ways to have fun making it all come to life. We help ideas find their way to fruition. We tell the very best and most beautiful stories we can. We will continue to work with people we like and who we are very grateful seem to like us. Of course I also get swept up in the cinematic trends of the moment, cause they are generally amazing, and I am only human. But the need to deviate soon passes after a cold glass of water and we carry on the way we always do. With an embarrassing amount of enthusiasm.
What’s it been like working as a director at Egg Films?
It feels like winning a golden ticket. I get to be surrounded by these really clever people every day who are generous with their ideas and their humor, so yes, it’s pretty cool. There are actual grown up stats that totally back up what I am saying like we are ranked number one on the creativity tables but for me and my amazing and awesome producer Mel, it most importantly feels like (spoiler alert: I am going to get dangerously close to sentimentality in a minute) home.
Besides directing, are you drawn to other forms of creativity?
I am obsessed with reading and I do still write, for myself mostly now, and I co-direct a stage show (Comics Choice Awards) with my brother once a year which is an amazing way to understand the importance of creating a fleeting but impactful, single moment. It’s also quite cool that in him I have someone, who is happy to timeshare in the left field with me, even for just a week a year.
The truth is I like creativity in all its forms, except decopage and interpretive dance. I am never going to understand them. I have tried and failed to find them intriguing. I try to catch a pottery class here and there and I have become a very accomplished play dough wrangler and finger painter under the expert guidance of my son.
Are you working on anything at the moment?
At the risk of sounding like a waitress in LA I currently have a few things in development. One is the CCA’s. It’s an incredible, intense, funny, often heroic stab at improving on the show the year before. John and Taf were there four years ago when it was just a fledgling idea and now it is a finely tuned and hilarious machine. I also have high hopes to put some personal work on the reel before the end of the year, maybe a short film or music video we’ll see what comes up. And I am also in the process of planning my son’s 4th Birthday party. My long suffering but incredibly awesome producer and friend Mel will confirm, it’s a thing.
What should we expect from you in the near future?
I honestly cannot tell you. Every day is an utter surprise. We never know what is coming. In a good way. Maybe it is a music video, maybe it’s a documentary. It could be a vine or a client sponsored short film. There is so much possibility out there at the moment and the potential for thinking and filmmaking is shifting every day. It is a very exciting time to be doing what we are doing, albeit an era of great change. But you know, like I said, in our industry, when you get the right people behind something, magic really does happen every day. So I trust that. I can’t predict the future with any real certainty, but I can tell you this for sure. If you catch an idea, mercurial and slippery though it may be, in the right light, at the right time, you have can change the way people see theirs.