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Making art costs money. Here are some famous directors who decided to do commercials in between their passion projects.

Lynch’s coffee and other commercials made by famous directors

Commercials – they’re a weird one. On the one hand, you could say that directors who take checks to make commercials for huge companies are sell outs. But on the other hand, you could argue they’re merely being paid well to do a job that is just a small fraction of what they normally do.

If we’re being honest, being a filmmaker can be a tough gig, so in the early days ya gotta take what you can get. You might be surprised to know that some of your favorite directors made some memorable commercials in their time – here are some of the best.

Lars von Trier

Going back to 1986 and the controversial auteur Lars Von Trier (Antichrist) directed a commercial for the Danish tabloid paper, Ekstra Bladet. Seven years later he directed a commercial in France for Duran, and in 2000 he directed a commercial that urged Danes to vote into the European Single Currency.

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Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson (Isle of Dogs) has directed a pretty impressive fifteen commercials so far in his career, with many companies clearly eager to get even just a little bit of the wonderfully quirky style that he has made so notably his own. Much of his ad work has involved the inclusion of some of his staple actors, such as Jason Schwartzman (Moonrise Kingdom), who appeared in his 2013 ad for Prada.

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Michel Gondry

Gondy actually started out working in commercials and music videos before getting his big break in films with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. His earlier commercial work included Smirnoff, Motorola, and Levi’s.

Spike Lee

Probably Spike Lee’s most famous commercial was his 1989 ad for Nike in which he stars (as his Do The Right Thing character, Mars Blackmon) alongside Michael Jordan (Space Jam). He’s worked with Nike again since, as well as making commercials for some of the biggest companies in America.

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Spike Jonze

Similar to Gondry, Jonze (Her) made his name with eye-catching music videos (Beastie Boys’s Sabotage being one of his most famous and definitely one of the most famous music videos of the 90s). Jonze has since taken his quirky style and made equally eye-catching ads for Gap, Ikea, and Levi’s. Meaning he must not have had to pay for a pair of jeans for sometime now.

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Ridley Scott

The director of such epics as Gladiator & Alien spent the largest part of his early career directing high-end commercials in the UK. His advert for breadmakers Hovis is generally thought to be one of the most well remembered and most parodied in British TV history. In 1984, he also directed a 1984-themed ad for Apple Mackintosh, which had a budget of nearly $1 million and was shown at half time during the Super Bowl.

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David Lynch

In 1991, David Lynch agreed to shoot five commercials for the Georgia Coffee company (we all know how Lynch loves his black coffee). The ads were directly related to his TV show Twin Peaks including the inclusion of some of its key characters. Lynch only agreed to do them as they would only be screened in Japan. Lynch said he was “against them in principle,” but they were “a lot of fun to do” (and we’re sure the huge paycheck for them was fun too).

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Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese has directed quite a few commercials in his time including one for Dolce and Gabbana (which starred Matthew McConaughey & Scarlett Johansson). In 2012, he also paid homage to his 1976 film Taxi Driver in an ad for Apple, and he also directed a star-studded American Express commercial before actually appearing in one himself, which was directed by Jim Jenkins.

Ken Loach

In 1990, Ken Loach directed an advert for McDonalds. It wasn’t something he wanted to do, but he explained he had bills to pay and a family to feed and all that, so he had to. It’s not something he is happy about (and considering this is someone whose most recent film was the Palme D’Or winning I, Daniel Blake, you can probably understand why). Loach even went so far as to say last year that “it sits really badly on my conscience.” Just like most cheap burgers will sit badly on your stomach.

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