As an internationally sought-after commercial director, Canada’s Stash Capar sees himself first and foremost as a storyteller. He has always loved telling stories, and as a director he finds film to be the most compelling form of storytelling because of the ever-expanding possibilities as filmmaking technology evolves and becomes more accessible.
“Filmmaking is a crossroads between art and technology and the possibilities keep evolving every year,” he says. “Things that we couldn’t do affordably just a few years ago have become standard operating procedure today.”
Capar’s goal is to elevate the perception of every brand he works with, whether it’s a high budget commercial for a household name, or a low budget public service announcement for a non-profit. Audiences everywhere have been moved by his work, whether watching the viral 2015 Tylenol spot “Like Mom Does” that was initially planned for Canada but was released around the world, the 2018 Chinese Danone commercial that brought Capar to Thailand’s Khao Yai National Park showcasing conquering nature as a metaphor for becoming independent and overcoming adversity, or the 2021 Gerber ad that aired in both Canada and the United States, that refreshed the iconic brand’s classic feel.
It is not just directing children where Capar exceeds all expectations. Last year, he took on a Becel commercial that starred Canadian Screen Award winning actor Andrew Phung, star of the multi-award-winning sitcom Kim’s Convenience, the claim to fame of Marvel’s Shang Chi Simu Liu. The unconventional 8-minute spot for Becel Oats was the first of its kind as it featured Phung making 154 oat puns in a row, while playing off a double of himself.
Capar was personally approached by Andrew Simon, the Global Executive Creative Director of Edelman, who wanted none other than Capar to direct the innovative spot. The two had worked together years earlier on Tylenol’s “Like Mom Does” but what made this shoot unique was that Capar would not be in Toronto, where it would be shooting, because of scheduling conflicts. The team at Edelman wanted Capar to direct, so they asked if he would be open to a remote shoot, meaning the crew would be in a studio and he would be on-screen telling everyone what to do. This is something that had become a reality during Covid, but it would be Capar’s first time doing it.
“Remote shoots are in a world of their own and this was a first for me. Not being physically on set, but instead being a talking head on a screen ordering crew around and directing a celebrity, is weird at first, but you quickly get used to it,” says Capar.
The project did not come without its challenges. Eight minutes is not common for a commercial, and eight minutes of just someone talking to his double is even less so. Therefore, Capar knew he had to get the performances and technical aspects just right in order to keep audiences captivated for the entirety of the spot. The whole thing was centered around pulling a good performance out of Phung, so Capar hired a scene partner for him, a talented Canadian actor named Dan Fox, who he could play off for realism. On the technical front, Capar planned everything to the last detail.
“Things will go wrong, they always do, but as a director it’s up to you to have a plan, and a backup plan, and a backup to the backup. Everyone is busy with their little part, but you’re responsible for the vision and end result, which means you have to know what’s happening in every single department. From a distance, the shoot looks like chaos, but in the director’s mind there is a clear plan and path to put all the pieces together and end up with a believable eight-minute conversation between two Andrews. That’s exactly where we ended up,” Capar recalls.
The commercial was distributed on YouTube and Spotify and resulted in a big sales boost for Becel Oats. It was covered in various marketing publications as a new and innovative form of commercial, with great engagement via both the brand’s social media outlets and Andrew Phung’s as well. Capar is proud to have been the driving force in such success, but the best accolade was the money they raised for charity in the process.
“It was great to be involved in something so innovative and to direct a Canadian celebrity. All the while being hundreds of kilometers away and doing it remotely. It’s just another example of how filmmaking is a crossroads between art and technology,” he says.
If you haven’t had a chance yet to see Capar’s outstanding Becel commercial, be sure to watch it here.
Photo by Diego Guijarro