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Les Goldberg, director
FOR LES GOLDBERG, a veteran photographer and novice director who's first spot was for Ralph Lauren's perfume Safari, fashion equals excitement. "Some of the most creative: work in advertising is done by fashion clients," he notes. "Whether it's Calvin Klein or Ralph Lauren or Donna Karan, they have a tendency to take chances."
And Goldberg knows a thing or two about fashion-and risks. As a successful fashion photographer, he handled print ads for heavies such as Ralph Lauren, Revlon, Cover Girl and Max Factor. And as a would-be filmmaker, he sunk his own money into an independent short film.
Goldberg, who grew up in New Jersey, traveled to Woodbury College in Los Angeles to study business, explains "I was artistic, but 1 didn't know a thing about business." That soon changed. Goldberg moved back to New York, taught himself photography and, at 21, opened his own photography studio.
nn“I’d always wanted to do a film," he says. "It was in my blood from the beginning.” It was while still doing his print work that Goldberg began experimenting with - Super 8mm and 16mm movie cameras. Then, in 1988, he.got a break by shooting both the photographsantfthe-film of a print campaign for Australian Harper's Bazaar, that he later cut into a three-minute video.
"That gave me the courage to do my second movie, which was a 12-minute narrative short," he says. Shot in five days on Long Island, the 16mm love story, Someone Else, debuted nine months later at the Independent Feature Film Market in New York. A number of studios expressed an interest in Goldberg, and he was quickly enlisted by his old employer and friend Ralph Lauren to shoot a commercial for a new fragrance called Safari.
"I hadn't worked for him in 10 years, but he saw my first short and - a rough cut of Someone Else and he liked both very much," recalls Goldberg, who ended up going to Africa to shoot a sweeping David Lean-style spot about an adventurous young woman on safari. It was a lushly shot mini-epic and although the agency Carlson & Partners in New York ultimately recut it to emphasize the girl over the storyline, Goldberg's style impressed Boss Films, a Los Angeles-based special effects house founded by Academy Award-winning director Richard Edlund. They felt Goldberg was just what they needed. Says Judy Wolff, a partner inl Boss-Films, "We loved Les' cut of the Lauren spot and found it very European: it looks like those beautiful French films by Claude Lelouch."
Goldberg is heartened by the fact that many more feature film directors are making the jump to commercials-a fact he sees as only helping directors like himself make the jump to feature films. "People are more open to directors working in all mediums now," he muses. "People are more relaxed about it. Look, Adrian Lyne was a commercial director before Fatal Attraction. And there's always Stanley Kubrick," he's quick to point out, "he started in still photography also." Stranger things have happened.
SHOOT, c. 1989