China’s up-and-coming directing duo Kevin Lee and Iris Zhang celebrate their two-year anniversary this February.
The Shanghai-based directing team, also known as Farfar when they began their career in 2019, made a name for themselves in China’s already-saturated advertising market with their debut spot “The Pinewood Soldier” for antiseptic brand Dettol.
Inspired by Dettol’s classic sword logo and its iconic pinewood fragrance, the duo wrote and directed the 2-minutes short film that integrated special makeup, stage costume and CGI into a whimsical but heartwarming bedtime story. Their success in bringing the locally produced film an international look and feel can be credited to their overseas working and educational background, Lee’s 26 illustrious years of experience as an agency creative, as well as Zhang’s bilingual writing skills and acute local insights as a female director.
The pair’s unique style has earned them chances to direct for a diversity of Chinese and international brands which are no longer satisfied with local ad spots that are overwhelmingly uniform in looks. In 2020, the duo has served clients including OPPO, Snickers, Alibaba, Midea, TCL, Welmeister, Robam, Extra Mint and etc. Among them, China’s leading smartphone brand OPPO alone has entrusted them with several different projects and the latest one “Lighting Up the Night” for OPPO Reno4 is widely applauded by Chinese audience with its unvarnished portrayal of puppy love.
When speaking of selection of projects, however, big brands or big budget doesn’t necessarily win the duo’s hearts. “Concept is always our top priority,” said Lee. “We are always looking forward to simple ideas with strong human insights that are fresh and have never been done before.”
One example is the directing team’s latest hit “The Lazy God Fight” for workout trainer app Keep. The brand and its creatives agency innovatively created the Lazy God character, giving a plausible reason behind human’s laziness and adding entertainment value by using the format of music videos. Lee and Zhang saw the potential of the script although it was set out to be a small budget project from the get-go. They helped tweaking and rewriting the lyrics, livened up the script with eye-catching details and devised special mechanisms in order to shoot everything in camera. They spent 5 days on shooting, instead of the two days originally planned, but the end result is beyond expectation, with 150 thousand views and front-page coverage from Xinpianchang, Chinese equivalent of Vimeo.
Looking to the future, the duo is expecting to receive more interesting scripts from home and abroad, explore various genres and collaborate with talented creatives around the world. “After all, our mission is to help bring good creatives to life,” said Zhang. “And we just feel lucky to be able to work with the top talents in our industry and constantly gain new knowledge from them.”