Assemble The Puzzle: Sebastián Salinas, Head of AV Direction, Craft Lima

by Dasha Ovsyannikova

What is the role of a director?

As a director, the most important thing for me is the story behind the product. To know that those little seconds in which we are filming an object or a character, come with a story behind which the client wants us to transmit and as responsible for the audiovisual management, we use the necessary resources to generate something attractive.


Tell us about your background and what led you to where you are today?

In my early years, I lived advertising in my own flesh. Here in Peru, my grandmother was the first female producer in the country and therefore my father the first director to win a Cannes for Peru in the year 1999, a high goal to pass.

From an early age, I was involved in productions and I even started doing video-assist for my father when he was recording in film. Then I went from being assistant director to director. That gave me the opportunity to dedicate myself a little more towards the content in order to work in the Agency FCBMayo that together with Humberto Polar and Flavio Pantigoso I became a kind of hybrid that produced and filmed everything at the same time, “one-man band” they called me, we won Cannes on more than one occasion. Then my entrance to McCann/Craft with the purpose of setting up a content department gave my life a new challenge.

The experience I gained in that space of time allowed me to develop in both branches and become the person I am now. That’s the process I’m working with my team, for them to have the ability and vision to solve the problem regardless of the specialty.

I always had the opportunity to be close to the cameras and see different brands telling stories in front of them. My passion was forged through the storytelling, everything has a story and it’s up to you how to tell it.


What are the challenges/satisfactions of the job?

The most difficult thing is to assemble the puzzle. And what I mean is that many times when shooting a TVC, we must do everything in different order and for many on the team this can feel a little confusing. Assemble the puzzle in editing and see that everything is working as we wanted and also, when we are presenting the clients smiles as if he had been read their minds is one of the most satisfactory things in this business.


Do you have on-set rules for the crew, if any?

Something that happens a lot in the filming is that you always have a different crew to work, so I usually gather the whole team, regardless of the title and make a team back, so that everyone knows each other and make sure we are part of this team. Make them feel committed to that day of filming and at the same time let them know that their work is important for everyone to function properly and be efficient.


What is the most common phrase you use on set?

"Let it be" Not because of Lennon, but there are times that as directors we want to modify everything that happens on a filming day. But that is not always good. I think it is better to go with the flow and let the actors or situations present themselves as they come. By doing this we let their sensitivity help us to film a reality that often sells more than something that is set up. 


Tell us about your best-ever day on set.

On a film day, I am one of the first to arrive. I like to start early, gather the whole team and ask them to introduce themselves. After all we know who we are and how important we are for this day we start. I try not to stop and turn the film around the actor so that he feels comfortable and can get the best out of him. I have worked a lot with children so I think that has opened a sensitivity to respect for natural acting.

The best day is when everything goes as planned.


What is the most useful advice you received from a fellow director?

Surround yourself with the talented and learn from them. The director is only who makes them work together.


When looking at a new project’s script, what usually draws your attention?

I’m always looking for/or proposing in the scripts to have that spark that can be social, visual or emotional to make something different and for viewers to feel it attractive beyond the product we are trying to sell.


Is there anything you have coming up we should keep our eyes open for?

Yes! We were on a 10-day film for LATAM and the Pan-American Games. I’m so excited with that project that will come out soon.


Do you have a project you’re most proud of?

I remember some promotion scripts for Coca Cola, for Valentine's Day, that together with the creative team we decided that they had to have something else and that was how the idea changed completely and we got into this funny world of love to make M.A.R.T.A. read us some poems. It was a rewarding experience and the client was amazed at the work. And I will never forget my first TVC, which was about a young single mother and how she got ahead thanks to her family, in that TVC I looked for a real casting to have a genuine performance.