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A passion for his craft

Director and alumnus Tamir Moscovici electrifies his commercial and other work with storytelling skills
January 8, 2018
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By Lucas Napier-Macdonald

First seen as a minuscule image on a magnificent vista, a sports car inches up a seaside terrace, its engine’s whining, insistent sound right in the viewer’s ear.

A jump cut, and suddenly the viewer is staring out from the front bumper, inches above the hot tarmac tearing by underneath.

Tamir Moscovici Tamir Moscovici, BFA 95, on set of the 2017 Coors Light commercial “Journey,” filmed on Alberta’s Fortress Mountain. | Credit: Marni Luftspring

Urban Outlaw, a 2012 film commissioned by Porsche about the avid luxury car collector Magnus Walker, bears all the hallmarks of “a production by Tamir Moscovici,” BFA 95.

The commercial director says he likes this technique — introducing the viewer to a faraway element, with the sound priming them for a closer look — and includes it in many of his productions. It’s one of the signatures that makes his work so distinct and sought-after.

“Companies approach me and say they like the way I tell stories,” Moscovici says. “They want me to take their narrative and put it through my prism.”

Studied transgressions

The last word anyone would use to qualify Moscovici’s work is “sloppy.” So when he, in his words, goes “from an ultra-wide to a close-up, or from a wide to another wide shot,” he is not being careless. He has considered the impact the shot will have on the viewer.

Moscovici attributes his precise technique to his time studying in the film production program at what is now Concordia’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema.

“I developed a very strong academic and theoretical background in the program,” he says.

“As I come across a lot of other people, I notice they don’t have the depth that was really pushed at Concordia. It created a very strong foundation to develop rules, or break them once you understood them.”

Creative solutions

As he describes it, Moscovici’s job is “to find creative solutions to a problem, anything from a company wanting a two per cent increase in market share to wanting to reinvigorate a product.”

The latter could have been what Moscovici was attempting to do when, in June 2015, he directed an ad for Air Canada featuring a mother and daughter who extend the daughter’s final day home before leaving for school by visiting three different continents in one day.

Even though the piece was meant to rebrand the Canadian airline, suffering from overbooking woes and competition from fresh challengers, Moscovici still managed to masterfully blend the grandeur of the world with the bittersweet intimacy of leaving home, making for a poignant final product.

The director found himself needing to evoke feeling again when he was approached by brand marketing director at Sony who wanted Moscovici to do a documentary to celebrate 15 years of Gran Turismo, a famously realistic car-racing game series.

Trailer for KAZ: Pushing the Virtual Divide | Video credit: Tamir Moscovici

To get people who aren’t gamers or aren’t into automotive racing or culture to find the subject matter interesting, Moscovici hooked them with passion.

“It’s somewhat intoxicating to watch a story about someone who’s passionate,” Moscovici says. “You could be passionate about video games, art or bottle caps. It still excites the viewer.”

What followed was KAZ: Pushing the Virtual Divide (2014), a documentary about game creator Kazunori Yamauchi, who has developed and refined Gran Turismo games to the point that the latest installment looks like a live car race.

Moscovici believes his emotional attachment to his own work has made it easier for him to portray the devotion of his subjects. “That’s been a common thread in pieces that I’ve done. The portrait pieces of people, the common theme is their passion,” he says.

“For sure, there are some parallels to my own passion for my craft, and that always helps me explore theirs.”

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