interview with photographer/director nabil elderkin, Written for Adweek's 2018 Creative 100 issue.
Goodby Silverstein & Partners’ epic lip-sync battle between Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman for Doritos and Mountain Dew was truly lit, and not just because Dinklage was surrounded by fire in the much-buzzed-about Super Bowl LII spot.
Director Nabil Elderkin elevated what could have been a campy commercial—Dinklage lip syncs Busta Rhymes’ rap from Chris Brown’s “Look at Me Now,” while Freeman takes on Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On”—into a truly enjoyable ad that had enough edge to be a hit with the hip kids. “The Weeknd texted me [after he saw it], and he was like, ‘Dammmmmmn,’” says Elderkin.
The veteran music video director and photographer—who also helmed Wieden + Kennedy’s new Maya Moore Jordan Brand “Wings” spot—had worked with fire before (see Frank Ocean’s “Swim Good” video), but the Doritos/Mountain Dew ad was a next-level endeavor.
“It was pretty scary. [Dinklage] literally had flames blowing up behind him, and those flames are real,” he says. “He’s walking through an exploding set that we built on a stage. There’s marks he has to hit. I think even he was like, ‘What the what?’ But he killed it like a champ.”
Next up for Elderkin is his first narrative feature, Gully, starring Amber Heard, Charlie Plummer and Jacob Latimore as “three kids getting wild” in Southeast Los Angeles. What should audiences expect? “I didn’t fuck it up but i did FuKItUP,” Elderkin wrote on Instagram. Translation: It’s gonna be hot.