Hollywood A-list directors are no strangers to advertising, but they tend to surface only for big-budget, long-form cinematic spots.
So it was a nice surprise to see that the newest ad for mobile game Pokémon Go was, despite being relatively modest in its ambitions, helmed remotely by star director Rian Johnson, who’s apparently a fan of the game—especially while keeping social distance from his friends.
“Pokémon Go has kept me engaged with my friends remotely as I’ve been practicing physical distancing these past few months,” Johnson said in a statement about the campaign. “As a longtime Pokémon trainer, it was a real pleasure working with Niantic on this spot.”
The ad, from software developer Niantic in partnership with The Pokémon Company, is timed to promote the annual Pokémon Go Fest, taking place July 25 and 26.
Because of quarantine restrictions in many countries, the spot was filmed with talent in New Zealand, where Covid-19 has been contained (the country currently lists 22 active cases, with only one being treated in a hospital.)
“It was a new experience for me to direct a production remotely,” Johnson said, “and I enjoyed the highly collaborative process and think we put together a fun and upbeat commercial that fans will enjoy.”
Johnson, based in Los Angeles, directed the New Zealand talent remotely. Initially known for critically acclaimed films like Brick and Looper, Johnson’s career skyrocketed in recent years. In 2017, he directed Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and his 2019 mystery Knives Out was a critical and box-office success, netting $309 million on a $40 million budget.