Through the years with Papaya Young Directors

The sixth rendition of the Papaya Young Directors competition (PYD) is now in progress, so we’ve decided to look back and reflect on its evolution over the years.

www.papayayoungdirectors.com

Having birthed the careers of over 40 novice filmmakers, secured 31 brand sponsors and produced 80 films, the Papaya Young Directors competition has expanded exponentially since its inception in 2013 and established itself as a platform that puts promising filmic talent in front of the advertising industry. Appealing to graduating film school students and amateur filmmakers, who see the contest as a springboard to propel their careers, PYD has received more interest – and submissions – with every year that it’s on. The sixth edition of the contests started on 14th January 2019.

2014: The Initial Aim 

There are limited opportunities available to young filmmakers today, especially since the demise of the Kodak Student Awards in 2010. The industry remains exclusive and can seem inaccessible for emerging talent. Which is why Papaya Films decided to support young creatives with the launch of Papaya Young Directors.

“We needed to demystify advertising and treat the competition as a testing ground for budding filmmakers as well as a school to develop craftsmanship,” said Papaya Films executive producer and YPD mastermind, Kacper Sawicki. “We wanted to use the school as a platform to tell important stories,”

The competition debuted in 2014, with a strong jury onboard and briefs submitted from brands as varied as APAP, Play, Volkswagen, Mediraty, Lech and Synapsis Foundation. Jan Foryś and Filip Załuska took home the Grand Prix for their Apap piece, which stole the jury’s hearts due to its original and non-conforming narrative. By infusing dark humour and completely changing perceptions around how pharmaceutical products are presented, the spec spot set the bar high for future entrants. Foryś is now signed to Papaya Films’ directorial roster and is one of our most sought-after talents. In 2017 alone, he shot 10 commercials for globally-renowned brands, like Huawei, with his Fly spot coming in as a close Gold Lion contender at the 2014 Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.

2015: The Ad World’s Own Game of Thrones

“This competition accelerated my career by a good 10 years,” said director Julia Rogowska, who won the Grand Prix at the subsequent edition of the PYD competition. “If I hadn’t won, I’d still be working towards the same direction, but it would have taken me a lot longer to get to where I am today.” Her winning film for Rossman saw her achieve a Game of Thrones-inspired aesthetic, with high production values. Papaya director Michał Dymek, behind the film Prosto, also won first prize at PYD 2015; the same year he made the shortlist for the shots Awards - becoming the first Pole to reach such recognition. 

2016: A Year-Round Educational Endeavour

Following the success of the two previous contests, 2016 saw PYD focus on establishing a community around the competition and building excitement for the event throughout the year. With a confirmed jury consisting of industry experts like Polish cinematographer Arek Tomiak, director Jan Komasa and actress Agata Kulesza, they came up with Shaking Up Film as the competition’s theme for the year. Ola Bielecka took home the Grand Prix with her spot for O2, followed by Weronika Ławniczak and Paweł Zdanowski as runners up. All three subsequently signed to Papaya Films. 

“Everything in my life changed after that competition,” said Weronika Ławniczak, who successfully transitioned from a photographer to a commercial director thanks to the contest. “Within half a year, I had completed several film projects, and had become the director working exclusively for Papaya Films. The competition enabled me to work professionally on something that comes naturally to me.”

2017: Cinematic Know-How in Action

Not only does PYD focus on young creative filmic talent, but it’s an initiative that also keeps abreast of the latest technological breakthroughs and attempts to weave these into its offering. We created the free app, Filmed, (available here), so that budding filmmakers could easily access tools to create short films. The benefits of this innovation were easy to spot with a record-breaking 21 finalists awarded in 2017. Kuba Gutkowski and Robert Zemeckis took home the top honours for their respective LINK4 “Back” film and spoof of cult film “Back to the Future”.

2018: Role Models and the First Foreign Entries

Many people spoke fondly of PYD throughout 2018, including acclaimed directors, such as Krzysztof Zanussi, Jacek Borcuch and Kasia Adamik, famous jazz artist Tomasz Stańko and director of photography Łukasz Żal. We also extended our reach by attending various festivals and important industry events to communicate the latest PYD edition. And the hard work paid off as we received entry submissions from the US, the UK, Germany and France. Artistic duo Katarzyna Czeżyk and Tomasz Chrapusta took home the highly sought-after Grand Prix prize and reward money of PLN30,000 for their dreamy, impressionist film, “Upside Down” for EB, which recounts a love story between a pair of twenty-something-year-olds. 

2018 also saw the production of the competition’s first animation, which was completed within a month. Director Tessa Moult-Milewska twisted the story of Little Red Riding Hood, collaborating with WjTeam studio, the team behind Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs, to create the film’s puppets. The stop-motion was incredibly impressive so it’s no wonder that it was awarded first prize.

Soon after the awards ceremony attended by 3,500 people, one of the sponsors – PZU decided to expand its film license to include cinema distribution. Stories about an unlucky guardian angel and a destructive sleepwalker were shown in cinemas across Poland.
So what’s the future for PYD? “It’s an exciting adventure for any brand,” said PZU’s head of marketing, Magda Kicińska. “Through the eyes of young people, you can see how you should communicate with this particular target group.”

2019: To Be Continued…

The sixth edition of the competition began on 14th January 2019 and the submissions for the main category can be submitted until 24th February. This year, the participants of the contest will create commercial content for nine, mostly international sponsors: Allegro, BGŻ BNP Paribas, Coca-Cola, Decathlon, Desperados, Durex, McDonald’s and Nationale-Nederlanden. All those who want to participate in PYD’s main category should write a director’s synopsis to meet the sponsor’s briefs.

What’s more, for the first time in PYD, filmmakers can experiment with creating music videos thanks to Polish beer Żywiec and their Męskie Granie initiative. Submissions for this category can be entered from 23rd March, with official screenings of all films held in June. The total sum of all the awards on offer exceeds £ 20 000!

Get involved and keep an eye on Papaya Young Directors as it evolves on our site, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages.

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