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Watch: The Early Works of ‘Oblivion’ Director Joseph Kosinski

Written by on April 17, 2013 

All directors start somewhere. Whether it’s music videos, commercials or short films, the stepping stones for a filmmaker leading up to their feature debut can provide vital exposure and a hint of what’s to come. With the debut of our recurring article The Early Works, we dive into the beginnings of a director who has a new film landing in theaters the upcoming weekend.

Watching Joseph Kosinski‘s first two features, Tron: Legacy and Oblivion, one can tell the director is tailor-made for the commercial world, so it comes with little surprise that this is where he found his footing. A graduate in the architecture field, his slick style and detailed fixation on framing and production design is a perfect fit for this short-form medium. Ahead of the release of his Tom Cruise-led sci-fi blockbuster this weekend, one can see five examples of his early work below, ranging from videogame advertisements to Apple products.

Halo 3 “Starry Night” Commercial

Despite being an action-heavy blockbuster with backing from M83, Kosinski enjoys selections of quiet, serene moments in Oblivion. With this 2006 commercial for Xbox 360’s Halo 3, a similar style was employed — as children talk, he doesn’t give us anything but their voices and the rustling of the tall grass in the wind. Even when we see Master Chief, it’s the sonic environment that is so interesting. He gives us a haunting voice in the middle of the chaos as our lead character orients himself, before getting some brief practice directing action on the battlefield. – Bill G.

Blackbird Saab Commercial

Although it was created three years before Tron: Legacy hit, the opening here seems to be nearly identical to that of his Disney blockbuster. Here, we see a model lounging on a piece of furniture in the same posture as Olivia Wilde‘s character does in Legacy; Kosinski’s obsession with technology, architecture, and furniture would come full circle with his features. The sleek angular lines that are often highlighted by how they reflect light are showcased as we get a look at the Saab Blackbird. – Bill G.

Nike “The Twins” Commercial

Here’s another commercial that seems to be birthed directly out of the world of Tron: Legacy, coming from Nike’s Art of Speed campaign. Introduced to a slickly designed, futuristic house, we follow two twins (wearing skintight bodysuits, of course) that begin to digitally interact with their surroundings. Playing with time and space itself, it’s a stepping stone for Kosinski when it comes to his lofty, if poorly executed, sci-fi ideas in feature-length work. – Jordan R.

Apple iSpec Commercial

After being turned down by many agencies for his particular style, Kosinski took it upon himself to create this uncommissioned work back in 2003, showing he could sell an iPod. But instead of taking on a present-day version of the product, he went into his comfort place of deep into the future, showing off what it might be like if one could create their own digital environment from their device. The closest he’ll likely ever get to a classic film, he brought Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining to life with this spot. – Jordan R.

Gears of War “Mad World” Commercial

After working with Daft Punk and M83, Kosinski has been in tune with music selection in his work. So it’s no surprise that when he got a hold of Gary JulesMad World, he did it justice. The incongruous use of the song highlights the sheer darkness of the Gears of War franchise better than it does within the actual game. In a computer environment, the director is also able to show off skills for lighting territories, something that would become a primary focus in his later work. – Bill G.

Check out more work from Kosinski on his official site.

What early works from Kosinski have impressed you? Can you see this style carried through to his features?

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