Tool’s Harry Cocciolo Directs His First Automotive Spots

Leading commercial production company Tool of North America today detailed director Harry Cocciolo latest commercial work, a set of two beautifully crafted :30 spots for ad agency RPA and its client, Acura. The first of the spots, entitled ‘Waiter,’ debuts nationally today, and a second, entitled ‘Arrow,’ will debut in May.

Cocciolo, a renowned, award-winning advertising creative, began his directorial career last year, and this campaign represents his first work in the highly competitive automotive category. Since making his directorial debut last spring with an acclaimed spot for the San Francisco Zoo, he has directed national broadcast campaigns for LusasArts Entertainment, Blue Cross, Reebok, Sprint/Nextel, the California Lottery and MasterCard, among others, and anticipation is high for at least one of those projects to be honored in the upcoming awards season.

Both new Acura spots creatively showcase the powerful Navigation Systems offered with the new Acura TL and MDX models. The creative for ‘Arrow’ called for a montage of ‘beautiful and graphically interesting locations’ to illustrate the TL navigation system, and ‘Waiter’ presents several waiters carrying their finest dishes out to a couple in their MDX, who are using the system to review Zagat Guide listings as they decide where to dine.

‘Harry was great with our team and great behind the camera,’ said Mark Erwin, Senior V.P., Creative Director for RPA. ‘It was a total collaboration from beginning to end.’

Acura “Waiter” from RPA and Tool director Harry Cocciolo.

Approaching his first automotive assignment, Cocciolo appreciated the great working situation created for him by the agency creative team, which included Erwin and his fellow creative director Pat Mendelson, art director Dan Buchmeier and copywriter Graham Simon. ‘Everyone on the agency side had a clear idea of what they wanted, but allowed me plenty of room to bring my own ideas to the table,’ he said.

To capture precisely what he wanted on film, Cocciolo enlisted the talents of award-winning director of photography Max Malkin. ‘Shooting automobiles well takes time, and managing time on the shoot day is always a challenge,’ Cocciolo continued. ‘So it an incredible asset when you are working with a DP like Max Malkin. He and his crew are wonderful. Professional. It was a delight to work with them. Together, we were ambitious about what we were going for, but we had a great plan that allowed us to move on when we had what we needed. That gave us the chance to slow down and give time to new ideas that came along in the process.’

The crew shot all the footage for both spots over three days in numerous Los Angeles-area locations. ‘Harry articulately communicated the tone and content of the spots in our discussions, which then allowed for more appropriate choices with regards to the design and look of the spots,’ Malkin explained. ‘I feel that our biggest challenge was to create a look at night that would work for the car, the story and the timeframe we were given. I chose to use Fuji Reala 500D because of its speed, its pastel palette and because it handles mixed light very well. We did a lot of the exterior night shots in areas with exposed streetlights, mercury vapors and neon, and wanted to make use of them.’

With both spots completed to his satisfaction, Cocciolo was asked to name his favorite moment from either one, and he quickly pointed to the moment in ‘Waiter’ when the hero leaves the restaurant. ‘It’s an odd beat that was quite engaging as it was written,’ he acknowledged. ‘And I think we captured in a way that did justice to the creatives’ idea.’

RPA project credits also include director of creative services Larry Postaer, executive producer Gary Paticoff, senior producer Shelley Eisner and associate producer Kenia Calderon. The team for Tool of North America included executive producer Jennifer Siegel, head of production Amy DeLossa, line producer Mark Fetterman and production designer Janet Nelson. The project colorist for Santa Monica-based Company 3 was Stefan Sonnenfeld. Kirk Baxter edited the project for Rock Paper Scissors with the assistance of executive producer Dave Sellars, producer Scott Friske and assistant editor Matt Murphy. Credits for LA-based visual effects company A52 include executive producer Mark Tobin, producer Scott Boyajan, VFX supervisor Tim Bird and Flame artist Ben Looram. Music and sound design credits go to Hum Music and Sound Design in Santa Monica, and the final mix was handled by Eleven Jeff Payne in Santa Monica.

About Tool of North America
Established in Santa Monica in 1995, leading commercial production company Tool of North America represents an inspiring group of world-class directors via representatives in LA, Chicago, New York, Toronto and Paris. Owner and award-winning director Erich Joiner continues drawing international acclaim for his high-profile commercials, and an endless array of new projects continues to spotlight the unique talents of directors Sam Cadman, Clint Clemens, Harry Cocciolo, Sean Ehringer, Sam Jones, Poiraud, Bob Richardson, Tom Routson, Johan Tappert and Fran?ßois Vogel. For more information, please visit or call 310.453.9244.

About RPA

RPA, based in Santa Monica, Calif., is the largest independent advertising agency based on the West Coast. Since its founding in 1986, the agency independent and integrated approach has led to award winning work for a variety of clients including Honda, Acura, Pioneer Electronics, Blue Cross of California, ARCO, VH1, California Pizza Kitchen, Gardenburger, Bugle Boy Jeans, WebTV, Morningstar and ampm. RPA offers its clients truly integrated campaigns that resonate throughout its disciplines including traditional advertising, media services, interactive and direct and event marketing. For more information, visit

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