Director Calmatic Brings the Heat for Mailchimp, Cheetos, Ad Council

Curiosity and compassion fuel his creativity

Charles Kidd II, the director known as Calmatic, is a highly engaged viewer, especially when it comes to commercials.

"I like to reverse engineer things that I see, things that I like," he tells Muse. "When I'm watching TV, it may be the most simple or corny commercial, but I'm thinking, 'What kind of camera did they use? Why did they edit it that way? Who's the graphic designer that made those logos?'

Similarly, when he beings a project of his own, "no matter how random it is, I feel like I can break it down."

Such attention to detail has served the self-taught filmmaker well. In recent years, Calmatic has risen through the ranks to become one of adland's hottest properties.

Raised in South Central Los Angeles, the director scored his first big hit in 2020 with Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road." The epic clip cast the rapper as a hip-hop cowboy and won the Grammy Award for Best Music Video.

Calmatic also helmed efforts for Kendrick Lamar, Anderson .Paak and Pharrell Williams.

Earlier this year, the release of the House Party remake marked his debut as a feature auteur. A reboot of White Men Can't Jump followed shortly thereafter.

Represented by Prettybird, Calmatic's numerous ad credits include Super Bowl entries for TurboTax and Oikos yogurt, as well as campaigns for Apple, Target, Sprite, Geico and the NBA.

He recently completed an Ad Council PSA that's near and dear to his heart. Dubbed "Love, Your Mind," the powerhouse spot backs the Huntsman Mental Health Institute and gently encourages Black and brown men to seek therapy and support.

"This one came across my desk, and I was like, 'Yo, I have to do this,'" Calmatic recalls. "It was just in the right wheelhouse for things that I believe in—and obviously for a good cause."

Switching gears, he explored the B2B space for Intuit Mailchimp. "Turn Clustomers Into Customers" explains why marketers shouldn't treat all clients as if they have the same business issues. The initiative boasts vibrant style, with an orb of tangled humans as its central metaphor.

Working with stunt coordinator Pat Romano, the crew built a rig that resembled a jungle gym and populated the structure with actors, leaving space for VFX artists to fill in the blanks.

In an entirely different vein, Calmatic teamed up with Megan Thee Stallion and Cheetos, recruiting students to F.U. (Flamin' Hot University).

Looking ahead, "I want to build who I am as a director in the ad space and be instantly recognizable—the same way you look at a Craig Gillespie spot or a Paul Hunter spot, and it's like, 'Oh yeah, I know who did that,'" he says. 

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