Los Pérez on Creating Epic Ads for Tinder, Xbox and More
Tania Verduzco and Adrián Pérez—Barcelona-based partners in life, known professionally as the directing duo Los Pérez—have a way of turning every commercial they make into an epic surging with cinematic energy.
Their latest spot, "Going All the Way" for Tinder via Mischief @ No Fixed Address, opens on a couple sharing a first kiss. It's so intense, they both float out of their shoes and into the air, embarking on a relationship with their feet rarely touching the ground.
"The Getaway Driver," a slick trailer for the Xbox game Forza Horizon 5 from 215 McCann, features actor and former professional soccer player Cristo Fernández (who plays Dani Rojas on the Apple+ series Ted Lasso). In the ad, he portrays both the driver and passenger on a wild, high-speed adventure, culminating in a street race with Colombian singer Karol G.
Spots and branded content for Paramount+, Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Taco Bell and others similarly blend bold narratives with colorful art direction and visual flair.
Not surprisingly, these imaginative directors, who have collaborated for a decade, are planners who enjoy working out the intricacies of scenes and crafting detailed storyboards before their cameras roll.
"For directors, shooting is almost like a drug because it's intense," Adrián says. “You're basically coming from zero, from being in your house, from your ordinary life—and then jumping into the craziness of pre-production and production. And that kind of rush is very addictive."
Below, the pair (represented by Biscuit Filmworks in the United States, Grayskull in Spain, The Lift in Mexico, Caviar in the U.K. and Solab in France) talk about creating worlds where almost anything is possible. They touch on the benefits of co-directing and the fateful meeting that led to their relationship and the formation of Los Pérez.
MUSE: Let's talk about your latest work, the Tinder campaign, which includes "Going All the Way." What was the brief like?
Tania: It was a little too straightforward because it was about a couple making out in different spots of the house. That was the main brief. And then, of course, you discovered that they went on their honeymoon. So, the concept was, after the swipe, it's not only a one-night stand. You can have more commitment, or find that person.
But, you know, for us, because we're also a couple, we were talking about, "How can we start a couple make out?" We thought, everything starts with the first kiss, right? The first kiss is when you know if that person is the one or not.
So, we said, okay, we have to find that first kiss. And then everything was based on poetry, or a metaphor for how when you are making out, you don't hear a noise, you don't care if it's raining outside, you don't know where the staircase is, where the kitchen is, because you are just with that person, concentrating. So, it was that journey.
We thought, yeah, we can elevate that passion in a more surreal way, through magical realism.
Did you work with a choreographer on the Tinder spot?
Tania: We did not have a choreographer. We had to work with the actors, kind of see the choreography with them.
Adrián: We wanted to have two or three highlights in terms of performance. It was like a story map in a way. It was: We want to start here, we want to have this moment here, and that moment there. That was one of the tricky parts of the job. We wanted to have the continuity of the story, of the movement. So, we had very technical shots. It was a bit challenging connecting everything in a way that felt continuous, kind of natural.
There's lots of movement in the things you make. I love how the guy takes a sip of a Coke in "Open That Coca-Cola" [a Wieden+Kennedy London spot featuring the music of Tyler the Creator] and breaks into a jerky dance. Is he really dancing that way, or did you speed up his moves?
Tania: We worked a lot for that. We started developing choreography, and the idea was to feel possessed by the Coke. Just take that sip and suddenly [experience] something that you cannot control. But we wanted to do it in camera with actors. We worked with great choreographers [Zoyi Lindy and Supple Nam] in South Africa.
So, you cast dancers for the spot?
Tania: That was a must. Except for the vendor at the very end, who was an actor.
Adrián: That was the only trick that we did impose in terms of the dancing because we [filmed] somebody else dancing, and we put [the actor's head] on top of that [dancer]. It was the only way, because we really liked the actor's face, his performance. It was a compromise.
How much of your work is shot practically vs. computer-generated? Do you have a preference, or do you go with whatever works best?
Adrián: We shoot a lot in camera. Obviously, these days, post production is an incredible ally for accomplishing crazy shots. But we try to accomplish as much as we can in camera basically because we always feel, as directors, that if you didn't shoot it, it doesn't count.
Tania: Or it's not yours.
Adrián: It's like you [can] rely too much on post.
Tania: Or we at least shoot a lot of plates, a lot of stuff, so we can build in post, but based always on reality, because we care about the textures, about the lighting. [Plates are individual shots composited by VFX artists to create scenes.]
There are wow moments in everything you make—like the green, S-shaped staircase in A$AP Rocky's fictional NYC home in the Klarna spot. I assume people come to you looking for lots of creative visual ideas and wow moments.
Tania: Yes, pretty much. A$AP Rocky's symbol is the dollar [sign]. So, we thought, yeah, of course, if this is his house, the staircase should represent that.
Did you build that beautiful, green-carpeted staircase for real?
Adrián: We couldn't build it completely. We built half the staircase and mirrored half and created it [in post]. It was a tricky process. We shot it in plates, and we managed to do it in post with the help of [VFX studio] No.8.
Tania: We knew exactly what we needed to build because of the perspective and because of the shape.
It seems like you never take an easy job. Everything you do requires intense planning and effort.
Adrián: When you are lucky to work with clients that really want to push it, and they give you freedom, that's when, for directors, the work is really stunning. When you have so many restrictions, the final result is losing something. It's losing ambition, it’s losing…
Adrián: Yeah. So, we always try really hard to make something special.
Can you tell me about your individual backgrounds, and why were you interested in filmmaking?
Tania: I was born in Mexico City, and I studied communications, but always was really involved in theater and dance. I did a lot of theater. And then at some point I shot a short film, and that film was recognized, and I said, 'Oh my God, that's what I want to do. I want to shoot movies.' So, the only way to do it was to find a place [to study film]. Barcelona was the place. Also, I wanted to travel to Europe because I love European movies.
Adrián: I'm from Spain, and I was a terrible student. A really, really bad student. For me, school was jail. I was always fantasizing. I was drawing a lot of comic books when I was little. I had that need of telling stories. My motivation was watching Blade Runner. I remember the day when I first watched Blade Runner I was blown away by the ending speech by Rutger Hauer. I was like, "That's the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life." I want to do something like that. That's why I decided to leave my hometown and move to Barcelona to study cinema.
Do you remember the first time you met, or became aware of each other?
Adrián: The first time we saw each other was in a club.
Tania: We didn't know we were studying in the same program.
Adrián: Yeah, because she was going [to class] in the morning, and I was going in the afternoon. And she skipped a class one morning.
Tania: So I went to the afternoon class, and the teacher loved to put frames [on display] randomly, and you could guess which movie it was. I saw the frame of this kid with a snow sled, and I was like: Citizen Kane!
Adrián: I was like, who was that nerd? And then I was like, oh, the girl from the club. But we didn't talk. And one day my editor—we were doing this crappy short film—told me, "Hey, I'm also editing a short I like even more than yours." And I was like, "Hold on one second—I need to watch it." He played it, and it was actually cooler than my short film. And then Tania stepped in the room [it was her film], and I was like, "Oh, hello."
Tania: And here we are.
Did you immediately work on projects together?
Tania: We didn't start co-directing [at first]. We started with writing, or giving ideas to each other. And it worked. And then Adrián had a band, a really good band, and we started doing their music videos.
Adrián: At some point we said, "Hey, we really enjoy working together. Why don't we just direct together?" And we did, little by little mastering co-direction because it's not an easy thing to do, especially when you are young, and you think you are right all the time, and you don’t really see the vision of the other director. So, it's a process. Finally, I think we understood how to work together. And now, it's our life.
How do you collaborate on something like Tinder? Do you start creating together and then divvy up duties? Or are you always working on every element together? I assume how you work also depends on the project.
Adrián: Yeah, it depends on the project for sure. On set, I enjoy being with the DP and working on the lighting and the shots, and Tania is with the actors and their direction. But we really enjoy working on the whole thing. It’s not like we split completely and say, "Hey, you focus on this, and I focus on that." We've merged all the ideas.
Tania: We split the duties just to have a smooth and fast shoot. We are both perfectionists.
Adrián: It's about trust.
Tania: Absolutely. And then it's just like, "Hey, Adrián, let's change the lens because I don't feel that this is the right lens. Let's do that. Perfect." Or, "Something's not working with the actor," and he steps in. It's about how can we make it better, how can we improve the other one's work.
Adrián: Having her perspective on every single job makes me a better director. And, hopefully, I can help her, too.
Tania: The good thing about co-directing is we learn from each other. Always.