Jan Pavlacky is both director and fan shooting commercials for Nike

Director Jan Pavlacky

Everyone knows the Nike check mark. It is perhaps the most identifiable logo in the world. Years of successful advertising has made Nike one of the most recognized brands across the globe. Their commercial campaigns do more than simply inform, they are works of art that tell a story. Director Jan Pavlacky knows this well. His work on three Nike commercials were appreciated by all who viewed them.

Pavlacky has lots of experiences making powerful films and commercials. He made a moving PSA for the organization Debra, he worked on multiple award-winning campaigns with the production company Savage, his work on a Please the Trees music video helped shoot the band to stardom, and his film BKA 49–77 not only screened at prestigious film festivals worldwide, but also received several awards. With success such as that, it is no doubt why the production company Emperium, which was putting together the Nike commercials, recognized Pavlacky as one of the best directors out there.

“Naturally, working on commercials for Nike was a big responsibility, especially when combined with the appearance of famous soccer stars that were in the commercials. On the other hand, Nike and Emperium gave me total freedom in creating the stories I wanted, and after the first commercial, which was an overall success, I felt confident and enjoyed the work,” said Pavlacky. “On many videos Nike and Emperium let me write the story of the script, which in the commercial world is something rather unusual, and this allowed me to shoot exactly what I wanted.”

Working with Emperium, Pavlacky put together three successful Nike commercials. The first, titled Vesuvio, portrays the hard work pro-soccer player Marek Hamsik has put in everyday in order to become the best Slovak soccer player in history. For Vesuvio, Pavlacky shot in the downtown of Naples, which was made difficult when the large number of fans tried to approach Marek Hamsik. Therefore, Pavlacky shot everything guerilla-style, trying to remain as low-key as possible. There were even times when they has to use a body double to allow the soccer star to roam freely.

“Naples is one of my favorites cities in the world. The famous Quartieri Spnagnoli is an amazing neighborhood with tiny narrow streets where you can get completely lost in time and space. The story of the commercial ends at the top of Vesuvio, the famous volcano above Naples where we got amazing shots in the fog coming out of the crater,” said Pavlacky.

While filming his second Nike commercial Duel, Pavlacky showed his instinctive intelligence for directing, as it was filmed the day before the very important Champions League match in Naples, one of the most prestigious soccer leagues. To work around the time constraint, Pavlacky booked a room in the same hotel as the Liverpool team.

“Martin Skrtel from Liverpool wasn’t allowed to leave the hotel, so we shot all his scenes in that room,” said Pavlacky. “The spot ends when Marek Hamsik and Martin Skrtel shaking hands moments before the match. This shot could not be staged since it was happening for real. So just the two of us, the director of photography and I, were allowed on the stadium and we had to pretend that we were journalists just taking still photos. Luckily, we successfully went under cover the most important shot of the commercial.”

Pavlacky worked with Martin Skrtel once again on the Laser 90 commercial. Laser 90 is a portrait of Martin Skrtel as he trains vigorously in his pristine Nike Laser 90 cleats. Rather than shooting in Naples, the commercial was filmed on the Liverpool training camp, allowing Pavlacky to work with many of the players on the team.

“It was a great and relaxed shoot and we had lot of fun on the training field. We were even so lucky that despite the notorious English weather we had a sunny day,” said Pavlacky. “Working with players from one of the best football teams in the world was lots of fun, and also a great inspiration since these players give their absolute best. It’s amazing to watch their dedication, skills and focus they give into what they do.”

Pavlacky’s work on all three commercials impressed everyone he worked with, and highlights the director’s versatility by producing three vastly different but still captivating commercials. David Císař, the founder of Emperium and also producer on the Nike spots, says Pavlacky’s work with his production company was tremendous.

“Jan has an unmatched ability to achieve fantastic shots in difficult situations, said Císař. “All of the commercials were highly successful, amassing an endless stream of likes and shares when Nike posted them to their popular Nike Football CZ/SK Facebook page. Furthermore, Jan’s lead directing work has elevated Emperium Productions to another level of prestige, and has helped us receive more work from huge clients.”

There is no doubt that Pavlacky is extraordinary at what he does, but the fact that he loves what he does is what truly puts him in the category with the best directors out there. Working on the commercials with Emperium was just another chance for him to be living his dream.

“I love sports so working for such a huge client like Nike is always a pleasure,” Pavlacky concluded.