- 1 Life and career
- 2 Music Videos
- 3 Pepsi Commercial
- 4 PSA
- 5 Awards
- 6 Restaurant business
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Life and career
Pytka studied fine arts at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon), and chemical engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. He began his film career at WRS Motion Pictures while still in college. He moved to New York as a post production supervisor at MGM Telestudios but returned to Pittsburgh to make documentaries at WQED, a flagship production center of the then National Educational Television Network, now PBS. His work there for NET Playhouse garnered many awards and the film A VIEW OF THE SKY, was the official United States Government film at the Expo ‘67 World’s Fair in Montreal.
He left to form his own production company with Rift Fournier and produced and directed many short films, documentaries and commercials. As a part of his documentary, MAGGIE’S FARM, Richie Havens and Bob Dylan allowed him to use their music. It was a precurser to the current music video form. Through motorcycle racing, he met Steve McQueen, and they began to collaborate on a documentary on off road desert racing. The project never came about but Pytka finished a short film HIGH FLYING BIRD, featuring McQueen driving a off- road desert vehicle, again, to Richie Havens’ music.
Through his love of Jazz, Pytka began to use the music in much of his work, using Gary McFarland, Don Elliot, and Chico Hamilton during this period.
Pytka adapted the documentary form into his work in commercials and eventually moved to New York, then to Los Angeles. To date he has directed thousands of commercials, several films, many documentaries and videos. He has been acclaimed for his work with celebrities and athletes ranging from Michael Jackson to Michael Jordan (doing extensive work with each). He virtually documented Michael Jordan’s entire basketball career in commercials. He’s done many of Tiger Woods’ commercials including the acclaimed, I AM TIGER WOODS.
In commercials and videos he has become noted for work with athletes and celebrities including Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Wayne Gretsky, Marlon Brando, George C. Scott, Madonna, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson, Tom Hanks, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Beyonce, Shakira, Diddy, John McEnroe, The Bo’s Jackson and Diddley, Charles Barkley, Michael J. Fox, The Beatles, John Lennon, and many others. Pytka has over fifty pieces of his work in the permanent collection of New York's Museum of Modern Art. 
The Super Bowl of football is also the Super Bowl of Advertising, for extremely high profile ads that air during the broadcast; the commercials are highly anticipated generating buzz even before the game. Pytka has directed over eighty Super Bowl commercials and won the USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter Poll seven times. His commercial for Pepsi, "Security Camera" was chosen as the best ever in the history of the poll. Another commercial for Nike, "Hare Jordan" was developed into the hit film Space Jam.
The Beatles "Free As A Bird"
The music video for "Free as a Bird" was produced by Vincent Joliet and directed by Joe Pytka and depicts, from the point of view of a bird in flight, many references to Beatles songs, such as "Penny Lane", "Paperback Writer", "A Day in the Life", "Eleanor Rigby", "Helter Skelter", "Piggies", "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill", "Strawberry Fields Forever", "Doctor Robert", and "The Fool on The Hill". Between 80 and 100 allusions to The Beatles' story, music and lyrics in the video have been estimated. Although the bird can be heard at the beginning of the video, it is never seen. Neil Aspinall (Apple Records executive at the time) said that this was because no-one could agree on what kind of bird it should be. Pytka had to send his ideas to McCartney, Harrison and Starr, as well as Ono, to make sure they all agreed before he could proceed with the filming of the video. Derek Taylor (ex-Apple Records executive) sent a two-page letter to Pytka confirming that he could proceed, and personally encouraged and supported Pytka's ideas. The video was filmed in as many authentic locations as possible: Penny Lane was made by Pytka's art department to look as it was in the 1950s, and other locations filmed were The Liver Building, and Liverpool Docks (as a reference to Lennon's father Alfred Lennon). Although Pytka fixed the ideas on a storyboard, he abandoned it as soon as filming began, and followed ideas based on what angles and perspectives the steadycam camera produced. One instance was the filming of the car crash, which Pytka filmed for hours from above, but realised that a steadycam shot on the ground was a much better idea. Archive footage was used by imposing it on scenes shot by Pytka, who utilised a greenscreen stage to digitally blend it into the finished film, such as the Paul's Old English Sheepdog in the graveyard, and the elephant in the ballroom procession scene. The elephant was put in last, as Aspinall phoned Pytka and said that Starr liked the scene, but insisted an elephant be put in it, which Pytka later did, as he had already put a sitar in at the request of Harrison. Apart from the steadycam shots, Pytka used a Russian-made Akil-crane for sweeping overhead shots, such as the Abbey Road zebra crossing shot at the end, as well as a remote-controlled toy helicopter with a camera added to it for intricate aerial shots. Harrison played the ukulele in the studio for the song, and asked to appear as the ukulele player seen only from behind at the very end of the video. Pytka resisted this, as he felt it would be wrong for any contemporary members of The Beatles to appear on screen. Pytka later stated that it was "heartbreaking" that Harrison had not played the role, particularly after Harrison's death in 2001 and upon discovering that the ukulele was not a sample of an old song as Pytka had assumed. The video won the Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video in 1997.
Michael Jackson "Dirty Diana"
The five minute music video for the song Dirty Diana by Michael Jackson was directed by Joe Pytka. This music video won the "Number One Video In The World" at the 2nd World Music Awards held on April 14, 1989. It is featured on the DVD albums Number Ones and Michael Jackson's Vision.
Michael Jackson "The Way You Make Me Feel"
The music video for "The Way You Make Me Feel" was directed by Joe Pytka. Almost seven minutes long, the video begins with a female walking down streets alone, with a clip being intercut that shows a male (Jackson) talking with other people. Shortly after the male walks out of an alley and stands in front of the female while she's walking down the street, although she ignores him and keeps walking. He gets her attention by shouting, and then begins singing "The Way You Make Me Feel" to her while also dancing. Uninterested, she walks away. He follows her, having been cheered on by his friends to pursue her. Another dance routine begins, involving the males friends, which leads to the male pursing the female throughout the neighborhood. The video ends with the male eventually winning the female over, and embraces her, while a fire hydrant is spraying out water. Jackson's love interest was played by Tatiana Thumbtzen, and the videoclip also features an appearance by his sister La Toya as one of Thumbtzen's friends. Some releases of the video have an extended beginning, making the video almost 10 minutes in length. The music video was released on October 31, 1987, and received one nomination at the 1988 MTV Video Music Awards Ceremony.The video, alongside Jackson's '"Bad" video, was nominated for Best Choreography, but lost to Jackson's younger sister Janet's video "The Pleasure Principle". The music video was included on the video albums: Video Greatest Hits - HIStory (long version on DVD and short version on VHS), Number Ones (short version) and Michael Jackson's Vision (long version.)
Michael Jackson "Heal the World"
"Heal the World" is a song from Michael Jackson's hit album, Dangerous, released in 1991. The music video (directed by Joe Pytka) features children living in countries suffering from unrest, especially Burundi. It is also one of only a handful of Michael Jackson's videos not to feature Jackson himself, the others being "Cry", "HIStory" and "Man in the Mirror". (The clips for "HIStory" and "Man in the Mirror" only feature Michael Jackson in archival footage). The version of the video included on Dangerous - The Short Films and Michael Jackson's Vision contains an introductory video that features a speech from Jackson taken from the special "spoken word" version of the track.
Madonna "Make A Wish"
In January 1989, while the music video was still being filmed, Pepsi-Cola announced that they had signed Madonna to a US$5 million deal to use her and "Like a Prayer" in a television commercial for them. The agreement also called for Pepsi to financially sponsor Madonna's next world tour. Madonna would use the commercial to launch the "Like a Prayer" single globally before its actual release—the first time something like this was being done in the music industry—thereby creating promotion for the single and the album to come. Pepsi, on the other hand, would have their product associated with Madonna, thereby creating promotion for the soft drink. According to the company's advertising head, Alan Pottasch, "the global media buy and unprecedented debut of this long awaited single will put Pepsi first and foremost in consumer's minds". Problems started when Madonna refused to dance, "I ain't dancing and I ain't singing." Joe Pytka introduced her to choreographer Vince Paterson (from Michael Jackson days) and she agreed to dance. She and Paterson continued their professional relationship for a number of years. Pepsi ran the expensive television commercial during the global telecast of the 31st Grammy Awards in February 1989. A week later, the ad was premiered during The Cosby Show.
Titled "Make a Wish", the two-minute commercial portrayed Madonna back in time to revisit her childhood memories. It starts as Madonna watches a video of her childhood birthday party. As she reminisces, she interchanges places with her childhood self. The young Madonna roams aimlessly around the grown-up Madonna's room, while the latter dances with her childhood friends on the street and inside a bar. The commercial continues as Madonna dances inside a church, surrounded by a choir and her child self discovering her old play doll. As both of their lives are interchanged again, the grown-up Madonna looks towards the TV and says, "Go ahead, make a wish". Both depictions of Madonna raise their cans of Pepsi towards each other, and the young Madonna blows out the candles on her birthday cake. An estimated 250 million people around the world saw the commercial, which was directed by Joe Pytka. Pepsi-Cola Company spokesman Todd MacKenzie said that the ad was planned to be aired simultaneously in Europe, Asia, Australia and North America. Bob Garfield from the Advertising Age observed that from "Turkey to El Salvador to anytown USA, around 500 million eyes [were] glued to the screen. Leslie Savan from The Village Voice noted that the ad qualified as a "hymn to the global capabilities of the age of electronic reproductions; it celebrates the pan-cultural ambitions of both soda pop and pop star."
This Is Your Brain On Drugs
In 1987 the Partnership For A Drug Free America was being organized but had run into problems. Paul Keye came to Pytka and proposed that they film a commercial to jump start the organization. “This Is Your Brain” came out of that request and the Partnership was started. The commercial is one of the “most famous of all time” being copied and parodied ever since.
Pytka has won two Grands Prix and seven Palm d Ors at the Cannes Commercials Festival. He was informally called the King of Cannes. He was also given two special Lions on the occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of Cannes, one for Best Director and the other for Best Production of the first fifty years of Cannes.
Director's Guild of America
Pytka has won an unprecedented three DGA Awards and fifteen nominations. The number of nominations prompted Carl Reiner to call him the biggest loser in the history of the Guild. He was also given the special and rare, DGA HONORS AWARD that “celebrates individuals and institutions that have made distinguished contributions to America culture.” 
Pytka was taken into the prestigious Art Directors Club Hall of Fame in 2011.
The One Club
Pytka is the only director in the One Club Hall of Fame.
Pytka won the first Emmy given to a commercial for his commercial for HBO, "Chimps." 
Pytka’s video for the Beatles, FREE AS A BIRD, won a Grammy.
The Wrangler Award
Pytka won the Western Heritage Museum WRANGLER AWARD for his short film, "The Dream." 
Bastide was a fine dining restaurant that Pytka opened in West Hollywood in the infamous Melrose Place. Andree Putman designed both the restaurant and the details, the silver, the china, and the linens. The restaurant opened to unparalleled acclaim. Irene S. Virbila, food editor of the Los Angeles Times, gave it a then unprecedented four stars, writing that "Los Angeles has never seen anything like it. It has an indefinable magic. Bastide feels more like an art installation than a commercial enterprise."  Soon after, the Mobil Travel Guide gave it is's highest rating, five stars, the only restaurant in Los Angeles with that rating. The gourmet website, Opinionated About Dining, said, "there is no better restaurant in the United States than Bastide." In response to the decline in the United States economy, the restaurant closed in 2011.
- More about advertising
- Taraborrelli 2002, p. 172
- Bignell 2007, p. 123
- Metz & Benson 1999, p. 131
- Grant & Neupert 2003, p. 5
- Garfield, Bob (1989-03-06). "Pepsi Should Offer Prayer to Madonna". Advertising Age (Crain Communications) 231: 76.
- Savan, Leslie (1989-03-14). "Desperately Selling Soda". The Village Voice (Village Voice Media) 1309: 47. ISSN 0042-6180.
- Virbila, S. Irene (March 31, 2010). "The Review: Latest Bastide is simply a joy". Los Angeles Times.