Joe Pytka

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Joe Pytka
Born (1938-11-04) November 4, 1938 (age 85)
Occupation(s)Filmmaker, music video director
Years active1959–present

Joe Pytka (born November 4, 1938) is an American film, television, commercial and music video director born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[1][2] He holds the record for the most nominations for the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Commercials.[3]

Early life[edit]

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.[4] 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.[citation needed]

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 precursor 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 the short film High Flying Bird, featuring McQueen driving an off-road desert vehicle, again, to Richie Havens' music.[5]

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.[citation needed]

Professional life[edit]

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 many commercials,[6] several films, documentaries and music videos. He has been acclaimed for his work with celebrities and athletes ranging from Michael Jackson to Michael Jordan, doing extensive work with each.[citation needed] He's done many of Tiger Woods' commercials, including the acclaimed I Am Tiger Woods.[7]

In 1987 a series of 15 and 30 second spots directed for Michelob by Pytka drew praise from the American film director Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick followed American football on VHS cassettes mailed from the United States. Commercial breaks had been left intact at Kubrick's request. The director was struck by Pytka's work and later recalled in an interview with Rolling Stone that,

Last year Michelob did a series, just impressions of people having a good time [...] And the editing, the photography, was some of the most brilliant work I've ever seen. Forget what they're doing—selling beer—and it's visual poetry. Incredible eight-frame cuts. And you realize that in thirty seconds they've created an impression of something rather complex. If you could ever tell a story, something with some content, using that kind of visual poetry, you could handle vastly more complex and subtle material.[8]

The spots were edited by Lawrence Bridges.

Pytka has over fifty pieces of his work in the permanent collection of New York's Museum of Modern Art.[citation needed]

Pytka has directed over eighty Super Bowl commercials and won the USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter Poll seven times.[citation needed] His commercial for Pepsi, Security Camera, was chosen as the best ever in the history of the poll.[citation needed] Another commercial for Nike, Hare Jordan, was developed into the hit film Space Jam which Joe directed.[9]

Notable music videos[edit]

  • 1987: Music video for "The Way You Make Me Feel", almost 7 minutes long. 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".[10]
  • 1989: A five-minute music video for the song "Dirty Diana" by Michael Jackson. This music video won the "Viewers Choice No. 1 Video" at the 2nd World Music Awards held on April 14, 1989.[11]
  • 1991: "Heal the World" from Michael Jackson.[12]
  • 1995: "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. The video won the Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video in 1997.[13]
  • 2000: "(Just Like) Starting Over" from John Lennon.

Noteworthy commercials[edit]

Feature films[edit]



  1. ^ "Clios". Clios.
  2. ^ "Joe Pytka". 29 March 1999.
  3. ^ "Meet the Nominees: Commercials".
  4. ^ "Commercials director Joe Pytka and Wieden + Kennedy's John C. Jay join ADC Hall of Fame". 20 June 2014.
  5. ^ "".
  6. ^ H. Dougherty, Philip (June 17, 1986). "ADVERTISING; Joe Pytka Wins Five Clio Awards". The New York Times.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "The Kubrick Site: The Rolling Stone Interview". Retrieved 2023-08-17.
  9. ^ "His Airness vs. air: The making of 'Space Jam' Jordan conquers another challenge: the movies". 10 September 2009.
  10. ^ "MTV Video Music Awards | 1988 | Highlights, Winners, Performers and Photos from the 1988 MTV Video Music Awards |". MTV. Archived from the original on 2010-09-23.
  11. ^ "Michael Jackson 'Dirty Diana' Released As A Single". Michael Jackson Official Site. Retrieved 2021-06-01.
  12. ^ "Heal The World". Michael Jackson Official Site. Retrieved 2021-06-01.
  13. ^ "Free As A Bird by The Beatles Songfacts".
  14. ^ "Jobs in Advertising - AgencySpy".
  15. ^ Taraborrelli, J. Randy (2002). Madonna : an intimate biography. New York: Berkley. p. 172. ISBN 0-425-18669-5. OCLC 49870417.
  16. ^ Bignell, Jonathan (2000). Postmodern media culture. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. p. 123. ISBN 0-585-44188-X. OCLC 52136456.
  17. ^ The Madonna companion : two decades of commentary. Carol Benson, Allan Metz. New York: Schirmer Books. 1999. p. 131. ISBN 0-02-864972-9. OCLC 39485042.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  18. ^ "HBO Chimps". Pytka. September 2020. Retrieved October 31, 2020.
  19. ^ "Joe Pytka - IMDb". IMDb.
  20. ^ "Joe Pytka - IMDb". IMDb.
  21. ^ "Legendary Commercial Director Joe Pytka to Receive DGA Lifetime Achievement Award in Television -".
  22. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2015-03-19. Retrieved 2015-01-28.
  23. ^ "Members".
  24. ^ "Joe Pytka wins 15th DGA nomination". | Reel Chicago - At the intersection of Chicago Advertising, Entertainment, Media and Production. 2007-01-22. Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  25. ^ "Celebrating Game Changing Commercial Direction - A DGA 75th Anniversary Event".
  26. ^ "The One Club / Home".
  27. ^ "One Club Creative Hall Of Fame To Induct Steve Jobs, Paula Green, Joe Pytka And Inaugural Educator's Hall Of Fame Member Robert Lawton". Archived from the original on 2013-02-04. Retrieved 2012-10-31.
  28. ^ Goldrich (March 1997). "The Beatles give dir. Joe Pytka his first-ever Grammy". Sourceshoot. 7 (10): 29.
  29. ^ "Western Heritage Awards - National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum".

External links[edit]