I got to know Richard Reens before meeting Richard Reens.
The year is 1996 — just a few short and utterly chaotic years after a violent Revolution and the fall of communism — I’m a wide-eyed advertising greenhorn, learning the tricks of the trade mostly from specialized magazines publishing the best work from around the planet.
Meanwhile Bill Clinton’s Americana pride dialed up to 11 ejects hot lava of Gulf War esthetics straight into pop culture, where it gets in contact with residual traces of Seattle grunge. A highly inflammable mix ensues that — ka-boom! — gives birth to the lovechild of war and luxury: the Hummer!
We stare stupefied, with exophthalmic eyes, at the monster’s launch campaign published in the already worn out issue of Lürzer’s Archive we’re holding with trembling hands: both the print ads’ photography and the TVCs’ direction are signed by this guy Richard Reens. Photographer, director and DOP — for an epic ad campaign and a true sign of the times — all over the planet jaws dropped.
Who is this guy?!?
Cut to the new millennium — the year is 2001.
Romania is seeing the first glimpses of capitalism. Investments are massive and coming from all directions. Every shade of impossible suddenly becomes possible when Aneta hires Richard Reens — yes, the Hummer guy — to direct and shoot the blockbuster Connex brand image campaigns.
Back in the country after my first Singapore fling, I’m late to the game. But I get in the game nevertheless — D’Arcy DMB&B hires me — and suddenly I’m working with Richard. That Richard!
And he is… more. More professional than anyone I’ve seen directing: everything on the set moves like choreographed and there are no delays. More fun than anyone I’ve met: when not working we laugh until it hurts — his pranks are famous and in a league of their own. More sensitive to emotions than I could’ve imagine: at the Arri facilities in Munich his cut of Dare gets me at “like Peter Pan” and almost makes me cry.
I know it’s only rock and roll, but I like it.
Cut to 2002 — things are happening fast. Aneta and I (under Mihai’s adult supervision) are starting Brandient, a consultancy specialized in strategy and design.
No more TVCs to shoot in this new business though; Richard is a friend now. He takes me to horse riding sessions; we meet in Berlin to watch Obama pitching his presidency and vision to Europe — time flies — Richard shoots Brandient’s heartwarming 15 year anniversary video. We crack jokes weekly over iMessage; he casually introduces me to his friend LP.
It’s the end of 2019 — Richard is wrapping up the shooting of his Pant Hoot documentary short, a low budget, soul project about Stanley, a genocide survivor who finds that he’s able to actually talk to chimpanzees (Jane Goodall makes an appearance) — and he asks us to help design the movie’s poster and graphics. Inspired, we almost drop everything else and design enough material for a small poster festival. Adrian’s proposal wins the jackpot:
“Designing a poster is an entrancing process of channelling the essence of the characters and story without revealing too much — and distilling it in a 1-frame trailer. The uniqueness of Richard Reens’ Pant Hoot movie pushed us in the direction of understanding and expressing the personal story against a social theme background — in a way able to create curiosity and empathy along the movies’ credo Only if we understand can we care”.
—Adrian Stanculet, Design Director Brandient
We’re not the only ones impressed with Richard’s capability to go out and find a character with a story so unique it seems nearly impossible to exist in real life — and he does — Pant Hoot is very well received and selected by major festivals (51 selections so far), building quite an impressive track record of awards and nomination (18 wins until now), the latest victory being Best Documentary Award won at the reputed Santa Barbara Film Festival.
The poster is not doing so bad itself — it won a valuable Best Poster award at Venice International Film Festival.
Since we’re talking movies, what can I say — Richard, I think this is the middle of a beautiful friendship. What’s your next movie going to be about?