LOS ANGELES— Award-winning director Sheldon Candis, best known for the 2012 Sundance feature LUV, has joined A Common Thread for advertising projects. Candis’s work encompasses features, episodic television, documentaries, branded content and spots. He has already directed several commercials in tandem with A Common Thread, including campaigns for Ford and Honda.
“Sheldon’s approach to every project is refreshing and invigorating,” said A Common Thread Executive Producer J.P. McMahon. “You can’t help but share his eagerness for creating something special from concept to finished product.”
Candis’ commercial work is rooted in emotionally-driven storytelling. Born to Roll, his recent spot for Ford, weaves stories of three powerful African-American women, a dancer, a chef and a fighter pilot. Greatness within Reach for Honda features Brian and Autumn Merritt, who talk about the inspiration behind their trendy Chicago boutique, Sir & Madame. Candis also directed I Will What I Want, a web series for Under Armour, in which Misty Copeland describes her challenges as the first black woman in more than 20 years to become a soloist with the American Ballet Theatre.
“I try to create a genuine connection from the emotions of the human condition,” Candis says. “For Ford, I got to make a car commercial that isn’t a ‘car commercial.’ It’s about the experience of these three women. You’re surprised at the end that it’s from Ford.”
A Baltimore native, Candis graduated from USC School of Cinematic Arts and early in his career worked in a variety of production roles. His break came in 2012 when his feature debut, LUV, which he also co-wrote, became an official selection at Sundance. The film, which starred Common, Danny Glover, Dennis Haysbert, Michael K. Williams and Michael Rainey Jr., drew rave reviews for its uncompromising portrait of gun violence in black America. LUV was named Best Independent Feature at the 2013 Black Reel Awards and was also nominated for a Humanitas Prize and Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize.
Since then, Candis’s work has included the documentary feature Here Comes the Show for ESPN’s 30 for 30 series. It centers on the 1981-83 Dunbar Poets, billed as “the greatest high school basketball team ever.” He also directed Who Will Survive America, about the easy accessibility of firearms in the U.S., for Sundance’s Now Doc Club. Most recently, he directed two episodes of the BET drama Rebel.
Regarding his decision to join A Common Thread, Candis said that the company shares his values and commitment to integrity in the filmmaking process. “I appreciate the family atmosphere at A Common Thread,” he notes. “And I feel that J.P. is a true collaborator. He is a creative producer and isn’t locked into a particular approach because of budget. That says a lot about him and the company.”
Candis says that his aim in advertising is not merely to sell products, but to sell emotions “Part of my mandate is not only to entertain, but also to educate,” he says. “I want to spark a conversation that motivates people to act.”