James Gartner packs the room

Acclaimed director and former Ferris student awes crowded room

Acclaimed commercial and feature director James Gartner returned to Ferris, taking an hour to speak to students sitting where he himself had once sat.

The business building had been abuzz with people promoting the Oct. 1 visit, hosted by AMA, and the results were evident. The session, taking place during Tuesday’s 11 a.m. “holy hour” in Business 111, was overflowing with students. They sat in aisles, on stairways and stood in doorways, finding any open space from which they could hear the director.

Renowned for his moving commercial work, Gartner’s resume is a long and illustrious one, one that would rival that of any speaker Ferris has had. He’s worked with Pepsi, Visa, Allstate, and many other internationally recognizable names, with some of those commercials being run during the recent Super Bowls.

Leaving his awards from the Emmys, Canne and the DGA at home, Gartner took an hour to talk to students about his work, show several clips accompanied by his “director’s commentary” of a sort and to answer a few quick questions before students rushed off to their noon classes.

The clips showed off the variety of approaches Gartner takes to filming. Some were humorous, others ominous and serious. Whether one or the other, they showed off his attention to detail, the consistent presence of a few unforgettable shots and his desire to always tell a story in those short spots.

Gartner got his start in Bulldog Radio many years ago.Today he’s one of Ferris great success stories, having even directed the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced 2006 film “Glory Road,” which opened at number one in the box office.