Joe Pytka
Born (1938-11-04) November 4, 1938 (age 82)
OccupationFilmmaker, 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

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

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]

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.[8]

Notable music videos

Noteworthy commercials

Feature films



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  6. ^ H. Dougherty, Philip (June 17, 1986). "ADVERTISING; Joe Pytka Wins Five Clio Awards". The New York Times.
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  8. ^ "His Airness vs. air: The making of 'Space Jam' Jordan conquers another challenge: the movies".
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  24. ^ "Western Heritage Awards - National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum".