Bill O'Neil Bio

Bill O'Neil - director

Bill O'Neil as A/C Pro Mechanic Bill O'Neil animator doughboy

Most of my spots wind up on the morning news' breaks while people are in the bathroom or pouring milk onto their Cocoa Puffs. My 30 second movies are surrounded by car commercials, carpet ads and other low budget crap. The idea is to make my spots not look like crap.  That's a lofty goal when my budgets are often about the same as the car dealership ads.


Yes, I create spots for furniture, mattress and window companies but I try to fool the viewer into thinking we had a huge budget. Shallow focus, a special effect or a musical flourish can help. Once I animated myself as a mechanic for A/C Pro because the client wanted animation without having a budget for it.  It was time consuming, but I always wanted to be an animated character.


It didn't start out this way.


It's strange that most people know me from my 1989 starring role in "Yuppie Rap" which has recently been resurrected on the National Geographic Channel "The 80's The Decade that Made Us."  It's nice to see people remembered this when it made the rounds in 1990. Sniff...


With Yuppie Rap, I partnered with my pal Mike Saad who wrote the lyrics profiling the have-it-all-lifestyle. I was destined to be the first white rapper, but MTV wouldn't play a video without record product, so our yuppie parody wound up on some alternative music video programs like Night Tracks.  It's a shame that it sat for years unwatched until I uploaded it to You Tube where people rediscovered it.


I've been making films since I was in high school. New Trier was one of the only high schools in the country that offered a cinematography class in 1975. We would check out a Bolex Super 8 camera, shoot a film, edit it with a splicer and glue and then project it for the class.


It amazes me how many students in that class went on to have careers in film-making. Chel White and Mark Romanek were two classmates. Charlie Trotter was also a classmate but he found success in the culinary world. Our instructor Kevin Dole was a talented filmmaker and a great inspiration for us.  Kevin found his own success directing music videos and spots in Los Angeles. In fact, Kevin was making music videos before there were music videos. I would argue that he invented the medium.


In high school I started out creating animated stop-motion films as well as live action films starring my brothers. I was the state trampoline champion in 1977, but I was more well known for my films.


I moved to Los Angeles in 1984 and spent ten years working in special effects which included stop-motion jobs animating Pee Wee's Playhouse and the Pillsbury Doughboy. I learned a lot in LA and ate a lot of Kale. I even directed a feature film, The Sand Angels that I wrote with Mike Saad.


I moved back to Chicago in 1994 and married my corn-fed Wisconsin girl, Cindy. I've stayed busy in Chicago raising our daughter and creating thousands of spots for Chicago companies and beyond.


You'll find much of my work on the gallery page. Most of it was produced and shot in Chicago. Take a look through the behind-the scenes gallery for some fun production shots with links to the spots. For technical geeks, visit my tutorials page.


Thanks for visiting!


Bill O'Neil


"Let's talk about ME for a while."

All spots, photos and music © 2020 by Bill O'Neil