Production Notes

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Tim Miller, CEO and creative director at Blur - the Venice, Calif.-based effects shop responsible for animating Simon, the MySimon.com mascot, for Leo Burnett - recently got into a rather high-profile flame war over the virtues of the cyber-servant. In early May, Miller received an e-mail from a non-fan asking: "What were you thinking?" and describing the mascot as "annoying" and "obtrusive." Miller proceeded to give the critic both barrels of his flamethrower. Among Miller's talking points: "1) Fuck You," and "5) I'll bet your dick is very small." Miller also pointed out that Blur hadn't invented the Simon character in the first place. They just handled the effects. Good, clean e-mail fun, right? Well, maybe - Miller does eventually thank his correspondent "for being a sport" - until the entire exchange, which lasted only a few volleys, became a topic of discussion at FuckedCompany.com and even merited an item on Salon.com. According to Miller, the exchange was "massively misunderstood," particularly since it's been held up as an example of dot-com arrogance, when Blur isn't even a dot-com. "It was just me having a little laugh at my desk at 5 a.m.," he says. "I was just sitting there writing away and chuckling at my purposely juvenile humor." But will this little laugh cost him credibility with clients? "Most of our other clients already knew I was an asshole," Miller jokes. "And it hasn't stopped them from working here yet." Prodigal director Stig Bergqvist, who recently directed Rugrats in Paris via Class-Key Chew-Po, is returning to the fold at Filmtecknarna, the Stockholm-based animation house he co-founded. Filmtecknarna, which garnered a lot of attention last year with the animated video for Madonna's "Music," is represented for spots in the U.S. by Curious Pictures. While Bergqvist has focused on TV and film of late, he did recently direct a series of Bible story-inspired spots for ESPN and Ground Zero. The directing team of Spooner & French were just getting hot, it seems, when their production company went belly-up. Last month, with a shoot for Goodby, Silverstein and Dreyer's ice cream still to come, the New York-based Shooting Gallery shuttered its doors, leaving its small commercials roster, including Nick Spooner and Andy French, in the lurch. Picking up the slack is the team's Canadian production house, Imported Artists, which traveled south of the border to handle the shoot. It looks as though Manhattan's loss is Toronto's gain. Working with Goodby is a first, not only for the directing-duo but for their interim Canadian home. And we know how kind that can be to the trophy case, as this year's Creativity awards wrap-up (p. 26) demonstrates.
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