Avion Films

By Sh Published on .

Rather than cannibalize itself, Avion Films has channeled its growth in spots into a growing number of satellite companies, one of which has abandoned commercial production in favor of lucrative branded programming. Avion arm Generator Films has stepped away from commercials production in favor of producing branded content spanning TV shows, websites and books, and longtime Avion producer Danielle Schwartz is heading up the launch of Fever Films North America, Avion's latest commercials affiliate. Avion itself has been busily churning out a wide array of spots from wholesome comedic fare by Truth In Advertising creator Tim Hamilton for Oatmeal Crisp, Royale and Cavendish Farms to more risque campaigns. Andrew Christou (repped in the U.S. by Moxie) delivered a guerrilla-style Labatt campaign to Grip featuring video footage of men Jackassing around and executing somewhat harmful pranks on one another, while Derek Horn's campaign for Direct Energy, through TBWAChiatDay in Toronto puts a decidedly abstract face on the relationship between people and their homes. And despite the Iraqi war situation, Avion exec producer Paola Lazzeri says American clients continue to shoot in Canada. "I just had some come up for a job; they figure shooting in Canada is a safe haven. People are willing to come here because the U.S. dollar is still strong, and I find a lot of American agencies are more interested in Canadian talent."

What's more, Christou's Labatt campaign was shot in Los Angeles, a reversal of the much lamented trend to runaway production. Not that American directors aren't shooting U.S. gigs in Canada. Avion affiliate NewNew Films, recently bolstered by the addition of executive producer Geoff Cornish and his directorial charges, Kuntz & Maguire, recently shot a U.S. Visa package. Fever Films is still unfolding, having officially launched in early March without a confirmed roster. The boutique company aims to offer agencies and clients hands-on, full-service support. "We provide a level of continuity that has been lacking on almost every level, from selling point to when the film is in the can, with one person following it through," says Schwartz, likening the company model to U.K.-style production and the example set by South African company Moonlighting. "We want to go for the world stage. It will be an intimate, boutique-feeling company, but we don't want people to feel we can't do international work. We can and will do all of that as it becomes more of a North American business."

Meanwhile, Generator president Mike Cooper says his company has forsaken spots in favor of a portfolio of branded programming titles. The company produces the shows, attaches sponsors and even sells media airtime during broadcast for an array of cooking, travel and comedy programs. Culinary content, such as The Moveable Feast, starring chefs Marty and Avrum, has been spun out into cookbooks, radio shows and tours on the back of sponsorships of food companies like Knorr. Several other shows, including a U.S. program hosted by New Orleans chef John Folse, are either already on air or poised to break. In other categories, Ultimate Destination is a hedonistic travelogue aimed at young adults, while Wrestling With the Past tangles with the current exploits of retired pro wrestlers.

www.avionfilms.com, www.generatorfilms.com

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