Directing collective Psyop has joined Smuggler for global representation. "It's a very exciting move for us all," says Psyop managing partner Justin Booth-Clibborn. "Both companies have built strong brands by focusing on producing great creative work, so its obviously a good fit, at a time when the industry is producing tremendous new opportunities and challenges both creatively and in terms of production."
Since Psyop's founding in New York in 2000 by a group of MTV and design vets (partners/directors Kylie Matulick, Todd Mueller, Marie Hyon, Marco Spier, Eben Mears and managing partner Justin Booth-Clibborn), the directing/design/animation collective has built a singular reputation for its unique and wide-ranging visual storytelling. Now based in both N.Y. and L.A. (along with Matulick and Mueller, the West Coast hub is led by Method alums Cedric Nicolas-Troyan and Laurent Ledru, both CDs, and MD/EP Neysa Horsburgh), Psyop snagged the industry spotlight early on for its innovative visual work on clients like Starbucks, PDFA and Lugz, but in 2006 rose to even greater prominence for its work on Coca-Cola's Happiness Factory, which featured characters and craftsmanship on par with the best in animation—on big screen, or small. Since then the collective has expanded its repertoire even further, on more recent mixed-media and live action work for Converse, EA, HP, Adidas, Orangina, Renault and Ray-Ban.
"We could not be more excited to work with such an inspiring group of people," says Smuggler EP Patrick Milling-Smith. " The talent speaks for itself but there is also an integrity and a passion that is invigorating to be around. It makes us all pick up our game, both sides."
Given the reputation that Psyop has already achieved on its own, it might seem an odd move for the collective to join the roster of another well-known production company, but "it's about both companies being stronger," says Booth-Clibborn. "We both have very, very strong brands, but they're complimentary and work together really well. " Adds Milling-Smith, "Everyone at Psyop and Smuggler wants to challenge themselves, so I think that would be the main motivation behind us all joining forces, to explore different avenues, relationships and try different things. It's about different relationships that can help find those opportunities and those ideas. Both companies are going to get new skill sets and learn a lot more about different parts of the industry."
The Smuggler/Psyop partnership comes six months after a failed reverse merger between Psyop and Israel-based Fortissimo Acquisition Corp. that also involved European production company Stink, which had repped the collective in Europe.
As for Psyop's sibling spinoffs, visual effects boutique MassMarket and indie talent shop Blacklist, the former will remain a separate company while the latter will also be represented by Smuggler. As for any Pysop staff cuts resulting from the deal, "There are no plans for that right now," says Booth-Clibborn. "It's business as usual. Ideally, we will be taking on more people to handle the work we're going to get," he laughs.