Terminal Velocity

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For an editorial house that's only been around 16 months, born in a recession no less, Santa Monica's Terminal has put together quite a reel. On it, you'll find recent campaigns for Nike from Wieden & Kennedy; for Honda from Rubin Postaer & Associates; for Lee from Fallon/Minneapolis; not to mention one of the most talked about spots in this year's Super Bowl, Anheuser-Busch's "Respect," from Hill, Holliday/Boston. "The thing about starting up in the last 16 months is that we're all really hard-working folks," says editor Jonathan Del Gatto. "We stay busy and that's the way we like it."

Terminal launched on January 1 of last year with editors Lee Cowan, Jonathan Del Gatto and Mark Goodman. Michael Gresch - former director of sales and marketing at Post Logic - took the helm as executive producer. Del Gatto left Red Car's L.A. office to join the startup, while Cowan and Goodman both arrived from Lost Planet. "We all come from pretty big companies and we all wanted to build something that reflected how we treat our work and our space and run our lives," Del Gatto says. "We take selected projects and we handle them with care, the way we couldn't have handled them at larger shops." All three editors brought some client and director relationships with them, of course - Del Gatto cuts frequently for director Dante Ariola and Fallon/Minneapolis, while Cowan regularly works with HSI director Zack Snyder - but Terminal prides itself on the fact that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. "We all had people we brought with us, but none of us are afraid of cross-pollination," Cowan says. "It's a little bit more of a socialist approach. By starting a new company, you get to create a new organization. There's a new attitude. You can vibe the place out the way you think a place like this should be. It gives you a little more strength in the creative."

The highest-profile spot the shop has cut so far is Budweiser's post-9/11 homage, "Respect," featuring the Bud Clydesdales reverently bowing before lower Manhattan. The Super Bowl spot was the first effort for Bud from Hill, Holliday/Boston and with that came pressure, says Cowan, who cut the spot for HSI's Snyder. "It was the client's first thing, and they were under a lot of pressure to deliver the goods," he says. "And that pressure rippled down the line."

As did plenty of top-flight work. A look at the reels of Terminal's trio of editors doesn't reveal a house style, although each cutter's style reveals a singular approach. In addition to "Respect," Cowan's recent work includes real-people montages for Coke, Oldsmobile and Chase Bank, as well as work for Lexus, including a beautifully cut spot for the Lexus Cabriolet in which a swarm of cyclists are stopped dead by the striking sports car. Del Gatto's reel includes effects epics for Coke and Motorola, ultra-extreme sports for Ford and comedy for Fallon clients Lee and Holiday Inn Express. One of Del Gatto's Holiday Inn spots, "Kiss Reunion," appeared on the reel that earned MJZ's Craig Gillespie a 2001 DGA nomination. Goodman's work, including spots for Honda and Surge, tends to high-energy and rock 'n' roll, as in a recent Honda campaign from Rubin Postaer that shows extreme sports enthusiasts being ridiculed by sensible Honda owners, or in an Acura commercial cut to the Dead Kennedy's version of "Viva Las Vegas." On the other hand, Goodman also cut Wieden & Kennedy's poignant - and quiet - "I Can" campaign for Nike. "Strengthening our hands at multiple disciplines was something we decided would make the shop stronger," Cowan says, explaining their house philosophy. "I like to try to master all disciplines."

Accordingly, Terminal's editors are always busy, if not with spots then with videos - Cowan cut the "Schism" clip for Tool, and Del Gatto cut Michael Jackson's "Cry" video - and if not with videos then with short films or other pet projects. "We're just kind of a conduit for the creative process," exec producer Gresch says. "It's an interesting time to start up; we've seen a lot of interesting people come through here."

"That's the kind of environment we have here," Del Gatto says of the shop's pace. "We all get bored sitting at home."

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