They direct, write, edit, animate-even act-and they call themselves Waverly Films. They're branded overseas as a collective, out of Colonel Blimp and Blink in the U.K. and La Pac in France, but in Brooklyn, U.S.A., where they're based, it's a more confusing issue. The seven members- Ben Dickinson, Christopher Ford, Andrew Hasse, Jeff Kaplan, Jake Schreier, Duncan Skiles and Jon Watts-have individual careers when it comes to their projects in the States. For commercials and videos, Dickinson, Schreier and Watts have individual representation, respectively at A Band Apart, Plum and Smuggler and the others have equally promising pursuits-Ford, the "quadruple threat," directs, writes, animates and acts in much of Waverly's work; Skiles is already starting in on the European clips scene, while Kaplan and Hasse are currently focused on features projects. What makes them Waverly, for the most part, is that no matter what their individual gigs, a fertile crescent of ideas emerges when any configuration of the group convenes, often at their official Bushwick-based HQ, not so different from the way they did things when they were students together at NYU film school.
"We became a business because we had to," Watts explains. He'd directed a video for Jason Forrest that ran at Resfest, sparking the interest of Colonel Blimp commissioner John Hassay, leading to a Watts/Waverly breakthrough clip for Fat Boy Slim. "They wouldn't send us the money for that unless we were a business, so we had to get ourselves incorporated so they would wire it," Watts explains. As for the shingle, "At school we'd all go to the Waverly Restaurant to work on stuff together and we decided to put all of our work on our web page," he says. The site is still up (waverlyfilms.com) and it's addictive, boasting an overflow of hilarious short films, specs and commissioned projects. The reel continues to grow, largely in clips and increasingly in spots-they recently completed a six-spot McDonald's campaign, out of TBWA/Paris. As for the collective thing, it's each member's unique POV that sets them apart. "If you look at Traktor and Stylewar's work, that's clearly Traktor and Stylewar," explains Schreier. "For us, guys who hang out all the time, our individual work comes out so different." Adds Watts, "I think that's why we're friends. Everyone is of course different, but generally we all think the same things are funny in the same way. At the same time, everyone's developing his own visual style, which is really interesting to watch."