Fresh produce

Published on . Founded 1993

Principals: Jon Kamen and Frank Scherma, co-founders, Gregg Carlesimo, Executive Producer Roster: Mathew Brady, Richard D'Alessio, Siraj Jhaveri, Sam Ketay, Greg Kohs, Barton Landsman, Rick Lemoine, Steve Miller, Ralf Schmerberg, Becker.Simson, Peter Darley Miller, Brett Froomer, Antony Hoffman, Dave Meyers, Chris Milk, Errol Morris, Neveldine Taylor, Gregor Nicholas, Alan White, Jeff Zwart (London) Calle Astrand, Roman Coppola, Stuart Douglas, Amanda Evans MIles Goodall, Jon Hollis, Siraj Jhaveri, Jeremy Lovering, Sharon Maguire, Marcus Tomlinson, Joe Wright (Paris) Daniel Askill, Olivier Barma, Ricardo Decarvalho, Les Elvis, Ray Lawrence, No Brain, Leandro Sanchez, Toru Tokikawa (Berlin) Alan White, Quinn.Cashman (Sydney) Vikki Blanche, Jeff Darling, The Glue Society, Patrick Hughes, Bruce Hunt, Nick Robertson, Derin Seale, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last October with a retrospective at the Art Directors Club, continued to spread itself thickly across a multi-media canvas. Spots, of course remained in good form, notably with Errol Morris' continuing contributions to Miller High Life, Rick Lemoine for NYC2012, and prior to his Moxie move, Frank Todaro for BBDO's "Relax, It's Fedex" campaign. Dave Meyers continued to rock the clips world, for the likes of Missy Elliot, but also proved a spots heavyweight with his much honored Apple iPod campaign. The shop pushed even further into the branded content arena, most notably with Amex's webisodic The Adventures of Seinfeld & Superman, and continuing efforts on Nike's Battlegrounds. A partnership with London live entertainment event shop Done and Dusted led to the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show CBS network special, and the company proved its forte in documentary features on Errol Morris' Academy Award-winning Fog of War, Concert for George, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, and Brotherhood, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. The diversification spree continued with the addition of print, a photo agency headed up by former Creative Management President Michael Ash (see Buzz, p.10).

Anonymous CONTENT Founded 2000

Principals: Steve Golin, Founder/CEO; Executive Producers/Agents: Andy Traines, Lisa Margulis, Dave Morrison, Cassie Hulen, David Wagner, Michael Digirolamo Roster: Carter/Blitz, Garth Davis, John Dolan, Andrew Douglas, David Fincher, Andrea Giacobbe, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Garth Jennings, Wong Kar Wai, David Kellogg, Kuntzel+Deygas, Logan, Robert Logevall, Christian Loubek, Jay Martin, Nic Mathieu, Brett Morgen, Guy Ritchie, Mark Romanek, Dominic Sena, Patrick Sherman, Malcolm Venville, Gore Verbinski, Kieran Walsh, Gorgeous: Frank Budgen, Chris Palmer, Tom Carty, Peter Thwaites

Anonymous proved as stalwart as ever on the commercials front, thanks, in large part to David Fincher, who was fully charged on high end spots like Nike's "Gamebreakers," Xelibri's "Beauty for Sale" and HP's "Constant Change." The director garnered kudos aplenty at awards fests, including this year's DGA nod. Mark Romanek remained the clips powerhouse, earning the directorial nod at the VMA's for Jay-Z's "99 Problems," also emerging as a spots force on Acura, ESPN, Saturn and Mastercard. Both he and David Kellogg earned Emmy nominations, respectively for Saturn's "Door Music" and Office Max's "Rubber Band Man." Malcolm Venville imparted his quiet touches to more for Honda and VW. The shop also signed Guy Ritchie, who directed the controversial Corvette blockbuster that got pulled from the airwaves. The Gorgeous tie-in again added clout to the Anonymous name, namely, via Frank Budgen's Grand Prix-winning "Mountain." Anonymous dug even more deeply into longform and features. It produced Michel Gondry's artful and melancholy crowdpleaser Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Andrew Douglas' documentary Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus and the box office hit Fifty First Dates.

Backyard Founded 1989

Principals: Roy Skillicorn, Head of Sales/Partner; Blair Stribley, Executive Producer/Partner; Peter Steinzeig, Head of Production; Kris Mathur, Executive Producer; Eriks Krumins, Executive Producer Roster: Tim Abshire, Steve Burrows, Jesper Ericstam, Jeffrey Karoff, Nick Piper, Rob Pritts, Don Rase, Magnus Rosman, Kevin Smith, Chace Strickland; Seed: Michael Chaves, Rob Sanders

Agencies can rest easily at Backyard, where the shop's seasoned talents continue to deliver well-executed laughs and storytelling. Kevin Smith's prolific rollout included spots for Wachovia, Cingular, Progressive and the Malibu Film Festival. Steve Burrows earned accolades for Affinity Holdings and continued his wacky direction (and performance) on his self-starring work for Glass Nickel Pizza. Rob Pritts showed that his laughs hold cross-culturally as well, on spots for Harpic and Best Buy, while his comedy remained in rare form for Target and Sour Patch Kids. Tim Abshire shot the polarizing runs-inspired office dance for Pepto Bismol, while new Swedish signee Jesper Ericstam directed a striking rock and roll Tokyo tale for Nissan. Visually speaking, Nick Piper brought quiet elegance to Cadillac and Nissan as did Chace Strickland, to Wachovia. Live action satellite Seed had its gems as well, from Michael Chaves, who shot the menacing "Assault" for Fire Council and from Rob Sanders who directed the absorbing "Lakme" for British Airways.

Believe (see story, right) Founded 2000

Principals: Roster: Brian Aldrich, Steve Beck, Anthea Benton, Nick Brandt, Nanette Burstein, Carolyn Chen, Anders Hallberg, Jason Harrington, Erick Ifergan, George Jecel, John Lindauer, Pucho Mentasti, The Quay Brothers, Floria Sigismondi, Zack Snyder, Paul Street Michael Utterbach, Vogel.Villar-Rios; Quad USA: Bruno Aveillan, Remy Belvau; Mister Boomboom: Stephane Sednaoui, Stephanie Bruni (Executive Producer)

Biscuit Founded 2000

Principals: Noam Murro, Owner/President, Shawn Lacy Tessaro, Executive Producer Roster: Mike Bigelow, Jeffrey Fleisig, Tim Godsall, Marcel Langenegger, Noam Murro, Steve Rogers; Reginald Pike: Mark Gilbert, The Perlorian Brothers, Yael Staav

Forget The Ring 2, Noam Murro could kill us with the surprises he unleashes into the advertising world. First Saturn, then Got Milk?, and now this year, the double shot slam of Starbucks and Survivor. Not to mention, HBO's "Watercooler" and Bud Light's Real Men of Genius. In the meantime, the rest of the Biscuit boys held their own. Jeffrey Fleisig earned awards show attention for Meijer, out of DeVito Verdi; Tim Godsall injected his comedic touches to Jimmy Dean, SBC, and U.K. Skittles, while Marcel Langenegger tackled Nissan. Biscuit expanded as well, with the signing of Mike Bigelow and Steve Rogers as well as the hookup with Canadian hotshop Reginald Pike, home to The Perlorian Brothers, who shot the brilliant Gold Lion-winning "Prison Visitor," for Vim.

Bob Industries Founded 1998

Principals: TK Knowles, Chuck Ryant, John O'Grady, Executive Producers/Partners Roster: Dayton/Faris, Lisa Rubisch, Peter Care, Spencer Susser, Mark Kohr, Chris Hooper, Jason Smith, Kim Geldenhuys, Phil Harder

With an everyday name like Bob, the shop has been everything but. The inveterate team of Dayton and Faris were back in the fold with Powerade's "Lebron James," Apple iPod's "Wild Postings" and Sony PS2's explosive backyard antics like "Tractor Beam" and "Gravity Boots" from one of the year's most awarded campaigns. More laughs stemmed from Chris Hooper, who applied his comedic chops to BC Lions, Bud Light and Six Flags' "Bus Ride" (we don't mean the one with creepy old Mr. Six); while Peter Care took on T-Mobile and SBC. Spencer Susser continued to get down with the Snapple bottles, even sending them running with the bulls. On the visual tip, Jason Smith shot for Mitsubishi, Phil Harder "flipped out" on HP Digital and Kim Geldenhuys brought visual elegance to Gatorade's "Get Up" and VW's "Leaf."

Chelsea Founded 1987

Principals: Steve Wax, Allison Amon, Lisa Mehling Roster: Nicholas Barker, Evan Bernard, Simon Blake, Rey Carlson, David Gordon Green, Haxan, Bob Kerstetter, Johan Kramer, Kevin MacDonald, Charles Mehling, Jelle Oortman Gerlings, Ago Panini, Kathi Prosser, Alex Proyas, Bruce St. Clair

Chelsea produced arguably the most dazzling adver-tainment innovation this year with Haxan's ESPN/Sega "Beta-7" campaign for Wieden + Kennedy/N.Y. Young filmmaker David Gordon Green also made some disturbing waves and earned awards show kudos with the "Connect Truth" campaign for American Legacy Foundation, while, ironically, making a clever anti-smoking ban statement for Rheingold Beer. Evan Bernard spoofed '70s spoofs in a spot for Reebok, featuring Tony Gonzalez and Tiki Barber as LAPD, while Simon Blake riffed visually on AT&T's ampersand logo. Although Mehdi Norowzian made a new home at RSA and Steve Rogers joined Biscuit, the shop beefed up its roster with agency hotshots Bob Kerstetter, co-founder of Black Rocket, and Johan Kramer of Kessels Kramer. It also added documentary filmmaker Kevin MacDonald, clips helmer Charles Mehling, and Kari Romeo, formerly of HSI, who took the role of East Coast sales rep.

Crossroads Founded 1989

Principals: Daniel Lindau, Camille Taylor, Owners/Partners Roster: Antony Easton, Steve Eshelman, Sebastien Grousset, Bruce Hurwit, Julia Jason, Rick Knief, Tom Krueger, Nick Lewin, Andy Margetson, Marcus McCollum, Tom McCarthy, Andrew Mudge, Mark Pellington, Mark Story; X-Ray: Bill Barminsky, Russell Bates, Brandon Dickerson, Robert Hales, Jeff Gordon, Darren Grant, Kranky, Glenn Lazzaro, Jesse Peretz; Gang Films: Sebastien Chantrel, Rachel & Fabrice Carazo; Velocity@Crossroads: Keith Rose, Greg Gray, Sergio, Mark Lawrie, Mickey Madoda Dube, Giacomo Angelini; Newhouse: Heidi Nolting (EP); Roster: Laszlo Kadar, Gregory Maya, Marc Sholerman

Nick Lewin was an everpresent force for Crossroads this year, laying his deft skills all over the commercials map on spots for Saturn, Lincoln and Amex, to name a few. Bruce Hurwit signed on for U.S. Airways and Toyota, while Mark Pellington continued his work with Eli Lilly. New signees included Marcus McCollum, who introduced the chicken-driven airfare calculator, for Alaska Airlines and Wong Doody and The Station Agent helmer Tom McCarthy. As for satellite X-Ray, the shop signed Kranky, the award-winning former creative/producer behind the unforgettable Master Cabbie Taxi Academy campaign. Jesse Peretz brought Willie Nelson face to face with his Mini Me, for H&R Block, and Jeff Gordon summoned the Trunk Monkey for Suburban Auto Group. Crossroads also sprouted the Newhouse offshoot, run by former Bruce Dowad Associates EP Heidi Nolting, while its link to South Africa hotshop Velocity Films yielded Greg Gray's personified iPod for BMW and Apple. The shop also made its pilgrim venture into adver-tainment, for Motorola, teaming with writer/director Scott Sanders and Crossroads producer Alison Engle on the short film "String Theory," for Motorola (see

Directors Bureau Founded 1996

Principals: Mike Mills and Roman Coppola, Co-Presidents; Cayce Cole, Executive Producer Roster: Rodney Ascher, Roman Coppola, Sofia Coppola, Melodie McDaniel, Geoff McFetridge, Mike Mills, Shynola

We saw a just a handful of spots from the Directors Bureau this year, but all were undeniably standout specimens. Roman Coppola led the way on the lego-minded Honda "Purpose," demonstrated technical savvy on Toyota, and fabulously captured the humor on Burger King's "Ugoff." Geoff McFetridge channeled his design sensibilities into HP and Mike Mills brought poignant visuals to TIAA-Cref.

Epoch Founded 1989

Principals: Mindy Goldberg, Jerry Solomon, Jeff Preiss Roster: Matt Aselton, Matthew Badger, Paula Greif, Phil Morrison, Jeff Preiss,David Preizler, Matt Smukler, Stacy Wall

Founding director Jeff Preiss brought his poignant portraiture to the latest round of Deutsch's Monster spots, including one in which Olympian swimmer Lenny Krayzelburg considers life after Athens. The omni-skilled Stacy Wall shot CA's outrageous "Hand" and made even toilet paper look spectacular for Velvet out of Fallon/U.K. Moreover, his two award-winning campaigns Orange and Mother/London led to Epoch's recent hookup with Large in the U.K., Epoch@Large. Phil Morrison brought his clever quirks to "Rolling Can" for Chef Boyardee and 7Up's "Slam Dunk," and in line with Epoch's philosophy to build and never "poach" directors, notes executive producer Mindy Goldberg, the shop welcomed three fledgling shooters: former Y&R/N.Y. and Union creative Matt Aselton, who shot for the NFL Network and Bell Helmets, David Preizler, a fresh out of Art Center grad who completed a PSA for the California Coastal Commission and former Goodby copywriter Matt Smukler, who wrapped spots for X-Box, Leo Burnett and the Fuel Network. Epoch this year also made its first dip into features, on Phil Morrison's Junebug, currently in post production and set for 2005 release.

Go Founded 1999

Principals: Jonathan Weinstein, Executive Producer/ Partner; Robert Wherry, Executive Producer/Partner; Gary Rose, Executive Producer/ Partner Roster: David Dobkin, Rene Eller, Caitlin Felton, Christopher Guest, Tim Hamilton, Overall & McQuoid, Joel Pront, Rad-ish, Michael Shapiro, Neil Tardio Jr., WHO?

Executive Producer Robert Wherry has a simple explanation for why his shop's shingle is a visual oxymoron (the word "Go" firmly planted in the middle of a stop sign). "I learned in Psych 101 that opposites are most memorable, so we put a stop sign behind it," he says. Indeed, Go proved to be unforgettable this year. Neil Tardio Jr. brought award-winning restraint to Cliff Freeman's Silver-Lion adorned Value City spot, featuring a switcheroo between parent and child. He also shot Leslie Nielsen for Dominoes and continued his longstanding tenure with NFL/United Way, on a new nine spot campaign. Rad-ish brought artsy polish to Atlantis, Gatorade and Nissan, while Michael Shapiro shot for MCI and a short film, Jihad. This year saw a handful of new image-boosting recruits: Christopher Guest, who moved from Moxie and directed ESPN's "Family History" as well as upcoming work for Sprint and Sony Playstation; former Chiat/N.Y. creative-turned-directing team Richard Overall and Simon McQuoid, who turned on the quiet charm for American Standard and brought dry humor to Segway; and British directing duo WHO?, formerly of Great Guns.

Harvest Founded 2001

Company Principals: Baker Smith, Director/President; Bonnie Goldfarb, Executive Producer Roster: Baker Smith, BigTV , CJ Waldman, Paul Laufer

For its small size and short tenure, Harvest has burgeoned into one of the industry's most prolific shops, largely via Baker Smith, the most decorated director at this year's ad fetes (see Creativity, August 2003). This year he proved to be not just a comedic king (Toyota's "Girlfriend," Independent Film Channel, Fox Sports) but also an all-around great storyteller, via the generously awarded Truth campaign and Airforce "Tornado." The rest of the roster rocked as well-former agency creative C.J. Waldman applied his own humorous touches to Observer Music, British duo BigTV brought their lively visuals to Subaru, and Harvest newcomer Paul Laufer steered the way on Lincoln Mercury.

HKM Founded 1981

Principals: Graham Henman, Michael Karbelnikoff, co-Presidents; Carl Swan, Executive Producer Roster: Nelson Cabrera, Robert Caruso, Michele Cievetta, Graham Henman, Michael Patrick Jann, Michael Karbelnikoff, Joey Garfield, Cheryl Dunn, Eden Diebel, Jacobs / Briere

Jacobs/Briere continued to make a lot of noise for HKM this year, thanks to their ongoing oddities with the FUSE network and ESPN's X-Games. Michael Karbelnikoff imparted his photographic touches to Gilette, and the roster expanded with Barbara McDonough, who moved from Go, and Nelson Cabrera, who shot smart and charming MINI spots: the rollercoaster-inspired "Parking Ramp," and "Body Art," featuring the MINI-loving dude who takes his tats to the limit for his little car.

HSI Founded 1986

Principals: Stavros Merjos, CEO, Executive Producer NY, Kerstin Emhoff, Executive Producer LA, Ellen Jacobson, Executive Producer LA, Maddi Carlton, Head of Production NY, Michael McQuhae, Head of Production LA, Randy Winograd, COO, Susan Lava, CFO Roster HSI: Arni & Kinski, Peter Berg, Irv Blitz, Philip Boston, Scott Burns, Gerard de Thame, F. Gary Gray, Howard Greenhalgh, Paul Hunter, Jake & Jim, Joseph Kahn, JJ Keith, Todd Kellstein, Randy Krallman, David LaChapelle, Dave Merhar, Paul Middleditch, Joe Public, Brett Ratner, Chris Robinson, The Saline Project, Kevin Samuels, Peggy Sirota, The Brothers Strause, Josh Taft, Len Wiseman, X; Venus: Matthew Rolston R.A.F.: Jonas Akerlund, Johan Renck; Person Films: Michael Haussman

Although this year HSI saw the departure of longtime N.Y. frontman Bill Sandwick (see p. 42) the shop continued to broaden out in various ways. Commercials remained in strong stead, as Gerard de Thame directed his keen eye to Microsoft and MINI, Paul Hunter returned to the scene with HP's "Mash Up" and a spot for Honda Element, while Joseph Kahn made the clips crossover into an effects spectacular for Nascar. Arni & Kinski's art house vibe continued to resonate on Hummer, and the shop upped its comedic ante via JJ Keith's award winning 118 118, Dave Merhar's ridiculously funny Olympic spots for Bud Light, featuring the low jumpers and micro marathoners, and the addition of former Headquarters' humor mainstay Joe Public, who shot upcoming work for Mini Cooper. The shop maintained its clips cred via masters Kahn (Britney Spear's "Toxic") and David La Chapelle, who earned the MVPA's "Director of the Year" honor. Highlights beyond ads include a linkup with N.Y.-based video game shop Immaterial to launch Medium, a new gaming venture that will focus on developing and producing video game concepts for advertisers.

Hungry Man Founded 1997

Principals: Stephen Orent, Managing Partner; Hank Perlman, Director/Partner; Bryan Buckley, Director/Partner; Matt Buels, Managing Director, London; Caroline Gibney, Head of Production; Dan Duffy, Executive Producer; Tom Rossano, Executive Producer; Lauri Aloi, Head of Sales Roster: Bryan Buckley, Alan Coulter, David Gray, Owen Harris, Jim Jenkins, Robert Jitzmark, Russ Lamoureux, David Levin, Mikko, Bennett Miller, Paul Norling, John O'Hagan, Hank Perlman, Sebastian Reed, David Shane, Marcos Siega, Bjorn Stein, Scott Vincent, Christoffer von Reis.

Hungry Man this year certainly proved that comedy is king, returning from Cannes this year with the coveted Palme d'Or. Highlights include Bryan Buckley's Hollywood bigness on Amex's Caddy Shack-inspired spot featuring Tiger Woods, the curious soap and bruise syndromes for Chevrolet and his aptly over the top execution on Archer's glistening beefcakes. Jim Jenkins was spot on for the Discovery Channel and TBS's branding effort, arguably one of the funniest and smartest campaigns of the year, while he delivered refined visual sensibilites to BMW's "Summer Drive." The Tribeca Film Festival got cinematic treatment from John O'Hagan and the Cingular phone guy stayed as rude as ever via Bennett Miller. Hank Perlman shot more dastardly deeds for the LVCVA, David Gray captured unsettled celebs for IFC and Target, and outside of ads, Scott Vincent continued his outrageous sketches for Comedy Central's "Chappelle's Show."

Independent Media founded 2000

Principals: Susanne Preissler, Executive Producer; Liam Ahern, Producer

Roster: Kathryn Bigelow, Ed Burns, Alfonso Cuar"n, Mauro Fiore, Tom Foley, Francois Girard, Scott Hicks, Bronwen Hughes, Richard Kelly, Saar Kline, Doug Liman, Luis Mandoki, Sydney Pollack, John Singleton, Kevin Smith, Burr Steers, Lee Tamahori, David Veloz, Wayne Wang, Terry Zwigoff, Director

As the conduit to some stellar filmic talents, Independent maintained a high profile via main man Scott Hicks. The seasoned features director, who was oddly dubbed a "new director" at Saatchi's showcase, applied his deft craftmanship to the poignant three-part tale of a lost dog for Mastercard. He also created a sumptuous world of carnies for Altoids and brought out the human side of text messaging, for AT&T Wireless. On the star-studded Revlon campaign, even the typically generic beauty genre became compelling via his lens. The shop continued its expert work for the PBS "Be More" campaign, with Hicks ("Puppet") and The Red Violin's Francois Girard, after Alfonso Cuaron took home the Emmy for the uplifting "Fish."

MJZ Founded 1990

Principals: David Zander, Rocky Morton, Annabel Jankel Roster: Dante Ariola, Fredrik Bond, Jonathan David, Lenard Dorfman, Nicolai Fuglsig, Elma Garcia, Victor Garcia, Craig Gillespie, Annabel Jankel, Spike Jonze, Kuntz & Maguire, Rocky Morton, Marcus Nispel, Sean Thonson, Matthijs Van Heijningen, Clay Williams

Our biggest props to MJZ this year land squarely on Rocky Morton, whose twisted genius brought us the most riveting weirdness we'd seen all year in the form of Burger King's subservient chicken. Craig Gillespie continued the madcap chronicles of Washington Mutual's satisfied customers, while Fredrik Bond snagged an Emmy nomination toppling queued beer guzzlers for Miller 's"Dominoes." Back on the scene after The Onion sabbatical, Kuntz and Maguire shot for ESPN and Virgin Mobile, featuring simple yet strange musical phone convo reenactments, while the illustrious Spike Jonze emerged as the spoofer behind the spoof "Mystery of Dalaro" campaign for Volvo. U.S. newcomer Nicolai Fuglsig (see Directors, p. 60) summoned fierce cloud gods for Mercedes and depicted citizens adorning a cornfield with motley colored umbrellas for a Carrefour PSA. 2004 saw another splashy signing with Lenard Dorfman, who moved from

Moxie Founded 1992

Principals: Dan Levinson, President/Director; Robert Fernandez, Lizzie Schwartz, Executive Producers Directors: Frank Todaro, Pam Thomas, Martin Granger, Henry Lu, Dan Levinson, Andrew Christou, Bob Purman, Wes Anderson, Jim Sheridan, Jared Hess, Cameron Crowe, Berman & Pulcini, Rob Marshall, John Waters, Peyton Reed, Todd Phillips, Spencer Chinoy, Pete Sollete, Joe Nussbaum, Kevin Smith

Moxie got a huge spring in its step this year, following the defections of executive producer Robert Fernandez and Frank Todaro, who directed spots for Miller, Nationwide and Animal Planet. The director's arrival coincided with a slew of other juicy fall signings: Martin Granger, who shot The Office-inspired Burger King "Have It Your Way" revival, American Splendor directors Berman and Pulcini, and W+K/Portland producer-turned director Henry Lu (USOC, McDonalds). Earlier this year Moxie took on helmers Peyton Reed (Down with Love and Bring It On) and Napoleon Dynamite's Jared Hess, who applied his impeccably quirky casting and talent skills to, Nike and Moviefone. Beyond the newcomers, Pam Thomas brought the Olympian beach volleyball babes to Arctic extremes for VISA, Dan Levinson shot for AFI and NASCAR and Sam Mendes kept the show going for Ebay. Outside of advertising, the shop is in pre-production for an IMAX flick about the Volvo Ocean Race, and will be bringing Greg the Bunny back (hopefully to his old self) in a new series for IFC.

Omaha Founded 1996

Principals: Diane McArter, Managing Director; Eric Stern, Executive Producer Roster: Steven Diller, Paul Gay, Michael Grasso, Stewart Hendler, David McNally, Speck/Gordon, Rupert Sanders, Steve Hudson, Charlie White

Engaging surprises emerged from Omaha throughout the year-Rupert Sanders took Saturn for a spin through a Pac Man-inspired world, while the ever detail-conscious Speck/Gordon dove into a new series of spots for Geico and brought Levi's back down to earth for BBH/London. From Paul Gay we saw the ups and downs of life and the California Lottery and the link between Dreyers' purity and gorgeous natural masterpieces for Goodby, and Steven Diller shot absurd job switching scenarios for Meter Maid, out of Wexley School for Girls. Beyond the :30 among Omaha's various projects include a collaboration with artist/photographer Charlie White on a full-spectrum marketing campaign for a yet-to-be-named client.

Park Pictures Founded 1998

Principals: Jackie Kelman Bisbee, Executive Producer/Owner; Lance Acord, Director/DP/Owner Roster: Neil Abramson, Lance Acord, Ringan Ledwidge, Alison Maclean, Ramaa Mosley, Lara Shapiro, Carter Smith

2004 put Park Pictures firmly on the production A-list map. Founding director Lance Acord proved a true cinematic craftsman, earning Cannes double gold thanks to patron adidas, for his breathtaking "Wake Up Call" and the effects-laden yet quietly spectacular "Impossible Is Nothing" campaign that united Olympians from the past and present. Features director Alison Maclean kept us in hysterics over the V.O. man who comes to life, for Dunkin Donuts, while Ramaa Mosley's visuals graced Choice Hotels and Publix. Ringan Ledwidge, who joined the roster in the fall via the shop's hookup with the U.K.'s Small Family Business, shot the charming global "I Wish" for Coca-Cola. Park's reach extended bicoastally this year as well, when the shop officially set up an L.A. base in July.

Partizan Founded 1986

Principals: Georges Bermann; Madeleine Sanderson, Executive Producer, London; Sheila Stepanek, Executive Producer L.A.; Maya Brewster, Executive Producer, New York Domestic Roster: Dominic Murphy, Doug Nichol, Gary McKendry, Jaume, Josh and Xander Michel Gondry, Olivier Gondry,Paul Goldman,Traktor, Zoe Cassavettes International Roster: Alex and Martin, Antoine Bardou-Jacquet, Eric Coignoux, Jim Hosking, Lance Kelleher, Mathias Hoene, Melanie Bridge, Numero Six

Now that U.S. main man Steve Dickstein has set his sights on Partizan's branded entertainment venture DTC Entertainment with former DDB/Chicago creative honcho John Immesoete, the writer behind Bud's "Real Men of Genius" campaign, the spotlight falls on Maya Brewster and Shelia Stepanek to carry the U.S. spots torch. As for the directors, clever crew Traktor this year demonstrated an unexpectedly wide range, even dipping into fare that was, shall we say, "mainstream." That had little effect on the work, however, considering spots for Miller, in which they imagined a world without beer, for Aquafina, featuring pretty-feeling people, and for Mountain Dew, which captured the bafflingly in camera-like cartoon world of Mad Magazine's "Spy vs. Spy" guys. Outside the Traktor cave, Jim Hosking provided peculiar entertainment for Goodby's Emerald Nuts, Jaume shot the quaint airplane seat tagalong friend for Delta, and Dominic Murphy created a parallel between office and home in a disturbing female abuse PSA for My Sister's Place. Meanwhile, the legendary Michel Gondry signed on to Diet Coke but accomplished a more expectedly out there feat with his crazy clip for Steriogram's "Walkie Talkie Man."

RSA USA, Inc. Founded 1986

Principals: Jules Daly, President, Marjie Abrahams, VP/Executive Producer, Fran McGivern, Executive Producer Roster: Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, Jake Scott, Luke Scott, Jordan Scott, Jim Sonzero, Cark Erik Rinsch, Erick Ifergan, Hype Williams, Laurence Dunmore, Adrian Moat, Peter Bloomfield, Tom Dey, Hugh Johnson, The Malloys, John Schwartzman, Derin Seale, David Slade, Samuel Bayer, Chris Cunningham, Sean Ellis, Angel Garcia, Chris Hartwill [UK], Jeremy Rall, Tim Royes, Luke Scott, Dawn Shadforth, Richie Smyth, Ronnie West, ACNE Joy Films: Mehdi Norowzian

Sam Bayer was nonstop at his new roost, having shot for AT&T, Pepsi, and Mountain Dew. Jake Scott drew crowds to Lance Armstrong for Nike, while pop Ridley's groundbreaking 1984 was reconfigured for the present. Things got colorful for Sony Playstation via Laurence Dunmore, ACNE brought insight to athletes in a wacky round for ESPN, and Carl Erik Rinsch orchestrated a beaut for Celebrity Cruises. After leaving longtime roost Chelsea pictures, Mehdi Norowzian found a new home a Joy Films@RSA, directing an effects dazzler for Propel Fitness water. Departures included Jim Sonzero, who moved to FM Rocks, and executive producer Bryan Farhy, who led transmission@rsa, the roster of which was absorbed by the parent shop.

Smuggler Founded 2002

Principals:Brian Carmody, Patrick Milling Smith Roster: Brian Beletic, James Brown, Ruben Fleischer, David Frankham, Nacho Gayan, Happy, Neil Harris, Kasper, Daniel Levi, Renny Maslow, Ben Mor, Snorri Brothers, Stylewar, Ivan Zacharias

The youngest shop on our list didn't take long to win us, and agencies over -- in just over two years it's managed to consistently raise the bar on what it means to have a "fresh" point of view. Brian Beletic directed the side-splitting non-adventures of Bacardi and Cola, the Black Eyed Peas for ESPN/NBA and exposed more filthy mouths for Orbit gum. James Brown, after steering the massive McDonalds global effort, left us hanging with Mitsubishi's Superbowl freeway faceoff. Happy recently shot more for Bacardi, captured randy clutter and fearful furniture for Ikea, and toned it down, with flair, for the Ad Council. Neil Harris set priorities straight for Netflix, Ivan Zacharias didn't take anything for granted on his spot for Honda, and Stylewar styled Ikea and Snickers. As for the newly smuggled, Nacho Gayan captured the perfect rainy day for VW, and the Snorri Brothers slowed things down for Canon.

Tool of North America Founded 1995

Principals: Erich Joiner, President/Director; Phillip Detchmendy, Managing Director; Jennifer Siegel, EP; Amy DeLossa, Head of Production Roster: Sam Cadman, Sean Ehringer, Erich Joiner, Robert Richardson, Tom Routson, Johan Tappert Paranoid Projects@Tool: Poiraud, Francois Vogel

Funny was Tool's business, or so we thought, given its continued stream of laughs throughout the year. Erich Joiner went from broad executions on DHL and Hyundai to dark depths on the sci-fi inspired "Newscaster" for PS2, while Tom Routson delivered more for Pennzoil and ESPN/Bud Light. Sam Cadman shot his first for Ikea, and Sean Ehringer was on board for Bud Light and AT&T. Joking aside, the shop also broadened markedly into lush visuals. Kill Bill 2 and The Aviator DP Bob Richardson directed a series of images spots for SBC, and the French Masters came on board via Tool's partnership with Paris-based Entropy Films, Paranoid Projects@Tool. The result, groundbreaking work for creative patron HP, first on Francois Vogel's funkily elegant "You," and then "Printer," directed by sibling Thierry of The Poiraud Brothers, who just wrapped their film Atomik Circus.

Villains Founded 1998

Principals: Robin Benson, John Marshal, Jim Giddens Roster: Philippe Andre, Robert Altman, Douglas Avery, Coen Brothers, Larry Frey, Guard Brothers, Phil Joanou, Axel Laubscher, Dewey Nicks, Terry Rietta, The Guard Brothers, Philippe Andre

Villains' sturdy team of all around players again stole away with a slew of memorable work. Phil Joanou put his finest comedic touches on T-Mobile, featuring wacky cellphone charge absconders, while Larry Frey imagined Toyotas offroading onto the playing field. Douglas Avery balanced brilliantly on the edge of weird, for the curiously strong Altoids gum, the screaming moldphobes from Tilex, and Diesel's "Dreams." Filmic pleasures abound via Terry Rietta, who shot the splendid "First Look" for Mill Valley Film Festival, and the Coen Brothers, who astounded with the odd and expertly cast "Parisienne People." As for the newcomers, Dewey Nicks brought his sexy photography to American Eagle and San Pellegrino, while more good work appears to be on the horizon with Euro-talents The Guard Brothers and Philippe Andre, who directed the fantastic Peugeot "Toys."

Solo Supermen

Pytka Founded 1972

Principals: Joe Pytka, Director; Steve Ross, Executive Producer

The agency community finally got the chance to dig its claws into Joe Pytka this year, dispensing friendly venom toward the notoriously volcanic commercials great during a roast sponsored by VCU Adcenter last fall. We presume he emerged unscathed, since he continues to put out some of the best work in the business: out of his continuing partnership with BBDO and GE, he engineered a fantastic voyage into nanosurgery and a kung fu fighting Lassie; he shot TBWA/ Chiat/Day/N.Y.'s massive Nextel launch, and morphed Michael Jordan for Nike again, this time into a new generation of athletic phenoms.

House of Usher Founded 1999

Principals: Kinka Usher, Director; Steve Ross, Executive Producer

Impeccable performances, kickass comedy and stellar visuals graced screens again this year via Kinka Usher's unstoppable lens. Highlights include his dip into the Hong Kong underworld with Jet Li on a stunt-filled extravaganza for PS2, the episodic Sprite snarkfests from that little squirt Thirst, GE's tension-filled "Interrogation" and perhaps some of the best, and darkest Disney stuff we've seen yet, for the "Tower of Terror."

Thomas Thomas Films founded 2000

Principals: Kevin Thomas, Director; Philippa Thomas, Executive Producer

Although in the U.K. Thomas Thomas Films boasts a whole roster of directors, in the U.S. it's ostensibly been a one man show, led by eponymous founding director Kevin Thomas. The former creative earned an Emmy nomination for his Citi "Identity Theft" campaign, which he followed up with a new series of ID poachers. He also achieved cinematic silliness for Orbit gum and realized wacky DirecTV dreams out of BBDO. While Thomas is flying solo Stateside now, word has it that he and partner/EP Philippa Thomas are looking to set up a formal base here in the next few months, perhaps adding new directors along the way.

Smith & Jones founded 2003

Principals: Ulf Johansson, Director; Philippa Smith, Executive Producer

It appears Ulf Johansson has little to regret after his departure from the Traktor nest with producer Philippa Smith. The solo Swede moved on to direct Saturn's magnificent clown caper, Nike's startling "What If" scenario of misplaced athletes, as well as TBWA/Chiat/Day/N.Y.'s odd rebranding campaign for Skittles.

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