What impressed us most, however, is how much Believe has broadened its scope when it comes to storytelling and comedy. Laughs were aplenty from former Coppos director Brian Aldrich on Virgin Mobile, Kia and Dell, and young directing pair Vogel Villar-Rios broke out in all sorts of directions on spots for Pringles, Coca-Cola, and the wacky Andy Awards campaign featuring a maimed Alex Bogusky and a transient Eric Silver. Stateside newcomer Anders Hallberg also showed real range on sensual AIDS/HIV PSA's for CP+B/Miami, as well as a slapstick industry film, of all things, for Chipotle and Mother/N.Y., while newly signed Kid Stays in the Picture co-director Nanette Burstein drew buzz for AWNY's Good, Bad and Ugly Awards opener featuring dragged up admen like Lea Clow and Stevie Hayden. Newcomers aside, Zack Snyder (who received favorable reviews for his remake of Dawn of the Dead) shot another Clydesdale face-off for Budweiser, and Carolyn Chen directed a sweet soccer tale for Nike, reflecting storytelling skill that hadn't been evident in her previous vignette-filled reels.
Commercials-wise, the work represents a veritable seismic shift, yet "I think it really is a convergence of us taking on Jenny Gadd as New York executive producer and becoming much stronger in the New York marketplace and hitting our stride in terms of development of our company," explains co-founder Luke Thornton, who formed Believe with partner/wife Elizabeth Silver, Erick Ifergan and the Brothers Quay in January 2000. "In the past, when struggling and starting to find one's identity, financially as much as anything else, it wasn't quite so simple." Clearly so, given that the company launched just months before the SAG strike, after which it had to weather the dot-com fallout. But four years of quietly developing the brand around expert visuals and effects, maintaining solid relationships with agencies and-admittedly not always producing the most groundbreaking work-eventually made it possible for the company to take more risks and invest further in nurturing its directors. "I do think in a company's evolution you have to build to get to a certain place without being strapped financially, so that you are secure enough to be able to then really go out and self- or co-finance the development of directors' careers," Thornton continues. Such "co-ventures" as he puts it, for example helped to put up and comers Vogel Villar-Rios and Anders Hallberg on the map.
Moreover, much of this recent excitement clearly has coincided with the addition of N.Y. EP Gadd, the former Fallon/Minneapolis producer who followed fellow Swedish Fallonites Linus Karlsson and Paul Malmstrom to Manhattan last year when the pair moved to open Mother/N.Y. Since then, Believe has formed new relationships with spitfire shops like Mother, Berlin Cameron and Crispin, all of whose work has been instrumental to rounding out Believe's reel. "I think just having presence in New York is important, which is what took place when I joined the company," Gadd says. "But it's always a team effort and the timing was right. Luke and Liz had on purpose kind of stayed under the radar because they wanted to build a solid roster and wanted to make sure the production machine was working well, so I think I was brought on board at a time when they as a company were ready to step up on stage."