Moxie Pictures has made a radical change to its persona-quite literally. Robert Fernandez, previously a global production player at @radical.media, joined Moxie last summer, his arrival signifying the creation of a new trademark for the company. "My aim is to upgrade the profile of Moxie and make its brand synonymous with top-tier work," says Fernandez on his position as Moxie partner alongside Dan Levinson. "We've just signed three commercials directors, and that in itself is helping us rebrand and reposition our place in the industry." Fernandez refers to Moxie's astute business sense at the tail end of 2003. The producer solidified its commercials core by signing Henry Lu, Martin Granger and Frank Todaro.
Lu, whose short film Miguel played at Sundance in 2001, arrives via Wieden + Kennedy/Portland with both creative and directing credits for Nike and MasterCard. Granger arrives via A Band Apart, with a solid reel of comedic treatments for clients including Budweiser, Kellogg's and Beer.com. Todaro rounds off the recent additions to Moxie's directorial coterie, his recognized oeuvre of crisp visuals exemplified by a recent FedEx campaign containing strong performances yet again accentuating agency creative. "Obviously he's an incredible talent," says Fernandez, familiar with producing alongside Todaro throughout the '90s. "I had no intention of bringing anybody from @radical along with me. It was a pleasant surprise to learn that Frank wanted to move on recently. We're very fortunate to have him."
A familiar face within @radical since its Sandbank, Kamen & Partners days, Fernandez went on to help build the company into its present global personification, but a large-scaled production enterprise is not on his mind. "People immediately think that my goal is to build a company the same size as I had before," Fernandez explains. "But now it's about building a strong mid-sized company, augmenting the good talent already here and finding a good mix of people to round out the company." Undoubtedly, Moxie's feature roster for commercials representation nourished Fernandez's mind when weighing the company's potential. Moxie's recent signing of Berman + Pulcini, directors of American Splendor, rounds out an impressive list of directorial talent from the feature film world, including Cameron Crowe, Wes Anderson, Rob Marshall, Wes Craven and Kevin Smith to name a few. "Cool, individual voices who can bring something to the advertising world," is how Levinson puts it. "I believe that commercials are a reflection of our society. If audiences dig a feature filmmaker's work, then surely commercials clients should benefit." Sam Mendes exemplifies the wide ranging style of filmmakers available, recently delivering the latest mini Broadway musical eBay package through Goodby, Silverstein. "Sam's extensive theatrical background" got him the gig, adds Fernandez. "It illustrates how agencies sometimes need specific types of directors, and that's where we step in."
Indeed, Fernandez sees this niche as crucial to Moxie's growth. "The key is having genuinely talented directors with a very specific point of view. You need talent that can interact-that's where so many production companies go wrong. Interaction makes the individual stronger, especially when you're building talent because your roster consists of directors at different levels who can learn from each other. Plus, today, more than ever, budgets require problem solving on a production level, which is great because it keeps the challenge alive."
As for the latest action in the Moxie corner, Pam Thomas wraps Visa through BBDO/New York, while Henry Lu works on an international McDonald's campaign for Leo Burnett, leaving Frank Todaro to sink his teeth into Miller through Wieden + Kennedy/Portland. Other work beyond the commercials arena includes a development deal with Imax covering the Volvo Ocean Race, a Master and Commander-esque epic set to follow boats as they race to complete the traditional route taken by clipper ships of old, sailing around the world with the prevailing winds. "It's an exciting endeavor-70mm branded entertainment," says an excited Levinson, of a project slated for 2005.