SPECIAL REPORT: Top U.S. Production Companies

Creativity's complete guide to the tops shops' rosters, reels and buzz.

By Published on .

FROM THE MAGAZINE: Creativity's guide to top production companies.
New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Berlin, Sydney
Founded: 1993
Principals: Jon Kamen and Frank Scherma, Executive Producers/Partners
Roster: Mathew Brady, Lenny Dorfman, Lasse Hallstrom, Greg Kohs, Barton Landsman, Robert Leacock, Rick LeMoine, Steve Miller, Errol Morris, Frank Todaro, Richard D'Alessio, Peter Darley Miller, Brett Froomer, Antony Hoffman, Dave Meyers, Chris Milk, Nevaldine & Taylor, Gregor Nicholas, Alan White, Jeff Zwart, Stuart Douglas, Jon Hollis, Tarsem, Terry Gilliam, Jeff Darling, Bruce Hunt, Ralf Schmerberg
While the company gained an EVP in Frank Steifel last fall with the acquisition of Steifel & Co, it lost one this year in production stalwart Robert Fernandez as the latter exited to join Moxie. The company continues to put its money and skills where the long form content is, with the Nike Battleground project and an assortment of other ventures in the works, in addition to films like Concert for George, a rock royalty-studded performance for the late Beatle. Spot highlights have included Tarsem's lauded "Elephant Tower" for Pepsi, Ralf Schmerberg's visually arresting HP work, Frank Todaro's Super Bowl laffers for Bud and LeMoine and Miller's separate ventures for Mentos and PaperMate. Coming off the festival circuit for his latest feature doc Fog of War, Errol Morris has plunged back into spots with style with the "More Fast" campaign for Nike. Dave Meyers just won top video at the MTV VMAs, and honors, and a new "music initiative" division promises more mad clips and tune-related ventures. Not bad for a ten year old. Yes, the shop turns ten next month. (TI)

Anonymous Content
Los Angeles and New York
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, John Dolan, Andrew Douglas, David Fincher, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, David Kellogg, Logan, Robert Logevall, Christian Loubek, Nic Mathieu, Brett Morgen, Jeffery Plansker, Ries/Hill, Mark Romanek, Patrick Sherman, Malcolm Venville, Wong Kar Wai
Gorgeous UK: Frank Budgen, Chris Palmer, Tom Carty Peter Thwaites
Last year's high end U.S. projects, particularly Malcolm Venville's VW "Squares" put Anonymous in the spotlight during awards season. The shop headed into fall with new exec producer Lisa Margulis and into the new year with another former HKM talent, director Christian Loubek. After directing the domestic bliss of the Arquettes for Coke, David Fincher returned with Nike's CG sensation "Speed Chain" and is gearing up for the next Xelibri effort from London. Meanwhile, up and comers Carter and Blitz collected accolades with their Mill Valley Film Festival laffer out of Hill Holliday. The Gorgeous tie-up yielded gems including Frank Budgen's Nike "Streaker," Tom Carty's Nike "More Go" work and Peter Thwaites' nice NASCAR campaign. Now, Anonymous will exploit U.K. creative for its U.S. directors with a link with Independent's Jani Guest in London. (TI)

Backyard Productions
Los Angeles and Chicago
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: Rob Pritts, Kevin Smith, Don Rase, Chace Strickland, Steve Burrows, Tim Abshire
Heaps of great work piled up at Backyard this year, including Rob Pritts' retro trip for Altoids and his soporific series for Sealy. Kevin Smith imagined the world through engineers' eyes for Parker Hannifin and took it slow on Heinz; and Steve Burrows xeroxed a "full moon" for Accuserve. Backyard also expanded its territory when execs Roy Skillicorn and Blair Stribley hooked up with branded content shop Science + Fiction to plant Seed, which will cultivate young directorial hopefuls for commercials and non-traditional programming formats. (AD)

Biscuit Filmworks
Los Angeles
Founded: May 2000
Principals: Noam Murro, Owner/President, Shawn Lacy Tessaro, Executive Producer
Roster: Noam Murro, Marcel Langenegger, Brian Baderman, Jeffrey Fleisig, Tim Godsall
The unstoppable Noam Murro had a hand in a diverse assortment of the industry's plum assignments. Starting with the Goodby pearls: Saturn "Sheet Metal" (Creativity's Spot of the Year) and "Childhood"; "Do it eBay," for eBay; and "Birthday" for Milk, Murro also delivered on the funny, lo-fi "Morphoray" for PS2 out of TBWA L.A., office hijinx for Dunkin Donuts for Hill Holliday, and classic Brit wit for Tango out of CHI London. Biscuit added even more flair for the funny with the addition of up and comer Tim Godsall at the end of last year. (TI)

Bob Industries
New York, Los Angeles
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
2003 turned up the volume on talents like Chris Hooper, who flexed his comedy chops continuing work for the California Milk Advisory Board and bringing great moments of cinema to DirecTV, and Peter Care, who went antiqueing with AT&T and road-trippin' with T Mobile. Lisa Rubisch brought comedic flair to DSW Shoe Warehouse and clever storytelling to Jeep, and Jason Smith zoomed viewers into the innards of a whale for Mountain Dew and gave an office-eye view of the Mitsubishi Endeavor. Spencer Susser continued the wackiness for Five Alive and the Snapple bottle gang. The always eye-opening Dayton/Faris, taking time out from their feature, were back on board for Snapple and VW, and added to their oeuvre Diet Mountain Dew, Truth, Mercedes and Mitsubishi. (AD)

Chelsea Pictures
New York, Los Angeles, Australia
Founded: 1987
Principals: Steve Wax, Allison Amon, Lisa Mehling
Roster: Nicholas Barker, Evan Bernard, Simon Blake, Rey Carlson, Buddy Cone, Matthew Harris, Haxan, Johan Kramer, Ago Panini, Alex Proyas, Steve Rogers, Pete Salmi, Bruce St. Clair, Kieran Walsh
After celebrating its 15th anniversary last year, Chelsea created more memorable moments on ESPN's "Without Sports," for which Kieran Walsh deftly applied his skills to portray a soccer-impassioned family. Nicholas Barker directed spots for Pizza Hut, Stella Artois, and did some holiday rump-shaking with Vaughn for Kmart/Joe Boxer. Ago Panini, who transferred from Moxie, introduced surreal scenarios to Toyota; Gregg Hale, of Blair Witch fame, lensed spots for the Olympics NYC2012 campaign; and clips-master Evan Bernard deflated celebrity egos for Blink 102.7 Last fall, the shop expanded its in-house effects studio to Chelsea Digital. It recently parted ways with Mehdi Norowzian, but welcomed KesselsKramer creative superstar Johan Kramer into its stable. (AD)

Los Angeles and New York
Founded: 1989
Principals:Daniel Lindau, Camille Taylor, Owners/Partners
Roster: Mark Story, Mark Pellington, Andy Margetson, Nick Lewin, Thom Krueger, Julia Jason, Bruce Hurwit, Chris Hartwill, Sebastien Grousset, Steve Eshelman, Antony Easton, Kathryn Bigelow, Chuck Bennett
Satellites: X-Ray Films and [email protected]: Jesse Peretz, Glenn Lazzaro, Jeff Gordon, Brandon Dickerson, Russell Bates, Bill Barminski, Nancy Bardawil; Gang Films: Sebastien Chantrel, Rachel & Fabrice Carazo; [email protected]: Clive Will, Sergio, Keith Rose, Mickey Madoda, Mark Lawrie, Greg Gray, Dube, Giaco Angelini
Mark Pellington imparted his stylistic eclecticism on Gatorade, Subaru, and most recently, a jarring spot for Eli Lilly in which quick cuts and varied film styles illustrate the chaos in the head of an adult ADD suffererer. All-around player Nick Lewin united pods for Volkswagen and Apple, went old school for Converse, and accentuated gender differences for Budweiser. Bruce Hurwit gave the Grim Reaper the axe for NY Lottery, and Sebastien Grousset glorified moonwatching for Infiniti. Spots from the shop's European directors also showed artful and comedic storytelling for overseas clients. Crossroads recently signed feature director Kathryn Bigelow (Point Break and Near Dark) and gold lion-winner Brandon Dickerson (to X-Ray extension). It also joined forces with South African hotshop Velocity Afrika. (AD)

Directors Bureau
Los Angeles
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
Mike Mills brought the feel-good full throttle on crowd and awards show pleasers "Bubble Boy" and "Chain Reaction," while exposing his comedic chops on what-if scenarios for Time Warner Cable. Roman Coppola resurrected a Thunderbirds-style puppet look for the campy Orbitz campaign, and Melodie McDaniel charmed audiences by exposing the sweet vulnerability of Yahoo!'s internet daters. In May, U.K. directing collective Shynola, known for their innovative multi-media work in clips, joined the team. (AD)

New York and Los Angeles
Founded: 1989
Principals: Mindy Goldberg, Jeff Preiss
Roster: Matthew Badger, Paula Greif, Phil Morrison, Dewey Nicks, Jeff Preiss, Stacy Wall
Epoch's well-rounded stable came on with full force again this year, despite departures of Tim Godsall and Anouk Besson. Stacy Wall continued to douse us with his diverse palette of skills, from stunning visuals and sharp humor, notably on the anthemic "Coach" for ESPN and the dream-like "Twoville" for SBC; Jeff Preiss uncovered Kurt Vonnegut among other antiques for Nissan, and revived randy alien Plato for Sony; Phil Morrison, always welcome for his weirdness, was bizarrely heartfelt on the "New Pet" conservation spot for NY State; and Dewey Nicks brought his shooter's lens to sugar-high dancers for Kit Kat. (AD)

Go Film
New York and Los Angeles
Founded: 1999
Principals: Jonathan Weinstein, Executive Producer/ Partner; Robert Wherry, Executive Producer/Partner; Gary Rose, Executive Producer/Partner
Roster: Geoffrey Barish, David Dobkin, Rene Eller, Caitlin Felton, Barbara McDonough, Rad-ish, Michael Shapiro, Neil Tardio Jr.
Barbara McDonough brought cheeky nostalgia to Kohl's and vivacious performance to Kmart/Joe Boxer. Gary McKendry left for Partizan, but the shop beefed up with several newcomers, including features director David Dobkin (Shanghai Knights, Clay Pigeons), who joined in May and brought Xtreme athletes into extremely unexpected scenarios for ESPN's X Games; Neil Tardio Jr., who joined from A Band Apart; Geoffrey Barish who moved from Untitled, and executive producer Gary Rose, formerly of Moxie. Last Fall the shop also formed an alliance with Portland, Oregon-based Food Chain Films. (AD)

Harvest Films
Los Angeles
Founded: 2001
Principals: Baker Smith, Director/President; Bonnie Goldfarb, Executive Producer
Roster: Baker Smith, BigTV!, CJ Waldman, Frank Samuel
Harvest reaped a huge bounty this year, as Baker Smith earned the nod from the DGA as well as adfest accolades for his work on MINI. His comedic gems rolled out in droves: film reenactments that shifted Nissan into fun; the wrath of God the Celtics fan, and Coors' trusty wingman, to name a few. In July, the shop also added British directing duo BigTV! to its roster. (AD)

New York and Los Angeles
Founded: 1992
Principals: Tom Mooney, Partner/President; David Cornell, Partner/Director; Shelly Townsend, Executive Producer
Roster: Agust Baldursson, David Cornell, Eric King, Lee Pearson, Joe Public, Steve Reeves, Lloyd Stein, Eric Steinman, Laurence Thrush
Headquarters rebuilt steadily in the past year, after notable departures of EP/Partner Alex Blum, who formed Optional Pictures with director John Moore, and of the BrandTV posse, who uprooted to RSA. Shelly Townsend from Anonymous came on board as EP, as did a promising lineup of additions: TBWA/Chiat/Day/SF CD Eric King, British director Steve Reeves and newcomer Laurence Thrush. Toyota, Sprint, McDonalds, BMW, and Burger King fared well via veterans Joe Public and David Cornell; Lloyd Stein made surprising leaps with "Unstoppable" work on Computer Associates and Tropicana; Eric Steinman warmed us up to Denny's and Agust Baldursson brought a slick vibe to Gilette. (AD)

Los Angeles and New York
Founded: 1981
Principals: Graham Henman, Michael Karbelnikoff, co-Presidents; Carl Swan, Executive Producer rockfight: Ned Brown, Executive Producer; Melissa White, Executive Producer Elizabeth Minzes, Head of Production; Darren Noble, Production Manager
Roster/HKM: Robert Caruso, Michele Cievetta, Graham Henman, Michael Patrick Jann, Michael Karbelnikoff, Maggie Zackheim, Joey Garfield, Cheryl Dunn, Eden Diebel, Jacobs/Briere
Roster/Rockfight: Sam Arthur, Daniel Barber, Pep Bosch, Duffy Culligan, Rafael Fernandez, James Frost, David Horowitz, Peluca, Joe Roman, Graham Rose
Executive producers Ned Brown and Melissa White returned to HKM after having departed from satellite Directors Bureau two years ago to establish Rock Fight, which will continue to operate as a separate entity under HKM management. Eden Diebel signed on from Headquarters, while Christian Loubek took off to Anonymous, as did former exec producer Lisa Margulis. Jacobs/Briere, who joined from HSI, made a wacky case for the new vid-kid in town Fuse, via a series of the risque promos featuring ghetto variations of familiar "mainstream" music network programs, and Michael Karbelnikoff settled a standoff between George Steinbrenner and Derek Jeter, for Visa. (AD)

Los Angeles and New York
Founded: 1986
Principals: Stavros Merjos, CEO, Billy Sandwick, 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
HSI: Arni & Kinski, Lenny Bass, Peter Berg, Irv Blitz, Benny Boom, Kevin Bray, Scott Burns, Gerard de Thame, F. Gary Gray, Paul Hunter, Little X, Dave Merhar, Paul Middleditch,, Peggy Sirota, Josh Taft, The Brothers Strause, Joseph Kahn, David LaChapelle, Robert Hales, Hayley Cloake, Todd Kellstein
P.Å.R.: Jonas Åkerlund, Johan Renck
Venus: Matthew Rolston
Person Films: Michael Haussman, Lisbon Okafor
The departure of longtime stalwart Sam Bayer for RSA was perhaps a low point, but HSI has factored in to a large share of significant projects this year. Among them: Paul Hunter's music-driven Dr. Pepper campaign from Y&R and his sweet "Battle" for Nike; Levi's visually arresting if ultimately unsatisfying "Horse" from Johan Renck; Jonas Akerlund's showing for the new Virgin Mobile campaign; VW's pared down SUV campaign from Micheal Hausmann and an array of eye candy from Gerard de Thame including Honda "Dreams" and Nike "Wild Horses." The shop added to its roster of visualists with music video groundbreaker Joseph Kahn. (TI)

Hungry Man
New York, Los Angeles, London, Toronto
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, Hank Perlman, John O'Hagan, David Shane, Jim Jenkins, Scott Vincent, Allen Coulter, Michael Cuesta, Marcos Siega, Russ Lamoureux, Bennett Miller, David Levin, Paul Norling, Owen Harris, Mikko, Bjorn Stein, Robert Jitzmark, Christoffer von Reis, Sebastian Reed
Toss Hungry Man's reel of steel into the ring and it comes up a true heavyweight, pumped with clever work from the entire team. Jim Jenkins directed Scorcese for Amex. Bryan Buckley was as primed as ever on Fedex, Las Vegas Tourism, Ikea, Pepsi, and H&R Block; Bennett Miller sprung Frankenstein's bones to life for Osteo Biflex and intern Jesse's as well, in TNN's unforgettable promos. Allen Coulter sped up Father Time for Visa "Sheens," and Hank Perlman imagined Toyota's kid-ruled world, a Leprechaun pitchman for dnL, and Fox Sports' extreme sports rejects. The entire crew proved worthy as well overseas, on international spots for Orange, the BBC, Red Stripe, Halford's, and Sprint. (AD)

Los Angeles with offices in New York and London
Founded: 1990
Principals: David Zander, Rocky Morton, Annabel Jankel Roster: Rocky Morton, Elma Garcia, Sean Thonson, Dante Ariola, Kuntz & Maguire, Spike Jonze, Annabel Jankel, Clay Williams, Craig Gillespie, Jonathan David, Marcus Nispel, Victor Garcia, Fredrik Bond, Matthijs Van Heijningen, Nicolai Fuglsig
MJZ sustained a steady buzz from the previous year's signfest by topping our charts as the winningest production company at the 2003 awards shows (see Awards Issue, August 2003) and by cranking out consistently fresh work. Spike Jonze played no small part with the Grand Prix-lauded "Lamp" and returned to the scene with a Freestyle-reminiscent, beats-driven soccer spot for Nike South America. Rocky Morton and Craig Gillespie were unstoppable comedic forces on a wealth of spots, as on respective Lion-winning work for Fox Sports and Washington Mutual. Kuntz and Maguire, before delving into The Onion movie, cleverly executed runaway luggage for Visa Canada. Dante Ariola imparted eerie elegance to Playstation "Thumbs"; Fredrik Bond brought otherworldly touches to HP and VW, and Marcus Nispel got randy with Snuggle. The roster filled out even more with the return of Elma Garcia and the signing of Outsider's Nicolai Fugslig and Matthijs Van Heijningen. (AD)

Moxie Pictures
Los Angeles and New York
Founded: 1992
Principals: Dan Levinson, President/Director; Robert Fernandez, Lizzie Schwartz, Executive Producers
Roster: Dan Levinson, Bob Purman, Yariv Garber, Christopher Guest, Todd Phillips, Pam Thomas, Andrew Christou, Wes Craven, Jim Sherdan, Allison Anders, Wes Anderson, Spencer Chinoy, Kevin Smith, Joe Nussbaum, John Waters, John Madden, Elaine Constantine, Peter Sollett, Rob Marshall
Wes Anderson took Ikea for a real world run-through, gaining kudos aplenty at the awards fetes. Pam Thomas rocked as hard as ever, on Coors and VISA; and Andrew Christou found his groove on Skechers. The shop saw major changes this year when former exec Gary Rose left for Go Film, and @radical's Robert Fernandez stepped in to become EP/Partner. Moxie also added heft to its roster, with the addition of noted fashion still shooter Elaine Constantine, and features' Peter Sollett (Raising Victor Vargas)and Rob Marshall of Chicago fame. (AD)

Oil Factory
London and Los Angeles
Founded: 1984
Principals: Billy Poveda, Executive Producer
Roster: Steven Tsuchida, Allen Hughes of The Hughes Brothers, Doug Pray, Dom & Nic , Pedro Romhanyi, Philipp Stolzl, Frank Sacramento, Ellen Von Unwerth, Tomorrow's Brightest Minds, Jamie Thraves, Muto, Giuseppe Capotondi, Sophie Muller
Oil Factory continued to prove itself as formidable a player in spots as it is in music videos. Steven Tsuchida greased the wheels on unforgettably funny work for CBS Sports, Sprint PCS, and MINI. The Hughes Brothers, prior to de-teaming earlier this year, turned out gritty work for Sprite, Adidas, and the controversial Mike Tyson-as-nanny for Fox Sports' Best Damn Sports Show. Adidas got documentary touches from Douglas Pray, Shakira made peace for Reebok, via clips maven Sophie Muller, and Pedro Romanhyi brought musical roots to M&M's. Recently joining the troops is Japanese director Muto, who brought phantasmagoric touches to clips and spots for PS2, Issey Miyake, and Smirnoff Ice. (AD)

Los Angeles and New York
Founded: 1996
Principals: Diane McArter, Managing Director; Eric Stern, Executive Producer Roster: Paul Gay, Michael Grasso, Speck/Gordon, Stewart Hendler, Steven Diller, David McNally, Rupert Sanders, Steve Hudson
Omaha's Rupert Sanders has fast become a sought-after talent with a range of gorgeous spots in quick succession over the past year. The Guinness epic "Volcano" was followed by a pair of home runs for Nike, "Pull Up," and "The Great Return" (did it air? Who cares, it's great). Sanders' most recent stunner is the lush "Restore" for HP out of Goodby. While veteran Paul Gay has kept fresh with the funny UPS truck racing spots, among others, Speck and Gordon are making their presence known with funny spots for Suave out of O&M Chicago, Fuji out of Publicis and a new, character-driven campaign for Ameritrade. Rounding out the new talent line-up is Stewart Hendler, featured in the Y&R new directors showcase with the suspenseful "You're it" anti-skin cancer spot. (TI)

Park Pictures
New York
Founded: 1998 Principals: Jackie Kelman Bisbee, Executive Producer/Owner; Lance Acord, Director/DP/Owner
Roster: Neil Abramson,Lance Acord, Alison Maclean, Ramaa Mosley, Lara Shapiro, Carter Smith
Lance Acord propelled Park into the rankings this year, thanks to his photographic elegance on Volvo, Mitsubishi, Ace, Adidas, Lee and, of course, Nike, on the highly-decorated "Before," and in a surprisingly comedic turn on the cheerleader-chasin' "Cross-Country Spirit." All this while he managed to also apply his graceful lens to yet another feature, Sofia Coppola's upcoming Lost in Translation, which has already garnered critical acclaim. Meanwhile, the other directors played no small part in cementing the shop's rep: Alison Maclean delivered subtle, comedic performance for Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare, Ramaa Mosley brought out characters' quirky charm on Callaway and the PGA, as did Lara Shapiro on Huggies. Neil Abramson also took root at Park, from the shuttered Palomar Pictures. (AD)

Paris, New York, London
Founded: 1986 Principals: Georges Bermann, Steve Dickstein Owners; Madeleine Sanderson, Executive Producer, London; Sheila Stepanek, Executive Producer L.A.
Domestic Roster: Chris Robinson, 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
The reigning Palme D'Or winner had its hand in some of the most buzzed-about work over the past year, nailing top flight U.S. and Blighty creative, starting, of course with the creative gem "Cog," from up and coming visual innovator Antoine Bardou-Jacquet, that, though denied Grand Prix glory was the de facto Most Envy-Inducing Spot of the year. The Traktor collective (now a sixsome with the exit of Ulf), held the torch high with the hundred headed beast for Xelibri, Levi's highly anticipated "Car," and Euro Heineken. The Swedes kept it real for new Coke work along with Chris Robinson, who helmed the buzzed about Penelope burp and Mya/Common duet. The shop also remained on talent point, adding directors Gary McKendry and Lance Kelleher and young talent Josh and Xander, featured in the Y&R Young Guns showcase. (TI)

Los Angeles, New York, and London
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, Luje Scott, Dawn Shadforth, Richie Smyth, Ronnie West, ACNE
After bringing home the Emmy for Nike "Move," Jake Scott performed the Six Million Dollar makeover of the AOL icon. The Malloys did a reality check on beer for Heineken, Laurence Dunmore's gave ING a run for its money, and ACNE aced a Lion-winning round of Shelf Ball for ESPN and W+K/NY. Although the shop is in no shortage of talent, action hero Sam Bayer joined from HSI, and Bryan Farhy, Sean Mullens, and Wayne Holloway came on board as [email protected], from Headquarters' BrandTV. (AD)

Beverly Hills with offices in New york
Founded: 2002
Principals: Brian Carmody & Patrick Milling Smith, Owners
Roster: Brian Beletic, Ivan Zacharias, Happy, Neil Harris, Ben Mor, James Brown, Snorri Brothers, Laurence Hamburger, Stylewar, Daniel Levi, David Frankham, Ruben Fleischer
Affiliations: Villains, USA; Stink, Europe
In less than two years, Smuggler has become one of the most stylish yet savviest production outfits going, with a roster full of present and future stars and a new way of attacking production. The past year was chock full of solid work, including Brian Beletic's buzzworthy Virgin Mobile spots (not to mention his promos for El-P and Cee-Lo); some nice Value City work by Neil Harris, James Brown's happy Sheraton spots and Happy's serious anti-AIDS spots. Happy also made news with its controversial (in the U.K. anyway) Wrigley's "Dog Breath" spot and Ivan Zacharias undertook a ten minute Bollywood extravaganza for Absolut. Most recently, with partner Stink, Smuggler was in on one of the biggest, most surprising jobs imaginable -- the new global McDonald's effort -- which saw ten-plus directors, headed by Brown, shooting furious youth driven footage around the world. (TI)

Tool Of North America
Los Angeles and New York
Founded: 1995
Principals: Erich Joiner, President/Director; Phillip Detchmendy, Managing Director; Jennifer Siegel, Executive Producer; Amy Delossa, Head of Production
Roster: Erich Joiner, Tom Routson, Sean Ehringer, Robert Richardson, ASC, Craig Champion, Jonnie Ross, Poiraud, Francois Vogel, Clint Clemens
Advertising this year wouldn't have been half as exciting without Erich Joiner's Miller beer and babes revival that inspired both rants and raves. Joiner also knocked more than just socks off in other spots featuring Evander Holyfield, as well as in offbeat testimonials for the Newport Beach Film Festival. Tom Routson, who earned AICP kudos for both humor and talent/performance was as sharp as ever on Earthlink, T-Mobile, and Heineken. Tool recently signed Sam Cadman, one of the creators of Trigger Happy TV, and balanced its comedic edge with French masters Poiraud, who return to spots after completing their wacky sci-fi feature The Return of James Bataille. (AD)

Beverly Hills and New York
Founded: 1998
Principals: Robin Benson, John Marshal, Jim Giddens
Roster: Douglas Avery, Ken Fox, Larry Frey, Jim Giddens, Phil Joanou, Axel Laubscher, Brett Ratner, Coen Brothers, Robert Altman, Albert Brooks, Terry Rietta
Phil Joanou applied his deft touch to an array of spots for Vanilla Coke, UPS, Nextel, the ballyhooed MSN launch, and, with Larry Frey, the funny Christmas campaign for Amazon out of Wieden. Funny man Douglas Avery also kept busy with loads of beer work -- spots for Heineken, Coors and Labatt Blue Light's "Less is More" campaign. But Villains had to do little else this year to earn its stripes beyond one spot -- "Parisienne People" for Swiss Parisienne Cigarettes, directed by the Coen Brothers. If the thrilling discomfort produced by this tour de force of Coen weirdness is wrong, we don't want to be right. (TI)

House of Usher
Los Angeles
Principals: Kinka Usher, Director; Steve Ross, Executive Producer
After what seemed like a brief lull, inveterate storyteller Usher turned up the Kinkavision full blast this past year. He united big and small for Apple, puckered up for Starburst, and continued to reign Mountain Dew on spots for extensions Code Red and Livewire. Last November, new executive producer Steve Ross came on board to help steer the ship. (AD)

Los Angeles
Founded: 1972
Principals: Joe Pytka, Director; Tara Fitzpatrick, Executive Producer
While his restaurant Bastide is hogging the critical kudos lately, Pytka's other occupation seems to be rolling along at a brisk pace. Appropriately, the francophilic director recently took on le bellringer and Notre Dame for "Hunchback," an epic spot for Cheez-it snacks out of Leo Burnett. The versatile as ever Pytka took on an array of spot styles over the past year, teaming with W+K on quietly funny Christmas work for Amazon, and kicking off the year with the Jordan vs Jordan invisible effects gem for Gatorade. Highlights also include O&M's dry office-focused campaigns for IBM business solutions, and, making summer complete, Beyonce's sexy swill for Pepsi through BBDO. (TI)

(This article appears in the September issue of Creativity.)

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