Independent Media

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Susanne Preissler is deliberately a little vague about the makeup of her roster. In addition to her nucleus of regulars, she tends to be able to lasso in directors, specifically, a particular type of movie director, as appropriate. The roster is not locked in stone. That's because Preissler's objective with Independent is different from most production companies. Her clearly stated interest and ambition lies primarily in taking movie directors into commercials, rather than the more normal route in the opposite direction. Preissler believes adamantly that a commercials director should work in more than one medium: "It's not just about guys who are desperate to fill their own bank accounts, but who are into good work, and who are going to be picky and choosy," she explains, adding, "You also know they're going to be available months in advance.

"I don't want to be beholden to any one director," Preissler continues. "You become less of a producer that way. You get into a rhythm. It can be good, but you can get soft. You stay in a box. You stop looking outside the window." Preissler, whose early career included Tate & Partners (where she "found" Baker Smith) and a stint in independent movies, started producing after seeing the Doug Liman movie Swingers. She was so impressed that she called him cold; a move that resulted in her producing his first commercial, for Airwalk, running the shoot through Propaganda and Stephen Dickstein. She is remarkably candid about her association with Propaganda, commenting, "I so wanted to be there, but I got shredded the first few weeks. There was more competition internally than externally. I had to scrap and fight in a way I'd never had to learn before."

When Propaganda parted with Dickstein in 1999, Preissler soon moved on to RSA. There she put together the team she still has today, but got caught up in the fallout from Marcus Nispel's controversial "South Africa" ad about the SAG strike, and left to set up on her own. While the roster may be flexible, Preissler herself has a fierce reputation, or as some might say, a reputation for being fierce. She has done remarkably well to hang on to directors like Liman and others for so long, and in such a cutthroat business. "I'm not interested in competing with the likes of Kamen, Dickstein and Golin," reflects the forthright Preissler. "I've been accused of being too hands-on, but I'm trying to learn how to handle this. I do not want to be beholden to a huge overhead, or force directors to do work they don't want to do."

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