Despite its somewhat bellicose name, Burbank-based commercials production startup ROR has made its debut with a pacific PSA in collaboration with a Nobel Peace Prize winner. The spot, which aired in Latin markets last month, surreally combines live action and special effects, as the spirit of a soldier is morphed back into an unarmed man on an empty field; the upcoming U.S. version will feature the voiceovers of celebrities like Fran Drescher and Calista Flockhart.
"The concept arose out of what a dead soldier might do if he were brought back to life," explains ROR CD/director Ken Wiatrak, who came up with the idea after meeting with Nobel winner and former Costa Rican president Oscar Arias last year. "We decided he'd probably rethink the whole idea of fighting in the first place."
ROR -- short for Rainmaker Once Removed -- is a two-month-old offshoot of Vancouver-based Rainmaker Digital Pictures, an effects company known for its television and film trailer work, which includes teasers for Dante's Peak and Mouse Hunt. The new unit is the brainchild of Wiatrak and co-founder/managing director and producer Misato Shinohara, who bring in a lot of production credits. Wiatrak, a former director and designer at Metrolight Studios, has shot live action and CGI projects for Warner Brothers, New Line Cinema, Tokyo's Disneyland and others. The Japanese-born Shinohara has worked at Dentsu in Tokyo and the States; at Digital Domain as coordinating producer in its new-media division. Most recently she produced a Making of Titanic documentary with James Cameron for Japan's NHK television via L.A.'s Rubicon Entertainment.
Shinohara hopes her Asian connections will help expand ROR's niche to include the Pacific Rim. She notes that Japanese agencies prefer the high production values and more direct way of doing business of American companies. Despite daring ideas and big budgets, most Asian agencies are hampered by a lack of understanding of the production process, she feels. "When an agency has $2 million to spend," she says, "we can give them something to show for it."
Not about to be intimidated by West Coast effects giants like Digital Domain and Pixar, ROR can rely on the feature effects resources of its Canadian mother shop, while remaining "structured not to be big but to be approachable," Wiatrak