The Top Production Companies List
If you haven't noticed, in recent years the production field has gotten a whole lot more expansive and challenging, thanks to a host of factors like evolving technology, brand globalization, and the growing mandate to spread advertisers' messages across screens and spaces of all sizes. In 2007, we've made a concerted effort to include not just live action talents, but animation/multimedia shops too. We've also incorporated top shops from outside of the U.S. Admittedly, in this process, some top Stateside suspects might have been pushed out and we may have overlooked the top Kazakhstanian production player, but we endeavored to recognize the companies with the best combinations of any of the following: the most creative and most notable work, undeniably fresh points of view, enthusiasm about conquering new production territory, and a stellar performance at this year's awards fests. As advertising/marketing has evolved to a point where it needs to inspire and affect on a global, pan-media scale, we believe so should production companies. The following are the shops that have done just that.
Roster : Jeffery Blitz, Armando Bo, Mac Carter, Garth Davis, John Dolan, Andrew Douglas, David Fincher, Antoine Fuqua, Alejandro Gonzalez-Inarritu, Gavin Hood, Garth Jennings, David Kellogg, Steven Klein, Joseph Kosinski, Daniel Levi, Robert Logevall, Christian Loubek, Shyam Madiraju, Brett Morgen, *Jake Nava, *PES, Justin Reardon, Guy Ritchie, Mark Romanek, Patrick Sherman, Brad Siberling, Sunu, Malcolm Venville, Gore Verbinski Principals : Steve Golin, Chairman/CEO; Dave Morrison, Partner/Head of Commercials; Paul Green, President; Diane Janicki, CFO Michael DiGirolamo, VP, Head of Sales,Tara Averill, VP, East Coast sales ,Jeff Baron, EP,Cassie Hulen, EP,Andy Traines, EP
The Gears of War "Mad World" spot was easily our favorite moment from Anonymous in the last twelve months. The collaboration between David Fincher, who acted as a creative consultant, and architect-turned director Joseph Kosinski, utilized the Xbox 360's game engine (and assistance from Digital Domain) to create an emotional story that changed the face of game advertising. The rest of the roster deserves serious props?Mark Romanek continued to push the limits of tech and photography on Honda's "Wind", Frank Budgen brought runners together for "Reebok" and united another motley crew for Y&R's Live Earth "S.O.S." spot; Garth Davis played a game of cops & robbers for Xbox and the newly signed PES continued to elevate his stop motion game on Sneaux's "Human Skateboard" and "Pivot" for Sprint. Anonymous remains the dominant features force, thanks to the celebrated Babel, directed by Alexandro Gonazelz Inarritu and Jeffrey Blitz's Rocket Science, a follow-up to his first successful indie feature, Spellbound.
Backyard Productions/Transistor Studios
Roster : Kevin Smith, Rob Pritts, Don Rase, Chace Strickland, Steve Burrows, Nick Piper, Jesper Ericstam, Jeffrey Karoff, Rob Sanders, John Immesoete, Aaron Stoller, Erickson Core Principals : Roy Skillicorn, Blair Stribley; Executive Producers: Kris Mathur, Eriks Krumins, Peter Steinzeig;Transistor: James Price, Dalek (James Marshall), Patrick Bowyer, CDs; Damon Meena, EP/Partner; Andrea Sertz, Head of Production, Eric Andrade, Interactive EP
Rob Sanders contemplated the pleasures of driving for Buick, while Rob Pritts turned out fine funny moments for Molson and Febreeze. MTV can't get enough of Aaron Stoller, who shot new promos starring Sara Silverman, while Don Rase got all D&D for Fallon Healthcare and Ericson Core held BMW in balance. Animation/design counterpart Transistor, which landed a huge coup with the addition of street artist Dalek as a creative director, made a strong showing at Cannes this year, with shortlisted work for adidas, MTV, Mediawise and Coke.
Roster : Brain Aldrich, Douglass Avery, Ramon Bloomberg, Jess Hall, Pekka Hara, Lynn Fox, Mark Molloy, Stuart Parr, Ted Pauly, The Perlorian Brothers*, Pleix, Speck/Gordon, Yael Staav*, Dougal Wilson (BlinkInk) Ark, Kalle Haglund, Ben Hibon, Ben Ib, Ruairi Robinson, Simon Willows (Music Videos) Douglass Avery, Ramon Bloomberg, Ben Ib, Lynn Fox, Pleix, Terri Timely*, Simon Willows, Dougal Wilson Principals : Diane McArter, Partner/MD; James Stuholme, Partner; Matt Factor Partner/EP
We didn't get the Furlined name at first, but that doesn't really matter since it now represents some of the industry's finest work. Funny remains a forte, thanks to Speck & Gordon, who debuted their feature Blades of Glory and made evolutionary comedic leaps with Geico's Cavemen, directing notable spots like "Airport" and "Therapist" as well as a cinematic trailer and the pilot episode of the upcoming series. Dougal Wilson made his U.S. commercials debut on work for JCPenney and former MTV talent Ted Pauly was non stop with spotwork for Old Spice and an integrated effort for Mountain Dew. New signings include Yael Staav, the directing force behind the Grand Prix-winning Dove "Evolution," and mischievous creatives-turned-directors The Perlorian Brothers, fresh off their macho moves on Wieden's "Hungry Like the Bruce," for Old Spice.
Roster : Steve Chase*, Jonathan David, David Dobkin, Caitlin Felton, Christopher Guest, Tim Hamilton,Andrews Jenkins, Simon McQuoid, Markus Walter Principals : Robert Wherry, Jonathan Weinstein, Gary Rose, EPs/Partners
Go Film went through a transition this year, slimming its roster (it said goodbye to Jeff Aron Lable, Tom Schiller, Neil Tardio Jr. and Who?) while directing more attention to the new media space. The shop launched Goon Media, led by EP Catherine Finkenstaedt, which focuses on the production of new media content. Traditional highlights include Christopher Guest's rock and roll spots for Volkswagen and Crispin. Meanwhile, Goon had a respectable start with solid projects like Guest's additional work on VW's V-dubsrock.com site and on Microsoft's "Stu Osborn Show," starring Fred Willard, and Jeep's "The Way Beyond Trail" campaign, directed by Andrews Jenkins.
Roster : Frank Budgen, Tom Carty, Chris Palmer, Peter Thwaites, Ben Seresin, Vince Squibb Principals : Frank Budgen, Chris Palmer, Co-Founders/Directors; Paul Rothwell, Managing Director/Co-Founder
2007 proved huge for the Gorgeous gang. Vince Squibb shot a stirring, poetic Lion winner for London Transport, "The Day You Went to Work." In the eyes of Peter Thwaites, Asimo became all the more human, in a web and film effort for Honda and Wieden/London, while Chris Palmer convinced us he could create anything, like a cake on wheels, for Skoda's delightful "The Baking of." Headliner Frank Budgen took to the track with Reebok, out of McGarry Bowen/180 Amsterdam, and gathered together a motley mix in an environmental call to action for SOS, both coproductions with Anonymous. Meanwhile, buzz is already starting about Budgen's own colorful addition to the Sony and Fallon/London Bravia gallery.
Roster : Baker Smith, Michael Downing, Adria Petty*, Peter Martin, Paul Laufer, BigTV Principals : Baker Smith, co-founder/director; Bonnie Goldfarb, EP
Although he's been spending plenty of time on the turntables of RadioHarvest, Baker Smith steered more comedic moments for Dairy Queen, including one starring a sneaky Blizzard thief. Joined by fellow Harvester Michael Downing, he also manned Saatchi's ambitious red-pigtail-studded launch for Wendy's and erected a gargantuan robot for Propel's "Stress Monster," out of Element 79. Although the company said goodby to Anabel Jankel, who left to pursue a fulltime TV gig in London, it added Adria Petty, aka daughter of Tom, who recently finished her first job out of W+K for Target. On the viral tip, Harvest also started a pubic hair collection, for Hum Music's harrythedancinghair.com online campaign.
Roster : Allen Coulter, Bennett Miller, Brendan Gibbons, Bryan Buckley, Dave Gray, Hank Perlman, *Harold Einstein, Marcos Siega, Owen Harris, Paul Gay, Robert Jitzmark, Roderick Renske, Samuel Christopher, Scott Vincent, Vance Malone, Zissimos + Rowan, 300ml Principals : Stephen Orent, Bryan Buckley, Hank Perlman, Partners/Owners; Lauri Aloi, EP/Head of Sales; Caroline Gibney, EP/Head of Production; Kevin Byrne, N.Y. EP; Tom Rossano, N.Y. EP; Stacie Gillman, Mary French, N.Y. East Coast Sales; Dan Duffy, L.A. EP; Caroline Gibney, LA EP/Head of Production; Matt Buels, Hungry Man U.K. MD; Tim Nunn, U.K. EP/Head of Production; Sally Newsom, U.K. Sales; Alex Mehedff, Hungry Man Rio MD; Fernanda Curi, Rio Sales; Mark Grande, Head of Development
Co-founding director Brian Buckley attracted another year of great work and industry accolates. This year, he earned an another Emmy-nomination for his Ellen DeGeneres-meets-animals spot for Amex, as well as plenty of nods for his Burger King Whopperette extravaganzas. Meanwhile, the company got experimental with the launch of Hungry Man TV, a cinematic playground for its talents, featuring original series like Buckley's "Undercover Cheerleaders" and Hank Perlman's "Phistophocles." Although the company said goodbye to heavy-hitting talents Jim Jenkins, David Shane and producer Ralph Laucella who split to form shop-to-watch O Positive, recent signees like Harold Einstein and 300ML, featured in the Saatchi New Directors Showcase and our upcoming Nospot Film Festival, help to set the stage for exciting new work.
Directors : Tommy Means (Live Action), Ian Kovalik (Animation/Interactive) Principals : Tommy Means, Ian Kovalik, Director/CDs; Pete Caban, CEO/Head of Digital Strategy; Jason Harris, President/EP (see story, p. 34.)
Roster : (Commercial): Leslie Ali, Agust Baldursson, Antoine Bardou-Jacquet, Ben & Greg, Patrik Bergh, Nico Beyer, Chris Cairns, Lisa Cholodenko, Eric Coignoux, Alex Courtes, Quentin Dupieux, The Elvis, Martin Fougerol, Raphael Frydman, David Gaddie, Paul Goldman,Michel Gondry, Michael Gracey & Pete Commins,Thomas Hilland, Matthias Hoene, Lian Hong, Jim Hosking, Barney Howells, Warren Kushner*, Gilles Leliouche, Eric Lynne, Dominic Murphy, Doug Nichol, Nagi Noda, Ace Norton, Numero 6, Raf Wathion, Ramon & Pedro, Regis Roinsard, Seth & Bobby, Stephen Shore, Traktor, Pierre Winther Music Video: Philip Andelman, Associates in Science, Casseus, Chris Cairns, Lisa Cholodenko, Alex Courtes,Martin Fougerol, Michel Gondry, Andrew Gura, Alma Har'el, Honey, Matthias Hoene, Kinga Burza, Neon, Doug Nichol, Nagi Noda, Ace Norton, Mike Piscitelli, Ramon & Pedro, Rozan & Schmeltz, Cat Solen, Traktor Principals : George Bermann, Founder; Sheila Stepanek, CEO
Performance pro Eric Lynne pulled a lot of weight at Cannes this year, earning Gold and Silver for his work on Viagra and VW. Traktor earned double Emmy nominations for Pepsi's "Pinball" and the poignant "Air" for General Electric. Partizan proved it also knows a good joke?Michel Gondry, who shot clips for Paul McCartney and Beck, got viewers scratching their heads with his Rubiks Cube stunts (solving the puzzle with his feet, and then later, his nose); Ace Norton shot one of Ray-Ban's mystery virals, out of Cutwater, and Numero 6 was later uncovered as the prankster behind a collection of mysterious and super authentic UFO virals. On the features front, Georges Bermann teamed with Gondry to produce the director's upcoming film Be Kind Rewind, starring Jack Black.
Roster : Araya Suriharn, Binn Kitcachonpong, Kanin Chandrasma, Ketchai Parponsilp, Krittinont, Nopakun, Numthong Thongyai Na Ayudhaya, Prasertsook Thawilvejjakul, Satit Kalawantavanich, Surapong Ploensang,Thanonchai Sornsriwichai, Thanyarak Phanvilai Principals : Satit Kalawantavanich, President/Director; Yodphet Sudsawad, MD; Boonkiet Korsanan, Financial Director; Sumalee Tantrapongsothorn, EP
Although the Bangkok-based company is home to a roster of talented directors, its international momentum has been driven largely by Thanonchai Sornrivichai. The awards magnet, known for his signature slapstick style brought more wacky fun to a new series of spots for Smooth-E and a cockroach-themed episodes for Bangkok Assurance, not to be confused with his previous campaign for Bangkok Insurance, our Creativity Award winner featuring natural catastrophes that mysteriously right themselves to prove a more unsettling reality.
Directors : Eben Mears, Kylie Matulick, Todd Mueller, Marco Spier, Marie Hyon Blacklist: AAB, Againstallodds, Cisma, Friendswithyou, Nanospore, No-Domain, Pistachios Principals : Justin Booth-Clibborn, EP, Psyop; Adina Sales, EP, Blacklist
Psyop carved out a spot in the big leagues thanks to its fine efforts on Coca-Cola's "Happiness Factory" and its long-form follow-ups, "The Documentary," which explored the "real world" personalities behind the characters introduced in the original, and "The Movie," all directed by Kylie Matulic and Todd Mueller. It also debuted more international work on Renault, via Eben Mears, in a Stink partnership. Meanwhile, the company lived up to its design-driven roots on an elegant black and white trailer for MTV HD, directed by Marie Hyon and Marco Spier, and via its new offshoot Blacklist, featuring a must-see collection of international animation mavens that produced work for Tylenol and Partnership for a Drug Free America, among others. To top it off, Psyop earned a well-deserved Emmy nomination, for "Happiness Factory," of course.
Roster : Daniel Kleinman, Ringan Ledwidge, Tom Vaughan, Ivan Bird, Andy McLeod Principals : Johnnie Frankel, President; Producers : Johnnie Frankel (For Daniel Kleinman), Sally Humphries (For Ringan Ledwidge), Josh Barwick (For Ivan Bird), Kirsty Burns (For Andy McLeod)
This newcomer on the list, launched last year by directors Danny Kleinman and Ringan Ledwidge and president Johnnie Frankel, was off, not surprisingly, to a dynamic start. Kleinman was his usual extreme self, bringing epic proportion to Smirnoff, reuniting man and puppet for PG Tips, and steering the neon whimsy of the Bronze Lion-winning Lux tale out of Santo, while Ledwidge shed a whole lot of threads for Levi's and BBH's "Dangerous Liasons," which earned Gold and Bronze Lions. Former creative Andy Macleod has also made a smooth transition to the director's chair, as seen in his stirring performance work for Barnardos and his giggle-filled turn for Skoda.
Roster : Armando Bo, Luciano Podcaminsky, Lemon, Baby, Doble Nelson Principals : Patricio Alvares Casado, EP; Claudio Ferrero and Axel Linari, Production Directors; Jorge Larrain, Mariano Avellaneda, Producers; Lix Campi, Production Coordinator
We saw a feast of feisty work from Argentine shop Rebolucion, which, along with its South American agency collaborators like Santo, Madre and Vegaolmosponce, among others, have helped propel Argentine creative into the international spotlight. The shop was founded by directors Armando Bo and Luciano Podcaminsky and producer Patricio Alvarez in a Buenos Aires '70s bar in 2005. Two years later, it took the 6th place in the lineup for this year's Palm D'or at Cannes, thanks to work like Silver Lion-honored campaign for Impulse, via Bo and Lemon and a Stateside spot, Grupo Gallegos' "Law of Gravity," for California Milk Processors Board, shot by tag team Bo and Podcaminsky. Bo also brought big heads and old school Hollywood style to Rexona, while Podcaminsky led a body-conscious redirect for Nike and Madre, and showed things "The Way They Are" in a Campaign for Sprite, out of O&M/ Buenos Aires. Lemon also illustrated tech in goofy, real-life ways for Telecom-Personal.
Roster : Acne, Jonas Akerlund, Lena Beug*, Neill Blomkamp, Joe Carnahan, Tom Dey, Ben Dickinson*, Duplass Brothers, Lauri Faggioni*, Adam Goldstein, Hugh Johnson, Melina, John O'Hagan*, Jesse Peretz*, Johan Renck, Carl Erik Rinsch, Russo Brothers*, Jake Scott, Jordan Scott, Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, David Slade UK: Babak, James Bryce, Laurence Dunmore, Sean Ellis, Brett Foraker, Johnny Hardstaff, Chris Hartwill, Wayne Holloway, Huse, Matt Kirby, Kofai*, Nick Livesey, Henry Mason*, Finn McGough*, Adrian Moat, Mark Nunneley, Stuart Rideout, Alex Rutterford, Luke Scott, Dawn Shadforth, Shynola, Col Spector, Adam Smith, Alex Smith, Baillie Walsh, Ronnie West, Vernie Yeung Little Minx: Laurent Briet, Steph Green*, H5, Mat Kirby, Josh Miller, Chris Nelson, Fatima Robinson, Mark Seliger, Dawn Shadforth, Malik Hassan Sayeed, Dana Adam Shapiro, Philip Van* Joy @ RSA Albert Kodagolian, David Lodge*, Mehdi Norowzian, Pete Salmi Special Project Casey Affleck*, Andrew Dominik, Kaz I. Kiriya, Sam Mendes, Kevin Spacey Black Dog Chris Bran*, Hi-Sim, Price James, Cliff Watts* Principals : (U.S.) Jules Daly, President/MD; Marjie Abrahams, VP/EP; Fran McGivern, EP; Tracie Norfleet, EP; Philip Fox Mills, N.Y. EP; Rhea Scott, President of Little Minx; Kim Dellara, EP, Black Dog; (U.K) Kai-Lu Hsiung, MD/EP; Debbie Garvey, Deputy MD/EP; Caspar Delaney, EP Sookie Foster, EP; Kim Dellara, EP (Black Dog) (see story, p. 32 )
Smith & Jones
Roster : Ulf Johansson
Principals : Ulf Johansson, Co-Founder/Director; Philippa Smith, Co-Founder/EP
Coming off a huge World Cup "Joga Bonita" campaign, starring soccer great Eric Cantona, mystery man Ulf Johansson helped to spark controversy at this year's relatively underwhelming Super Bowl spots showcase, directing the inadvertent macho man lip lock spot for Snickers, out of Chiat/ N.Y. that ultimately got pulled from the airwaves after protest from gay rights groups. The director made an equally silly but not so inciting big game appearance directing Garmin's Godzilla-inspired "Maposaurus" spot, out of Fallon/ Minneapolis and also brought a Rodin "Thinker"-like statue to life for one of Crispin's final efforts for Miller before the agency resigned the client.
Roster : Lena Beug, Hubert Davis, Mark Gilbert, Michael Graf,James Haworth, Christopher Hutsul, John Mastromonaco, Steve Mottershead, Chris Sargent,Graydon Sheppart, Curtis Wehrfritz, Aleysa Young Principals : James Davis, MD; Peter Davis, EP; Tom Evelyn, Producer
Canadian shop Untitled might also earn a nod for production company with the most disturbing imagination, based on its work for Mac's, directed by Christopher Hutsul and Graydon Sheppard. Sheppard also helped to direct the freaky, Gold Media Lion-winning haunting of Toronto, for Scream TV, out of Zig, featuring a ghost who mysteriously appeared in the windows of an old Victorian home, live and in online videos. Chris Sargent showed us a different kind of disturbing when he brought the oblivious steps away from the reality of global warming, in a poignant spot for the World Wildlife Federation.
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