Opulent estates…maverick CEO’s…impeccably dressed teddy bears. So far so good for ’16, and I’m excited to add to Donnybrook’s growing setwork of production allies.
I’m wrapping up efforts on a follow-up Build-a-Bear shoot, having come on to Production Super another spot campaign at the Christiana Mall…this time for NYC production house Collective. Producers Ivy Dane and Jo Till have developed a well oiled production machine for Director David McNamara’s creative efforts, and I’m happy to have been entrusted in to the fold. Thanks as well to Producer Nancy Landesberg, for the ringing endorsement.
I’ve also been keeping busy with LA-based firm REP Interactive. The production company recently opened a new headquarters in NJ, and has been keeping me out and about for clients Sotheby’s & Century-21. I’m loving the creative collusion with Head of Production Mynor Sosa, and Creative Director Brian Johnson. Brian is my favorite kind of Director, and wields equal parts artistic genius and pragmatic production know-how on set. I’m looking forward to subsequent teamings with REP, as they continue to grow their East Coast presence. Here’s a fun promo we produced with Century-21, for the upcoming One21 global conference in Vegas.
With the new year off to a quick start, I found myself in Vermont to ring in ’16 with a chill. Field Producing the television spot campaign for Governor hopeful Bruce Lisman kept me close enough to the slopes to wish for more downtime, but also busy enough to shake off the frigid temp’s that barely broke freezing during my entire stay.
Teaming with agency client Jamestown Associates, and Director/DP Kevin Hack, I was on the ground with the Lisman camp as we compiled footage for a handful TV ads. And while initially skeptical that I’d be able to secure experienced crew locally, I’m indebted to Adam Lukens, and the entire Queen City Lighting clan, for all of their hard work and support during our shoot.
Here’s the intro TV :60 ‘New Direction’, that hits the air in the lead off spot.
Over the past few years, I’ve taken to posting a bit of holiday-infused eggblog around this time. Typically, the posts are sponsored by a scene from a favorite Christmas comedy, and offer a fleeting burst of pop culture to wrap up the annual goings-on. This year however, I thought I’d take a moment to blast a quick shout-out from a project I collaborated on for Build-a-Bear Workshop, in place of the usual comedic shenanigans.
I had the opportunity to Production Super BABW’s holiday campaign a few months back, and to make it extra special my wife and son were able to come out and participate as well. They served as background for one of the spots…though you’d have to squint pretty hard to find them in the final cut. The job shot over the course of a week at the Christiana Mall in Delaware, and was produced by Detour Films out of Santa Monica. Director Jerry Brown was amazing to work with, and I’m that much more grateful to him for leaving such a lasting life experience for my 6-year old, Chase, who can be hard to entertain.
A big thanks to the mall, our cast and crew, and the fine folks at Delaware’s Labor Law Office, for their speedy turnaround on a mountain of minor work permits at the 11th-hour. Here’s the ‘Favorite Things’ ad that has been airing of late, just in time for the holidays.
Over the past month, I’ve been collaborating with one of my regular agency clients on a comprehensive re-branding effort for the American Red Cross. With ARC looking to update all of their existing first-aid course materials, Donnybrook and Agency Producer Michael DelPolito have been prepping for a handful of shoots in the Greater Philly region in the coming weeks.
With the need for first-aid training so pervasive, the shoots will represent all walks of life. Our casting selects have been keeping our friends over at Philadelphia Casting Co on their toes, and Susan and Sam have been great to work with as always. When all is said and done we’ll have booked nearly two-hundred talent…not to mention dozens of locations, a fleet of semi’s, and a school bus or two for added measure. And we’ve amassed a fantastic crew once again, with a number of familiar faces and vendors in the ranks. Thank you to Expressway Grip, DP Tom Fanelle, and Production Designer Mike Crenshaw for yet another stellar cooperative effort. And a big shout-out to Erin @ the GPFO for all of her assistance along the way.
The fruits of our collective labors should hit the streets early next year, but here’s the Donnybrook produced spot that kicked it all off for these varied Red Cross co-op’s. Directed by Josh Mawer, this one still ranks as one of my favorites.
This might put me in the minority of the self-employed, but over my first few years in business I’ve yet to be outright stiffed on an invoice. Granted, I’ve had a bill or two contested, but ultimately an outcome was reached amicably and I wasn’t left completely in the lurch. Nevertheless, there are many who have been, and in the coming months a noble undertaking will look to shed light on this demoralizing trend.
Drafting what they’re referring to as the ‘worlds longest invoice’, the Freelancers Union is endeavoring to thrust deadbeat clients in to unflattering cross hairs of exposure. By providing independent contractors with an opportunity to tell their story, and add their outstanding invoices to a collective tally, the advocacy non-profit is hoping to curb this all-too-common fiscal evasion…and perhaps get a few folks paid in the process.
If the immediate gain is exposure, the long run objective seems to be enacted legislation that would offer more readily available recourse to freelancers that are due payment. Regardless, it’s an initiative worthy of publicity, and more information can be found on the Freelancers Union website. #FreelanceIsntFree
I recently partnered with one of my long standing agency clients, to produce the campaign spots for self-made real estate maestro Allan Domb‘s run at City Council. The collaboration marked another successful foray in to the political production world for Donnybrook, and I’m happy to have been a part of the efforts. Allan has a clear vision for the City of Brotherly Love, and one that could serve to right many of the educational woes that have plagued Philly in recent years.
The shoot also offered up a chance to work with Director Todd Wolfe, and both he and I were able to bring out our kids for a cameo opportunity. His daughter Morgan is fantastic to have on set, and is a consummate professional already. And my son Chase has been enlisted by me on more than one occasion, and has begun to develop an affinity for spending time on set.
There’s little chance I could have pulled things together without the support of Jeni Miller, local talent and casting aficionado. Jeni’s call to action in support of the project yielded amazing results, and introduced me to a brand new pool of talent I’ll be sure to leverage in the future. Here’s one of the finished spots, which features a bevy of tenacious tykes, Chase and Morgan among the bunch. Also present is a coherent message for educational reform that has Allan putting his money where his mouth is.
Closing on a highly productive stretch, I’ve been contemplating the perennial adage ‘no man is an island’ of late. And while Donne’s sentiments at the time were likely far more rooted in the metaphysical, the statement nevertheless translates as effective business advice. Cliché? Well OK, perhaps a tad trite. Ill-founded? Not by a long shot…and as a freelance professional, it’s stout wisdom worthy of adherence.
That said, when I first set out on my own back in 2011, after a long staff producing stint, the notion of avoiding ‘the island’ seemed daunting. But over the course of my varied Donnybrook adventures, I’ve learned to adopt the cooperative spirit and embrace networking as a necessity. I’m certainly better off, and thankfully busier, for it…maybe even a smidge less lonely in the process.
In recent months, I’ve been fortunate enough to kindle newfound CoOp’s with the likes of Philly pharma-force Evoke Health and respected ratings maven Nielsen. I’ve also just wrapped another effective effort with Schott Productions, on behalf of Novo Nordisk, co-producing an inventive campaign for the Danish drug-makers. So as I reflect on the first few years worth of freelance achievements, I’m grateful for the strategic partnerships forged along the way. Collusion takes company, so here’s to many more creative undertakings as I continue to build Donnybrook’s diverse ‘setwork’. Onwards…
Let’s face it, this winter sucked…plain and simple. Brutal weather, miserable commutes, and lest we forget another ‘Storm of the Century’. It’s enough to make a fella abscond with his 5-year old to greener (and sunnier) pastures. As a matter of fact, it was exactly enough. So with my NY stint for ‘Deadbeat’ recently wrapped, I took advantage of the timing and set off for Phillies’ Spring Training with my little man. Carpe diem, right. As it turned out, it wasn’t any harder for Chase & I to trade the frozen tundra of the Northeast Corridor for the sunlit palms of Clearwater than it was for the Fightin’s to trade J-Ro11 to the Dodgers! Not that I’m totally on board with the latter decision, mind you.
Energized by the high-temps and crystal clear conditions, we took in the pre-season opener at Brighthouse Field against the dreaded Bomber’s from the Bronx. And even though the game ended in a tie, which is allowable in Grapefruit League play, we still enjoyed front row seats behind home plate, fed our faces with hot dogs and pretzels (as any self respecting fans should), and finally departed late in the day, armed with plenty of spring-themed souvenirs for our favorite girls back home.
Now having finally taken the trip myself, I’d encourage any fellow baseball enthusiasts out there, whether parent or perpetual bachelor, to make the trek at some point if possible. They say that there’s nothing as inspiring as spring baseball, and it’s true. But unfortunately, it’s the October baseball that will be depressing for Phillies phans this season. Nevertheless, we’ll all still dare to dream, and come playoff time it will be up to the finicky baseball gods to dictate the fate of the mighty Fightin’s!
And because this getaway has me reminiscing already, here’s a quick throwback ad for the Phillies Majestic Clubhouse Store, shot in 2010. It features a mini version of Chase, as well as several friends and family cameos, all of whom were happy to lend a hand…for the free Phillies swag, of course. I managed and coordinated the spot, with Sue Redmond @ Rubberband Producing. Watching it still brings back a wave of nostalgia…and little man still has the Chase Utley blanket. We ‘share’ it, of course.
I don’t know what it is about Bill Murray. Perhaps it’s his turn as Herman Blume, in the pinnacle Wes Anderson effort ‘Rushmore’, one of my favorite on-screen performances. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s the best sort of celeb, when it comes to respecting his fans. Or heck, it might just be the fact that by all outward appearances, he seems like a really swell guy! And while I’ve never had the privilege of being on a set with him, he’s undoubtedly one of my favorite living actors.
So at least once annually, when life affords me that much needed holiday sponsored hibernation, I make damn sure to treat myself to a solid dose of ‘Scrooged’. Joining the elite ranks of cult Yuletide classics like ‘Elf’ and ‘Christmas Vacation’, ‘Scrooged’ is far and away the most irreverent reinvention of the original Dickens narrative.
This year’s respite was no exception, witnessing a healthy portion ‘Murray-ment’. So now, as I venture back out in to the great unknown that is 2015, at least I’ll have the sardonic wit and sensibilities of Frank Cross fresh in mind. Caveat collegae…
In a timely twist of fate, I’ve found myself surrounded recently by ghosts, severed fingers, petulant blobs, and even the occasional DeVito or two. Originally slated to UPM the period feature ‘Treetop’, in the City of Brotherly Love, I instead returned to NYC to manage Hulu’s sophomore season of ‘Deadbeat’, for Lionsgate, when the aforementioned philm initiative fell through.
Teaming once again with fellow DGA conspirator Michael Chandler, who was also attached (as 1st AD) to the ill fated ‘Treetop’, this big apple run has been an entertaining ride. I had binge watched Deadbeat’s pilot season once I learned of the opportunity, a luxury afforded me by hulu’s batch release strategy, and was invigorated by the strength of the final few episodes. Starting on a strong note, and wisely upping the involvement of Lucy DeVito’s Sue, the second season picks up once again on the lonely shores of Brooklyn’s East River. But to discover where things go from there, you’ll have to tune in to the Season Two launch in the Spring.
Tyler Labine kills it as Pac, a stoner medium that wages consistent psychic warfare with Cat Deeley’s buttoned up celebrity clairvoyant Camomile…yeah, like the tea. I’d actually had the pleasure of meeting Tyler a year or so back, at a convention Q&A for ‘Tucker and Dale vs Evil’. He’s proven to be as much fun to work with as I’d anticipated during that brief encounter, and is easy going and enjoyable whether on set or off. The show’s creators, Brett Konner and Cody Heller (the writing duo behind FX’s ‘Wilfred’), are both as acerbic as one might assume, and a total blast to be around on a daily basis.
Hulu will launch Season Two on April 20…and if the date 4.20 doesn’t have any immediate recognition for you, then you’ve likely lead a tedious life on the straight and narrow. No worries, someone had to clue me in too.