• Monday, Mar. 14, 2016
Steve Nix named GM of VR at Reel FX
Steve Nix

Digital studio Reel FX Dallas/Santa Monica has added Steve Nix as general manager of its virtual reality division, Reel FX VR. Nix will oversee all aspects of development, strategy and technology for the division. He joins David Bates, who was recently named general manager of the studio’s commercial division.

Nix has spent nearly two decades embracing new technology as a senior leader in interactive entertainment. Prior to joining Reel FX, Nix was CEO and co-founder of Yvolver, a mobile gaming technology developer, acquired by Opera Mediaworks in 2015. His extensive experience in the gaming industry spans digital distribution and game development for major industry players such as id Software, Ritual Entertainment and GameStop.

Nix said, “Reel FX has shown incredible foresight establishing itself as an early leader in the rapidly emerging VR content space.  This foundation, combined with the studio’s resources will allow us to aggressively expand our VR content offering, combining storytelling, visual and technical expertise in a medium that I firmly believe will change the human experience.”

Nix got his start in the gaming industry as CEO of independent game developer, Ritual Entertainment, an early pioneer in action games and digitally distributed PC games. Ritual developed and co-developed many titles including Counter Strike Xbox, Counter Strike: Condition Zero, Star Trek Elite Force II, Delta Force Black Hawk Down: Team Sabre, and 007: Agent Under Fire. He moved on to join id Software as director of business development, prior to its acquisition by ZenMax Media, transitioning to the position of director of digital platforms at the company. There he led digital distribution and mobile game development for some of the biggest brands in gaming including DOOM, RAGE, QUAKE and Wolfenstein. In 2011, Nix came on board as GM of digital distribution at GameStop, where he led the growth of new digital businesses.

  • Wednesday, Mar. 9, 2016
Andrew Dawson named chief strategy officer for Deutsch NY
Andrew Dawson
Andrew Dawson has been hired as partner, chief strategy officer at Deutsch New York. Since February, Dawson has been working with Deutsch as a freelance strategist and consultant on existing clients and new business efforts. This is Deutsch NY’s second significant hire this year as it builds out it’s leadership team; the first was in February with the addition of Trevor O’Brien as partner, chief technology officer, a newly created position.
Dawson’s first day will be March 28th. He reports directly to Deutsch NY CEO Val DiFebo and replaces the CSO position most recently held by Brent Vartan who left the agency in June 2015 to start accelerator agency Bullish. 
Prior to freelancing at Deutsch, Dawson was chief strategy officer at Johannes Leonardo on clients including Google, Mondelez’s Trident, adidas Originals, TripAdvisor, and PlayStation Vue. Before Johannes Leonardo, he was co-founder of the Master & Dynamic brand, makers of premium headphones sold at Apple Stores and fashion boutiques, leading strategic vision and brand development. Dawson gained extensive experience as a consultant while at Sylvain Labs, Undercurrent, and as a freelancer—including development of traditional and digital brand strategy, innovation projects ranging from research and whitespace development, product architecture, brand creation, naming and positioning, to more classical consulting projects. Dawson acquired agency side experience in planning roles at R/GA and McCann Erickson, and on an array of clients including Chobani, Victoria’s Secret, Johnson & Johnson, Pepsi, E-Trade, Land Rover, Levi’s, SC Johnson’s, US Army, and Walmart. 
Additionally, DiFebo announced the promotion of Shobha Sairam to EVP, director of planning from EVP, group planning director. With Deutsch since 2012, she has been leading strategy on J&J’s Acuvue and Green Giant and will now take on a broader role with the department on existing clients and new business opportunities. Agency experience includes time with Leo Burnett and Mother, on an array of clients such as Coca-Cola, Kraft, Heineken, JC Penney, Liz Claiborne, and Cadbury’s Sour Patch Kids.
  • Wednesday, Mar. 9, 2016
DGA hires Paster, promotes Knauss to assistant exec director posts in NY, LA, respectively
Rachel Paster (l) and Steven Knauss

Jay D. Roth, the Directors Guild of America’s national executive director, announced two new executive appointments: Rachel Paster is joining the DGA as assistant executive director in the Guild’s New York offices, and Steven Knauss has been promoted to assistant executive director in the Guild’s Los Angeles headquarters.

Paster will be involved in the administration of the Guild’s film and television agreements and represent assistant directors and unit production managers in the Eastern region. Paster, who will report to Eastern executive director Neil Dudich, will also serve as staff liaison to the Guild’s Eastern AD/UPM Council.

In his new role, Knauss will represent assistant directors and unit production managers in the Western region, serve as the staff liaison to the Guild’s Western AD/UPM Council, and oversee matters related to set safety. Knauss will report to Western executive director Danny Bush.

Roth said of Pater and Knauss, “Their labor relations and union experience will be a valuable asset in negotiating and enforcing DGA agreements. We look forward to putting their extensive experience and skills to use in the service of our AD and UPM members.”

Paster has more than 15 years of experience in union-side labor law. Prior to joining the DGA, she was a partner in the labor law firm Lewis, Clifton & Nikolaidis where she focused on representing labor unions in contract negotiations. She has also worked for Cohen, Weiss and Simon LLP and Cary Kane LLP, as well as the County Attorney for Nassau County, New York. Paster received both her B.A. and J.D. from the University of Michigan.

Knauss joined the Guild in 2013 as a field representative. Prior to that, he held a number of positions in Nevada and Florida Locals of the Service Employees International Union where he most recently served as healthcare division director and chief negotiator for Local 1107. Knauss received both his B.A. and M.A. from Appalachian State University.

  • Tuesday, Mar. 8, 2016
Sarah Roebuck named NY EP for Final Cut
Sarah Roebuck

Sarah Roebuck has joined Final Cut, stepping into the role of executive producer in the New York office. Roebuck’s career spans nearly two decades spanning the agency, live-action production and post company sides of the business.

Roebuck’s extensive experience began at J. Walter Thompson (JWT) New York, culminating in the role of director of integrated production recruiting, which she said proved an invaluable segue into the EP capacities that followed. Roebuck continued on to production roles at Radical Media, before landing EP roles at East Pleasant Pictures and Imaginary Forces. Roebuck had most recently been at jumP Editorial, where she served as EP.

“When presented with the opportunity to be reunited with [Final Cut president] Stephanie [Apt] again, my original mentor at JWT, it was just too good to pass up,” said Roebuck who joins Final Cut at a juncture when the company is expanding its expertise and offerings, particularly at Significant Others, a new postproduction and finishing arm led by veteran creative director Dirk Greene. 

  • Tuesday, Mar. 8, 2016
Transistor Studios hires Nicola Finn as exec producer
Nicola Finn

Design-driven production company Transistor Studios has hired Nicola Finn as executive producer. The Londoner has joined the team at Transistor’s headquarters in Brooklyn where she will help to generate new business from around the globe. Her new role also involves production and talent recruitment.

Finn has extensive experience in film production, having worked at agencies and brands around the world including Mother, Wieden + Kennedy, 180, BBH and Nike. Most recently she was managing director and EP for three years at Passion Pictures, a multiple Oscar-winning international animation and film company.

In 2008, when she launched Strange Beast, a London design-focused production company, Finn signed Transistor Studios for UK representation. Together with Transistor’s exec producer, Damon Meena, executive creative director Aaron Baumle and creative director Jamie Rockaway, she produced the multi award-winning BBC “Medieval Mind” trailer.

Finn’s appointment has coincided with the studio winning the pitch to re-brand Nickelodeon’s Nick at Nite channel. Transistor has also recently released several new projects, including titles and in-program graphics for Showtime docuseries “Dark Net” and a series of promos for new History Channel series “Join or Die”, which use a unique illustrative look combined with a mix of cel and 2D animation to mirror the tone of the series. Finn will be based in the new Transistor Studios headquarters on Wythe Avenue in Brooklyn. The studio’s warehouse feel is complemented by custom-built and vintage furnishings. Artwork has been specially created by the Transistor team, including a mural designed by art director Lyejm Kallas-Lewis and painted by Lauren Meena.

  • Friday, Mar. 4, 2016
David Tucker named head of strategy at SwellShark
David Tucker

SwellShark, an independent full-service media agency led by Nick Pappas and Mary Perhach, has appointed David Tucker to serve as its head of strategy.

In his new role, Tucker maps out the “moments of influence”--the NY agency’s guiding mantra of reaching target audiences at the moment they will be most receptive to the brand promise--for client brands. He works directly with each client’s creative agency or in-house team to ensure that the media strategy is informed by the brand strategy and creative choices are informed by data and insights.

Tucker comes to SwellShark from UM, where he served as VP global intelligence director and director of strategy and helped lead global research and insights for UM’s agency marketing and for clients such as Sony, Hershey’s, and Brown-Forman. In addition he was strategy director for the Sony Corporation of America account focusing on data-driven, addressable, and programmatically bought media.

Before his stint at UM, Tucker worked at McCann Worldgroup, where he helped found and serve as VP-deputy director for McCann Truth Central, the agency global thought leadership and research unit. He began his career as a consultant with Bain and Company.

“Having worked on both the creative and media sides, I am really excited to join an agency that emphasizes a harmonization of the planning process between the two disciplines,” said Tucker.

SwellShark provides media services to Sotheby’s International Realty, Hudson Whiskey, Applegate and Freelancers Union, among other companies. The agency was also recently named U.S. media agency of record by Virgin Atlantic. 

  • Friday, Mar. 4, 2016
EP Bebe Baldwin joins Cut+Run Austin
Bebe Baldwin
AUSTIN, Tex. -- 

Cut+Run has hired Bebe Baldwin as executive producer of its Austin office. Baldwin is a former producer for GSD&M, with deep experience in advertising and branded content projects from concept through finish.

During her career at GSD&M, Baldwin produced campaigns for such brands as AT&T, BMW, Marshalls, Southwest, and Walgreens. Agency insight and appreciation of client needs are part of the producing approach that she carries into the EP role at Cut+Run. Baldwin will partner with editors Staci LeVan, Jay Nelson, and the array of talent across Cut+Run locations to grow the Austin office, which has also added assistant editor Nick Kondylas.

“We have been considering how to nurture our growing market and clients in Austin, and Bebe brings us that solution,” said Michelle Eskin, Cut+Run U.S. managing director. “She has a wealth of experience from her years as an agency producer at GSD&M, and also understands our mission to support our clients’ postproduction needs with stellar creativity and service.”

Cut+Run operates under a borderless philosophy making its editors available worldwide on location and via its offices in London, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Austin.  Cut+Run’s editing talent includes LeVan, Nelson, Nick Armstrong, Ben Campbell, Isaac Chen, Sally Cooper, Georgia Dodson, Frank Effron, Lucas Eskin, Steve Gandolfi, Jon Grover, TG Herrington, Akiko Iwakawa, Sam Jones, Gary Knight, Pete Koob, Dan Maloney, Joel Miller, Chris McKay, Sam Ostrove, Stacy Peterson, Nathan Perry-Green, Dan Robinson, Chris Roebuck, Robert Ryang, Jack Singer, Julian Tranquille and Graham Turner.

  • Wednesday, Mar. 2, 2016
Liz Mason named managing director of BlueRock
Liz Mason

Liz Mason has joined New York-based creative editorial shop BlueRock as its managing director. Mason comes to BlueRock, part of the Lively Group family of companies, following eight years as managing director of RadicalMedia’s New York and LA-based in-house post team, Outpost Digital. Under her watch, Outpost took on a massively diverse range of projects, including large-scale traditional commercials, web initiatives, episodic series, feature length films, virtual reality, experiential content and some of the first 4K content ever required by Netflix.

Mason has also worked and collaborated with many high profile artists, creators and filmmakers, such as Steve Buscemi, Ron Howard, Matt Dillon, Steve Zaillian, Olivia Milch, Cary Fukanaga, Liz Garbus and Robert Redford.

“The reason we’ve been in business for such a long time is because we respond nimbly to the fast changing media environment,” said Ethel Rubinstein, owner/CEO, Lively Group. “Liz has the vision and the breadth to further our legacy by exposing us to new ways of creating effective and entertaining content. She will be invaluable in helping our editors find increasingly new and innovative ways for their clients to communicate with their audiences.”

Mason said her joining Bluerock was “all about embracing a new challenge. I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to be a part of what they are doing here. This is such a strong company with many very talented editors. The chance to help provide new opportunities for them was irresistible. For me, it’s all about doing great work and this made my role with BlueRock a perfect fit.” 

  • Tuesday, Mar. 1, 2016
Paul Rodriguez to head audio division at Roundabout Entertainment
Paul Rodriguez
BURBANK, Calif. -- 

Veteran motion picture and television sound executive Paul Rodriguez has joined Roundabout Entertainment as VP of audio services and development. Rodriguez will lead audio postproduction operations and seek to build relationships with studios; theatrical, broadcast television and streaming producers; animation studios and the wider industry. Rodriguez’s background includes seven years as VP/director of feature sales at Todd-AO/Soundelux.

Roundabout has recently been growing its audio services and gaining new business, particularly in episodic television and animation. The facility has added two mix stages for broadcast work and plans to add a fifth stage with Dolby Atmos capabilities for theatrical projects. Current work includes the Warner Bros. series Person of Interest, now completing its fifth season,  NBC/Universal’s Faceoff and the Netflix original comedy Flaked. Audio work for the new HBO sci-fi series Westworld is slated to begin soon.

“Our audio operations have been performing extremely well, driven by the rise in television production and the quality of our talent,” says CEO Craig Clark. “Paul is the perfect choice to help continue our momentum. He brings experience, deep knowledge, great relationships and enthusiasm.”

Rodriguez’s career in sound spans more than 20 years. At Todd-AO/Soundelux, he helped lead sales for divisions that included some of the top sound editors and re-recording mixers in the industry. He connected studios and sound talent for scores of tent-pole movie releases. His background also includes nine years as sr. VP of Wilshire Stages, two years as director of sound services at 4MC and eight years as president of EFX Systems.

He was co-owner of the Eagle Eye Film Company, a supplier of picture editing systems, and served as its managing general partner for seven years. Well connected throughout the sound community, he currently is an executive board member and treasurer of the trade organization Motion Picture Sound Editors (MPSE). He also produces the MPSE’s annual Golden Reel Awards ceremony.

Rodriguez is energized by the challenge of building Roundabout’s sound department. “We see a lot of opportunities in television and streaming,” he said. “We’ve got first class facilities, great people and plan to be at the top of the class in all areas of sound.”

Roundabout’s audio services include sound design, sound editorial, ADR, Foley, restoration and mixing. It has four mix stages with Digidesign Icon consoles and Christie digital projectors, a Dolby Atmos-certified finishing stage, five ADR stages and a Foley stage. The company provides facilities for several independent sound companies including Atomic Sound Post, which handles sound editorial for Person of Interest. Audio services complement a slate of picture services that include editorial finishing, color correction and restoration.

  • Tuesday, Mar. 1, 2016
Editor Ben Whitten joins Northern Lights
Ben Whitten

Editor Ben Whitten has come aboard NY-based postproduction shop Northern Lights. Whitten has nearly two decades of experience as an editor, with work spanning commercials, broadcast promos, co-branded initiatives, long form content, PSAs and radio spots. His background as a jazz musician brings a natural sense of rhythm to all of his projects, bringing out the emotion and arc of the storytelling. He has worked with ad agencies including Grey, JWT, Y&R, Draft FCB and major networks such as USA Network, Food Network and WE.

After studying jazz performance at Philadelphia’s The University of the Arts, Whitten headed to NYC with his sights set on the recording industry. He balanced an evening internship at a record label with a day job at a boutique advertising agency, where he got the chance to cut a number of small projects. In addition to editorial work, he climbed ranks to director of broadcast production, overseeing both in-house and outside production including editing, sound design, recording, mixing and licensing. As Whitten gained more experience editing, he moved on to editorial shop Mad House, where he spent nearly 15 years working with agencies on notable campaigns including an Addy Award-winning USPS 9/11 spot featuring Carly Simon’s “Let the River Run” and a series of music-driven spots for Burger King. He also utilized his musical background on a wide range of projects for Atlantic Records artists for almost a decade. Prior to joining Northern Lights, Whitten cut campaigns for the primetime series White Collar, Burn Notice, Complications and Suits.

Whitten said, “After meeting the team at Northern Lights I knew it would be a good fit. They have put together an incredibly talented group of people and the fact that they have production, design, audio and post, all under one roof is a direction that is exciting for me. I’m looking forward to being able to cross-pollinate with the other divisions and get the chance to work on a variety of work.”

Northern Lights partner David Gioiella noted, “Ben’s editorial style clearly communicates a unique point of view. And his diverse background in commercials, network promos and longer form assignments is a perfect fit.” 

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