• Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014
Tania Haigh to launch Magnolia Insights

Marketing executive Tania Haigh, most recently the lead for women and moms’ marketing initiatives at McDonald’s USA, is  launching Magnolia Insights, Inc., a marketing strategy firm specializing in marketing to women and moms. The new venture will be headquartered in Chicago’s West Loop, opening in first quarter 2015.

A 15-year marketing industry veteran with a decade of insight gleaned from various roles at McDonald’s USA, Haigh aims to better position brands by addressing the lag in effective marketing to women and moms. Magnolia will cater to consumer brands in the technology, food/beverage, entertainment, health and fashion/home segments. A multi-cultural and multi-lingual woman herself, and with experience in ethnic marketing, Haigh founded Magnolia to elevate cross cultural applications across all of its practices.

Magnolia Insights’ portfolio of services will include integrated marketing campaign development, brand management and positioning, consumer insights across age/life stage of product, message architecture and mapping, content marketing planning, marketing and PR integration, blogger/publishing brand integration, as well as workshops and public speaking, for both local and national clients.

Magnolia’s client roster includes Crowdtap, a social influence marketing platform, ROWDYDOW bbQ as well as Better Retail and its associated brands.

  • Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014
Justine Bloome named head of strategy & innovation at Carat USA
Justine Bloome

Justine Bloome has joined media agency Carat USA as head of strategy and innovation. In this capacity she will lead the Catalyst team, a newly launched group in the U.S. focused on leveraging consumer insights and emerging technology platforms to deliver richer, more engaging communication experiences rooted in dynamic content and reflective of culture.

Bloome will be responsible for Carat’s communication strategy and report directly to Michael Epstein, Carat’s chief client officer.

Prior to joining Carat, Bloome founded marketing and communications firm, The Village Agency, in her native Australia in 2010. Previously, she was business strategist at Jack Morton Worldwide, where she was responsible for driving digital transformation and campaign amplification for the agency’s brand clients.

Bloome brings experience developing and executing integrated campaign strategies across owned, earned and paid media for a range of clients including REA Group, SEEK, NAB, Australian Super, MTV, National Geographic Channel, Coca Cola, Ford Motoring, Optus, McDonalds, ING Direct, Mitsubishi, Vodafone, MARS, Disney, Schweppes and Cadbury Australia.

  • Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014
Creative director Amanda Clelland joins Barton F. Graf
Amanda Clelland

Agency Barton F. Graf has hired Amanda Clelland as a creative director. She will work on a number of accounts, including GoDaddy and Scotts Miracle-Gro brands Tomcat and Nature’s Care.

Clelland was previously a creative director at Droga5, working on Puma, The New Museum, Coca-Cola and Vestas WindMade. Most recently she helped launch an independent project focused on eradicating extreme poverty. Backed by the UN, the project initiative is called zeropointseven.org.

  • Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014
Directing duo Cary & Jon joins Click 3X
Cary & Jon

Click 3X has added the directing duo of Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott, a.k.a. Cary & Jon. Previously Murnion and Milott worked under the Honest moniker and were most recently with production house Savage for commercials.

Cary & Jon just wrapped their first project with Click 3X, a three-spot package for Ford Fusion out of Team Detroit set to launch this week.

Murnion and Milott have written, produced and directed films such as “Satellite Car Chase,” “Falling Man,” “The Shortest Race,” and “Boob.” Their directorial feature film debut, “Cooties,” premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was acquired by Lionsgate Films for domestic distribution and Universal Studios for international release this summer. “Cooties,” which stars Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson and Jack McBrayer, is a hybrid comedy/horror/sci-fi picture, demonstrating Cary & Jon’s penchant for combining genres.

“Cary & Jon’s quirky comedy, strong visuals and unique approach to storytelling make them a standout talent,” said Megan Kelly, executive producer, managing director, Click 3X Live Action.

Cary & Jon first met in New York at Parsons The New School For Design and have been working together for over 10 years. Their collaboration began with animations, but quickly evolved into other creative endeavors, including art installations, music videos, commercials and short films, and eventually the pair turned their focus to writing, producing and directing.

Cary & Jon’s work has been recognized with multiple projects featured at SXSW, Cannes, Webby Awards, FWA, Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors Showcase, Vimeo Staff Picks, Communication Arts Web Picks and ADC Young Guns.

  • Monday, Dec. 15, 2014
Branstetter promoted to EP at Whitehouse Post, Chicago
Kristin Branstetter

Kristin Branstetter has been promoted to executive producer of Whitehouse Post’s Chicago office. Branstetter began her career with Whitehouse Post as a producer in Chicago in 2002, before being promoted to sr. producer in 2006 and then relocating to the company’s Los Angeles office in 2010.

Whitehouse Post’s Chicago partner/editor Matthew Wood noted that “Kristin’s previous background in our Chicago office and her depth of experience with the company make her uniquely positioned for this role in leading our office.”

Branstetter has worked with a slew of major brands including Toyota, Buick, Nissan, Nike, Coke, McDonald’s, State Farm, Anheuser-Busch (including Budweiser and Bud Light Super Bowl spots for DDB Chicago), Allstate, Wrigley and Walmart.

  • Monday, Dec. 15, 2014
Bodnar, Kelly join Deluxe Creative Services' sr. management team
Jay Bodnar

Deluxe has added two members to the senior management team at the Creative Services division: Jay Bodnar as chief technology officer and Lawrence Kelly as sr. VP, finance. The newly restructured Creative Services division combines subsidiary companies and services for features, entertainment television and commercials, under one umbrella. Bodnar and Kelly will report to CEO Stefan Sonnenfeld.

Bodnar served as sr. VP engineering, TV, for over a decade. He spearheaded the Television division’s  transition to file-based workflows for all post and VFX work as well as the near-set dailies service (MobiLabs) pipeline. He has been instrumental in unifying multiple engineering teams to maximize resources and efficiencies among multiple facilities.

Kelly, who joined Deluxe in October as VP of finance, Method Studios, has 20 years of experience on the studio side of the business.  He was at Warner Bros. for 12 years as VP of finance, The Americas for WB Home Entertainment Group, and previously served as VP of finance, Asia Pacific & Latin America, WBHEG. From working at Warner Bros., Universal, and Paramount Pictures collectively, Kelly was a key participant in the studios’ corporate and strategic planning, business development, international operations, talent and production budgeting, theatrical release budgeting, and complex deal structuring with a variety of studio and feature production companies as well as international partners.

“Jay and Larry round out the senior management team beautifully,” said Sonnenfeld. “Jay has done an amazing job keeping Encore and Level 3 ahead of the technology curve. Larry comes to us with an enormous amount of experience on the studio end. Together, they will help guide Deluxe Creative Services into the rapidly-changing industry for 2015 and beyond.”

Deluxe’s Creative Services division will centralize operations of color, editorial, VFX, and all other post-production services across multiple platforms, allowing all of Deluxe’s companies--Company 3, Beast, Deluxe New York, Encore, EFilm, Level 3 Post, Method Studios, and Rushes–-to work together more efficiently and maximize synergy.

  • Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014
DUCK signs director Tobias Stretch
Tobias Stretch

DUCK Studios has signed director Tobias Stretch whose expertise spans live-action, stop motion, rotoscope, puppetry, animatronics, paintings, sculpture, drawing and photography. His unique creative signature includes his affinity for shooting his stop-motion animation outdoors. Many stop-motion artists steer clear of outdoor filming because of the many limitations like the variations in lighting and weather. Stretch also employs life-size armatured puppets and models for his stop-motion endeavors. The sum of these is a beautiful style of animation that is aesthetically rich and featuring characters grounded in the fantastical against the backdrop of reality. In some of the music videos that Stretch has animated, for example, one will see his gigantic puppets wandering the forest, flying above treetops, traversing the snow-covered lands, and cavorting streams.

Stretch has done work for Radiohead, MTV Liquid Television, The War on Drugs and Hauschka. Over the past five years, Stretch’s projects have earned seven Vimeo Staff Picks. He has recently exhibited his puppet sculptures at the Honolulu Museum of Art. His music video for classical composer Christopher Bono won Stretch the “Best Music Video” award at the 2014 Ottawa International Animation Festival.

Prior to DUCK, Stretch was last with Honey Badger in the U.S. Earlier he was handled by production house aWHITELABELproduct. In the U.K., he is represented via Rumble London.

  • Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014
Michael Lumpkin named director of AFI DOCS
Michael Lumpkin

The American Film Institute (AFI) has appointed producer Michael Lumpkin--who’s been executive director of the International Documentary Association for the past six years--as director of AFI DOCS, the Institute’s annual documentary festival in Washington, DC. Also announced today is the return of AT&T as the festival’s presenting sponsor.

With nearly three decades of experience in the film community as a producer, documentarian and IDA exec director, Lumpkin brings a versatile perspective to AFI DOCS, a well-rounded appreciation for the impact of the art form and a thorough understanding of AFI.

“I’m honored to be joining one of the world’s top film organizations and expanding the rich history and proud tradition of AFI DOCS,” said Lumpkin. “Six wonderful years at IDA solidified my passion for documentary films, and I look forward to bringing that passion to AFI.”

Lumpkin had previously served for more than 25 years as both executive director of Frameline and festival director for the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival. He has also been a member of Frameline’s board of directors and co-produced the highly acclaimed documentary The Celluloid Closet. He has participated as a juror for the Sundance Film Festival and served in an advisory capacity for numerous film festivals around the world.

  • Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014
McCoy | Meyer Directing Duo Joins Dictionary Films
Justus Meyer (l) and Eric McCoy.

Dictionary Films, headed by managing director Chris Rossiter, has signed the directing team of Eric McCoy and Justus Meyer, a.k.a. Mccoy | Meyer. Since joining together in 2012, the McCoy | Meyer duo has already directed more than 50 short-form projects (many awarded through the LA-based content sourcing company Tongal) and earned a Telly Award and a Certificate of Recognition from the U.S. Congress.  Their commercial reel includes spots for Black & Decker, Famous Footwear, P&G, Verizon and Western Union.

McCoy began his film industry studies at Columbia College Chicago in 2005 and quickly leapt into freelance production, earning his way up the crew ladder in the camera, location and production departments on commercial and feature projects including “The Dark Knight.”  He was an associate producer for The Midwest Film Festival for over five years before relocating to LA and landing the position of associate with the Sundance Film Festival.  Meanwhile, Meyer also studied at Columbia College in Chicago, earning his Bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Cinema in 2011, and soon thereafter, he also moved to LA to form McCoy | Meyer.  Both men built their experiences independently as producers before coming together. 

Dictionary is the first official production company affiliation for McCoy | Meyer. Prior to this, the directors as a team largely created and produced their work--all as entries for crowd sourcing, content creation contest sites like Tongal.  They began entering contests as soon as they started their partnership and as they won more and more, they began to be solicited for “closed contests,” which some sites do with their more accomplished contributors.

Rossiter related, “When I reached out to the guys, we had some dialogue about their desire for greater exposure and support in order to take their work to the ‘next level.’  I think what we’re doing at Dictionary and my background in agency production at Burnett felt right to them.  For me, it’s going to be a blast helping them grow and realize what I believe is great potential.”

McCoy | Meyer join a  Dictionary directorial roster that includes Logan Cascia, Chris Hafner, Jon Moore, Jay Patton, Jesse Shamata, Adam Wells and Dan Waymack. The integrated production arm of Cutters Studios, Dictionary Films maintains offices in Los Angeles and Chicago, and represents prestigious directors through its offices in Los Angeles and Chicago, and together with its partner companies Another Country, Cutters, Flavor and Picnic Media, represents comprehensive full-service creative capabilities.

  • Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014
Producer Lauren Gray, formerly of Energy BBDO, joins Utopic
Lauren Gray

Utopic has brought Lauren Gray on board as producer. She most recently served as integrated broadcast production manager at Energy BBDO and prior to that honed her PR, marketing and social media chops at Weber Shandwick. Her experience spans such multinational accounts as SC Johnson, Unilever, Bayer, Wrigley and Quaker. Gray also has diverse experience in film production, having served as cinematographer, photographer and editor on several films through a program with the American Film Institute (AFI).

Gray will play an integral role at her new roost alongside Utopic’s executive producer, Heather Mitchell.  Gray fortifies the production department on the heels of the company adding to its editorial acumen with the hiring of principal/editor Craig Lewandowski.

Utopic is a creative consortium of artists, editors, designers and directors who offer a seamless approach to postproduction, motion design, content production and everything in between. Lately, Utopic has been telling stories and building campaigns for clients such as Samsung, Kellogg’s, McDonald’s, Nissan, NBC, Kraft, Chicago Ideas Week and Fifth Third Bank.

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