- LOS ANGELES
International creative production company Couscous has signed directors Dawit N.M. and Michael Middelkoop for their first U.S. commercial production representation. The former is based in New York while Middelkoop is an Amsterdam resident.
Couscous EP and founding partner Salim El Arja cited each directors “unique ‘visual trickery’ style, depth of storytelling and culturally multi-faceted backgrounds” as making them strong additions to the company roster.
With a signature style rooted in truth-telling, Dawit has lent his photography talents to media brands including The New Yorker, The Wire and Interscope. Pivoting to filmmaking, he has helmed projects for artists such as Charlie Puth. N.M.’s short film Mereba: Planet U earned him recognition as an emerging director during the 2019 American Black Film Festival.
N.M. said of his new roost, “I’m proud to be at a place that understands there’s a human behind this creative person. With that understanding, we’re able to effortlessly come together and create timeless pieces.”
Born in Ethiopia, N.M. moved to Virginia at the age of seven, developing a curiosity surrounding filmmaking which was piqued by recording video game plays as a childhood hobby. While attending Old Dominion University, he discovered his love of photography, beginning his first comprehensive photobook project “The Eye That Follows: Photographs by Dawit N.M.,” capturing the spirit and culture of his native Ethiopia through an objective lens. Through images, N.M. broke through the stereotype-driven narratives he’d send concerning Ethiopia. He is currently in pre-production on a second photo book and a short film.
Middelkoop captures creative concepts through a directorial sensibility that is quiet and raw. With an agency background and diverse experience concepting campaigns, he infuses his work with authenticity and strong multiculturalism. His advertising and filmmaking has earned top-tier awards including a Cannes Lion, an AMVF Award and two Shortcutz Amsterdam award nominations for the short film Snor.
Middelkoop credited Couscous co-founders El Arja, Bear Damen and Jordan Cardoso with establishing “a well-curated roster of global talent and I’m looking forward to complementing the diverse flavors they’ve already assembled, as well as expanding their offerings with my story and world-building approach in directing both music videos and commercials.”
Amsterdam-born and enraptured by film classics, Middelkoop studied filmmaking techniques from a young age, eventually majoring in Film and minoring in American Studies at the University of Amsterdam. While in university, he fell in love with the writing craft and followed his education with advertising agency positions at Saatchi & Saatchi Netherlands, Leo Burnett Amsterdam and more. He pivoted his copywriting background back into filmmaking in 2015; two years later, his crowdfunded film Netflix & Chill made lauded appearances at worldwide film festivals and earned him a nomination in the Debut Competition of the Netherlands Film Festival. He is currently in pre-production on two additional film projects.