Thursday, June 20, 2019
  • Friday, May. 31, 2019
Voices Of Experience: New Directors Showcase Alumni
The Docter Twins
Company principals pass baton to talent on their rosters

Sounding out SHOOT New Directors Showcase alumni to give advice to the next generation of up-and-coming talent has been a mini-tradition of sorts. But this year, a new dimension takes hold as not only are the alumni we sought out now principals in their own production houses but they also have directors on those company rosters who made the cut for the 2019 Showcase.

The Docter Twins, Jason and Matt Docter, earned a Showcase slot in 2008. Fast forward to today and Mackenzie Hilton of Thinking Machine, the Docter Twins’ shop, has been selected for the 17th annual Showcase.

In a parallel universe with the Docter Twins is Martin Rodahl, a 2012 Showcase director who heads production company Picture North where Jake Zalutsky has now made the grade for this year's Showcase.

The Docter Twins
Since that night they were included in the 6th annual NDS in 2008, the Docters have been directing spots for major brands and agencies. The brothers started their company three years ago to have more hands-on control over their careers. "We believe work begets work, and we wanted to be available for creatively fulfilling projects, no matter the budget. Having our own company allows us a lot more freedom and flexibility," they jointly stated. "We are just now bringing on directors who we believe in and share like-minded creative interests. We’re taking a very slow approach to building out the roster as we want to make sure we’re able to give any director we bring on 100% commitment and support."

As for advice they would offer new talent, the Docters shared, "Don’t listen to anyone else except yourself--believe in your instincts and your vision. Study the business. Read SHOOT and get to know the landscape so you can decide where you want to fit within it. Always be making new work. Push yourself to find moments you’re proud of--even when they’re not on the page. And knock on doors--until one opens."

Martin Rodahl
Rodahl  noted that since making the NDS grade in 2012, he's directed spots for such brands as Google, American Express, and Chevrolet, "but also enjoyed tiny projects in weird corners of the U.S. that have been just as valuable for the reel." 

Picture North has also shot in places like Kenya, Egypt, Norway, and Austria in the past year. Rodahl said he started Picture North in 2008 because no one was signing directors during the recession. "After graduating from Northwestern University with a reel consisting of spec spots and a few legit productions, I met with a bunch of production companies about representation. They told me to come back when the economy had stabilized. But I didn’t want to wait, so I started my own production company instead. Today we roster six directors and we’re excited about expanding!"

Relative to advice for aspiring directors, Rodahl said, "For me it’s all about identity and access. The number one thing you have that no one else has is your identity. So, what’s a story that only you can tell? Or a story that would be told in a completely different way because of who you are? This usually feeds into my next point, which is access! If you think about all great up-and-coming work, it always exploits a resource to which the director has unique access--because you have to be scrappy. It can be literally anything--a location, prop, person, or story. Take a look at yourself and what you have exclusive access to and incorporate that into the kind of work you want to be doing. You’ll end up with cuts that ooze production value and have a strong voice because no one else has your identity and access. And that work gets noticed, sooner or later."

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