- LOS ANGELES & NEW YORK
Bicoastal production company Interrogate has added Portland-based director Michael Illick to its roster. A longtime copywriter with a penchant for comedy and quick wit combined with a keen visual sensibility, Illick brings a truly original voice to Interrogate.
Illick has worked at major agencies across the country, including stints at BBDO, Wieden+Kennedy, Saatchi & Saatchi, 215 McCann, and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. Known for being a strong problem-solver as a writer and someone able to find the quick joke on-set to make everything sing, Illick found an affinity for the collaborative nature of directing once he moved behind the camera, discovering that he’s also a nurturer at heart.
“If anything, my agency background helps with selecting great work,” said Illick. “When you come across something really simple and elegantly written, you just want to be a part of it. It’s rare to see in the business and it’s what I gravitate towards.”
Illick--who was repped by production house Arts & Sciences prior to joining Interrogate--brings a built-in sense of empathy for the creative teams he works with, now in the role of director. As he said, “I’ve had more things killed as a writer than as a director, so I have a deep understanding of what it took to get to that point, how many revisions and changes it’s undergone to get it as far as it’s gotten. I have a more educated sense of how to push the work in the best direction and the questions to ask, without exasperating everybody that much more.”
Whatever the brief, Illick always aims to create a world, as he has for clients ranging from Old Spice to Foot Locker, Oscar Meyer, Amazon, Verizon, Paypal and more. Whether it is a world rooted in reality or completely surreal, there is always depth, thoughtfulness, and humor.
One such example is Illick’s pharma-spot parody for POM Wonderful, featuring a man going about his daily life and thriving, despite being impaled by an animatronic dolphin. Created using a combination of VFX and puppetry, the completely bonkers ad displays Illick’s love for working with the more peripheral crew and craftspeople of the industry, such as animal handlers and puppeteers.
A man of many ideas (and the notebooks that contain them), Illick eventually hopes to stretch into animated work and television, even non-comedic work, so long as it is beautiful and smart. First, however, is creating more polished, laugh-out-loud-worthy advertising via Interrogate.
Of the signing, Interrogate executive producer/partner George Meeker said, “As an ex-creative turned director, Michael intimately understands the process from both sides. Beyond that, he brings such a vibrant sense of humor to the worlds he creates, always adding something unique and surprising to the idea. Plus, as a human, he’s simply an all-around delight to talk to.”
Illick was immediately drawn to the quality of the Interrogate roster. “Already, the level of care, foresight and thoughtfulness I’ve received from George Meeker and [managing director/founder] Jeff Miller feels fantastic,” he said. “I’m unbelievably excited to work with them.”