In 2008, Andrew Renzi, then 22, lost his father to cancer. The experience inspired his award-winning short film Karaoke!
, a deeply personal piece exploring the denial and anxiety associated with imminent loss. On the heels of completing his first narrative feature (The Benefactor
, starring Richard Gere, Dakota Fanning and Theo James, released by Samuel Goldwyn Co.), Renzi now makes his spot debut with a City of Hope project created via IW Group and produced by ContagiousLA
. In addition to helming “Above and Beyond,” done in Mandarin with English subtitles, Renzi directed “Half Man, Half Baby,” an English-language spot conceived by the filmmaker and executed with the support of agency and client. Both spots focus on Alex Tung, who survived a rare form of Leukemia thanks to an umbilical cord stem cell transplant - a procedure offered at City of Hope.
“I would be hard-pressed to say there’s another project I’ve done that’s been more satisfying,” said Renzi, who shot the English-language piece first, interviewing Alex in English, filming as his subject relaxed and the conversation became more intimate. “It was a trust exercise in a way,” Renzi recalled of the closed-set shoot. “This was something very personal for both Alex and myself, so he let his guard down.” Renzi then moved on to the Mandarin script and filmed the original commercial as planned. IW Group Associate Creative Director Ting Lin guided the Mandarin content.
“This was an ideal situation as a first spot project,” Renzi said. “Obviously, I don’t have to connect so personally with every assignment, but I was incredibly moved by Alex’s story and the progress that’s been made in the several years since I lost my father to the same illness.” Renzi, who has a knack for attracting celebrity talent, added that his rapport with Alex was “so strong and positive, the issue of ‘non-actor’ never became a thing. We just talked.” "Andrew and his crew treated my mom and I with such professionalism," Tung recalled. “He made me feel completely at home. It was an honor to work with such a talented director.”
“I haven't met such a sensitive artist in a long time, or one so mindful of his craft and his presence on set,” said CLA Partner/Executive Producer Natalie Sakai. “Renzi came to CLA with a passion to excel as a technical director and as an emotional storyteller. He’s equally gifted at both, and he’s well on his way.”
Renzi’s upcoming projects include a thriller he is co-writing with The Place Beyond the Pines scribe Ben Coccio; Gun City, a 1980s New York heist drama developed with producer Jay Schuminsky; and a Heat-like LA crime film co-written with Korean American L.A. noir authoress Steph Cha (Dead Soon Enough). Additionally, Renzi recently co-wrote the Janis Joplin biopic, Janis, with director Sean Durkin.
About Andrew Renzi
Writer/Director Andrew Renzi’s first narrative feature, The Benefactor, which he wrote and directed, stars Richard Gere as a philanthropist who meddles in the lives of a newly-married couple (Dakota Fanning, Theo James) in an attempt to relive his past. The film was developed as a Sundance Labs project and released by Samuel Goldwyn Co. in 2016. His first short, The Fort, premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. The Philadelphia-born filmmaker, who studied Literary Arts at Brown University, followed up his Sundance debut with Karaoke!, the recipient of the Panavision Future Filmmaker Award. Renzi next directed the feature documentary Fishtail, a collaboration with Christie's Western American Art Specialist, William Abbott, and narrated by the iconic Harry Dean Stanton. The doc premiered at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, won the Artistic Vision Award at the Big Sky Film Festival and was acquired by Netflix. As a producer, Renzi’s credits include Sympathy for Delicious (Sundance Special Jury Prize 2010). He has produced and directed music videos for bands such as Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Blondfire, Prodigy, and Zeds Dead, among many others.
About ContagiousLA (CLA)
ContagiousLA is presided over by Executive Producer/Partner Natalie Sakai. The directorial roster is comprised of Andrew Laurich, Jeff Jenkins, Adriano Falconi, Ben Ketai and Andrew Renzi. Spot work for brands like Carhartt, Farmer’s Insurance and Mercedes is complemented by projects such as the award-winning short film Art & Corny
- starring advertising luminaries Lee Clow, Gerry Graf and Jeff Goodby - and A Reasonable Request
, which recently screened at SxSW and Sundance, becoming one of the most lauded comedy shorts of the year. www.ContagiousLA.com