Thursday, October 19, 2017

People on the Move

  • Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017
Sinjin Bain to head Method Studios' newly formed AR/VR unit Method EXP
Sinjin Bain

Method Studios has unveiled Method EXP, its dedicated production group creating world-class immersive experiences, formerly known as Deluxe VR. Long-time EA Electronic Arts (EA) executive Sinjin Bain has joined to lead Method EXP as SVP, global head of VR/AR, reporting to president and GM of Method Studios, Ed Ulbrich. 

Method EXP tightly unifies the CG and design artistry of Method Studios worldwide with AR/VR strategists, directors, technologists and producers to envision and create immersive experiences for all platforms. Bain brings deep connections in gaming and interactive entertainment to the leadership role. 

Bain is a recognized stalwart in interactive entertainment who has continually set precedents in the games industry and continues to push development into new and exciting directions. In his 15 years as an EA executive, he exec produced some of the world’s biggest game titles for EA Partners such as “Rock Band” and many others.  As COO and EP of EA’s Maxis and EARS studios, Bain produced “The Sims,” one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time and “The Simpsons.”  As global general manager of EA Partners, he helped build one of the most successful independent development publishing groups in the industry, signing AAA developers including Respawn, Harmonix, Insomniac & Crytek and delivering the highest average Metacritic scores of any EA business unit. Bain was most recently the CEO of Maxplay, a platform enabling real-time distributed collaborative development with unprecedented runtime performance for VR and AR.  

  • Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017
Digital vet Simon Andrews to head The Media Kitchen in Europe
Simon Andrews

Media veteran Simon Andrews, founder of the influential consultancy Addictive, has joined The Media Kitchen, the U.S.-based media agency under the KBS and MDC umbrellas. Andrews will lead the London office and oversee the agency’s operation in Europe.

Andrews, who has previously launched and run a number of successful digital creative agencies including Modem Media Poppe Tyson, DLKW Dialogue and Big Picture, also served as global digital chief strategy officer at Mindshare. His extensive experience across creative and media is supplemented with deep domain knowledge of mobile and ad tech. Mobile Fix, his weekly newsletter, has a weekly subscription base of more than 5,000 of the industry’s best and brightest at companies including Google, Amazon, Snap, Facebook, as well as brands and agencies. 

To grow the European business Andrews will work closely with the team at Albion, which is KBS’ London-based agency. The result is a unique fusion of capabilities including strategy, creative, media, product development and tech stack build-outs.

  • Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017
Michael Smollin joins Fancy Film as sr. colorist
Michael Smollin

Veteran colorist Michael Smollin has joined Fancy Film, the independent postproduction facility based in Los Angeles’ Silver Lake neighborhood. Smollin, whose credits span features, episodics, reality series and documentaries, will serve as the facility’s senior colorist for theatrical and television projects.

“Mike is someone who can lead our color division in both technical and artistic capacities,” said Fancy Film CEO Bill Macomber. “He brings a significant ability to grow our business through his many diehard fans. He has especially deep experience as a colorist for mid-budget features and television series, projects that are a perfect match for Fancy and the facilities we have here.  As these projects gear up for HDR, Mike’s leadership will be key.”

Smollin has worked at Fancy on an occasional freelance basis for over five years. His credits include Undefeated, the 2012 Oscar winner for Best Documentary Feature, as well as The Case Against 8 for HBO and Underwater Universe for Discovery. “They do great work at this facility, including a lot of films that have gone to Sundance, Toronto and Cannes,” said Smollin. “The facility is very familiar to me, the people are great and there is excellent interaction between clients and staff. The location has a hip, eclectic feel. It’s a great place.”

Smollin’s career in postproduction spans more than 20 years, the past four at Roundabout Entertainment, Burbank. His background also includes posts with Walden Media, Mega Playground, Technicolor and Encore Video. He got his start with Complete Post. His many credits include the television series American Dreams, CSI: Miami, Once and Again and Grounded for Life¸ the documentary Sound City, the features Chasing Mavericks, Parental Guidance and Won’t Back Down, and the Disney live action feature The Jungle Book.

Launched by Macomber in 2003, Fancy Film offers a seamless workflow from dailies processing through picture lock and has developed a strong reputation for providing high quality post services in a boutique, creative environment. The facility features a DCI-certified, Da Vinci Resolve color grading theater and three broadcast color correction suites, plus editorial conforming, quality control and related resources. In addition, it has 20,000 square feet of offline editorial space that it leases to film and television productions on long- and short-term bases. Recent projects that have undergone postproduction finishing at the facility include Beatriz at Dinner, Miguel Arteta’s film, starring Salma Hayek and John Lithgow, that had a major release through Roadside Attractions after premiering at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.  Its series work includes Sing It! for YouTube Red and Party Over Here for Lonely Island and Fox.

  • Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017
Shanah Blevins named Honor Society's West Coast EP
Shanah Blevins

Honor Society, a bicoastal production company headed by managing director/executive producer Megan Kelly, has added Shanah Blevins as exec producer of its Los Angeles office. Blevins will be the first L.A. EP for the production company since launching in December 2015, expanding its West Coast presence and rounding out the company’s fully women-led team. She has nearly two decades of experience as a producer, spanning commercial, music video, TV and film projects. With a hands-on approach while on set, Blevins has produced campaigns for such clients as Honda, Sprint, Verizon, Burger King, Toyota, Nike, Ad Council, McDonald’s, Google and HP. She has also collaborated with production companies including Chelsea Pictures, Moxie Pictures, 1stAveMachine, PRETTYBIRD and Elastic. Having shot in nearly every state and on six of the seven continents,

Oklahoma-born Blevins made her way out to Los Angeles at the ripe age of 19 and after college quickly rolled up her sleeves in the world of music videos. She landed a gig at Palomar Pictures, where she quickly climbed her way up from production assistant to producer, working on videos for such iconic artists as Michael Jackson, Prince, Green Day and Neil Young. She then transitioned to the commercial side of production branching out as a freelance producer. Her frequent repeat collaborations with top directorial talent on commercial productions have led to a wide range of feature film, documentary and TV projects that have further immersed Blevins into the Los Angeles filmmaking landscape.

  • Monday, Oct. 16, 2017
VML’s Trio of Creative Hires: Lafranz, Altis, Costa
Lauren Lafranz

VML has made three key creative hires: Lauren Lafranz as managing director, global creative operations, based in NY; David Altis as executive creative director who will be in the agency’s Kansas City, Mo. headquarters; and Mariana Costa as group creative director in Chicago.

Lafranz will report to Debbi Vandeven, global CCO. In the newly created role of managing director, global creative operations, Lafranz will be responsible for implementing Vandeven’s vision, helping manage VML’s award-winning creative offices worldwide, formalizing the global creative network and being a resource consultant to activate appropriate skill sets for clients. She will also expand creative standards and manage global awards planning.

Lafranz brings more than 15 years of experience, with the majority of her career spent with J. Walter Thompson Worldwide — the past 10 of which concentrated on the creative content side. In her previous position as chief creative content officer, she was directly responsible for managing JWT’s creative program and global creative initiatives. In addition to overseeing programming, she allocated creative resources, tailored showcases for recruitment and retention, and advised on content for award show opportunities. Prior to that, Lafranz held roles in both account management and project management, working on brands such as Rolex, JetBlue and Domino’s.

Lafranz will also act as director of VML’s global creative council, where she will guide creative teams through the process of producing enhanced creative and manage performance of each office in the VML network. She will also hold the title of creative curator, ensuring the highest quality work is cultivated and advanced for VML’s clients. Additionally, Lafranz will recommend talent for specific assignments across global brands.

David Altis
VML rehired Altis as ECD. He originally joined VML in September 2004, leaving in August 2014 to serve as ECD at a local boutique advertising agency.
Altis has worked on a client roster that includes Kellogg, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, SAP, Waste Management, multiple Blue Cross and Blue Shield organizations, H&R Block, Colgate-Palmolive, Tom’s of Maine and the San Diego Zoo.
His experience with digital transformations and advertising spans more than 22 years. He was formally educated in traditional illustration and worked as a successful illustrator for several years before shifting his focus to digital.
Altis has applied his experience across diverse client verticals to help create meaningful consumer engagement ecosystems--striving to connect people to brands by employing insights-driven digital, traditional and broadcast strategies.
His digital and interactive background includes extensive enterprise-level websites, marketing micro sites and consumer social media engagements.
Altis reports to John Godsey, VML’s CCO, North America.
Mariana Costa 
VML’s new group CD Costa has nearly 20 years of experience in the advertising industry, including 12 years in New York working at McCann and DDB on brands such as Georgia-Pacific, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, Verizon and Reebok. She began her career at BBDO Chicago.
At VML, Costa will be part of the Kimberly-Clark team, where she will manage creative delivery for Family Care brands.
Costa reports to Sean Burns, executive creative director.

  • Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017
Keith Butters named global CTO at KBS
Keith Butters

KBS has appointed Keith Butters as its global chief technology officer. Butters, who is best known for having co-founded The Barbarian Group, will be responsible for the integration of KBS’ deep technical capabilities within the agency’s creative product, which spans the gamut from fully integrated campaigns to technology innovation to major platform builds.
KBS maintains an in-house team of developers, product experts and engineers, who build platforms and digital experiences for clients including BMW, Windstream, Stanley Black & Decker, and Hershey.
“The tech and innovation part of KBS globally is substantial and growing fast. We’re delighted to have a leader of Keith’s talent, substance and humanity to help drive the whole agency forward,” said KBS global CEO Guy Hayward. “We now have a leadership team with enormous creative credentials and a proven ability to build agencies.”
Global chief creative officer Patrick Scissons echoed Hayward’s sentiments saying, “As innovation and tech continue to become more and more important across our global network--from our office in London which was awarded an Innovation Lion at Cannes to New York where we have had many creative opportunities for clients like eSight and Answer ALS--the goal is to bring together storytelling and technology in a way that feels fresh and emotive. Keith’s addition to the KBS Global Creative Council will help us to accomplish that.”
During his time at The Barbarian Group, Butters worked with clients including Volkswagen, PepsiCo, Burger King, Kashi and Nike. He specializes in applying design thinking to technology, digital media and marketing. He has also played an instrumental role in the creation and growth of the creative coding library Cinder, which was awarded the first ever Cannes Lions Innovation Grand Prix.
On joining KBS, Butters said, “I chose KBS because of their amazing leadership team, the existing creative and technical capabilities of the business, their appetite for both traditional and non-traditional work, and their enormous potential energy to do great work across multiple mediums.”

  • Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017
Jen Cadic promoted to head of production at Flight School
Jen Cadic

New media creative studio Flight School has promoted Jen Cadic to head of production. Cadic has a decade of experience in postproduction, producing a wide range of commercial, web content, film, TV and music video projects for industry companies including Charlex, Nice Shoes, Psyop and Reel FX. She joined the Dallas-based Flight School as a producer upon its launch in January 2017 and steps up as the studio’s first head of production to address the rapid growth of original IP and client projects, including the recent launch of its debut original VR experience, Manifest 99, which recently earned accolades at the Future of Storytelling and Raindance Film Festival. 

Recent projects out of Flight School include an augmented reality (AR) experience for the launch of Michael Jackson’s new “Scream” album and a dynamic air tennis experience for American Express at the 2017 U.S. Open. The Air Tennis experience used a combination of custom-built and responsive technologies, including air haptics and an ultra-sensitive motion capture system, to create an interactive live gaming experience.

Notes Flight School Executive Producer Taylor Williams, “Jen has been instrumental in laying the foundations for Flight School since day one.  Her history of exploring new mediums and tackling never-been-done-before projects for a broad range of clients including film studios, agencies and tech partners, not to mention our own IP, has given her a uniquely multifaceted perspective on what it takes to get jobs done in this constantly evolving landscape.”

New Jersey-native Cadic studied film and television before making her way to NYC, landing her first professional gig at Charlex, where she quickly learned the commercial production space with a hands-on approach. She moved on to Nice Shoes, where she produced a wide range of top-tier projects with major celebrity talent including projects with Lady Gaga and Beyonce as well as Kanye West’s short film “Cruel Summer” that launched during the Cannes Film Festival. After two years, she joined Psyop as a producer, leading design and CG-driven work for longtime client British Gas as well as a rebrand campaign for Mucinex featuring the newly designed Mr. Mucus character. To expand her expertise beyond commercials and get into the studio, entertainment and new media space, she made the move to Dallas to join Reel FX. There, she worked on a wide range of projects, including major VR experiences for studios such as Lionsgate and Paramount. Upon Flight School’s inception, Cadic then made the transition to working with the talent that joined Reel FX to form Flight School.

  • Monday, Oct. 9, 2017
Translation hires John Fulbrook as group creative director, design
John Fulbrook

John Fulbrook has joined Translation LLC as group creative director, design.  

Fulbrook, who was most recently group creative director, SVP at The Martin Agency, will be charged with leading and growing Translation’s design team and helping bring his innovative design thinking to the agency’s current and future partners. Fulbrook will be reporting to chief creative officer John Norman. 

"Branding is all about design--John approaches a design problem from a storytelling, cultural and technology pov,” said Norman.  “His design thinking translates the visceral experience into a consumer experience. John will be a tremendous asset for bringing Translation’s ethos to this discipline.”

“Translation sits at the juxtaposition of culture and storytelling,” said Fulbrook. “The idea of marrying culture, storytelling and then design seemed like an incredibly powerful place to be playing.” 

Fulbrook got his start in design as sr. art director for book publisher Simon & Schuster and was creative director for Collins from 2008-2010. In addition, Fulbrook served as professor at the School of Visual Arts from 2004-2016. 

  • Friday, Oct. 6, 2017
Johnathan Brownlee named exec director of Dallas International Film Festival
Johnathan Brownlee

Johnathan Brownlee has been appointed CEO and president of the Dallas Film Society and executive director of the Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF).
A transplant from Canada, Brownlee is an award-winning Canadian/American entertainment veteran with a diverse international body of work, spanning more than 20 years.  Three of Brownlee’s feature films, “Occupy, Texas,” “Three Days in August” and “Decoding Annie Parker,” have screened at DIFF. Brownlee created DIFF’s first screenwriting competition whose winner, “Three Days in August,” was produced in Texas, premiered at DIFF and was released nationwide at Studio Movie Grill.
“I’m extremely honored to lead DFS and looking forward to growing our education and community initiatives and leading DIFF’s transformation into a festival that reflects the incredible diversity of Dallas Fort Worth and the ever-changing landscape of entertainment,” said Brownlee, “There is nothing like watching a film in the theater, but we are also fortunate to be living in a time when television, streaming content and virtual reality are leaders in creative storytelling and our mandate at DFS is to present all of these experiences to our audience.”
Brownlee’s career highlights the symbiotic relationship among entertainment, art and commerce as he has created television series sponsored by Home Depot, HSBC, Ford, British Airways and Club Corp, to name a few. He has also produced content for The Salvation Army, Amnesty International, World Wildlife Fund, Toronto Humane Society, and KIPP Schools to support their fundraising campaigns. Brownlee has taught both creative and “the business of the business” workshops at Harvard, MIT, Vancouver Film School, LA Film School, Brandeis University, and Booker T. Washington High School for the Arts, and served as the LA representative for the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television.

  • Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017
Craft promotes Shay Fu to managing director across its North American studios
Shay Fu

Craft, a global marketing production and adaptation agency and a division of McCann Worldgroup, has promoted Shay Fu to managing director of Craft North America. Shay will continue to report to Craig Smith, Craft’s chief information and operations officer.
Fu joined Craft in 2013 as EVP/head of integrated operations, Craft New York, successfully growing the NY studio operations across all disciplines and building its digital production capabilities. Most recently, Fu extended her role to oversee production operations in the U.S. and Canada as head of studio operations across Craft’s North America network. 
In her new role as managing director, Craft North America, Fu will retain responsibility for studio operations. Fu will also work under the strategic direction of Craft’s chief client officer, Simon Sikorski, and McCann Worldgroup’s North American leadership to nurture and grow all aspects of clients’ integrated production needs. She will build upon relationships with Craft’s regional and global clients such as Microsoft, L’Oréal and Coca-Cola.
“Under Shay’s leadership and direction, studio performance in North America has improved dramatically,” said Smith. “Her extensive experience in delivering production solutions together with her ability to build strong relationships with our key clients makes her perfectly suited to this key role within Craft.”