Sunday, June 24, 2018
  • Tuesday, May. 10, 2016
Cultivate.Media Launches, Brings Director Ali Ali To U.S. Market
Director Ali Ali
Shop also adds comedy director Matty Smith, helming duo Indigenous to a core roster from TWC
  • SANTA MONICA, Calif.
  • --

Underscoring its focus on nurturing ties with creative-minded directors and advertising agencies, TWC Films has rebranded as Cultivate.Media. The Santa Monica-based production company’s new name, logo and website are meant to suggest its mission to build relationships and the evolving nature of advertising production. 

“Our name speaks to our story,” said managing director/executive producer Mark Thomas. “We cultivate relationships with directors and we cultivate relationships with agency creatives to pursue our common goal of #doingfamouswork. That’s our hashtag.”

Cultivate.Media debuts with an expanded directorial roster. Continuing from TWC are directors Abhinay Deo, Dean Blumberg, Gail Mancuso, Olivier Staub, Scotty Bergstein and Suthon Petchsuwan. Joining Cultivate are lauded Egyptian born director Ali Ali, as well as comedy director Matty Smith, and the directing team Indigenous. Hugh Bacher continues as executive producer. 

Ali’s work has garnered four Cannes Lions and assorted other major ad awards. In 2015, he won seven Pencils at the D&AD Awards, including a Yellow Pencil for Direction. He began his career on the agency side, working as an art director and creative director at German offices of Leo Burnett, JWT and McCann Erickson, and later served as executive creative director at DDB Berlin. 

In 2010, Ali co-founded the creative boutique Elephant. A year later, it was named one of the world’s three most exciting new agencies at the Cannes Lions. In 2013, he turned to directing full time. Since then, he has created international campaigns for Vodafone, Google, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Nestle, Orange Telecom and others. The Gunn Report recently named Ali to its list of the world’s Top Ten most-awarded directors.

Among recent projects is a darkly comic campaign for Mideast telecom giant Du. One spot, "Tears of Winter," is presented as a promo for a film about a man who goes blind and is abandoned by his daughters. Its tagline is “some movies are too sad to watch alone.” The campaign took the Grand Prix at this year’s Dubai Lynx, the eighth time that Ali has been so honored. Ali is currently directing a campaign for KFC out of Impact BBDO Lebanon.

Ali’s work is hard to classify. Its tone ranges from heartfelt to outrageously funny. “I approach every brief differently because each idea is a different animal,” he explains. “I change my research. I change my tools. I change the way I shoot. I like to experiment and I’m not afraid to experiment. I’ve done that throughout my career.”

A Los Angeles-based writer/director, Smith has worked in episodic television, branded content and advertising. He is co-creator of the TBS sit-com Prodigies. He also wrote a Lego Star Wars: A Droid’s Tale for Disney XD. He has written for FX and Nickelodeon, and wrote and directed several shows for Funny or Die. His work in advertising includes a campaign for Coke Zero starring Kevin Hart, Holiday Inn Express starring Jim Gaffigan, as well as branded content for Microsoft’s xBox and New Era. 

Smith said that he was attracted to Cultivate by Thomas’ experience in developing directorial talent. “He obviously knows what he’s doing,” Smith related. “He got me. He got my humor and the quirkiness I go for. It thought I could have a place at Cultivate doing what I do best. It’s a good place to grow and get better.”

Indigenous is the directing team of Marc Levy and Marc Salomon, known for their work in documentary films and reality-based branded content. Their work includes the series Undrafted for NFL Network and the branded documentary Peaking: A Big Wave Surfer’s Perspective, produced for Red Bull. They have also created work for Subaru, Nieman Marcus, QVC, Intel and Dell. 

Senior agency producers who’ve worked with Thomas expressed enthusiasm for Cultivate and its lineup of filmmakers. “Mark is smart and innovative. He has brought a lot of new talent into the  industry,” said Greg Gibson, director of broadcast production at The Richards Group. “He is someone I often call on for input on new projects.”

“Mark is excellent at developing trust and building relationships, and that leads to long-lasting benefits from this,” said Energy BBDO VP/executive producer Jeff Drooger. “He knows how to build a company and always recruits professionals who are similar to him in their knowledge of the business, their follow-through and commitment to the jobs that they work on with the directors, agency and clients.”