- Wednesday, Jun. 1, 2016
- LOS ANGELES
Director Josh Franer has joined the roster of CoMPANY, the shop headed by exec producers Robin Benson and Richard Goldstein. Franer recently completed co-creating and directing 13 episodes of This Built America, an online branded series that explores the resurgence of manufacturing in America. The first season generated over 18 million media impressions and 4 million unique views for Ford F150 and agency Team Detroit.
Franer said he was very interested in pursuing work that fell outside the :30 spot. “I realized a few years ago that there was an emerging gap, that brands needed content beyond traditional commercials. People are interested in authentic content. Brands and agencies want to explore this gap and create meaningful content that moves people. CoMPANY Films has a track record of providing many more of these opportunities.”
For their part, CoMPANY executive producers Robin Benson and Richard Goldstein were immediately taken with Franer’s approach.“We signed him immediately, seeing Josh had a fresh look to documentary filmmaking, something that would be relevant to both agencies and clients,” said Goldstein. “His work is a modern approach to telling brand and people stories.”
Prior to signing with CoMPANY, Franer was handled for spots and branded content by production company Haus.
Built in America
According to Franer, he wanted to create This Built America to explore the following questions: Why aren’t things made in America the way they used to be? Do people still care about this? Is it ethical to buy things at the absolute lowest cost? What about cost to the environment, and the wages and working conditions of the people involved that makes all the stuff we use today?
“My biggest question was if it was possible to create and sell a series with a company that wanted these questions answered,” said Franer.
During the 13 episodes shot at both new and existing companies around the country, Franer found answers to his questions. “Folks are still making things in America and people really care that things are still made here,” observed Franer. “Parts of manufacturing are starting to come back because people care.”
To distribute the series, AOL and Franer created a platform that gave the director the creative freedom and flexibility to mix filmmaking with journalism and interactive media. The results for agency Team Detroit is the Ford F-150 truck being associated with innovation, job creation and love of workers here in the U.S.
Franer said the amazing part of directing such an ambitious branded series was getting to meet hundreds of people over the course of the year. “Some really great salt of the earth types,” Franer said. “One of my favorite episodes involved filming at Chance Rides, an American amusement park ride manufacturer in Kansas. Not only were the people friendly, but their story as a post 2008 comeback company was amazing. We filmed (and built some cool rigs) at an amusement park and shot at their huge manufacturing facility. The place is so big we got lost several times. I think the episode touches a nerve, its nostalgia tugs at the heartstrings. We found out later that Terry, one of the craftsmen that we featured (he worked on building historic trains) passed away shortly after from cancer. We later found out that they used our film as a tribute to his life.”