Monday, January 22, 2018
  • Friday, May. 26, 2017
SHOOT 2017 New Directors Showcase Reel Debuts; 29 Individual Helmers, 3 Duos Garner High-Profile Exposure
SHOOT New Directors Showcase 15th Anniversary "Class of 2017" group photo. See the Reel and Director Profiles at
Up-and coming directors discuss their work, plans at DGA Theatre session, gain feedback from DDB's Madison Wharton, Madison+Vine's James Shani
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SHOOT premiered its 15th Annual New Directors Showcase reel at the DGA Theatre in New York City on Thursday (5/25), followed by a panel discussion moderated by SHOOT publisher and editorial director Roberta Griefer featuring five of the up-and-coming filmmakers as well as feedback and advice from Madison Wharton, chief production officer of DDB New York, and James Shani, founder and CEO, Madison + Vine.  The evening ended with the After Party downstairs at the DGA.

The 2017 New Directors Showcase consisted of 35 directors--29 individual helmers and three directorial duos. Kicking off the proceedings was Neil Dudich, Eastern executive director of the DGA. He described the Showcase directors as representing "the future of our industry" and that the Guild is there to support them. "We at the DGA want you to know you are not out there alone," said Dudich, noting that there is "a vibrant commercial directors community" within the DGA where members share stories, experiences and can help "further develop your craft.

Dudich then introduced Griefer to the audience who in turn presented the debut screening of the 2017 SHOOT New Directors Showcase reel, which contained a sampling of work from each Showcase filmmaker. After the screening, SHOOT held a panel discussion in which five of the directors participated: Sophie Cole, half of the sibling duo The Coles (the other half being Walker Cole) from production house Hey Wonderful, part of the RSA family of companies; Josh Franer of CoMPANY Films; Jendra Jarnagin who is not affiliated with a production company; the mono-monikered Kiran who is an art director with Innocean Worldwide, but unaffiliated with a production company; and Jenn Shaw, who also has no company affiliation.

Shaw earned inclusion for her documentary $15 Kicks, from which an excerpt was shown for the DGA Theatre audience. She had just gotten back from the Cannes Film Festival where $15 Kicks was screened as part of The American Pavilion Emerging Filmmakers Showcase. The documentary is a testament to Shaw's perseverance as she had pitched ESPN on assorted projects before finally eliciting interest in $15 Kicks which tells the story of former NBA star Stephon Marbury who launched a line of affordable Starbury basketball sneakers--as an alternative to the various NBA superstar-endorsed shoes that run $150 or more a pair. Some of the expensive limited edition sneakers have even sparked violence--and in once case, death--as young fans vye to buy the shoes. Marbury wanted to end the frenzy and the financial pressures that limited income and everyday working families felt when their kids clamored for a pair of superstar sneakers.

ESPN hooked Shaw up with filmmaker Spike Lee to serve as executive producer on $15 Kicks. While a bit nervous over meeting Lee for the first time, she was thrilled to get the opportunity and found him to be a "funny, cool guy" whom she got to chat with again at Cannes where he was being honored along with collaborator Roger Guenveur Smith, noted actor/writer/director. 

Regarding what's next for her, Shaw is working on a long-form documentary with an NBA team, and has a feature film in development. Griefer asked Shaw about her career mentor Evan Silver, a New Directors Showcase alum. Shaw said Silver has been a great source of encouragement, affirming to her that "the world needs your voice."  Once she becomes established, Shaw said she too very much wants to "pay it forward" by helping other aspiring filmmakers and artists.

Kiran garnered his Showcase slot on the strength of his humorous Organic Doggie Treats' "Unsullied" commercial. Kiran has already made his mark in the ad business--on the agency side as an art director initially at The Richards Group, Dallas, and now at Innocean Worldwide, Huntington Beach, Calif. He is continuing to build his reel in the hope of ultimately making the transition to full-time director. To bring his Organic Doggie Treats campaign to fruition, Kiran said he called in favors so that his out-of-pocket expenditures were $10 for parking and coffee.

Jarnagin made the Showcase cut with her commissioned film for Canon, Live Your Light, from which an excerpt was screened. She first establised herself as a DP. In fact she served as cinematographer on projects which in earlier years earned a couple of other directors inclusion into the SHOOT Showcase. Canon became aware of Jarnagin's lensing prowess at Sundance and various trade shows, and from demo films she had done for other camera companies--so they called on her to both direct and shoot Live Your Light. While she doesn't see herself ever giving up cinematography, Jarnagin is looking for more opportunities in the director's chair, and some of those are materializing on the branded content and VR fronts. She is currently in development on a VR dance film. And she is DP and producer on an immersive theater project for Sundance's New Frontier Lab and Oculus Story Studio. 

Franer gained Showcase recognition for his work on This Built America, an online branded content series he co-created, selling the concept to Ford via AOL, working with agency Team Detroit. Franer directed 13 episodes of the series which focuses on varied companies that exemplify a resurgence of manufacturing in the U.S. Ford's made-in-Detroit F150 pickup truck serves as a natural tie-in to the series which features homegrown American businesses from all 50 states. Franer said his "reverse engineering" business mindset helped to bring This Built America to fruition. Rather than make a film not knowing what to do with it later in terms of gaining viable distribution, branding support or exposure, Franer strategized up front what would make This Built America appealing to prospective brands/clients and agencies. Part of his angle in selling the show was its connection to the American-made values and ideals of Ford.

As for what's next, Franer is directing projects through CoMPANY Films, including a recently wrapped Visit California spot which took him to such locales as Palm Springs and the Chateau Marmont.

The Coles, meanwhile, after gaining Showcase inclusion on the basis of a comedy spec spot titled "Wingman" for Fiat, have via Hey Wonderful landed their first client-direct piece, an online film for Tory Burch's new sports line featuring the Tory Sport Fall/Winter 2017 collection. Sophie Cole added that she and brother Walker also recently completed another spec piece, this one for Apple, which will soon debut.

Most of the Showcase directors were in attendance at the DGA Theatre. The other directors in the 2017 Showcase are: Sergio Abuja of Carbo Films; Monica Brady who is unaffiliated; Brandon Bray of Contagious LA; Colleen Davie Janes who's unaffiliated; Dan DiFelice of Biscuit Filmworks; Joel Dunn who's unaffiliated; David B. Godin of Autopilot: Off; Diego Hallivis who is unaffiliated; Danielle Katvan who's unaffiliated; Kat Keene Hogue of goodstory films; Yulin Kuang of Adolescent Content; Marcus Kuhne of Big Block; Thomas Leisten Schneider of Kiss & Kill; the team of Brandon Maxwell and Jessy Price of theCollectiveShift; Mccoy | Meyer (Eric Mccoy and Justus Meyer) of Rodeo Show; Matthew Michaud of Backyard; Charlie Mysak of tinygiant; Andrew Norton of Untitled Films, Toronto; Kelly Nygaard who's unaffiliated; Anthony Pellino of LightHouse Films; A.V. Rockwell of Little Minx; Roberto Serrini of Derby Content; Carrie Stett who's unaffiliated; Isaiah Taylor of Tilted Panda Productions; Michael Wald who's unaffiliated; Duncan Winecoff of Epoch Films; and Christine Yuan of Knucklehead. Click Here to view the 2017 SHOOT New Directors Showcase Reel and see profiles of all the directors in the Showcase.

Can't see the video? Click here.

Professional insights
DDB New York's Wharton noted that agency producers take "a lot of pride" in working with new directors, noting that a veteran executive on the agency side to this day points proudly to having been the first to work with filmmaker Bryan Buckley.

Wharton's advice for new directors is "to be bold," avail yourself of the opportunity spec work provides to "show your signature." Wharton said she's seen some crazy stuff from risk takers over the years. She recalled "shocking work" from the director duo Daniels of production house PRETTYBIRD. At the time that fare and the sensibilities it reflected weren't right for a client she had in mind but the originality of the work still resonated. Today, she said, it's hard to get booking time with Daniels who are now in demand on the spot, branded content and feature filmmaking fronts.

Madison + Vine's Shani advised new directors to simply "keep making cool shit." At the same time, he cautioned that a lot of directors make "cool shit," get signed to a production company and think they've arrived. They have a hot spec spot and become flavor of the month--but you have to take the initiative and keep turning out cool work in order to have resonance in the marketplace. Otherwise that initial momentum is lost.

A key part of Madison + Vine's business model is to conect new, promising directorial talent with brands. Madison + Vine has a stable of filmmakers in residence--directors who are signed, are on retainer and who pitch and are actively pitched for business. The company also has working relationships with non-exclusive talent, garnering select projects for independent directors. The overrall ensemble of talent Madison + Vine taps into represents what Shani describes as "a community" of directors that brands and agencies can find relevant and useful. Madison + Vine has recently produced varied forms of content for Gatorade, Samsung, Taco Bell and Land Rover.

An after party, downstairs at the DGA Theatre, followed the New Directors Showcase screening and panel discussion. The evening event came on the heels of SHOOT's Directors/Producers Forum held that same afternoon at the DGA venue. Coverage of the Forum will appear in next week's SHOOT>e.dition.  

  • Click Here for photos from the "Meet the New Directors" Panel and After Party.
  • Click Here for additonal SHOOT Directors & Producers Forum coverage, photos and panel videos.  

Lead sponsors of the 2017 SHOOT Directors/Producers Forum and New Directors Showcase were Company 3, Madison + Vine, and the DGA. Silver sponsor was advertising and entertainment law firm FKKS. Bronze sponsors were brother, CoMPANY Films, YouTubeRed Originals, the Montana Film Office and Mediavision.

Company 3 additionally on Thursday morning hosted a breakfast and color correction workshop for the Showcase directors.