- Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016
Director Joe Schaak has joined the roster of production house STORY for exclusive representation. He was formerly handled by The Traveling Picture Show Company. Specializing in character-driven comedy and known for delivering genuine performances from actors, celebs and real people, Schaak has turned out a body of work which has garnered such honors as being shortlisted at Cannes and coming up a winner at the 2002 AICP Show. The latter award was bestowed upon his Johnsonville Sausages’ spot “Lambeau” in which a rogue bratwurst vendor takes over the broadcast booth at the home of the Green Bay Packers, Lambeau Field.
Schaak has directed more than 200 commercials over the course of his 20-year career. Among his notable credits is a Super Bowl ad for Century 21 that featured guest appearances by Deion Sanders, Apolo Ohno and Donald Trump. Recent efforts include a campaign for technology reseller Gazelle.com featuring real people reading actual online reviews and cleverly staged to bring out their personality quirks. He also directed a deliciously deadpan campaign for health services nonprofit Baby Can Wait. In one spot, a man presents his nephew with an unusual gift: a breast pump. The boy, it turns out, is pregnant. “I loved that campaign because the agency was so collaborative and I was able to have a hand in developing the concepts,” said Schaak.
The director adds that he enjoys directing comedy because each project offers new opportunities for invention. “I love finding the magic in characters,” he said. “The discovery process is always fun...that’s what keeps it fresh.” Schaak’s reel also includes work for McDonald’s, Target, Purina, Kellogg’s, Nyquil and ESPN.
Schaak said he was attracted to STORY by its success in working with comedy directors and its diverse agency relationships. “I was looking for a company with strong, established executive producers and footholds in Chicago, Texas and across the Midwest,” he noted. “STORY has a great reputation and impressed me with their knowledge of the advertising market.”
STORY, which is headed by executive producer Mark Androw, expects its relationship with Schaak to extend beyond traditional commercials. The director has experience in directing branded content, web series, reality and scripted television and features. He is currently independently developing a comedy television series called RenFest, a behind-the-scenes look at the office politics in the world of Renaissance festivals.
STORY is represented on the East Coast by Elyse Emmer; in the Midwest by Melissa Thornley; in the Southeast by Miller + Associates; in the Southwest by Gossip!; and on the West Coast by Yvette Lubinsky.