Wednesday, May 23, 2018
  • Tuesday, Mar. 1, 2016
Traktor's Rani Melendez Named Managing Director of The Mill LA
Rani Melendez, managing director of The Mill LA
Company also fortifies Midwest foothold with colorist Matt Osborne; Chicago facility to soon move into new, expanded digs
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Rani Melendez--a mainstay in the Traktor filmmaking collective for 17 years, serving in such capacities as its head of production and then as executive producer--has embarked on a new chapter in his career, joining The Mill’s studio in Los Angeles as its managing director.

Meanwhile The Mill has also strengthened itself in the Midwest with the addition of colorist Matt Osborne who comes over from The Mill London. Osborne is already working out of The Mill Chicago, which is slated to move to new, expanded digs in late March/early April.

Melendez brings to The Mill a depth and breadth of production experience amassed during his tenure of handling creatively demanding and often eclectic filmmaking assignments directed by Traktor. Melendez assumes the managing director role at The Mill LA previously held by Ben Hampshire who left Southern California last summer to return to London, shifting to the production company side of the business as managing director/EP of UK shop Rogue Films.

Robin Shenfield, CEO of The Mill, said the company had the luxury of taking its time to find Hampshire’s successor thanks to the strong management team in place in Los Angeles: executive creative director Phil Crowe and sr. EP Sue Troyan along with U.S. COO Damien Macaulay. Melendez, who reports directly to Shenfield, becomes not only part of the L.A. leadership team but also a member of The Mill’s executive board where he will have a hand in developing the creative and strategic growth of business worldwide. The Mill’s global footprint spans studios in L.A., Chicago, New York and London.

Shenfield observed, “Traktor is a brilliant collective of directors and a powerful brand in its own right, utterly steeped in the business of trying to produce great work, often within time and budget constraints. Rani brings a great deal to us--a deep knowledge of content production and the visual effects community, totally engaged in turning out quality work. He understands what our clients require at this time of change in our industry and will be invaluable to L.A. and to our other studios. He will not just lead our L.A. office but contribute to our vision and strategy worldwide.”

The alluded to changes in the industry include such developments as experiential and immersive content. The Mill LA has been active in VR and AR, for example, as reflected in the studio’s recent groundbreaking short film, Help, for Google Spotlight Stories and director Justin Lin of Bullitt Branded. (Lin is known for directing installments 3-6 of the Fast and Furious movie franchise.)

Melendez, whose Traktor pedigree includes work that has earned Emmy, Cannes Lions and D&AD recognition, shared, “There are so many new avenues of opportunity being created, and the technology and talent to achieve outstandingly great work is here at The Mill. Over the years The Mill has constantly changed and developed by responding quickly and effectively to changing client needs. I am greatly looking forward to helping support and nurture those clients and to helping lead the evolution of the company.”

Colorist Osborne joins at a juncture when The Mill’s Chicago operation, headed by managing director Jared Yeater, is about to move from shared space with the Whitehouse to its own larger state-of-the-art studio in the landmark 1K Fulton (1000 W. Fulton Market) building nestled in the West Loop, a neighborhood which has seen such major recent additions as the Soho House, Ace Hotel and Google’s trendy new showcase quarters.

Among Osborne’s notable credits are Sky’s “Sky Q” directed by Johnny Green of Biscuit Filmworks for Brothers & Sisters, London; H&M’s “Modern Essentials” featuring David Beckham and directed by Fredrik Bond via Sonny London (Bond is with MJZ in the U.S.) for adam&eveDDB, London; Audi’s “Birth” directed by Mill+’s Andrew Proctor for BBH London; Hugo Boss’ “The Scent” directed by feature filmmaker Darren Aronofsky (Oscar and DGA-nominated for Black Swan) for Grey London; and Beyonce’s video “Mine” featuring Drake and directed by Pierre Debuscchere via production company Art & Commerce.

Osborne joins Mill Chicago colorist Luke Morrison whose recent endeavors include: Jeep’s 2016 Super Bowl spot “4x4ever” directed by Arnaud Uyttenhove of Caviar for DDB Chicago; Coors’ “Miners” directed by Noam Murro of Biscuit for agency Cavalry; and the Wrigley’s Extra Gum commercial “The Story of Sarah and Juan” directed by Pete Riski of Rattling Stick for Energy BBDO.

The Mill is custom constructing its new Chicago space across one floor of the 1K Fulton building, which houses other media companies and is part of the complex that is home to Google. The Mill will have some 23,000 square feet at its disposal with 15,000 to 16,000 square feet being filled from the outset and featuring a new digital infrastructure that will allow the studio to double its capacity in color by adding a second suite. The new space will also facilitate an expansion of Chicago’s CG and design teams, as well as provide room for further growth of the talent and resources at the Mill+, a creative studio arm of The Mill focused on originating, developing and designing content. Other features include six client project suites, Google Fiber connectivity with all Mill offices, and ample space to accommodate further development of experiential, VR and other technologies. The overall building also has LEED certification, meaning that the space is truly eco-friendly “green.” Among the creature comfort amenities are a private patio overlooking Fulton Market, and a roof deck with a 270 degree view of the city.

Founded in London in 1990 by Shenfield and Pat Joseph, The Mill extended its reach stateside in 2002 with the launch of a full-fledged NY studio, then a Los Angeles shop in 2007, and a Chicago operation in 2013. The new Chicago studio underscores how far The Mill has come in that market in just three years, said Shenfield. Last year (SHOOTonline, 9/15/15), Technicolor acquired The Mill for €259 million (some $290+ million), a deal which Shenfield said allows The Mill to maintain its autonomy, culture and philosophical/creative sovereignty while gaining access to Technicolor resources and talent that will support ongoing growth and innovation.