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  • Friday, Aug. 18, 2000
Chase Runs With MJZ

Director Carlton Chase has joined bicoastal Morton Jankel Zander (MJZ) for exclusive commercial representation. Chase comes over from New York-based Shooting Gallery Productions (SGP), the spot division of New York-headquartered indie feature company The Shooting Gallery.

Prior to joining SGP at its inception last fall (SHOOT, 10/8/99, p. 1), Chase had a long tenure with Los Angeles-based Ritts/Hayden ('93-'99). Before that, his roosts included now defunct Berkofsky Barrett and its predecessor Berkofsky Smillie Barrett; now defunct Griner Cuesta & Schrom; and London-based Radical Films and its predecessor, Fat Fish Films.

MJZ executive producer David Zander said that he has known Chase since shortly after the director graduated from Pasadena, Calif.-based Art Center College of Design in '87. Chase launched his directing career at Berkofsky Smillie Barrett, where Zander repped him.

"I always thought he did incredible work," observed Zander. "From a location point of view, his work is incredibly diverse. And, for instance, the Oracle spots he did are just incredible; it looks like Time-Life photography. It's got this impactful photographic quality to it.

"One thing I always found him to be is a very, very conceptual thinker," Zander continued. "He's also a tremendous writer. If an agency were ever to call him with a premise, he'd have 20 [executional] ideas in an hour. I used to work with him and [I found] a lot of the directors talked like photographers, but he spoke like a real thinking director—someone who could literally write it down and give it a logic and a structure that suited the idea. How strong he was in that way always blew me away."

Chase said that geographic considerations figured into his move to MJZ. While he has been based in New York for the past year and a half, Chase said that during this time he has become more involved in pursuing feature projects vis à vis his deal with Creative Artists Agency (CAA), Beverly Hills.

"When I was doing my doctorate work back East, I was with a company [Ritts/Hayden] exclusively on the West Coast; I found that to be a bit disconcerting," recalled Chase. "Now that things have kind of pushed in the other direction, to be with a company that's on the East Coast is equally disconcerting. My producers and I get heavily involved in the prepping of jobs and the bids. For me, I've always found it really beneficial to deal with people face-to-face if possible. I think it makes for better work and better relationships."

MJZ became a natural choice for him, Chase explained, due to his longtime relationship with Zander and many of the company's staffers. He commented that he's known a lot of the people at MJZ for 15 years and feels very comfortable with them. "There's a shorthand there," noted Chase. "It's not like learning people and personalities for the first time. And I think MJZ's growth and presence in the market is really wonderful. I feel very akin to their marketing strategy."

Although his work is heavily drawn on narrative, Chase pointed out that he has not cultivated a specific style. "Generally," he said, "when I do a project, I really marry with that company. It's not as if I have a particular agenda when I do something. This comes from training at Art Center, but I try to go back to ground zero and take each project on its own course of evolution. People generally don't point to my past work and say, 'I want one of those.' "

Among Chase's credits are the aforementioned spots for Oracle—"Freedom of Speech" and "Revolution" (the latter won a '98 Gold Clio) via Think New Ideas, Los Angeles. Filmed in Cambodia, the Oracle ads allude to historical repression, such as the Khmer Rouge takeover of Cambodia, in order to emphasize the importance of a free flow of information. He completed the spots while taking what was otherwise a year-and-a-half hiatus from spots, during which time he focused upon his doctorate studies in Tibetan and Sanskrit languages (SHOOT, 1/22/99, p.7).

Recent credits include "Fantasy," for Coca-Cola's Dasani water via Berlin, Cameron & Partners, New York, and a pair of Merrill Lynch ads—"Chair" and "What If?"—for J. Walter Thompson, New York; a spot for via J. Walter Thompson, San Francisco; and an ad for Spanish communications firm Telefonica via Young & Rubicam, Madrid. Most recently, Chase directed a project for an undisclosed client out of DDB Chicago.

MJZ recently opened a New York production studio in SoHo; it will primarily serve the shop's New York-based directors Jonathan David, Kieran Walsh, Irv Blitz (who divides his time between both coasts) and Chase. Zander said the firm is in the process of talking to producers to head the office and that MJZ intends to staff up gradually.

Besides the aforementioned directors, MJZ's roster also includes directors/company partners Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel, as well as helmers Marcus Nispel, Craig Gillespie, Tom DeCerchio, Sean Thonson, Bob Richardson and Victor Garcia. Chase will be repped on the East Coast by Tim Merjos at Creative Management Partners, New York, in the Midwest by Chicago-based Gay Guthrey, and on the West Coast by Shirley Schackmann and Stephanie Stephens.