A very small sample of my directing work at closerlook, inc., a midsize pharmaceutical marketing agency based in Chicago.
Over the years, projects have included documentaries, narrative, live presentations, medical animation, 3D animation, 2D character animation, interactive animation for POS displays and sales tools, social media content, display advertising, VFX work, short form comedy, and even the occasional internal training video.
If there’s a type of work you don’t see here, please feel free to get in touch. I’ll see if I can dig something up!
Closerlook is a pharmaceutical marketing agency with a long tradition of releasing a holiday video at the end of every year.
These holiday videos are produced in-house by Closerlook’s motion team and shot on a very low budget, and agency employees form the cast (and most of the crew). In spite of those limits, the videos themselves are often high-concept: They must demonstrate the agency’s knowledge of the pharma world, and they must still be entertaining enough for the general public.
One year, agency leadership handed us this assignment:
Explain the drug development process through the metaphor of a relationship. And make it funny.
It was a strange and highly specific brief, but we did our best to thread the needle. This was the result.
When the makers of the microbudget zombie film Chrysalis finished post, they had to confront a difficult question—how to distribute this thing? After I joined the marketing team, we had long talks about the state of the marketplace, and decided to distribute the film ourselves.
I created an integrated marketing campaign that included a new logo, a new hero image for the campaign, the movie poster and website, social media support, and even a few cascading promotional emails. (I even got the opportunity to direct the film's title sequence, an experience I'm very proud of and grateful for.)
^^^ Yes, you read that correctly. The image we shot is so hi-resolution that it would take a 20K monitor to display the whole thing. At 300dpi, a print of our image would be 66” wide by 41” tall.
I would encourage you to zoom in.
Darren Callahan’s movie is an overt nod to giallo, a genre of Italian slasher films from the 70s and 80s, so I embraced that aesthetic as much as possible in the marketing materials.
The poster image appears to be painted by hand (similar to many other b-movie posters from the giallo era). However, the image actually started as a “stage” we built with 3D models. Everything was first composed in that 3D environment—from the wineglasses to the blood, and on down to the logo.
We used that 3D scene to stage a “photoshoot” to find our final frame. I then heavily reworked that hi-res export in Photoshop to recreate the final hand-crafted feel of a poster from the era.
Not a drop was spilled.
A wondrous pharmaceutical marketing site manifests itself A magical trip through the efforts of every agency department as they bring a new FDA drug approval to life. Nestle in and prepare yourself for a wild ride.
I had the honor of directing this one, but the team effort was extraordinary here—great ideas coming from all over the place, from senior leadership on down to the most junior of creatives. The hardest part was fitting it all in one video.
Caps57 is the #1 “packaging prototype” studio in Chicago, and has been for many years.
If you work in TV commercials, and your product has to look pretty for the cameras, Caps57 will build a “hero” version for you. A perfect version. Better than the real thing.
If you work in advertising, and the client wants to see the packaging before they’ll let you build it, the team of artists at Caps57 will build that prototype for you by hand. Better than the real thing.
How good is their work? Well, it tends to get attention.
A brand identity for an Irish film production company, based on the legend of the Will ‘O Wisp.
This logo was a bit different than other projects, because this logo wasn’t destined to live in some 4-color print ad. It wouldn’t be relegated to the corner of some website.
This logo was going to be seen on big, glorious movie screens, in ultra-high definition, and with more dynamic range and color nuance than most consumer screens are even capable of providing.
So we went big.
The implicit objective of most agency holiday videos is to feature the company's creativity or originality. But it can also be hard to stand out from all the other agencies trying to do the same thing. And the results can feel vain, tone-deaf, arbitrary, insecure, or worst of all, unfunny.
In 2014, we choose to turn the agency holiday video inside out. We used a metafictional approach to show our self awareness and comment on the difficulty of self promotion.
Back in 2008, I was lucky enough to direct a few TV ads for the Chicago Sky, our local WNBA basketball team.
This was my first foray into 2.5D animation, and was my first time working with local animation studio Daily Planet.
One day, when carrying my video pack around, I stumbled onto a small auction barn just outside Starved Rock, Illinois. This video is a love letter to what I found inside.
Many thanks to T & L Auction
810 Bellevue Ave., Ottawa, IL 61350
Leroy Van Dyke — "The Auctioneer"
Copyright 1956 SONY/ATV MUSIC PUBLISHING LTD.
The annual Bob Evans Farm Festival is a weekend of family fun, crafts, farm contests, live music and food in Rio Grande, OH. Entertainment includes sheep shearing, lumberjack shows, horseshoe pitching, competitive clogging and more.
We created an identity, logo and poster campaign for the festival. Our work embraced the humor and whimsy of the festivities, while still treating the festival and attendees with the dignity they deserved.
Less of an oversized promotional desktop calendar, and more of an interactive escape from reality. To see the full 12-month calendar, click here.
On the first work day of every month, recipients of this desktop calendar would return to their desk, sit in place, and read about some new thrilling or glamorous career they could have instead of their current job.
Be it astronaut or anthropologist, ballerina or birthday clown, mortician or movie reviewer, scuba diver or showgirl—this calendar allowed the viewer to step (or sit) into the shoes (or legs) of some other life.
However, each story had a twist: The dangers, pitfalls, drawbacks, injuries or even mortality rates associated with each job. By the the time they finished reading, our audience was often happy to be sitting right where they were at.