Austin-based Fueld Films, a producer of regional spots for a variety of markets in the heartland, recently grew its roster of talent, which, according to executive producer Brady Anderton, is no small accomplishment.
He likens finding a new director to “finding a four-leaf clover…in winter…in Australia. Or somewhere else that you wouldn’t think had a lot of clovers. It takes perseverance and patience,” he says.
For Fueld, finding talent that’s a good fit is not as simple as checking out a reel, although in some cases the relationship does start that way. “The new Fueld Films directing roster is the culmination of years of hard work,” explains Anderton. “Some directors were people we had collaborated with over the years on a freelance basis, others came as recommendations from creatives we trust. Some were the result of watching reels — literally hundreds and hundreds of reels — and then reaching out for a meeting.”
Let’s find out more from Anderton on new hires— Annie Gunn, Nate Balli, Doug Chamberlain, Kevin Kerwin, Nic Iyer and US representation for David Quinn and Jake Kovnat — new offices, how they partner with post houses and more.
How do you know you’ve found the right fit for your company?
The key for us, the secret ingredient in our special sauce, is in finding people who represent that rare overlap of talent and a collaborative outlook. We weeded out directors who had amazing reels but weren’t fun to work with, and we similarly passed on friendly directors with a mediocre body of work. Then we were left with a shining few who were talented on set and worth sharing a beer with after we wrapped. Those are the people we signed.
You have also expanded with a new office. Why was now the time, and what will be going on in that office?
Fueld’s vision has always been to position itself as the production company able to aggregate the regional talent in the heartland cities. The only way to do this right is to have roots in those cities. So rather then have two huge offices in LA and NYC, we are focusing on spaces and partnerships in our backyard.
Every year we have added one new office — this year I moved my family to Denver to more fully integrate and understand the needs of this market. Next on the list will be Detroit. Within three years we hope to have coverage over the five main regions we have determined are a good fit for what we have to offer.
Each new city provides new opportunities and a unique set of needs. Once those are determined, we seek out the best local talent to partner with. The result is a whole new recipe customized for that market. This in turn brings new work to the local market from local clients and new clients around the country. This is what gets us excited.
When a client comes to you, how do you decide which director is best for the best project?
There is always an aspect of the boards that sticks out in terms of a dominant genre, be it comedy, narrative, action, what have you. So we want to line up that overall feel of a director to the creative at hand. But beyond that, part of our success, I think, lies in the fact that we don’t submit someone who has a duplicate spot already on their reel. If an agency wants a spooky vampire spot and John Q. Director has done something really similar, then he will either be bored shooting this new spot as is, or he’ll want to morph it in a way that is more exciting and challenging to him but perhaps no longer true to the agency’s vision.
What we like to do is find a director who has created elements of those new boards — like an outdoor shot that relied heavily on a similar lighting technique, or a dark comedy spot that feels pretty sinister if you watch it without the sound — but never put them together in exactly this way before. That way, we can present the ad agency with a director (or three!) who has the chops to pull off the boards but everyone will be experiencing this particular style of shoot for the first time as a team. It’s more exciting this way, and our directors and clients are happier with the result.
What about camera choice? What does that come down to? Project? Personal choice? Budget?
We always want to honor the creative, but with the incredible technological advances in digital cameras over the last five years, we find that we are relying more and more on exquisite lighting and a comprehensive lens package. Those assets seem to be the great equalizers that make a more entry-level camera competitive, and a high-end camera really sing.
That being said, we work a lot with the Red Epic, the Sony F55, the Arri Alexa and the Red Dragon.
Fueld has relationships with post houses. Who are they and how do you choose them?
There are core cities that we seem to shoot in over and over. Our relationships there have grown organically over the years, and many of our post partners have come to us by way of agency recommendations. The people who live in a town know who they like to work with!
Overall, we aim to align ourselves with the most creative, skilled, awesome people we can find. So in Denver, we work a lot with Spillt. In Salt Lake City, and now Portland, Oregon, we have a wonderful relationship with Nocturnal. The people helming BLK MKT in Austin have been our friends and collaborators for years.
As with any relationship, you just know when it feels right. The pieces fit, we complement each other’s ways of working, and it makes a partnership easy on us and beneficial for our clients. Currently we’re seeing more work in cities like Minneapolis, Nashville and Boston, so we are looking to make some solid connections in those cities.
How do those relationships work?
We recognize the immediate desire in the advertising landscape for a “one-stop-shop,” but we want a Fueld Films turnkey experience to reflect the best resources we’re able to bring to the table. What we don’t want to do is answer this turnkey request by hiring a bunch of “everyman” types who are pretty good at a lot of things, but master of none, and bring the post in house. We are killer at production, but we are not set up to be a post house.
When a turnkey project comes our way, Fueld is the single point of contact for that job. That being said, we recognize that Fueld the hub of a many-spoked wheel! We assemble a strong, conceptually relevant production and post team and send a single, cumulative bid to the client. Then when we win the job, all the key players are involved from the onset. There are no surprises because we’ve all crafted the initial plan together.
The process runs smoothly because our Fueld line producer works hand-in-hand with our Fueld post producer in order to create a seamless experience from production through post. After we finish shooting, the post producer is the key liaison between Fueld, the post house, and the client. Depending on the scope of the creative, the post house either takes on the second half of the project doing what they do best, or we’ll work with them to use the staff that makes sense and bring in freelance talent where applicable to create more of a four-wall situation. When collaborating with trusted partners it’s a lot easier to check our egos, push our traditional roles to the side and find an answer that best suits the creative and all of our myriad skills.
At the end of the day, Fueld is ultimately responsible for the final product. There is no passing of the buck. We’ve built a lot of trust and longstanding relationships this way. Any way you look at it, this model benefits the client because they get a single point of contact without giving up their divine right to work with the best the industry has to offer at each stage of the creation process.