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Director Lance Kelleher Signs with Copper Media for Commercials

Also in development with Silver Pictures on a feature film By DMN Staff Writer
Lance Kelleher has signed with Copper Media for exclusive U.S. representation as a commercial director. Kelleher, formerly with Ritts Hayden, is best known for automotive work combining epic scale live action and intricate visual effects. The directors credits include the current Dodge spots "Truckville," "Baggage Claim" and "Reflections" created by PentaMark Worldwide for the RAM 2002 pickup.

In joining Copper Media, Kelleher is aiming to accomplish two goals. One is to further expand his commercial career. The second is to launch a career as a feature film director. Toward that end, Kelleher has begun development with Joel Silvers production company, Silver Pictures (The Matrix, Swordfish, Romeo Must Die) on a feature film based on the book "One Crowded Hour," about legendary Australian photojournalist Neil Davis, to which Kelleher owns the movie rights. Both deals were brokered on Lances behalf by his representatives at AMG, Endeavor, and Craig Emanuel of Loeb & Loeb. Steve Richards represented Silver Pictures.

?I hadnt previously imagined that it was possible to find a production company where I could pursue my movie while continuing a successful commercial career, Kelleher said. ?But Ive found that at Copper, and I can do it with people who are talking the same language and who are well connected on a lot of levels. That, for me, became a very compelling reason to join this company.

The ability to help directors?directly?in making the leap from commercials to feature film work is what distinguishes Copper Media from other production companies, according to Gragido. ?Because of our unique relationship with one of the most prominent feature production companies in the world, we were very quickly able to create a path for Lances dream to become a reality, he explained. Few other commercial companies can do this, especially at the pace at which we accomplished it.

Gragido added that Kelleher is the third of his companys commercial directors to have feature film projects in the works. Gil Cope is currently in development on a feature film project under the Silver banner and Steve Fong is developing an independent feature under the Silvers guidance and supervision. Additionally, Copper Medias directing trio, Goetz+Goode, is in the running for its first feature directing assignment via Dreamworks.

?Were a young company with a very talented group of directors, observed Gragido. ?Ive selected these directors because I believe they are filmmakers who can succeed in both long and short formats, because they ?get the commercial business, and because they are a pleasure to work with. Our connection with Silver truly provides an entree into the feature world for our directors.

Kelleher was introduced to Copper Media by Mike Vanderfeld, owner and executive producer of 8 Commercials, Kellehers Australian production company. Copper Media has an agreement with 8 Commercials to represent its directors, Josh Frizzel and Derek Richards, in the U.S., while 8 Commercials represents Copper Medias directors in Asia. Additionally, Copper Media was recommended to Kelleher by severalassociates of Coppers executive producer Thom Sidoti.

A native of New Zealand, Kelleher has been working in the United States since 1995 and has become one of the industrys most prolific directors, helming a series of ever more spectacular campaigns. The Dodge RAM spots are typical of his meticulous approach to large-scale productions and ability to deliver jaw-dropping visuals. Truckville shows a truck speeding across a vast expanse of desert moving in sync with a full-size fighter jet cutting through the air just a few feet above its roof.

?It was a project that required precise and methodical planning, yet still had to retain a sense of spontaneity, Kelleher said. ?We didnt want to fall into the trap of being highly textured and complicated, but spiritless. It had to seem random and organic. What we were doing was ?designing spontaneity.

?People like the spots, the director added. ?They sound great. They look great. The visual effects are complex, but not overbearing. A lot of thought and complexity went into making them something that will cause people to stop and say, ?Thats something different.

Well-schooled in everything from the rigors of remote location shoots, to the minutiae of computer animation, Kelleher credits his early experience editing news footage for TV New Zealand, for his confidence and composure. ?I learned to edit film and to quickly make decisions on how to handle material, he recalled. ?There is nothing like having the editor of a news show looking over your shoulder and knowing that in three minutes what you are cutting is going on national television?and if it doesnt there will be a big, black hole.

Kelleher got his start as a director in music videos. He eventually moved to Sydney, Australia where he segued into commercials. Through Kino Montage, the production company he formed, he quickly achieved a national recognition and won a string of international advertising awards.

Among Kellehers most recognizable work is "Spectacular Reveal" created by Saatchi & Saatchi, Torrance, Calif. for the Toyota Tundra. In it, auto parts rain down from the sky and attach themselves to a chassis as races a train across a salt flat. The commercial won two Clio Awards and a Monitor Award last year. The director also won a Cannes Bronze Lion, a London International Advertising Award and a Mobius Award for an Australian campaign for Nutrigrain out of J. Walter Thompson, Sydney.

Kellehers work also includes BMWs 1997 Responsiveness campaign meant to simulate the exhilaration of test-driving a car. Conceived by Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis, the spots were filmed in black & white and are presented largely from the cars point of view. ?Some of the rigs we devised for the campaign put the camera only three or four inches above the ground, Kelleher recalled. ?I wanted to capture the very real sensations from all different angles of the car, which we had travel through some very dynamic road conditions: bad roads, switchbacks, tight cornering.

Among Kellehers favorite spots, is a commercial for wireless phone company Orange Australia that equates the freedom provided by a cell phone to soaring through the heavens in a hot air balloon. The film, which includes a series of spectacular vistas, appears in black & white, except for the balloons themselves which are colored a vibrant orange.

The spot earned Kelleher several international advertising awards, but more importantly, struck a cord with viewers. ?People enjoyed watching the ad because it communicated a sense of inner peace, Kelleher noted, ?and thats what its really all about.

?No matter how complex the project, I always approach it by first thinking about the idea. At the end of the day, it is the idea that is most important. Before you can begin to embellish it with style or substance, you have to discover the merits of the idea.

While looking forward to his pending feature film, Kelleher says he also feels a renewed commitment to commercials. ?There is nothing like being excited about the future, especially with new people involved and new points of view, he said. ?This is an opportunity to replenish and revitalize the creativity. I feel recharged, rejuvenated and looking forward to embarking on some big, beautiful, expansive work.

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