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Directors Popescu, Hodnet Sign with The Story Companies

(January 24, 2005)

Broadening the scope of its directorial roster, The Story Companies has signed directors David Popescu and Christina Hodnet for exclusive representation in the U.S. for commercials work. Popescu is a comedy director who has done the bulk of his work in his native Canada. Hodnet is a specialist in visual storytelling and dialogue, especially for spots involving kids. She has spent the past two years directing primarily in Europe and Canada.

The two directors offer proven talent that has had only limited exposure in the U.S. market, according to The Story Companies president Mark Androw  ?David directs comedy spots with a wit and style that is entirely his own, said Androw. ?Christinas work is striking for the very real performances she coaxes from children and her beautiful visual storytelling style.

Popescu said he was attracted to The Story Companies by its success in launching directors in new markets. ?I saw they way they have jumped started many of the directors they have taken on, and wanted to be a part of that program. Popescu added that he has already booked his first project with The Story Companies, a 3-spot campaign for Totes and Isotoner via Cincinnati agency WonderGroup.

Popescu began directing in 1997 after seven years as an art director with Toronto agencies McCann-Erickson, Doner, Young & Rubicam, Taxi Advertising and Leo Burnett. He signed his first directing contract with Sparks, Toronto, and is currently repped for Canadian work by Brown Entertainment. His Canadian spot credits include GM/Team Canada, UK Athletics, Comcast, Shoppers Drug Mart, Toyota and Sony.

Much of Propescus initial success as a director came via dark comedy?an early spot for Cadbury featured an axe-wielding farmer?but more recently, his work has tended toward a lighter brand of humor. A current spot for Ontario-based Casino-Rama (produced via Brown Entertainment) plays off the reactions many guys have to ?chick flicks as men in a movie theater doze off in a variety of ridiculous ways during the screening of a terminally sappy romantic comedy.

?I learned early on not to have ?one style, Popescu explained. ?If youre stuck in one style you risk becoming a fad. When I get a script, I try to figure out what style of comedy will make it work best rather than try to impose my ?style on it.

Popescus skill at crafting memorably visuals stems from his experience as an art director, but his irreverent sense of fun goes even further back to a childhood infatuation with classic British comedy. ?As a kid, I watched shows like On the Buses and Flanders and Swann, and I found the British sense of humor very appealing, he recalled. ?It could be very sophisticated and witty one minute and completely stupid the next?and I was fascinated by how they could make both work.

Christina Hodnet

Hodnet has been consistently busy with work for European and Canadian markets, but now plans to focus on U.S. work with a fresh, new reel. Among her recent credits is a seven spot package for Bell Canada out of Cossette Communications, Toronto, and produced via Players, Toronto. Bells largest campaign of the year, the spots feature two brothers, with the older boy providing wry explanations to aspects of the cable/cell/phone companys service to the younger lad. In Monster, the older boy explains the concept of bundling telecommunications services while promising to root out the beasts that his brother imagines are lurking in his closet. She also recently shot a German Pampers spot in South Africa for Saatchi & Saatchi, Frankfurt via TwinFilm, Zurich. Hodnet just wrapped a spot for Orange Mobile out of Y&R, London, that she shot in the Dominican Republic.

Hodnet said that her international work has helped her to grow and mature as a director. ?Working outside the US market has given me a broader view of advertising, a better understanding of how global the work that I do can be, observed Hodnet. ?A kid is a kid no matter if he lives in New York, South Africa or Poland. They all have a realness and honesty within them. It is this truth that I aspire to capture on film.

After studying commercial making at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., Hodnet moved to Canada and began her career there with The Partners Film Company, Toronto. Partners continues to represent her for Canadian work today. She first garnered U.S. representation in 1999 via bi-coastal Celsius Films.

?My passion is working with children, Hodnet affirmed. ?As a Los Angeles native and child growing up in front of the camera I learned what it felt like to be in that position, both the good and the bad parts. I feel I can pull a performance out of a child in a way in which he will have fun doing it, never considering it work, and therefore allowing the most natural part of himself to be exposed. Capturing this realism is what I strive for. I have been fortunate in the last year to work on many strong challenging dialogue-driven scripts with children of all ages. I have also been fortunate in that I have had the opportunity to shoot more stylized work myself, as in Orange Mobile, Disney and Smuckers Jam. With a free-flowing camera capturing sun flares and mismatched framing, it gives my work a fresh look that is so rarely there when the focus is on childrens advertising.

?I am excited to be with the Story Companies for their commitment to their directors, Hodnet added. ?Their approach to the changing market is realistic, allowing a strong honest relationship with the whole team to be developed. Im also intrigued by their strengths in exposing directors reels outside the three major cities in the US and am excited to work on strong creative scripts no matter where they come from.

The Story Companies are represented is represented on the East Coast by Marianne McCarley (212) 604-0440; in the Midwest by Doug Stieber & Co. (312)222-9595, in the Southeast by Miller Associates, (954) 563-6004; in the Southwest by Fran Montoya, (214) 823-8123 and on the West Coast by Connie Mellors & Co, (818) 761-4520.

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