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Mad Mad Judy Lends Cinematic Simplicity to NBA Finals

Wieden + Kennedy tap Steve Hamilton to cut NBA Finals promo spots (June 06, 2005)

Quiet and Contemplative is seldom a word associated with the NBA, and particularly the finals, but Wieden + Kennedy tapped Editor Steve Hamilton of Mad Mad Judy to craft a series of promos for the upcoming NBA finals that leave almost everything to the imagination.

"Corner" begins with a view of the intersection of two, house-lined streets. The voice over notes: "This is the corner of William and Middle where a young boy once stood and sang. But we don't know him as a singer." The image then cuts to action-packed game footage. "We know him as Magic." Viewers watch the iconic shot of a celebratory Johnson as a Rookie winning the NBA finals. The other two spots, "House" and "School" follow a similar storyline. In "House," viewers are introduced to the home where six-year-old Shaquille O'Neil was a typical little boy until "he began growing." In "School," we see a shot of Springs Valley High's locker-filled hallway where Larry Byrd "played on the B Team and was a hick from French Lick before he became Larry Legend." Each spot concludes with the NBA logo and "The Finals: where legends are born."

The spots are a bold departure from the usual hype filled action packed hoopla normally associated with the NBA, but these spots took a non-conventional approach that's quietly moving and really hits home. It plays up the drama behind the game that enriches our experience of sports. "I loved the boards because I really think that the personal stories that connect us with our sports heroes are getting lost these days amidst all the flash and glitter. As such I felt that the further I could rein in the sound design, keeping it super naturalistic with just the tiniest little nuance of detail to connect us to some distant memory of this particular place, where this particular sports legend grew up."

"Once your imagination has been activated and you're listening to this moving story about his childhood, then the crowd sounds, and the announcer's game call creeps in, and we're totally primed to revisit the pinnacle of triumph achieved at the NBA finals. Each spot is a 30 second movie consisting of exactly two shots, one that shows us nothing but a location and leaves everything to the imagination and one that reminds us of one of our favorite sports moments. Each one sort of taps that visceral/emotional/cinematic cortex that we access when enjoying the best sorts of sporting enactments."

Kudo's go to Bobby Hirshfield and Alan Buchanon from W + K for fighting for such a bold and risky concept and to the NBA for taking a big risk on this one. It's a bold concept that really cuts through the noise when these quiet still things come on the TV.

To view the new spots, go to:

Client: NBA
Spots Titles: "Corner," "House," "School"
Airdate: May 2005

Advertising Agency: Wieden + Kennedy/Portland
Creative Directors: Kevin Proudfoot, Todd Waterbury
Art Director: Alan Buchanan
Copywriter: Bobby Hershfield
Executive Producer: Gary Krieg
Producer: Gisellah Harvey

Production Company: Anonymous Content/New York
Director: Brett Morgen
Executive Producer: Andy Traines
DP: Russel Fine
Producer: Peter Trucco

Where shot: Jersey City, NJ; Spring Valley, IN; East Lansing, MI

Editorial Company: Mad Mad Judy/New York
Editor: Steve Hamilton
Assistant Editor: Jeff Drury
Producer: Heather Brown

Postproduction Company: Company 3/New York
Colorists: Tim Masick, Victor Mulholland
Producer: Luana Ayres

Visual Effects Company: R!ot Manhattan
Visual Effects Artist: Tom McCullough
Managing Director: Connie Griffin
Executive Producer: Luis Ribeiro
Producer: Colleen Garvey

Sound Design Company: Marshall Grupp Sound Design/NY and Mad Mad Judy/NY
Sound Designers: Marshall Grupp, Steve Hamilton and Jeff Drury
Executive Producer Marshall Grupp Sound Design: April Jaffe
Producer Mad Mad Judy, Inc.: Heather Brown

Audio Post Company: Sound Lounge/New York, NY
Mixer: Glen Landrum
Dolby Cinema Spot Mix: Phil Loeb

About Mad Mad Judy & Editor/Sound Designer Steve Hamilton:
Editor, artist, and sound designer Steve Hamilton started Mad Mad Judy in 1999. He created the boutique post-production house to balance his work with high-profile commercial clients with his art and film projects that push the boundaries of emerging digital technologies, as well as push buttons socially and artistically. Mad Mad Judy, located in West SoHo, NY sports its trademark bright green floor, breathtaking Manhattan view, and outdoor terrace to accommodate and inspire creativity.

Recent projects for Mad Mad Judy include director Hal Hartley's newest feature film, "The Girl From Monday," which made its debut at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and then screened at Moma as part of the Premieres series, celebrating the re-opening of the museum. The film just had a theatrical release in the U.S. and will soon be distributed by The Possible Films Collection, a new company recently founded by Hartley and Hamilton, and which just had its first theatrical release with Director Richard Sylvarnes' "The Cloud of the Unknowing" at the Pioneer Theater in New York last fall. PFC has also released a DVD compilation of Hartley's short films entitled "Possible Films--Short Works by Hal Hartley 1994-2004." The company is currently distributing the CD "Possible Music - From the Films (ETC) Of Hal Hartley" and "The Girl From Monday" soundtrack. Mad Mad Judy and Steve Hamilton have also recently made contributions to major museum installations from Pierre Huyghe and Matthew Barney, and Steve had a solo exhibition of his own artwork at The Triangle Project Space in San Antonio, Texas. He recently performed live sound design for choreographer Cathy Weis' new theater project "Electric Haiku: Calm As Custard."

On the commercial front, Mad Mad Judy's Steve Hamilton edited a recent Dunkin Donuts campaign via Hill Holiday, which garnered a prestigious Hatch Award by The Ad Club of New England. Hamilton was also instilled with a complex editing challenge for Oreo's via FCB/New York where he sifted through a decade's worth of archival footage to "celebrate the union of Oreo cookies and milk," culminating in a 30-second spot and three 15-second pieces. Other new commercial projects include spots for Volvo, Miller Beer, Aunt Jemimah and a half-hour, reality-show-inspired, branded entertainment piece for Optimum Digital Cable and production company @radical. Hamilton has just provided editorial and sound design for this British Airways commercial, as well as new campaigns for PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.

Mad Mad Judy is located at 180 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014.
t. 212.807.9111 f. 212.807.1119.

For more information visit


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