×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

YouTube, Facebook Creators Tapped as Directors by Ad-Production Firm Launched by Jonathon Ker, Larry Shapiro

Will internet-video creators emerge as the next generation of directors in the advertising biz?

That’s the hypothesis of entertainment industry veterans Jonathon Ker and Larry Shapiro with their newly formed production company, dubbed A Separate Entity. The duo have assembled a roster of “commercial-ready” directors — adept, they say, at creating content for consumers weaned on YouTube.

“Advertisers reached out to directors of music videos to make their commercials in the 1980s,” said Shapiro, former president of AwesomenessTV’s Big Frame talent division and Fullscreen’s head of talent. “Now they’re going to come from YouTube.”

A Separate Entity’s current roster of directors includes: Scott Winn, known as ScottDW (pictured above), who has more than 1 million followers on his YouTube channel and has produced work for brands including Oreo, Fanta, Toyota, Macy’s, Mattel and Budweiser; A. Todd Smith, who recently directed a video for Chatbooks that garnered more than 70 million views on Facebook; Matt Enlow, a comedy director who has worked with brands such as Aquafina, Whiskas and Degree; Aaron Hatch, who recently directed the “Beat Scout” video series for FedEx’s latest online campaign.

The firm’s director pool also includes Facebook comedian Laura Clery, who has worked with Breville, Nerd Skincare and Baidu, as well as Penn Holderness, Tonio Skits, Jason Schnell of Reckless Tortuga, and Patrick Scott.

Shapiro and Ker aren’t necessarily looking for big-name digital stars with massive internet fanbases. Instead, they’re looking for impact: ScottDW — who describes his YouTube videos as “short, comedic, musical nonsense” — regularly produces videos that generate views that are a large multiple of his subscriber base, according to Shapiro.

Moreover, Shapiro pointed out, internet video creators are accustomed to producing content on relatively small budgets. “A lot of production companies have huge offices and huge staffs… Agencies are looking for a new model,” he said.

The creators on A Separate Entity’s roster are also clients managed by Shapiro’s Ensemble Digital Studios, which he started in 2015 after leaving Big Frame. “We wanted to create a separate company, so when we talk to agencies and brands they are dealing with a production company,” Shapiro said.

Ker, who has 20-plus years of commercial film production experience, said the new production shingle will present internet creators as directors — rather than on-screen talent, as has been the prevailing model among brands trying to tap into the online-video world. “In the past, people have gone to the influencers,” said Ker. “Nobody has looked at them and said, ‘Which ones can you actually put in the mix as good directors?'”

In the late ’80s, Ker cut his teeth in the business by recruiting music video directors to the commercial world and recently started his own commercial production company, Hobnob Productions. His credits include working with Francis Ford Coppola at VH1 Films, as well as producing HBO’s “Always Outnumbered” starring Laurence Fishburne. Ker also has collaborated with directors Alex Proyas, Michel Gondry, and Gore Verbinski, and has executive-produced projects for music artists including Michael Jackson, Eminem, Black Eyed Peas, Tom Petty, Gwen Stefani and U2.

A Separate Entity, funded by Shapiro and Ker, is based in Santa Monica. The company currently has a staff of four, in addition to sales reps working on a contract basis.

More Digital

  • Nancy Pelosi

    Facebook on Defensive Over Fake Pelosi Video

    Facebook faced growing criticism this week over its decision not to remove a video that was doctored to suggest that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was intoxicated during a recent public event. The video, which has been viewed more than 2.5 million times, had been slowed down notably, giving the impression that Pelosi was slurring her [...]

  • Little-Black-Mirror-Maia-Mitchell

    Netflix Launching 'Little Black Mirror' Video Series Starring Maia Mitchell, Lele Pons, Rudy Mancuso, Juanpa Zurita and More

    To promote next month’s premiere of “Black Mirror” season 5, Netflix is launching a short video series — “Little Black Mirror,” with a cast that includes an ensemble of Latinx social-media stars. The three “mini-stories,” aimed at Spanish-speaking audiences, are inspired by the tech-dystopian universe of Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones’ anthology series. “Little Black [...]

  • Twitter

    Twitter Permanently Bans Anti-Trump Krassenstein Brothers, Who Deny They Broke Platform's Rules

    Twitter permanently suspended the accounts of Ed and Brian Krassenstein — progressive political activists famous for trolling Donald Trump and his supporters — with the company alleging the brothers used bogus accounts to amplify their reach on the platform. “The Twitter Rules apply to everyone,” a Twitter rep said in a statement. “Operating multiple fake [...]

  • Snapchat

    Snap in Talks to License Music to Let Snapchat Users Embed Songs in Posts

    Snap wants to up Snapchat’s music game. The company has been in negotiations with music companies including the big three — Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group — to license song catalogs for the Snapchat app, according to two industry sources familiar with the talks, confirming a Wall Street Journal report. [...]

  • T-mobile - Netflix - John Legere

    T-Mobile Passes Netflix Price Hike Through to Subscribers

    T-Mobile is getting ready to raise prices for subscribers who have taken advantage of its “Netflix On Us” promotion: The mobile carrier will begin charging existing customers who have participated in the promotion an additional $2 per month to account for Netflix’s recent price increase. Consumers will see their bill go up starting on 6/2. [...]

  • Oona King

    Snap Hires Google Exec Oona King as First VP of Diversity and Inclusion

    Snap continues to fill out the ranks of its revamped leadership team: The Snapchat parent tapped Oona King, most recently Google’s director of diversity strategy and a former member of British Parliament with the Labour Party, as its first VP of diversity and inclusion. King, who starts at Snap on June 11, is also the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content