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10 Directors to Watch: Bert and Bertie Combine Forces on Underdog Comedy ‘Troop Zero’

This playful duo, who call themselves 'The Berts,' directed Viola Davis and Allison Janney in Sundance closing night selection 'Troop Zero.'

Back in 2005, Bert met Bertie. Bert was producing a series of short films to accompany Sony’s “The Getaway” video game series while Bertie served as the game’s writer. The two struck up an immediate kinship and found that together they were a “creative melting pot of ideas.”

Cut to 14 years later. The female duo — who call themselves “The Berts” — are headed to Park City, Utah, to unveil their sophomore effort “Troop Zero.” The Amazon film, written by “Beasts of the Southern Wild” scribe Lucy Alibar, follows a young spunky girl named Christmas Flint (Mc-
kenna Grace) who, after getting rejected from the high-and-mighty Birdie Scouts, decides to form her own scout troop.

The film, an outsider comedy full of girl power, attracted such grownup stars as Viola Davis and Allison Janney.

“I think they saw the potential in the script in terms of what it means for girls,” Bertie says.

As for working with two Academy Award-winning actors, Bert and Bertie weren’t intimidated due in part to their extensive résumé, which includes commercials, numerous shorts, a Fox Studios Directors Initiative fellowship as well as their 2016 inaugural feature, YouTube Red’s “Dance Camp,” a music-and-dance teen drama.

“That first feature taught us when to be precious and when not to be precious,” Bert says. “To not obsess over details that weren’t important to a particular scene or a particular part of the story. That was huge.”

Recognized by the DGA as one of the few female directing teams, Bert and Bertie, who split their time between London and Los Angeles, insist on being called only by their collective name, as opposed to their birth names of Katie Ellwood (Bertie) and Amber Finlayson (Bert).

“Bert and Bertie are really our names,” Bertie says resolutely before quipping, “It’s a huge coincidence.”

The duo was recently hired again by Amazon to rewrite and direct “Eurydice,” described by those close to the pair as “Terminator” meets “Thelma & Louise.”

Influences: Jeunet and Caro, the Coen brothers, Tim Burton, Guillermo del Toro
Agency: Verve
Legal: Hirsch Wallerstein Hayum Matlof & Fishman

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