Since its inception in 2008 The Colonie has evolved from a resource for award-winning creative editorial talent best known for its work in the commercial arena â€“ into a seamless, full-service company with a diverse team of top-caliber editorial, visual FX and design talent attracting a mix of work â€“ from spots and digital content to emerging media and films.
The Colonie's partners' - creative editors Brian Sepanik and Bob Ackerman and executive producer Mary Caddy - shared commitment to a talent-driven approach to growing their business model has served it well. A complement of skill sets, aesthetic sensibilities, and a passion for experimenting and pushing boundaries sets the companyâ€™s editors, assistant editors, graphic designers, visual effects artists - and even its interns - apart from the crowd.
Recent wins by three members of The Colonie's team and two of its interns at the AICE 14th Annual AICE Camp Kuleshov Competition, and The Midwest Independent Film Festival's seventh annual Advertising Community Shorts Festival attest to the companyâ€™s collective keen eye for talent.
Assistant visual FX artist Ben Pokorny was awarded top honors at AICE Chicagoâ€™s Camp Kuleshov â€˜Designâ€™ competition for his graphics-driven title sequence for Terry Gilliamâ€™s dystopian fantasy, â€˜Brazil.â€™ The guidelines for the contest were to select a film from a list of ten titles and, using only footage from the movie, and original graphics that they designed, create an intro title sequence that fits its feel and style.
"I hadnâ€™t seen â€˜Brazilâ€™ before so I decided to give it a watch,â€ says Pokorny. â€œI loved the style of the film; I loved the style of the technology, and thought it would be incredibly fun to adapt that to a title sequence. My main goal was to the keep the feel of the hectic automated world depicted in the film while integrating the credits into the mix of malfunctioning technology and paperwork.â€
Pokorny took footage from the movie and modified it, using both Adobe Photoshop and Adobe After Effect to create a series of work order forms titled â€˜Department of Information.â€™ The documents matched the look and style of the forms used in the film, with the addition of a film credit on the â€˜nameâ€™ line of each one. The sequence of paperwork with the movieâ€™s credits flows seamlessly into a scene from the film that opens with a similar looking business form being put on a clipboard by a worker and stamped.
A graduate of Columbia College, Chicago where he studied computer animation, Ben Pokorny joined The Colonie as an assistant editor in 2012. He made the move to his current position as assistant to visual FX artist, Tom Dernulc, early this year, building on his training and bringing an editorâ€™s eye to his new role. His recent work includes a spot for Nintendo Super Smash Bros. 3DS for Leo Burnett.
Camp Kuleshov Trailer Competition challenged assistant editors to select one of 27 films and cut a 90-second trailer that promotes it as a picture of a different genre. First Runner-Up went to assistant editor Jimmy Helm of The Colonie for â€˜Maniac.â€™ Helm chose the film â€˜Tootsieâ€™ and skillfully crafted a trailer that twisted Dustin Hoffmanâ€™s affable comedic character into a foreboding diabolical threat.
â€œAs with any project, I started by watching all of the footage. However, my focus was on catching anything that could be bent to support a foreboding storyline. I then began to assemble a substantial amount of material to build a story with a dark twist,â€ says Helm. â€œThereâ€™s a lot of latitude with a trailer - the story needs to be solid but not complicated, as long as it leaves the audience in a state of anticipation.
â€œI found the necessary plot points and added ominous sound elements to set the dark tone. Punctuating the story with a series of title cards helped steadily build tension that heightened and held until the last frame, which revealed the title and release date - â€˜Halloween 2015,â€ says Helm. â€œI cut â€œManiacâ€ over a 16-hour period and by the time I watched the final edit Iâ€™m proud to say that I had thoroughly creeped myself out.â€
Helm grew up in Nashville and discovered a passion for film â€“ as well as Blockbusterâ€™s classic section - while still in middle school. He spent his time studying the greats - Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, Stanley Kubrick - and trying to mimic the camera and editing techniques with his dadâ€™s video camera.
A filmmaking major at Columbia College, Chicago, Jimmy Helm applied for an internship at The Colonie in 2010. Six months later he was offered a full-time position as an assistant editor, and began working alongside veteran cutter Tom Pastorelle. Since joining the company he's worked on a variety of commercials, including McDonaldâ€™s, Kelloggâ€™s, Centrum Silver, and Kay Jewelers.
â€œTom taught me the importance of method when it comes to editing,â€ says Helm. â€œWhether it's a 30-second commercial or a 30-minute documentary, every film has a step-by-step process mixed with instinctual creativity.â€
The Colonie remains just as discerning when it comes to accepting applicants for internships. Michael Dowdle, currently an intern at the company, won top â€˜Editorialâ€™ honors at Camp Kuleshovâ€™s Tent City Competition for â€˜Devilâ€™s Due,â€™ a horror movie take on the film â€˜Dare Devil.' Another intern at The Colonie, Brandon Danziger, followed him, as first runner-up, in the â€˜Editorialâ€™ competition with his intro, entitled â€˜8 Horrible Bosses.â€™
While The Colonie is best known for its work in the commercial arena, its talent is also tapped for a mix of emerging media, digital content and film projects. This yearâ€™s Midwest Independent Film Festival's Seventh Annual Advertising Community Shorts Night, received more than 250 submissions from the commercial community. The short film â€˜Happy Hour,' directed by Martin Rodahl, owner of the commercial production company, 71 Degrees North, and cut by Brian Sepanik, creative editor and partner at The Colonie, took 2nd place at the prestigious event.
The most recent of Rodahl and Sepanik many collaborations over the years, â€˜Happy Hourâ€™ was adapted from a short story written by Jim Thompson. The film opens with an advertising executive tasked with firing several people from his company. As the protagonist recounts the dayâ€™s events with a buddy over drinks it triggers a painful memory from his childhood that profoundly impacts how he relates to the employees and their loss. The 15-minute short spans 30-years, weaving together present day scenes with flashbacks to the seminal childhood incident.
â€œAs The Colonie continues to evolve and grow our mission remains the same: To provide a supportive, flexible, creative environment for a diverse mix of fresh, inspired talent - and clients looking for a creative partner that consistently delivers content that exceeds their expectations,â€ says Sepanik. â€œWeâ€™re proud of our team and the inspired work recognized by the AICEâ€™s Camp Kuleshov jury. Participating in competitions that challenge them to apply their talent to new genres brings a fresh perspective to all of their work â€“ from commercials to films.â€
About The Colonie:
The Colonie is an award-winning Chicago-based creative editorial, motion design, visual FX and finishing boutique that provides a seamless, full-service approach to creating spots and cross-platform content that engages, entertains, informs and moves audiences.
A multi-disciplined collective of creative, technically skilled storytellers work as a creative partner with clients, following a shared vision from rough-cut through completion. A wide range of national and global clients, such as Nintendo, McDonaldâ€™s, Pepsico and Bayer, rely upon The Colonieâ€™s inspired team to consistently deliver compelling creative content that elevates the viewerâ€™s experience and connects them to brands.
The Colonie's partners' - creative editors Brian Sepanik and Bob Ackerman and executive producer Mary Caddy - shared commitment to a talent-driven approach to growing their business model has served it well. A complement of skill sets, aesthetic sensibilities, and a passion for experimenting and pushing boundaries sets the company’s editors, assistant editors, graphic designers, visual effects artists - and even its interns - apart from the crowd.