Academy Award winner gains West Coast representation (July 08,2004)

Academy and Emmy Award-winning director Jeff Brown, a specialist in directing children, has signed an agreement for exclusive representation with Tag Team Films, the industry’s leading producer of kids and toy commercials. Brown, on staff at Rocket Films, New York, for the past ten years, has directed well over 100 toy spots, many involving very young children, including work for Fisher-Price, Hasbro, Tyco and Playskool.

“Jeff’s meticulous work amidst ‘kid-chaos’ suits us here at Tag Team,” said Cindie Wright Banks, executive producer of Tag Team. “Jeff is well loved by his clients for his abilty to bring out the natural, charming humor in toddlers. His non-toy work also reveals his superior skill and humor.”

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“A number of forward-thinking agencies are now looking at directors who have traditionally done toys for non-toy work,” Wright added. “Agency CEOs and creative directors are recognizing the enormous skill, patience and the flawless execution of these directors who are in fact delivering extraordinary work in spite of retail’s restricted budgets and complicated network guidelines.”

Tag Team also represents directors Kevin Dole, Howard Rose, Jamie Mortellaro, Ernie Mosteller and Maria Reed, as well as director/efx-team The Steam Team.

Noting that the majority of his recent work has been for East Coast agencies, Brown said that part of the reason for his move to Tag Team was to broaden his reach to other markets. “There are a lot of good toy accounts on the West Coast and that’s a whole new world for me,” he said. “Tag Team has the ability to give me true national exposure.”

“I also value Cindie’s experience in toys,” he added. “She has been working in the toy world for a long time and has an excellent track record. No one knows the business better than she.”

The majority of the spots that Brown has directed promote toys and/or feature children as talent. Although he has worked with kids of all ages, he has enjoyed particularly high marks recently for his work with kids from toddlers on down. That has led him to a string of assignments for Fisher-Price’s Sesame Street and Barney toy lines as well as for numerous Playskool products. “Believe it or not, you can direct infants,” Brown insisted. “They’ll imitate you if you reward them with smiles and affection.”

Brown attributes his success in children’s advertising to the fact that he genuinely enjoys working with kids, and as a result they like working with him. “I work with a lot of joy; it’s my main tool as a director,” he said. “I use joy and love to connect with kids. We become friends and that’s how I get them to open up.”

Brown’s path to becoming a top kids’ director began at NYU where he won a Best Student Film award and won a grant to produce another from the American Film Institute. After interning with Peter Weir on Dead Poet’s Society, he made his professional directorial debut with a short called Molly’s Pilgrim and promptly won an Academy Award. He followed that with a CBS SchoolBreak Special, titled What if I’m Gay?, that brought him a pair of Emmys. Suddenly a hot commodity, he began working in episodic television, earning a third Emmy Award for The Wonder Years. He also directed episodes of Hooperman, L.A. Law and Baby Boom, among other shows.

In 1993, Brown was hired by New York agency Griffin Bacal to direct a developmental short titled John Ritter Presents the Secret World of the Very Young. From there he went onto direct spots for the agency’s Hasbro account. The following year, he joined executive producer Jeff Switzer’s Rocket Films. Soon Brown was drawing assignments from other agencies with large toy accounts including Young & Rubicam, D’Arcy and DDB Worldwide, all in New York. He also directed spots for such products as Levis, Kodak and Hewlett Packard involving young talent. “I love kids, so toy work came naturally to me,” Brown recalled. “I got quite good at it quite fast.”

Having directed more than 100 spots and worked with more than a thousand kids, Brown says it has become second nature for him to connect with young actors. “Every kid has a different key that leads into his world,” he observed. “There was one kid I directed by talking in burps. I taught him how to do it and that’s how we talked to each other all day. That was our rapport.”

Tag Team is represented by Lauren McNamera in the Midwest including Texas; Pangea’s Stu Strenbach on the East Coast, and Carol Budd in the Southeast.

Tag Team Films is located at 1334 Westwood Boulevard, Suite 9, Los Angeles, California 90024. For more information, call (310) 470-0491.