Mark Androw receives AICP’s highest honor

The legendary Chicago producer and entrepreneur was presented with the Jay B. Eisenstat Award during last night’s AICP Show in NYC STORY co-founder and Executive Producer Mark Androw received the Jay B. Eisenstat Award at last night’s AICP Show in New York City. Almost single-handedly responsible for making AICP one of the most effective and … Continue reading “Mark Androw receives AICP’s highest honor”

Mark Androw’s post-AICP agenda

The recently retired AICP/Midwest President keeps busy with the organization, the industry, and STORY Mark Androw had a truly unique experience at the AICP Show last November. For the first time in more than a decade, he enjoyed the open bars, designer cuisine, and fancy couture without handling any responsibilities. “I got to see what … Continue reading “Mark Androw’s post-AICP agenda”

Androw reelected president of AICP/Midwest a third time

The Chicago-headquartered AICP / Midwest has elected new officers and board beginning Oct 1 for a two-year term, with Mark Androw of STORY reelected for a third term as president.

AICP / Midwest is one of seven regional chapters. Its membership consists of 22 General Member and 24 Associate Member companies.

The newly elected officers, in addition to Androw, are freelance producer Marsie Wallach as vice president, who is new to the board, and Essanay Studios’ Wayne Kubacki, returning for his second term as treasurer.

Story’s Androw uses new tax credits to stretch ever-tighter commercial budgets and win work

Story executive producer Mark Androw produced the first commercial last month under the new 20% tax incentive?his 27th job utilizing the Illinois tax incentive to stretch increasingly tighter budgets for increasingly ambitious projects.

“The incentives are tremendous tool in my arsenal,” said Androw, who spent last week in L.A. pitching the value of Illinois incentives to L.A. production houses.

He’s the sole Chicagoan on AICP’s national board, but Mark Androw is chairman for the second year

Mark Androw frankly admits his loves his job as board chairman of the 255-member Assn. of Independent Commercial Producers.

The president/executive producer of The Story Companies was recently reelected to a second one-year term. “There’s an amazing group of producers on the board and it’s a it’s a privilege to serve with them,” he says.

Story Companies’ Androw ascends to lead national AICP’s 479 members

Mark Androw has been traveling to New York and California on AICP business at least four times a year for the last 15 years serving on the national board in various influential capacities.

As newly-elected chairman of an association representing $4 billion in gross member billings, he anticipates ramping up his frequent flyer miles.

Androw is owner/executive producer of The Story Companies, based in Chicago with offices in Los Angeles and New York and a staff of 19.

STORY director Kevin Smith stirs up grimy comedy for Cramer-Krasselt’s Gumout

A clandestine meeting between a pair of shady characters under a dank freeway overpass leads to an unexpectedly hilarious result in a new spot for Gumout directed by Kevin Smith of STORY. Conceived by Cramer-Krasselt (C-K), the clever ad is set up to look like a scene from a gritty TV crime drama as a … Continue reading “STORY director Kevin Smith stirs up grimy comedy for Cramer-Krasselt’s Gumout”

STORY evokes everyday heroes for Pedialyte

During the pandemic, we’ve all drawn inspiration from frontline workers. In a new ad for Pedialyte and Norton Agency, Chicago, STORY director Blair Hayes tells the story of a little girl named Mia who is inspired by an everyday hero into an act of kindness. In the spot, Mia is leaving the pediatric ward of … Continue reading “STORY evokes everyday heroes for Pedialyte”

STORY’s Ky Dickens gets flirty with sandwich making

This is tasty. In a fun new spot for Land O’Frost’s Bistro Favorites and Chicago agency Merge, STORY director Ky Dickens shows that, when it comes to sandwiches, beauty is in the eye of the maker. In this case, makers. Featuring a good-looking, flirty couple prepping sandwiches in a split screen, each applies special touches … Continue reading “STORY’s Ky Dickens gets flirty with sandwich making”

STORY signs McCormick Brothers adventure filmmakers

Adventure filmmakers Kyler and Kody McCormick have joined STORY for advertising projects. The McCormick Brothers, who have directed commercials, branded content and social media for Southwest Airlines, Canon, Camping World, Hilton, Adobe and others, are seeking to tap STORY’s relationships with ad agencies nationwide to gain more opportunities to apply their unique style of inspirational … Continue reading “STORY signs McCormick Brothers adventure filmmakers”

STORY celebrates the Bud Light beer man

Even though there are no fans in the stands, baseball fans can still have Bud Light delivered to their seats, at home. While Major League Baseball fans won’t be going to the ballpark this year, Bud Light is bringing a bit of the ballpark to them. A new broadcast and social campaign, produced by STORY … Continue reading “STORY celebrates the Bud Light beer man”

New Normal: staying at home with STORY

Editor’s Note: The world changed right before our very eyes. We now work, live, exercise and entertain ourselves in our homes. This is the new normal. In this new on-going series, we check in on ad agencies, production companies, post-houses, and anyone else who wants to talk about their personal experiences during this coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. STORY … Continue reading “New Normal: staying at home with STORY”

REEL WOMEN: Mary Langenfeld, Head of Production at STORY

Editor’s Note: They are leaders. They are inspirational. They are mentors. They are visionaries. They are, quite frankly, badasses. They are our 2020 Reel Women During Women’s History Month, you will be able to meet these incredible personalities in Advertising, Entertainment, Media and Production. Get ready. Mary started as the receptionist at STORY in April … Continue reading “REEL WOMEN: Mary Langenfeld, Head of Production at STORY”

Emmy-winner Jane Lynch joins STORY

Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning actress Jane Lynch is joining STORY as a director for advertising projects. Lynch, who currently stars in the Amazon series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, has already completed her first project with STORY, a two-spot campaign, currently in post-production. “Jane Lynch is one of the most gifted comic talents working today,” … Continue reading “Emmy-winner Jane Lynch joins STORY”

The biggest stories of 2019

The City of Chicago reigned supreme in 2019. Advertising agencies blended social justice with clever branding. Content creators reinforced Chicago’s reputation for inclusivity. Film studios entertained the nation while helping the local neighborhoods. And a handful of friends said goodbye. Below is a list of Reel Chicago’s top articles for 2019, separated by category and … Continue reading “The biggest stories of 2019”

Wayne Kubacki retires from Essanay Studios

Last month, Essanay Studio and Lighting Company co-owner Wayne Kubacki retired from the nationally recognized company that he co-founded decades ago. Widely admired for his extensive knowledge, punctilious care, and conversational efficiency, he leaves a vacancy that will reverberate far beyond the company’s Goose Island facility. “I’m going to miss him,” says Jules Tomko, Essanay’s … Continue reading “Wayne Kubacki retires from Essanay Studios”

Hawley and Amoaku help film industry move forward

Newly installed office-holders explain their plans for keeping Chicago and Illinois on the path of success The thriving regional film industry is only going to get better, according to two of its recently appointed top leaders. Illinois Film Office Executive Director Peter Hawley and Director of the Chicago Film Office Kwame Amoaku described their visions … Continue reading “Hawley and Amoaku help film industry move forward”

AICP Midwest Chapter sets active agenda for spring

A busy slate of events will culminate in the AICP Post Awards next month AICP’s Midwest Chapter is about to kick off a series of events for the local ad and production community that will provide opportunities for professional development, learning and networking. The slate is the product of planning and strategizing by the chapter’s … Continue reading “AICP Midwest Chapter sets active agenda for spring”

STORY captures magic in new GE spots by FCB

Accommodating a talented cast with a light touch, director Ron Lazzeretti sets a stage for the action to flow naturally STORY director Ron Lazzeretti uses real-life humor to show how GE Appliances is making life easier in a new series of spots out of FCB Chicago. The campaign represents the first work by FCB since … Continue reading “STORY captures magic in new GE spots by FCB”

Thrush joins STORY for exclusive ad representation

(Chicago — 1 May 2018) Director Laurence Thrush has joined STORY for exclusive representation for advertising work in the United States. Thrush brings high regard for his naturalistic storytelling and cinematic style, which he has applied to commercials for diverse international and national brands, including ESPN, HP, Amstel Light, McDonald’s, Mastercard and Honda. Among his … Continue reading “Thrush joins STORY for exclusive ad representation”

Barry Burdiak leaves DDB for Epsilon, other recent moves

Barry Burdiak leaves DDB for Epsilon Barry Burdiak, a nearly 30-year veteran of DDB Chicago, has left the agency to lead data-driven Epsilon Chicago as Senior Vice President, Executive Creative Director. He’ll focus on new business efforts for new and existing clients. A mutiple Cannes Lion winner and Emmy nominee, he will report to a … Continue reading “Barry Burdiak leaves DDB for Epsilon, other recent moves”

Craig Duncan joins board of newly merged AICE/AICP

After joining AICP and AICE into a single association under the AICP brand, the newly formed organization announced that Craig Duncan, Managing Director and Partner of Cutters Studios Chicago, has joined the AICP National Board. “We’ve thought long and hard about how to advance our mission of support and advocacy for the post-production industry, and … Continue reading “Craig Duncan joins board of newly merged AICE/AICP”

AICP Next Awards at Siskel Film Center

The AICP Next Awards will offer much more than a screening of new and experiential media on Monday night. Beginning with cocktails and hor d’oeuvres at 6 p.m., the event’s inaugural run at the Gene Siskel Film Center expects to draw hundreds of professionals and supporters from Chicago’s advertising, film, visual effects and post-production industries. … Continue reading “AICP Next Awards at Siskel Film Center”

The community-sourced video tribute Ruth Ratny

The March 29 Ruth Ratny Memorial Celebration at Untitled Supper Club featured speakers from some of the most well known businesses and organizations in the Chicago creative community.

Mark Androw, Tom Duff, Craig Duncan, Julieanna Richardson, Barbara Roche, Roy Skillicorn and Joy Tillis were among those who grabbed the mic and shared personal memories of ReelChicago’s legendary late founder with the room full of people who turned out to celebrate her life.

AICP Leads Commercial Production Seminar

Chicago Producers, Production Supervisors, their assistants and Coordinators now have a chance to gain valuable information and updates on live and digital productions at the first-annual AICP Commercial Production Training Seminar.

Already offered in Los Angeles, New York, Dallas and Atlanta, the weekend seminar will feature four breakout sessions taught by commercial production specialists in the city.

Quriosity’s Lumpkin producing the AICP Show

When Quriosity senior producer Jennifer Lumpkin attended her first AICP Show at the Cultural Center four years ago, she was “overwhelmed” and remembers thinking, “It was gorgeous and so inspiring.”

On Thursday, Nov. 17, she’ll be at the show as a co-producer.

Lumpkin, one of several volunteers who worked on the show, planned to shadow five-year executive producer Gayle McCormick this year and assume the lead role in 2017, when McCormick steps down to accommodate her growing responsibilities as executive producer at Ogilvy.

Burnett winner of two AICP Next Awards, here Nov. 3

The AICP Next Awards, an extension of the AICP Show that traditionally climaxes a year of special events in Chicago, screens Nov. 3 at the AMC 600 N. Michigan Ave. theatre.

Optimus executive producer and freelance spot producer Marsie Wallach are producing the Chicago Next Awards that honor winners of “the most innovative work in alternative media projects,” says AICP/Midwest president Mark Androw of STORY.

STORY’S McDonald’s spot airs throughout Olympic Games

Airing throughout NBC’s 2016 Rio Olympics coverage is McDonald’s new 60-second “better” Chicken McNugget spot, promoting the fast food chain’s decision to remove all artificial preserves from its Chicken McNuggets.

In the split screen depiction, a young boy (Zachary Rifkin)in the left screen growing up in the ‘80s interacts with a young girl (Echo Campbell) of the in present on the right screen, set to a cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time,” sung by Iron and Wine.

AICP trains 30 PA recruits for “the real world on set”

Thirty potential production assistants learned what working on a film set and location was all about at AICP Chicago’s annual PA Training Session, held last Saturday at Essanay Studio & Lighting.

The diverse recruits were brought into “the real world on set” by 17 film professionals – called “the best in the business” by AICP chapter president Mark Androw of STORY – organized by freelance commercial producer Marsie Wallach and Dictionary Films’ EP Meghan Maples.

Governor removes tax credit from endangered list

After four months of concern over how future film business would be affected by the suspension of the Illinois Filmmakers Tax Credits — a consequence of the state’s on-going budget impasse  — the Governor’s Office last night officially announced that film tax incentives remain viable and applications are welcome.  

Burnett again in awards spotlight, winning at AICP

THE AICP NEXT AWARDS held last night in New York as part of AICP Week, presented its 2015 Most Next honor to Leo Burnett’s Allstate’s “Social Savvy Burglar.”  As part of the award, the winner gets to donate a $5,000 grant from the AICP Foundation to an educational institution of its choosing.  The recipient was nonprofit Marwen, which offers offering free, arts-based youth development programs for underserved Chicago students in grade

Guests coming from all over for tonight’s AICP Show

Tonight’s 26th annual AICP Show will be bursting with creative energy as more than 1,000 guests (as of 9 a.m.) from Michigan Avenue, Los Angeles and across the country will the socialize with people they do business with, meet new folks and reunite with old friends.

If you haven’t bought tickets yet, you can still buy them at $175 until 4 p.m. online here or $200 at the door.

Biggest attendance yet expected at AICP Show

The annual AICP Show, the industry’s giant grand finale party, expects 1,200-1,500 guests when it arrives Thursday, Nov. 20, at the Chicago Cultural Center, the third city on its annual year-end tour of 10 major US advertising markets.

Kansas City is the first stop on itinerary, for the first time, Nov. 6, as the AICP Midwest chapter reaches out to embrace more Midwest advertising markets, according to chapter president, STORY’s Mark Androw.

Merger shouldn’t affect business, vendors speculate

Sunday’s announcement about New York-based Omnicom and Paris-headquartered Publicis Groupe intention to create the world’s largest advertising firm had the global adworld reeling, and quick to respond with many positive, skeptical and probing takes on the seismic news. 

Chicago’s ad/production community is also voicing its thoughts on how the pending gigantic, $35 billion holding company will/won’t affect them. 

Sales reps deserve respect in these harried times

Many years ago, before I directed more than 500 television commercials and before Mark Androw and I created Chicago Story, I spent a good number of years on the street as a directors rep. This was a serious “boots on the ground” operation – no drones.

The landscape was significantly different for people with sales skills and knowledge of our complex business who represented production companies and directors. In many ways it was better.   

IPA reelects Teamsters’ Crabtree as board president

In a recent election the Illinois Production Alliance board of directors was reelected, with the exception of one member stepping down after serving on the board since the IPA’s founding in 2004.

Reelected board officers are president, Jeff Crabtree, Teamsters Joint Council 25; Mark Hogan, VP, Local 476; Justin Conway, 2nd VP, Cinematographers Guild 600; secretary, Eric Chaudron, SAG AFTRA and legislative chair, Dan Moore, DGA.

New AICP Midwest board includes four women members

Four members of AICP Midwest were newly elected to the 13-member board of directors in the annual election held Tuesday, Sept. 23.  They are Megan Maples, executive producer of Dictionary Films (Cutters), Melissa Thornley, managing director, Beast/Method/Company Three, Chicago and freelance line producers Marsie Wallach and Gayle McCormick. 

STORY’S Ford spot shows city’s location versatility

While many unlikely cities throughout the world have been used as substitutes for Chicago locations for movies and commercials (and not always convincingly) STORY’S recent reverse location for a major advertiser tops them all. 

“We shot a Ford Explorer driving down Chicago streets that look like modern, urban downtown Moscow, for the Russian market,” says STORY executive producer Mark Androw. 

Comma’s Pecorella heads AMP; forms Latino division

For the first time since the organization was formed in 1998, the national Assn. of Music Producers recently elected a Chicago-based president. 

Larry Pecorella, creative director and partner in Comma Music and Particle sound design, is leading the some 80 music companies AMP members nationwide that represent the sound of music in advertising.

With national headquarters in New York, AMP is similar to AICE in that it establishes guidelines for standards and practices throughout the start-to-finish process of creating high-quality advertising music and sound design.

Chicago spot talent shows up on AICP Shortlist

Fourteen commercials produced by Chicago agencies and one production company are on the AICP Shortlist of 230 spots that are competing for a final slot on the prestigious annual AICP Show Reel and NEXT Awards. 

When the curators meet to make their final decision, the number of spots will shrink from the Shortlist’s 10 entrants in each of 23 categories, to from one-to-three spots per category.

MoFest7 a mo’strous hit with 900 guests

One hundred to 200 guests who turn up at an industry event is standard, 300 is darn good – but the 650 people who work as crew members attending last Saturday’s MoFest7, organized by producer Mo Wagdy, was spectacular.

Held at the imperiled 1,200-seat Portage Theatre, the men (it’s safe to say that since women workers, wives and/or dates were few in number) had a great time talking, drinking and devouring massive amounts of food.

The number of guests hit an all-time high of 900 over the two-day Saturday and Sunday fest.

15 Chicago area arts orgs win $25,000 Chase grants

CHICAGO AREA good works companies won the biggest number of grants – a total of $500,000 — in the just-concluded 2011 Chase Community Giving program that asked the public to vote on Facebook for the organization they deemed most worthy of Chase’s generous grant-giving.

Grants of $25,000 each were awarded to 20 local organizations, of which 15 were performing arts, including the Midwest Independent Film Festival.

AICP Show expects to host 1,000 guests Thursday, Nov. 17

AICP SHOW UPDATE. One thousand adbiz folks will start the year’s end/holiday celebration season by attending the Thursday, Nov. 17 AICP Show at the Cultural Center.
“It’s going to be a great show!” says an enthusiastic Mark Androw of Story, the president of the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the New York-based national organization over which Androw once presided.

Job openings continue for laid-off Roscor veterans

JOB OFFERS KEEP POURING IN for Roscor’s former skilled employees, 100 of whom were suddenly and sadly terminated from the 35-year old Mt. Prospect-based AV equipment company on Black Friday, Oct. 28.  Many had been with the company for 20 years, and some as long as 30 years. 

Companies from all over who learned about the mass layoffs have reached out to the former staffers with job openings! 

Invitations to send in letters, resumes and applications appear in the BackTalk, or comments section, following our recent Roscor stories.

Qdoba restaurant spots tell The Whole Story

Besides the scope of the work, what pleased executive producer Mark Androw and The Whole Story team was the fact that the business came from one of the hottest agencies on Mad Ave — Amalgamated, with more than $100 in billings.

The client was Qdoba Mexican Grill, a 500-store chain of “fresh Mex” restaurants owned by Jack in the Box.

Nov. 17 AICP meeting to discuss new agreement

PRIOR TO THE NOV. 18 AICP SHOW, a general membership meeting will convene Nov. 17 at Fletcher Cameras. AICP president Matt Miller and AICP VP/labor relations Jane Nunez from New York will discuss the new IATSE national agreement that went into effect Nov. 1 and how it affects commercial production.

“The meeting is open to all interested parties,” says Mark Androw, who was recently officially elected president of the AICP Midwest Chapter. Meeting starts at 6 p.m.

Optimism high for fourth quarter upturn

Mark Androw says he usually doesn’t speculate about how business will shape up in the future. “But this year is different,” states the AICP Midwest Chapter president and STORY executive producer.

Androw is one of several production/post executives feeling positive effects of the recessive economy charging forward in the fourth quarter, right on target as predicted by financial pundits.

Economists said that the economy would begin an upturn in August.

WIFC’s Focus Award honors Merri Dee

WOMEN IN FILM has made a righteous choice to honor broadcast trailblazer, talk show host, news anchor and community activist Merri Dee as its 2010 Focus Award honoree.

Dee has parlayed her celebrity into many children’s and educational charitable works. She spearheaded Illinois’ victims rights’ legislation after she and one of her talk show guests had been kidnapped, driven to a wooded area, shot twice in the head and left for dead, in 1971.

After retiring from WGN-TV in 2008 after 30 years, Dee formed full-service MD Communications.

STORY transitions into The Whole Story

Since the city’s big commercial post houses have been adding content production to their services, it was inevitable that big production houses would bring editorial into theirs.

Throughout the past few months, STORY, Chicago’s biggest production company, has assembled a group of noted local and L.A. editors and designers as part of full-service The Whole Story.

In addition to its core strength of STORY’S 12 nationally-known directors, The Whole Story offers creative editorial, digital services and new media, through offices in Chicago, New York and Santa Monica.

New AICP/Midwest, Local 476 wage pact

One of the changes in the new AICP/Midwest-Local 476 labor agreement is a provision that helps fund high-tech certification training programs for union personnel, in keeping with changes in the entertainment industry.

Story’s executive producer Mark Androw, representing commercial production companies, and Mark Hogan, 476’s business manager, negotiated changes to the new three-year contract that went into effect Feb. 1.

AICP Midwest Show welcomes 1,000 guests

The venue may have changed, but enthusiasm for what’s called “the party of the year” — the 18th annual AICP Midwest Show in Chicago — is higher than ever.

The 2009 AICP Show will be held Thursday, Nov. 19 at the bigger, grander Chicago Cultural, after 16 of its 18 sold-out years of filling the Chicago History Museum.

“The new, larger venue is the ideal place to hold the show in Chicago and will give it a whole, different tone,” notes AICP Midwest Show coordinator Chris Hill of Digital Kitchen.

Story reps the “Notorious” George Tillman, Jr.

George Tillman, Jr., prominent Columbia College alum and one of film Chicago’s big success stories, has signed with Story for exclusive national representation as a commercial director.

“We’ve been talking to George for years to come work with us as a director,” said Story executive producer Cliff Grant, whose ties to Tillman go back to their college days.

“About a year ago, when he was involved in his latest feature, ?Notorious,’ we began talking about an association again, and a few weeks ago it all came together,” Grant added.

In Memoriam: Spot director Rich Carroll

Rich Carroll, a former Chicago commercial director was killed Feb. 22 in a motorcycle accident in Austin, Texas where he had lived for the past 15 years. No details about the cause of the accident have been released.

Mr. Carroll and his longtime partner, editor Cathy Boudin, formerly of Optimus, owned the editorial house Rip, Tear, Shread in Austin.

Mr. Carroll moved to Texas as a commercial director for Texas Story, a branch of Mark Androw’s Chicago Story production company (now Story).

Androw and Carroll were old friends, as were Mr.

Vitamin stoked with new energy

David Rosen is giving Vitamin a dose of zest as executive producer of Vitamin, the design-driven production division of Filmworkers club.

He is helping to further amplify and integrate Filmworkers’ mighty production and post resources to broaden its scope of business as a more aggressive competitor in the brave new world of new media.

A commercial director/production veteran, Rosen devoted all of last year in Los Angeles to explore the changing tide of new media. “I developed ideas, pitched weberies and produced cross-platform projects.

Sept. 15 IPA party to express thanks to 3 state legislators for championing film tax incentives

Three Illinois state legislators, who have been champions of the Illinois filmmakers tax incentives since the beginning, will be honored at a special reception hosted by the board of the Illinois Production Alliance.

Open to all in the film industry, the party will be held Monday, Sept. 15 at Resolution Digital Studios, 5:30-7 p.m.

The IPA board says the event serves as a way to thank Sen. Rickey Hendon and Reps. Ken Dunkin and Skip Saviano for their staunch support of the Illinois Film Production Services Tax Credit Act, since it was first introduced in 2004.

Not unexpectedly, annual AICP Show/New York dominated by big agencies, production houses

Some 2,000 adfolks gathered Tuesday at the Museum of Modern Art in New York to see the sold-out, hour-long 17th annual AICP Show of the best commercials of the year.

The big agencies and production companies were in the forefront as expected, and once again Chicago agencies and their work were MIA in a commercial showcase.

BBDO proved that New York rules by leading with nine commercials, the biggest number of agency commercials on display.


SIX NEW HD SPOTS returns the LaSalle St. law of Cochran & Montgomery to TV advertising for the first time since the death in 2004 of Johnny Cochran of O.J. Simpson trial fame.

SPI-TV shot six spots in the firm’s office, three with attorneys in their office and three in a conference room with other attorneys.

“Instead of a hard message like many law firm spots, each of these spots has a certain message,” says SPI-TV partner Jim Demas, the writer/producer/director. SPI-TV’s Roger Gazga was DP; Product Productions handled lighting.


STORY’S BIGGEST JOB EVER, says executive producer Mark Androw, is a two-country shoot for one of the Big Four automakers, whose name or car model he could not disclose.

However, Androwsaid, “This job is the biggest we’ve ever produced in terms of number of days and dollar amount.”

Directed by Story’s L.A.-based Scott McCullough, half of the 23-day shoot took place in L.A. and the remaining scenes will be filmed in Buenos Aires next week. Androw leaves Friday for Argentina.

Worth repeating: Producers see interesting spot trends emerging and the value of incentives

Chicago took the lead in a recent story by Nicole Rivard in New York-based Shoot covering the combined impact of incentives in Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan and emerging new trends.

The Reel excerpted the trend observations that were expressed by Story’s Mark Androw, Fletcher Chicago’s Tom Fletcher and Digital Kitchen’s Don McNeill.

Mark Androw said he sees a a resurgence of more real people, or actors, who tell stories like real people.

Spots have a more naturalistic style and a less staged feel, he said.

STORY’S Laurie Rubin directs Mars Advertising’s first TV campaign for new client Ace Hardware

STORY’S Laurie Rubin directed a new continuing Ace Hardware campaign that focuses on the store’s helpful employees, created by Mars Advertising of Detroit, the new agency for Oak Brook-based Ace.

Rubin added her art direction expertise to the three comedic vignettes shot in carefully selected L.A. locations, and cast the spot accordingly, she said.

The campaign’s object is “to put a face on Ace,” said Mars VP/groupd CD Mike DiStefano.

Sexton says goodbye to friends, heads for L.A.

THE WEATHER WAS FRIGID, but the feelings were warm as 50 guests said a fond good-bye to former IFO director Brenda Sexton at a party hosted by her friend, Chaz Ebert, at Gibson’s Monday night.

Sexton reminisced about some of the highlights and triumphs and individually thanked many of the people in the room for their support her during her four years at the IFO helm.

She remarked laughingly that she’d been told “nobody ever says no to me,” a testament to her sales ability as she sought sponsorship and cooperation for high profile IFO events.

Experienced filmmaker Betsy Steinberg
to succeed IFO director Brenda Sexton

In a move that took the film industry by surprise, Illinois Film Office director Brenda Sexton today announced her resignation as of Jan. 31.

Her successor is Betsy Steinberg, VP/development for Towers Productions, who takes office Jan. 29 armed with 18 years experience in TV and film production.

“Brenda did a phenomenal job in four years and we were fortunate to have her,” complimented Story executive producer Mark Androw, who had been part of IFO sales missions to L.A.

THE REEL THING: News & Notes

“DRUNK BOAT” DIRECTOR Bob Meyers and DP Lisa Rinzler are due back in Chicago in July to color correct with I-Cubed’s Mike Matusek. The indie film was filmed in Super 16 last summer and edited in France, home of star and producer John Malkovich.

Kudos to line producer Christine Varotsis who worked very hard to keep the project going here after principal photography wrapped.

COMMA MUSIC is getting set to open a separate sound design division called Particle in the few weeks.

THE REEL THING: News & Notes

DRAFT AND FCB WILL MERGE and the combined Interpublic-owned agencies will be called Draft FCB.

Chairman/CEO will be Howard Draft, founder/CEO of his eponymous agency. Jonathan Harries, FCB’s worldwide creative director, becomes worldwide chief creative officer of the new entity.

WHILE THE TRIBUNE REPORTED Steven Spielberg’s biopic of Abraham Lincoln might film here, Reel readers got the scoop back in January.

All production genres stand to benefit from improvements to extension of wage tax incentive

At a North Side location for “The Break Up” and in sweltering weather, Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed the extension of the wage tax credit bill through 2006.

Illinois Production Alliance members, who worked diligently with the governor and legislative leaders to revitalize the state’s film industry, welcomed the passage of stronger, expanded incentive legislation to advance statewide production of movies, TV shows and commercials.

Grant joins Story Companies as exec producer

Cliff Grant has joined The Story Companies (Chicago Story) as executive producer and head of sales. He shares these duties with Mark Androw, who is also AICP national chairman.

Grant joins The Story Companies after a two-year stint as producer on the NBC reality series “Starting Over.” The show is about women who embark on new lives after divorce or other major life changes.

Grant’s return to Chicago and Androw’s need for another executive producer was serendipitous timing for both. “Cliff’s been a great help already,” said Androw.

SAG/AFTRA’S Willenborg new IPA president

The Illinois Production Alliance elected its second slate of officers since officially organizing in 2003, headed by president Eileen Willenborg, SAG/AFTRA executive director, for one-year terms.

The officers are: first VP, Mark Egmon, AICP president and previously IPA president; second VP, Sharon King, casting director; secretary, Wayne Kubacki, Essanay; treasurer, Bob Hudgins, IFP/Chicago president.

Chicago team pitches wage tax credit incentive to Madison Avenue producers

A whirlwind two-and-a-half day visit to New York ad agencies to promote commercial production in Chicago was “an unqualified success,” said AICP Midwest president Mark Egmon.

The Story Companies’ Mark Androw, national AICP chairman, the Illinois Film Office’s diversity officer Joyce Davis and Egmon made the trip last week. It was motivated by the local AICP’s feeling that getting the word about the wage tax incentive to commercial producers would help encourage new business, Egmon said.

REELSCREEN: News & Notes

PIONEER EDITORS HONORED. Three spot editors from back in the day who virtually invented the modern post house will be inducted into the AICE Hall of Fame at the AICE national meeting in Chicago May 13. They are Optimus founder Jimmy Smyth, Post Pro’s Bob Blanford and Edit Chicago co-founder Tony Izzo. Their 90-second presentation reels are being edited by, respectively, Red Car’s Bob Carr, a long-time Optimus editor; Tom Brassil of Outsiders and Blanford’s son-in-law and Ki’s Anthony Izzo, whose relationship to Tony needs no explanation.

AICP survey: $3.5 BB for production; L.A. still biggest U.S. spot center

Everyone knows the commercial production industry is big, but how big didn’t hit home until the new AICP survey spotlighted its immense size.

According to the survey, direct production expenditures were a massive $3.5 billion. When factoring in additional expenditures, including talent and post, the total impact climbs to $5.5 billion.

What makes this number so astounding is that expenditures were reported by AICP’s approximately 250 general members and 250 associate members, a relatively small but elite and powerful group.

The Original Up and Down the Avenue – 12/15/03

An impressive investment: Film & Tape Works took delivery of a new DaVinci 2K+ color corrector to work in conjunction with its Spirit Data Cine.

It’s official: Chicago Story’s Mark Androw is AICP national chairman;’s Frank Stiefel elected vice chairman; The Artists Company’s Sally Antonacchio, treasurer.

Erich Funke, formerly a creative director at TBWA/Chiat/Day/L.A. is BBDO’s new SVP/creative director on Jim Beam.

Up and Down the Avenue – 12/04/03

Expect Mark Androw of the Stories Companies to preside over national AICP. Running unopposed, Androw will be only the second AICP president in its 30 year history not from L.A. or N.Y.

BBDO Diane Jackson head of broadcast production, replacing the long-tenured Chuck Sheldon. She was executive producer on Energizer at DDB and also produced on other accounts.

Frankel boosted Michael Strip to VP/GCD, responsible for Coca Cola and Jose Cuervo accounts.

Still no word as to whether or not “Weather Man” is a go.