French Butter, the food and beverage production company, has expanded its directorial roster with two new additions designed to give the company greater breadth while offering its agency and brand clients a wider creative and visual palette from which to work.
Joining the roster are director/DPs Etienne Proulx and Anneke Schoneveld.
Proulx was most recently represented in the US by Free Society, the Toronto-based company, while Schoneveld, who has previously been associated with companies like Bent Image Lab and Schrom, joins from the freelance ranks. Their signing was announced by French Butter Founding Director Brett Froomer and Executive Producer Irec Kriske.
“Anneke represents the next generation of talent in our industry, and brings a fresh, new perspective to her work in both lifestyle and food,” says Kriske. “Etienne is an amazing talent who we’ve known about for years, and we’re delighted to be able to offer his unique skills and vision to our clients here in the States.”
“Adding them to the French Butter directorial roster not only broadens our capabilities,” adds Froomer, “but strengthens our ability to solve problems and come up with innovative creative approaches. It’s made French Butter better all around.”
WBENC-certified as a woman-owned company, French Butter works out of Pilsen Studios, its own custom-designed, 20K square-foot production facility and commercial kitchen located in Chicago.
Etienne Proulx is a veteran director and cinematographer with an international reputation for his high-speed motion control artistry, particularly when it comes to liquids. Based in Montreal, he first met up with French Butter’s Brett Froomer at Free Society, where they’re both on the roster in Canada. His reel includes work for such brands as Pepsi, Budweiser, Schweppes, Mountain Dew, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Kind Bars and many more brands.
To view Etienne Proulx‘s reel, visit here.
For years Proulx maintained his own studio in Montreal, but he closed that to focus on working with different companies in international markets, “traveling the world and doing my art,” as he describes it. He was aware of Froomer’s role in launching Pilsen Studios, and reached out to see if there were any possible synergies they could create by joining forces. The result was his agreeing to join the French Butter roster in the US, where he could take advantage of its extensive network of sales reps and utilize the power of Pilsen Studios to bring his visions to life.
Proulx’s goal in signing with the company is simple, he says: “I’m interested in going to the next step in terms of taking on bigger, more complex projects, and by bigger I’m referring to campaigns,” he says. “I’ve been working with big global brands for many years, so I have lots of experience dealing with them, but what I’m looking for now is to build on repeat business and have an ongoing relationship with an advertiser. French Butter is fully equipped to do just that.”
Equally impressive, the director adds, is the level of tabletop talent the company has amassed, and which he’s seen in action during French Butter productions. “They have world class stylists and technicians there, the expertise available to them is some of the very best I’ve seen,” he adds. “That’s always a challenge for food and beverage directors when you travel, finding qualified crews. But the level of competence that Brett and Irec have at their disposal, along with the attributes of the studio itself, makes it the perfect combination.”
Anneke Schoneveld’s work as a director has taken her around the world several times over. Her approach to filming lifestyle scenes revolving around food and drink comes from focusing on the small everyday moments that connect us as people. Her work is influenced not only by her viewpoint behind the lens, but also by her deep understanding of marketing objectives and her intuitive feel for a brand’s strategy and values. Her reel includes spots for such brands as Giant Eagle, Perdue, Bonefish Grill, Land O’Lakes, Williams-Sonoma and General Mills.
To view Anneke Schoneveld reel, visit here.
Schoneveld found her way into production as an art director, eventually working her way up the production crew ladder. A firm believer in sharing what she knows, Schoneveld has been a guest lecturer at schools like NYU, Miami Ad School and the Academy of Art University while working as a director, which reveals her passion, both for her craft and for opening doors to those who want to build careers in film and production.
Joining French Butter, Schoneveld says, will allow her to offer the company’s clients a resource for work that goes beyond the tabletop and beverage artistry for which Froomer and Proulx are well known. “It’s really easy to keep a clear delineation between our work, and so we know almost immediately, when boards come in, who would be best for each job,” Schoneveld says. “And that creates a really healthy environment where the focus is always on the work.”
“Moving forward in my career as a filmmaker and a creative, I wasn’t just looking for production support, I was looking to be a part of a team,” she adds. “French Butter approaches everything with a family mindset – we are in this together. When I first met with them, the focus was on connecting as humans, on sharing our admiration for each other’s talents and love of our craft, not on competitive strategy. I love that about this team – that their focus is people first.”
As for the ability to direct projects at Pilsen Studios, she, like Proulx, is excited by the prospect: “I love working there, and the way they keep investing in getting the next great tool, it’s only going to keep getting better.”
The signings of Proulx and Schoneveld cap a busy first half of 2023 for French Butter, which continues its ongoing relationship with Chicago agency OKRP and its client, Burger King, while also producing work for Campbell’s, Clif Bar, Little Caesars, Hidden Valley Ranch, Giant Eagle, Zaxby’s and Noodles & Co.
French Butter is now a supporter of the Green The Bid movement toward more sustainable production techniques, part of its larger commitment towards improving production’s sustainability record while giving back to the community. Kriske, who serves on the Midwest Chapter board for AICP, is deeply involved with this initiative, along with AICP’s annual ‘AICP Gives’ holiday food drives.
“We’ve been firing on all cylinders,” says CEO and majority owner Susan Froomer. “And now with Etienne and Anneke on board, we’re looking towards a real period of growth for French Butter.”