What started out as a production company in a big empty space, with a single director and executive producer and a fax machine as its only business machine, and grew into one of the biggest tabletop studios in the business, announces its first major changes in nearly a decade.
Tabletop director Mark Klein, head of the multi-million dollar, international film and digital production company, MK Films Group, has released the business reins to the duo of long-time director Darren Weninger and marketing/sales director Susan Amory Weninger.
“Without the pressures of running the day-to-day operations, Mark can fully concentrate on tabletop photography,” says partner/VP/executive producer Noreen Szeluga.
Szeluga is also part of the studio’s changing times. She retains her title, but has reorganized her production duties in order to take on more of an advisory role and focus on continued business growth through the development of up-and-coming talent.
Szeluga started the company with Klein in 2004 as they emerged from long-time positions with Peter Elliott Productions as it ended its long reign as one of the first and most successful tabletop companies in the business.
Effective June 1, two other important changes take place: the elevation of production expert and staff producer Joe Mosko to executive producer/head of production, and spot producer Amy McIntyre to executive producer/director of sales.
Both have been with MK Films practically since the beginning, having joined from Peter Elliott Productions. Mosko has in-depth understanding of every facet of production and McIntyre also has experience in live action, animation, post and tabletop.
“The main reason we are able to deliver at such a high level for our clients is that we have built this company with talented people who genuinely care about the work,” says Klein about their staff of 12.
On staff are five directors: Mark Klein, Darren Weninger, Ky Dickens, Michael Nakamura and Michael Ognisanti, two each producers, assistant producers, producers-in-training and the business office.
The 10,000-sq. ft. studio, located at 1655 W. Walnut in the West Loop, has two 4,000-sq. ft. stages, double kitchens and support areas. Studio manager is Ron Jurkschat.
“Clients come to Chicago to shoot with us from as near as New York or Kansas City, and as far as Mexico, Japan, England, France and Poland,” Szeluga says.
Top accounts currently include Wendy’s, Pantene, Long John Silver, Swiffer, Neutrogena, Olay, Cascade, Taco Bell and Coors Light.
It may be a bit far in the future to announce at this juncture, Szeluga admits, but Klein, the Weningers, Mosko and McIntyre are planning to celebrate what she calls, “A New Year’s event equal to our excitement at the success of our company on its tenth anniversary.” Definitely something to look forward to.