Sandro, the esteemed still photographer who turned his talents to directing commercials last year, has joined Seed Media Arts, the hybrid production-ideation-consulting company of Chicago’s veteran sales rep and executive producer Roy Skillicorn and Santa Monica-based executive producer Tom Mickel.
“Sandro is a strong visual storyteller,” says Skillicorn of Sandro, who has been voted one of the top 200 advertising photographers in the world in juried competition within the industry for the past five years.
He added another acknowledgement with the Saatchi & Saatchi Best New Directors Award for his experimental short film, “Butterflies,” with John Malkovich.
“His films capture the same distinctive, power, elegance and grace of his world-class photography. His dynamic personality easily engages actors and real people alike, yielding genuine and moving performances.”
Influenced by the great portrait and fashion photographer Irving Penn, at age 19, in the 1980s, Sandro was shooting stills and working as an assistant to the top shooters of the time.
After a prestigious dual career in print advertising and portrait photography, he got involved in motion five years ago, when Nikon, for whom he has been introducing new still cameras to the world for years, asked him to demonstrate a new DSLR camera.
He found his milieu using the D800 HD to shoot 6-minute “Joy Ride,” with the Chicago Women’s roller derby team, The Windy City Rollers, “and we knocked it out of the ballpark.
“For 15 years earlier I’d been asked why I hadn’t gotten into the film business before this, but I was top of the game in the still world doing what I loved,” he notes, “and I did not feel the need to change direction.”
When a challenge arrived, Sandro found “the transition to motion was very easy.” Agencies began hiring a single cameraman, like him, skilled in both media to shoot a combined print and motion assignment that gave the ads a desired same look.
“I then was taking beautiful stills and putting motion to them. I’ve been surrounded by a really, really good staff and crew and you can do the job right and the client walks out happy.”
One of his recent dual-role assignments was for Deutsch New York’s “Got Milk” campaign, with Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward in a print ad and a 30-second spot drinking chocolate milk after his strenuous workout.
His favorite project so far this year, Sandro says, was shooting a global print campaign called “Open Happiness” for Coca-Cola for Leo Burnett’s global CCO Mark Tutssel and ECD Shannon McGlothin. He shot it with a dozen different models over a week’s period in his studio.
Sandro’s 6,000-sq. ft. Ukrainian Village studio, formerly a city bus repair garage, is a place where “we create a beautiful atmosphere here,” he says of his staff of five and the steady flow of people in and out every day. Like many photographers, his home is above the studio.
Mickel teamed with Skillicorn in 2011
Skillicorn’s Seed Media Arts had been around for several years when Mickel, the “M” in L.A.’s HKM (now Hello) joined Skillicorn in 2011.
The partners spent 2012 experimenting with being a combination of producers/brokers/advisors and consultants until their hybrid model blossomed this year.
In addition to Sandro, they represent directors Nicholas Vedros and Nick Carmen of L.A and Rob Fiocca of Toronto
In 1988, Skillicorn started Backyard Productions. Through Skillicorn’s sales leadership, it became a $50 million entity in the mid 2000’s and the only company from a secondary market to be recognized as one of the top 20 in the country.