REEL WOMEN: Lisa Masseur, EP/Founder Tessa Films

Editor’s Note: They are leaders. They are inspirational. They are mentors. They are visionaries. They are, quite frankly, badasses. They are our 2021 REEL WOMEN. During Women’s History Month, you will be able to meet these incredible personalities in Advertising, Entertainment, Media and Production. Get ready, they are making “Herstory.” Production sage with an eye for … Continue reading “REEL WOMEN: Lisa Masseur, EP/Founder Tessa Films”

Lisa Masseur named top executive at One at Optimus

Executive producer Lisa Masseur, who joined Optimus 16 months ago, was officially named executive producer/managing director of One at Optimus, the thriving production arm of the postproduction giant. 

Her appointment follows the recent, surprise departure of Craig Leffel after 18 years with the company, who had been One at Optimus’ director of production for the past three years.

Lisa Masseur brings her EP skills to One at Optimus

NEW EXECUTIVE PRODUCER at One at Optimus is veteran producer Lisa Masseur, who officially joined the production company a few weeks ago after being a permalance producer there since last January.  She replaces Kipp Christensen who returned to freelancing and reports to director of production Craig Leffel.

Masseur began freelancing as a producer last July after a seven year stint as EP/managing director at Radar Studios, where she oversaw all production and post, as well as sales and marketing efforts.

New positions for One at Optimus’ Mueller, Jubinski

Two producer promotions at One at Optimus: Senior producer Jonah Mueller was named executive producer and associate producer Emma Jubinski to producer, “promotions that are well deserved,” says One at Optimus EP / Managing Director Lisa Masseur.

“Jonah and Emma have played critical roles in our continuing expansion,” Masseur says. “From the start he quickly forged great relationships with our directors and expertly managed technical jobs.”

Radar hires ecletic-mix L.A. directorial team

With the hiring of a Los Angeles-based directorial team, whose eclectic mix of live action, animation and special effects was right up Radar Studios’ alley, the 10-year old company is opening a branch in L.A.

“We couldn’t ask for a better team than directors Bill Barminski and Christopher Louie, who collaborate as ?Walter Robot’ for our West Coast presence,” says Radar executive producer Lisa Masseur.


McDonald’s/Leo Burnett promotes an expanded Happy Meal Menu in a combination animation and live action spot produced by Radar.

Radar’s Don Hoeg directed the live action at Essanay. DP was Russ Harper. Brian Willard was editor/effects supervisor and Joey Depakakibo, designer and lead animator. Lisa Masseur was executive producer.

Bridget McHugh produced for the agency; commercial created by VP/CDs Keith Hughes and John Hansa.

‘Work in Progress’ in Chicago filming Season 2

Reel Chicago spotted the Work in Progress crew hard at work filming on location in Chicago’s Old Irving Park. The Showtime comedy series, created by Abby McEnany and Tim Mason is a Chicago series currently filming 10 episodes for Season 2. McEnany plays lead-character Abby, “a 45-year-old self-identified fat, queer dyke.” Rolling through situations based … Continue reading “‘Work in Progress’ in Chicago filming Season 2”

Chan C. Smith brings her storytelling skills to Tessa Films

Chan C. Smith, a Chicago native who’s taken her skill as a storyteller to such genres as publishing, media and documentary film, is set to make her mark on the advertising scene by signing with Tessa Films. This is the director’s first representation agreement for advertising and branded content. Her signing was announced by Tessa … Continue reading “Chan C. Smith brings her storytelling skills to Tessa Films”

Best of the Midwest goes to ‘Like a Girl’ from Leo Burnett

Best of the Midwest voted on by attendees as iconic ads are highlighted in benefit event for Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis food banks. The hors d’oeuvres were whatever you had on hand, the tinkling of cocktail glasses was done from afar and the applause was a bit muted, but that didn’t stop the Midwest advertising, … Continue reading “Best of the Midwest goes to ‘Like a Girl’ from Leo Burnett”

Director Tyler Davis joins Tessa Films

Director Tyler Davis, a wry, funny and multi-talented filmmaker, writer, musician and improv artist, has brought his unique combination of talents to the roster of Tessa Films, the production company launched by Executive Producers Lisa Masseur and Reid Brody. The director’s Tessa career is off to a hot start with his long-form spot for Images … Continue reading “Director Tyler Davis joins Tessa Films”

AICP Midwest Show is this Thursday, November 19

One of the most exciting stops on the AICP tour happens every year in Chicago. It’s one of the few opportunities for those in production, advertising and film to gather together, share a cocktail or four and just hang. This year, with a pandemic raging and cases on the rise again, the AICP Midwest Show … Continue reading “AICP Midwest Show is this Thursday, November 19”

Tessa Films adds director Tony Franklin

Los Angeles based national multi award winning director, Tony Franklin, who has caught the attention of brands like BMW, IBM, WIRED, Purina, Pizza Hut, Gatorade, Prudential and many more has joined Tessa Film’s talented roster of directors. Director Tony Franklin, whose distinctly warm and human approach to storytelling has made him a sought-after talent by … Continue reading “Tessa Films adds director Tony Franklin”

AICP takes ‘A Look Forward: Agency, Production & Post’

When will what passes for ‘normal’ return? When will agencies be able to mount more traditional shoots? How does one make up for the missing synergy of the edit suite? And who’s missing lunch?  These were some of the questions kicked around by the six Chicago agency executives from the creative and production ranks who … Continue reading “AICP takes ‘A Look Forward: Agency, Production & Post’”

What’s the perfect way to shoot a spot during lockdown?

A look behind the scenes with Tessa Films at putting together the perfect spot during lockdown. What’s the perfect dish for a lockdown night at home? Why pizza, of course! And not just any pizza, but a Screamin’ Sicilian Premium Craft frozen pizza. That’s one takeaway from a fast-paced, light-hearted new spot from Blue Chip, … Continue reading “What’s the perfect way to shoot a spot during lockdown?”

AICP panel discussion on navigating the road ahead

AICP Midwest presents:A Look Forward Partners in Production: Agency, Production, Post Thursday, May 14, 20203pm CST via Zoom AICP panel discussion on navigating the road ahead when production resumes. AICP National Board Members/Moderators: Lisa Masseur, Executive Producer/Founder, Tessa Films, AICP Midwest Pres./National Board Craig Duncan, Managing Director, Cutters Studios, AICP National Board ALSO READ: AICP … Continue reading “AICP panel discussion on navigating the road ahead”

AICP Midwest lists all who are open for business

Reel Chicago supports all efforts of those who are working, boots on the ground, to service their clients during these most difficult times. Below is a list of AICP Midwest members who are open for business, supplied by Lisa Massuer, AICP Midwest President. FROM AICP MIDWEST  Collectively, the National AICP community has been working to … Continue reading “AICP Midwest lists all who are open for business”

AICP announces stellar lineup for 2019 Awards

Panel guests for the Chicago finale include DDB Chief Britt Nolan, FCB Chief Andrés Ordóñez, and Leo Burnett Chief Liz Taylor Lisa Masseur, President of the AICP Midwest Chapter, today announced the panel line-up for the 2019 AICP Next Awards presentation, which will be presented as part of the AICP Awards in Chicago. Britt Nolan, … Continue reading “AICP announces stellar lineup for 2019 Awards”

Tessa Films taps Sydney Thomson as Head of Production

  Highly experienced line producer is well-known in the Chicago community   Tessa Films has named Sydney Thomson, an experienced freelance producer and production supervisor who’s a fixture in the Chicago production community, to the newly-created position of Head of Production. The appointment was announced by Lisa Masseur, Tessa’s EP and Co-Founder. The move marks … Continue reading “Tessa Films taps Sydney Thomson as Head of Production”

ChiFilmFest unveils Industry Days agenda

Master Classes with Oscar and Sundance winners are just a few of the events scheduled for October 17-20 program     The 55th Chicago International Film Festival announced today the program for Industry Days (October 17-20, 2019) with an impressive list of guest speakers to inspire and illuminate the film and entertainment community.   A … Continue reading “ChiFilmFest unveils Industry Days agenda”

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”

Tessa Films’ Toben Seymour takes Mr. World on a spin

New campaign by The Richards Group stars a spokespuppet who dances, ziplines, and scuba dives while touting the benefits of Eyeglass World A personable and highly adventurous puppet known as Mr. World trips the light fantastic, dives into shark-infested waters, and zips through the treetops with the greatest of ease in a new three-spot campaign … Continue reading “Tessa Films’ Toben Seymour takes Mr. World on a spin”

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”

Leo and Kraft are thankful for Mac & Cheese

Kraft Mac & Cheese launched a preemptive strike against all the weird foods we eat on Thanksgiving How was your Thanksgiving? The Reel Chicago team is still recovering from fried turkey and lots of nuts, but we did manage to check out some spots and videos that caught our attention. This one from Kraft Heinz … Continue reading “Leo and Kraft are thankful for Mac & Cheese”

Tessa Films adds Director Amanda Speva

Her work in commercials, short films and music videos taps comedy, emotion and storytelling with a distinctively quirky sensibility.   (Chicago & Los Angeles — 12 November 2018) Tessa Films has signed director Amanda Speva to its directorial roster. A native of Chicago, Speva brings a talent for capturing comedy and emotion shaped by a … Continue reading “Tessa Films adds Director Amanda Speva”

Tessa, Blind Barber, and Bryce Harper’s bathroom secrets

Tessa Films partners with Blind Barber to introduce All-Star Bryce Harper as company spokesperson for signature product line Tessa Director / Writer Tim Mason and Creative Director Duncan Wolfe’s multi-faceted online strategy generates viral success, media coverage and brand awareness   (Chicago, Los Angeles — 17 April 2018) The new online campaign for Blind Barber, … Continue reading “Tessa, Blind Barber, and Bryce Harper’s bathroom secrets”

Tessa, mcgarrybowen, Arc, Jenny Milkowski on the move

Puppet master and stop-motion specialist join Tessa Films’ roster Meghann Artes and Toben Seymour have joined the directorial roster at Tessa Films. The duo arrives at Tessa Films with skillsets that are bound to overlap in both conventional and unconventional ways. Artes is a master of stop motion. Seymour is a master of puppetry.   … Continue reading “Tessa, mcgarrybowen, Arc, Jenny Milkowski on the move”

Tessa Films’ cozy and familiar “Holiday Wish”

Chicago-based production company Tessa Films offers something for everyone in a season greeting that premiered yesterday on YouTube. Titled, A Holiday Wish, the cozy and humorous minute-long film shows how social media can disrupt even the warmest of family gatherings. Flawless visuals and smart camera work establish a mood that is not only believable but … Continue reading “Tessa Films’ cozy and familiar “Holiday Wish””

One at Optimus’ Mark & Amanda keep it real in IL

Last fall, Optimus directing duo Mark Pallman and Amanda Speva spent nearly two weeks filming throughout the Land of Lincoln for the Illinois Office of Tourism campaign Are You Up For Amazing?

Inspired to shoot “all that makes the state so special” — a concept presented by JWT Chicago’s Mike Beamer and Carolyn James in what Amanda describes as “a beautiful vision” — the directors relied on a documentary technique to capture unscripted spontaneity.

What’s up with Optimus’ new director Sam Macon?

It may seem odd that an accomplished indie film director like Sam Macon would enjoy taking orders from commercial clients, but that’s part of the reason he signed on with ONE at Optimus.

“With commercials, there is a limit to how much creative there is in a job,” he explains. “They are concepted from on high and my job is to execute the vision. There’s a lot of satisfaction in that. You’re freed up a little bit to explore when you’re executing someone else’s idea.”

Director Wolfe back at Optimus after White House gig

One at Optimus director Duncan Wolfe is packing up his Washington, D.C. apartment after a 14-month gig at the Obama White House and will head for Los Angeles as his base for the next phase of his filmmaking/social media career.

“And I’m looking forward to the positive effect of sunshine,” adds the St. Louis native about his move to LA.

“Exonerated” wins top prize in MIFF’s Shorts Night

The top three winners of Tuesday’s annual Midwest Independent Film Festival’s (MIFF) “Advertising Community Shorts Night,” out of 17 finalists, will compete for MIFF’s “Best in the Midwest Awards” Tuesday, Dec. 6 at Rocket Bar & Grill.

First prize in the Shorts contest went to “Exonerated,” a look into the lives of five people who had spent 23 years in jail for crimes they did not commit. Chicago commercial photographer Andy Goodwin directed and Patrick Duffy of Cutters’ Detroit office edited.

HistoryMakers’ Jarrett TV talk to air on national PBS

AN EVENING WITH VALERIE JARRETT,” a presentation of The HistoryMakers, the massive archive of interviews with notable African American leaders now part of the Library of Congress, airs on WTTW/11 today and tomorrow.

The interview with President Obama’s senior advisor about her rich life and career will air on national PBS in February. The program is dedicated in honor of Gwen Ifill, the late PBS media journalist who had hosted many HistoryMakers’ interviews in Washington, D.C. over the past 10 years.

MIFF’s Nov. 15 Ad Shorts Night to premiere 12 films

The 7th annual Ad Community Shorts Night at the Midwest Independent Film Festival will screen Tuesday, Nov. 15 instead of its regular First Tuesday Nov. 1 date, deemed as being too close to Nov. 8 election night. They are:

Hell,” John Malkovich reads Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” while illustrations depicting humans’ worst atrocities animate edited, graphics by Ryan Gilbert and sound design by Brian Leitner.

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.

Urgent business keeps Quinn from L.A. visit

GOV. PAT QUINN had to bow out of heading the Chicago contingent at the important TV Production Executives Dinner in L.A. on Aug. 1 due to pressing government business in Springfield that week.

The reason, a spokesperson says, is that the governor will be too busy with pension reform (indeed, a critical issue) to leave town that week. Nonetheless, the spokesperson adds, “Recruiting more films to Illinois is certainly a focus for the governor,” the spokesperson added.

“The Boss” 8-episode TV series shoots March 12

PRODUCERS OF “THE BOSS” correctly chose Chicago over Pittsburgh for the location of the 8-episode series starring Kelsey Grammer as a Chicago mayor who faces the news he’s developed a degenerative mental disease.

When Lionsgate Television sets up a local production office in mid-March, it will be among three TV shows the city is hosting.

Learn how the Illinois tax incentives work

Although Illinois’ filmmakers 30% tax incentive has been available, agencies, advertisers and producers haven’t been taking full advantage of this opportunity to maximize their budgets and sharpen their competitive edge.

To take everyone involved in commercial production through the tax incentive process, Media Services and Showbiz Software will host a workshop, “Turning Soft Money into Gold,” Nov. 17 at Fletcher Camera.

This specially-designed professional development program provides a working knowledge of the latest industry tools and time and money-saving information.

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.

Radar produces promo for PBS kids show

Selected by PBS because of his reputation as an expert in children’s advertising, director Don Hoeg and the Radar Studios’ team created a promo for the national Jan. 23 launch of PBS’ “The Electric Company.”

Hoeg’s national reputation as an expert in children’s advertising and Radar’s unique integration capabilities ideally positioned Radar for the production.

The series is aimed at combating the literacy crisis of America’s second graders.

1,000 will celebrate the best in commercials

Even the rocky economy can’t stop a good show and a great party as attested by the tide of RSVPs to the Nov. 20 17th Annual Midwest AICP Show honoring the uber best of the best in American commercials.

One thousand guests attired in creative black tie plan to attend at the Chicago History Museum for the year-end soiree.

This is the same number of attendees as last year, indicating how the AICP Show is the place to celebrate a year in advertising, regardless of how good, so-so or we’re-not-talking as it may have been.

Nov. 20: Advertising’s night to cheer

An estimated 1,000 guests are expected for the 17th Annual Midwest AICP Show, advertising’s year-end gala and screening of the world’s best commercials Nov. 20 at the Chicago History Museum.

The host committee “thought that the economy would negatively impact our attendance, but it hasn’t,” says Show coordinator Chris Hill, a Digital Kitchen development producer.

Not only is attendance holding up ?

There at the beginning of the Chicago Film Office, Debbie Beck retires after an impressive 28 years

AFTER A REMARKABLE 28 YEARS, DEBBIE BECK retired Friday from the Chicago Film Office without fanfare.

She had joined in June, 1980 a scant three months after the office was officially created by Mayor Jane Byrne as an adjunct of the police department and was headed by a police sergeant, Sam Babich.

Beck shared an office with police officers Babich, Jim Cunningham and Tom Flanagan in cramped space on the eighth floor of City Hall.

Verne Troyer, a.k.a. Mini Me, follows Bernie Mac as star of Radar spots for new Lottery games

Austin Powers’ sidekick Mini Me touts the “Set for Life” game, with the biggest cash prizes in any promotion in Illinois Lottery history.

The fast-paced “movie trailers” were directed by Radar’s Don Hoeg with the added panache of photography by a famous Hollywood DP.

Radar produced the Troyer “Set for Life” spot as the payoff to the preceding “Set Up” spot for Lottery agency, R. J. Dale.

Hollywood actor Verne Troyer followed comedian and Chicago native Bernie Mac who was features in two earlier “Pick and Play” commercials.

Up & Down the Avenue

O’Connor Casting added full-time session director Lynn Ann Bernatowicz, a former play director for Goodman, Shattered Globe, Circle and University of Pittsburgh theatres. And Sarah Reule rejoined the staff as a session director and Anthony Berg was named office manager. David O’Connor reports working on 150-plus productions commercial, print and corporate so far this year.

Up & Down the Avenue – 08/30/04

Lakeshore Productions’ internationally-flavored feature “Wicker Park” has opened in theatres to lukewarm reviews. The movie is an adaptation of a French screenplay originally set in Paris, but relocated to Chicago. It was written by a Hollywood screenwriter, shot in Montreal with an American-Australian-German cast and directed by a Scot. The movie shot in the real Wicker Park for five days last spring.

Don’t throw away your junk just yet.

Ebel folks rally community to provide funds to help ailing DP Brian Clare

Director Bob Ebel has worked on many commercials over the years with DP Brian Clare and considers him a good friend. When Clare’s health problems mounted, Ebel immediately stepped up to help his friend by helping to raise funds to cover the family’s lost income and a myriad of expenses not paid by insurance.

Clare is battling stage four lung cancer. He is out of the hospital after finishing radiation treatment and also starting recovery from surgery to repair a fractured hip.

Up and Down the Avenue 9/16/03

Y&R adds CD Tim Crawley from Carmichael/Lynch; senior art director Sonya Grewal as a senior A/D, from Cramer-Krasselt, and the A/D-writer team of Mollie Wilkie and Greg Christensen, from Hadrian’s Wall.

After many years producing his sci-fi/horror flick, Princeton-based John Swanson is ecstatic over the Chicago Horror Film Festival accepting his “Unearthly Harvest.”

George Simkowski of Let’s Go Hollywood product placement, poured 80 bottles of Jim Beam whiskies for thirsty golfers of the Cure Autism Now benefit in L.A. last week.