LOS ANGELES— Director Jeffrey Karoff, known in the advertising world as a visual storyteller and for his work with real people, has joined Original for exclusive national representation. Karoff, who directs branded content and documentaries in addition to spots, is seeking greater exposure and expanded opportunities by tapping Original’s bicoastal production resources and national sales network.
Karoff’s recent work includes a package for Ford’s Swap Your Ride campaign chronicling the experiences of consumers who are given a chance to trade their current vehicles for Fords, and campaigns for the pharmaceutical brands Crestor and Nuvaring.
“Jeffrey’s storytelling and documentary skills make a terrific combination,” said Original executive producer Bruce Mellon. “He has a natural way of working with talent, both actors and non-pros, that results in work that feels honest and real. He’s a great addition to our roster.”
For his part, Karoff said that he was impressed with Original’s troika of (Executive Producers) Bruce Mellon, Jeff Devlin and Joe Piccirillo. “Their collaborative style mirrors my own – I tend to work repertory-style, with the same creative teams, and I believe the best ideas can come from any corner,” he said.
Karoff traces his interest in photography and filmmaking to acquiring his father’s Canon 7 Rangefinder camera “whose wicked-fast F.95 Dream lens,” he jokes, “never produced an in-focus picture – making me a life-long Canon devotee.” He went on to study filmmaking at UCLA and the American Film Institute.
“They taught that everything, from the wardrobe to the lighting to camera movement, ‘must serve the story,’” he recalled. “Now story pumps through the veins. Even in the tiny span of a spot, I strive to create an arc, a beginning, middle and end, a journey to take the viewers on.” He later co-founded Paradox Works, a workshop where directors and actors worked together.
Karoff got his professional start in “offbeat media,” including a stint programming and designing multimedia shows involving dozens of synchronized slide and film projectors. Although the medium “went the way of the calculator watch,” he peaked as programmer/designer on Genocide, an Academy Award-winning feature about the Holocaust.
Among his most ambitious projects was a 360-degree CircleVision film for Mercedes Benz. “I chose to keep the 9-camera, Barco-lounger sized camera rig moving in every shot,” he said. “I had to find the smallest dolly grip in the Western Hemisphere to crouch under the lenses.” Fortune Teller played for a year in a movie-theater-in-the-round at auto shows across the United States.
Karoff broke into spot-making in 2001 via Coppos Films, followed by stints at Backyard and The Artists Company. Along with his recent work for Crestor, Nuvaring and Ford, he directed two fundraising films for New York philanthropic giant The Robin Hood Foundation. He is currently editing his documentary, Cavedigger, about an artist whose work involves single-handedly digging sculptural, cathedral-like caves in sandstone. Karoff shot part of the film in 3D.
Karoff also recently directed a series of public service announcements for Model Environment that employed the novel concept of using renowned fashion models to promote environmental causes. One spot features Mexican model Carla Houston (and three clones) in a humorous pitch for water conservation.
“The spots are erotically suggestive with impunity. We’re saving the world one prurient interest at a time,” noted Karoff.
“Back when I was breaking down scripts weekly at Paradox Works, I discovered that the liveliest material happens in the white spaces between the lines,” he added. “It’s just as applicable to spots: storyboards convey the salient points, but the real vibrancy exists in the space between frames.”
Original is led by executive producers Bruce Mellon, Joe Piccirillo, Marc Lasko and Jeff Devlin, and maintains production offices in Los Angeles and New York City. The company’s post production division, headed by Jonathan Del Gatto, provides editorial, design, graphics and visual effects services. Original is represented on the West Coast by Sara Barnthouse (310) 384-3037; on the East Coast by Jeff Devlin, (212) 832 2271 ; in the Midwest by Lynn Reif Mutchler (310) 804-3797; and in Texas by Jack Reed, (214) 213-8249. For more information, call (310) 445-9000 or (212) 832-2271, or visit www.originalfilm.com.