Kreative Kontent's Directors Lends a Beat to Long Form and Ad Content

With specialists in music videos, features, brand integration and more, this Miami production house is opening doors for artists and brands.  From her perch in South Florida – still the unofficial capital of Latin America, at least until after the World Cup is over –Debbie Margolis Horwitz has quite a view. You might think that odd, given Florida's reputation for being flat as a pancake, from a topographical standpoint.  But we're speaking metaphorically here, and trust me, this one fits like a glove.
 
Horwitz' vision is based on the fact that her four-year old production company, Kreative Kontent, is busy positioning itself for the multitasking, multi-screen, multicultural future of media, with ongoing work in an enviable range of categories, genres and niches. At the same time, Horwitz has built a strong roster of talent designed to not only support her concept for the future, but one that's tailor-made to meet the ever-shifting demands of today's marketplace.
 
For example, Kreative Kontent is home to director David Rousseau, who's the preferred director for most of the music videos for the Latin hip-hop artist Pitbull. Kreative Kontent has already begun to produce some of Rousseau's music video work, including one for the Colombian reggaeton artist Reykon, and is positioning him for more commercial work. He's already shot ads for brands like Bud Light (starring Pitbull, of course), and the luxe Paradise Island resort The Cove.
 
Kreative Kontent's Fro Rojas, a homegrown talent who's worked with Horwitz since her days at BVI and Manhattan Transfer (more on this in a moment), is an editor turned triple-threat filmmaker who's directed ads, branded content and features. His work for Ford and its Hispanic agency, Zubi, could fill a showreel all by itself.
 
Another standout is Steve "Spaz" Williams, a legend in VFX for his CG work on features like "Jurassic Park," "The Abyss" and "Terminator 2," who went on to launch a successful career as a live action director. He's directed over 300 commercials over the years, including memorable Super Bowl spots for Blockbuster.
The work of Kreative Kontent runs the gamut, as one might expect from a company led by an experienced pro like Horwitz. They handle their share of traditional broadcast ad work; notable examples include their work for AT&T and Y&R Bravo, for which they've produced numerous multi-spot comedy/dialogue campaigns directed by Williams, and Rojas' funny Ford spot starring the Chilean heartthrob Cristián de la Fuente, a contestant on "Dancing with the Stars" here in the US.  Rojas also directed a massive campaign for the automaker that's made stars out of its two happy-go-lucky characters, "Fulano" and "Mengano." What started as an on-line only effort has spun off into broadcast ads and even live appearances for the bro's on Spanish-language TV specials. 
 
The company's roster also includes the veteran Colombian director Oscar Azula, along with Luis Enrique,Joso Guridi and Federico Vidal; all are versatile filmmakers able to cover lots of territory in terms of genres and techniques. Azula, for example, is directing the animated kids' TV series Kreative Kontent created and is co-producing with RCN Comerciales, "Annie Sunbeam & Friends"; Enrique's work includes spots for a number of automotive brands, including Kia, Nissan, Mazda and Chrysler; Guridi has done everything from shoot food and beverage spots to working with scripts heavy on kids, comedy and visual effects; and Vidal's reel includes spots that range from fashion to fast food, with an emphasis on lifestyle and performance.
 
Kreative Kontent was founded in 2010 and is a WBENC-certified woman-owned business, says Horwitz. Its range of projects reflects her varied 20-year career, which covers just about every aspect of production and post.  A South Florida native, she got her start as an assistant editor, initially working in news (which, she recalls, "taught me how to switch gears very quickly, especially when it came to budgets") before she landed at BVI, at the time one of the largest post production companies in Miami.  There she worked her way up through every department, handling post for major ad campaigns and working on network promos, TV series, corporate work, videogames, features and music videos. 
 BVI eventually merged with Manhattan Transfer, at the time a New York-based powerhouse in film transfer and color correction which was owned by Ascent Media, resulting in a flood of feature film work for the Latin American market. That gave Horwitz the opportunity to work directly with a range of top motion picture directors. At around the same time Manhattan Transfer tapped Horwitz to launch its own production arm, Within Pictures, so they could broaden their range of services to clients.
 
It was a good time to be running a production company affiliated with a major post house, she notes, as the Hispanic ad market was exploding and there were exciting opportunities for her and her directors to branch out into new areas. After Ascent sold its South Florida holdings to New Art, a large Mexico City-based post production company, Horwitz felt the time was right to go out on her own, which was when she unveiled Kreative Kontent.
 
One of the big advantages of being independent was the ability for Horwitz to be more selective about the projects she took on, and given the contacts she's built up over the years, that proved to be a particularly fertile prospect. It also allowed her to pursue more of her passions for long-form and entertainment work, something she's been working in steadily for some time.
 
For example, her involvement in the crime drama "Cocaine Cowboys," which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2006, and the European thriller "Last Time Forever," were early examples of her work in long form. She went on to be a contributing producer to the PBS series "Journey to Planet Earth," starring Matt Damon, and was a producer of the DIRECTV pilot "Piedra Papel y Tijera."
 

She also executive produced and produced several award winning short films, including one directed by Fro Rojas, and later served a producer for his feature "Tio Papi." And for Susan Seidelman – best known for the '80s hit "Desperately Seeking Susan" – Horwitz was Co-Executive Producer and Post Production Supervisor for her feature "Musical Chairs" and served as a product placement and post production consultant for last year's "The Hot Flashes," which starred Brooke Shields, Wanda Sykes and Daryl Hannah. 

Her Kreative Kontent directors understand what Horwitz brings to the table as company owner and EP, and they value the environment she's created, its vibe and its potential for success. "Working with Kreative Kontent has provided so many great opportunities for me to showcase my talent," says Rojas, who's probably known her the longest. "Debbie and our team offer me the creative freedom and resources to do what I need to make a project something truly unique and always classy."
 
Rousseau is also a believer. Horwitz says they were introduced by mutual contacts in the local production scene and hit it off quickly. He got his start working for early music video TV networks such as The Box and The Tube, then got connected with Pitbull and the rest is history. A four-time nominee at MTV's Music Video Awards, his flashy, stylistic and highly visual approach has been tapped by some of the biggest names in music, including Marc Anthony, Lil Wayne, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, Nicki Minaj, Shakira, Kesha and Ne-Yo.
 
"David is very down to earth, very honest and very interested in expanding his work into lots of different forms of ad content, including narrative and storytelling," Horwitz explains. "He's highly collaborative and comes to the process with no ego, so we're really excited about his prospects with agencies and brands." And what's Rousseau's take on Kreative Kontent?  "I'm truly honored to be working with such an amazing production company," he responds. "Debbie's put together a great group of directors.  All are different, and all are very talented."
 
Horwitz says there are a lot of commonalities in terms of her directors' music video and long-form work and the work they're doing for agencies and brands, much of it having to deal with pressured timelines and budgets and the need to work closely with artists and creatives.  "We know how to deal with all of this, from the talent to the budget constraints," she says.  She notes that her company is particularly adept at brand integrations that marry high-profile Latin music artists with ad campaigns, which they've done for AT&T and other clients.
Most importantly, Horwitz says her company is known for being straight up in how it deals with people – clients, directors, crews, collaborators, everyone. "It's a major staple in all of our relationships," she says. "I think it's what everyone likes about working with us.  We have a family feeling and we take good care of our people. I jump through hoops to get things done for our directors, and I spend our clients' money like it was my own. Our goal on every job is to give clients the best work we can deliver while still making sure that our directors and crews feel valued and appreciated."
 
Horwitz is also well aware of the different channels and protocols that guide the creation and production of ad content when compared to the music video genre.   "In videos, you cater to the artist and the label. The director comes up with the treatment that reflects that, and then he or she brings it to life," she explains.
 
"In advertising, there's an added level to take into account, and that's the agency team and their concerns for their client," she continues. "The best music video directors – the ones who know how to accommodate and nurture that distinction – are the ones who do well in the commercial arena. Guys like David get that; they understand there's a different level of collaboration that's involved, and they respect and appreciate that."
 
The ongoing evolution of the Hispanic marketplace is another area where knowing how to deal with subtle distinctions can pay off, and here Horwitz is well-versed.  Having worked with many of the top Hispanic-market agencies in the US – and offering a range of directorial talents that match up nicely with the varied cultural backgrounds of Americans of Hispanic origin – she's in a position to solve problems for clients while finding opportunities for her directors. 
"There's been so much crossover in this category," she points out, noting that language barriers are no longer as daunting as they once were.  English-language TV spots are now running on Telemundo and Univision, she notes, while Spanish-language spots ran on ESPN's World Cup coverage.  "Everything is converging into this cultural melting pot," she observes, "but you still need to have a high degree of cultural authenticity when it comes to things like dialects and casting in order to create work that's truly effective."
 
As it enters its fifth year, Kreative Kontent is positioned right where Horwitz wants it to be.  "We're doing a really interesting mix of work, both long form and ad-related," she observes. They're in development on a new feature for director Fro Rojas, they've been shooting a series of luscious tabletop spots for the State of Florida's "Fresh From Florida" campaign that's been picked up by other states and is running in regional markets.  In addition, the "Annie Sunbeam" TV series has presented Kreative Kontent with opportunities to talk directly to brands about sponsorship deals.
 
"Projects like this represent how I see the future for our company," Horwitz sums up. "It's one shaped by a broad base of work that keeps my directors busy and engaged and always doing something new.  We want to cast a wide net here, and we're doing just that."

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