Kreative Kontent adds Multi Cultural Flavor to Doc-Style Work

Ceci de Corral is a teacher and artist working in RockawayBeach, Queens, who talks about how she and her fellow educators and artists had to come up with inventive ways to help their young students deal with the destruction and loss visited on the neighborhood after Superstorm Sandy. Joel Roja is a young tech entrepreneur who runs his startup and stays in close touch with his parents while living in a small surfing village in Ecuador. And Xoco Moraza is a musician in Southern California who's working hard to preserve the traditional Mexican music he grew up listening to.  These three impressive millennials all share several things in common: they're all Hispanic Americans, they all use Google products and tools to accomplish their goals and they're all profiled in intimate detail in short, upbeat videos produced by Kreative Kontent in Miami.   The work of ad agency La Comunidad and Kreative Kontent director Fro Rojas, the documentary-style ads are the production company's first major foray into the reality-based, doc-style ad genre, and they're a hit. They were produced to support a digital destination Google created to showcase and celebrate Hispanic millennials who are doing great things in the world using Google products, which can be found at www.holagoogle.soy. The long-format videos revolve around people who are representative of today's young Hispanic demographic: bilingual as well as multicultural, they live in the present yet have deep connections to their heritage, their language and their culture.  For Kreative Kontent and Rojas to land this assignment was a big achievement for Founder and EP Debbie Margolis Horwitz. She runs an eclectic and growing South Florida production company whose directors regularly shoot spots for major brands and agencies while also working with such artists as Pitbull and Shakira (the studio was profiled in our Special Feature on Music Video Production last year).  With a broad background in production and post production for advertising and broadcast clients, Horwitz founded the company in 2010. A WBENC-certified woman-owned business, Horwitz has worked on just about every kind of project, from dramatic to real people, and has also served as a producer or post production consultant on such feature films as Susan Seidelman's "Musical Chairs" and others. Her move into the reality-based arena is a natural step for Kreative Kontent, since many of the basic building blocks are already well represented in Kreative Kontent's work, everything from dealing with tight budgets to the need to present authentic stories that resonate with their target audiences.   "These are often lower-budget jobs where you really can't throw too much production value on the screen, since that can work against the authenticity of the piece," Horwitz explains. "You're going for that observational style, which often requires a leaner approach. And our directors are well-versed in this, via their work on short films and music videos. They understand the need to tell a story and to do it with limited amounts of time and resources. This mindset easily applies to working in the documentary genre."   This wasn't lost on Laurie Malaga, VP of Integrated Production at La Comunidad, who has longstanding connections with Horwitz and Rojas. Malaga worked with Horwitz when the latter was running the Miami office of the finishing house Manhattan Transfer. When she launched Kreative Kontent, Malaga recommended her to a friend at Droga 5 for a spot that turned out to be the first job for the new company: a Puma video with golf pro Ricky Fowler that's still living online and has since run on broadcast and cable TV.   Malaga has known Rojas since his days as an assistant editor, and says she's watched him grow up in the business. What she likes about him as a director, she says, is that "he's super passionate and extremely positive, which is what's helped him continue to grow." And, she adds, that she was just waiting for the right project to work with him as a director, having been attracted by his personal short films such as "Pencil Fighting" and his advertising work. The holagoogle.soy assignment was where the stars aligned.   Indeed, "Fro was the perfect target for who we were trying to reach," Malaga says. "He could have been one of the subjects of these videos." She also knew that he and Kreative Kontent would be able to deal with the parameters of the production, which called for a bit of a run and gun approach. "It was a challenging project with a quick turnaround," she notes. "Fro was a great resource for helping us find and connect with our subjects, and Debbie is a total problem-solver. We were happy to have them working on this assignment."   Rojas supervised the edit on the Google work, which was cut by Tim Downing at The Cut Club, a small Miami post boutique where Rojas edits most of his work. His background as an editor was a big advantage in this project, since it helped compresses the process and deepened the level of collaboration between director and editor.   Given the limitations placed on the production crew in terms of time with the subjects and shoot days, it was important that they went in with a plan. Rojas had done considerable pre-interviews with the subjects, so "it wasn't like we just went in to see what we could get," he adds. "There was a structure to it, which is where my editorial background comes in."   As a director, Rojas finds the stripped-down process of doc-style work highly enticing. "This is like going back to the roots of filmmaking," he says, "and it's one of the reasons these projects often work so well. It's because they're seen as being real and from the heart, as opposed to feeling like you're being sold something."   "Before we even did a treatment, Fro was meeting with the agency creatives and the client and starting the casting process," Horwitz adds. "There were a lot of Google Hangout sessions with potential subjects for the videos. It was an unusually collaborative process between the director, the agency and the clients. We really needed to find young people with authentic stories." It helped, too, that Rojas was one of them, which let him connect quickly and easily. Like Ceci, Joel and Xoxo, Rojas grew up speaking Spanish at home to his Nicaraguan-born mother and English at school.  Horwitz' experience in the documentary genre includes a video for the Make A Wish Foundation that she had produced for Inspire, the Hispanic advertising division of Moroch, which was done while she was running Within Productions, the production arm of Manhattan Transfer. A Best of Show winner at the Dallas ADDYs, the video follows a young boy with leukemia as he realizes his dream of being a cowboy. And Federico Vidal, one of the Kreative Kontentdirectors, directed a Ford campaign in Argentina that documents blue collar men challenging the limits of their Ford trucks.   Horwitz says she keeps hearing the same terms over and over on calls with agencies and clients. "They're looking for work that feels organic, honest and authentic, that has a sense of immediacy to it and is not overly produced," she notes. And with their mix of ads, personal short films and videos – which have to resonate with fans or they'll fail – her director corps is primed to break out in this genre. "They understand brand integration, and the need for a brand's influence to be felt in a project but not in an overt or heavy-handed way," she observes. "They're really able to bridge these worlds of brand messages delivered with a sense of honesty."  Rojas echoes the other Kreative Kontent directors when he talks about the partnership between them as filmmakers and Horwitz as their EP. "Debbie's a great producer," he says. "She knows how to get the most out of budgets, and that contributes to making us a great team. We're able to find really great solutions."  La Comunidad's Malaga is a fan of Horwitz and her company, and suggests they'll do well in the doc genre. "Debbie can do big and she can do small in terms of projects," she says. "She's amazingly calm and very smart and lots of fun to work with. And she knows how to get stuff done."   Clients are increasingly looking for the type of content that the doc-style genre is good at producing, Malaga adds. "It's in great demand," she says. "Clients call it 'snackable.' For us, we have to figure out how to make it and maintain the creative standards that we have for our brands. So we need the kind of resources that can handle these projects soup to nuts."   What helps this process along, Horwitz adds, is an ability to work closely with agencies and clients, and she cites the Google experience as a perfect case study. "You need to have an open dialogue, and that's something we're very good at here." Coupled with the company's solid experience in the multicultural space, she adds, "I think it puts us in a good position to play a larger role in this growing genre."

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