Monday, June 11, 2001

Winning Awards with Collaboration and Conflict

During my tenure as Head of Production at Elias Arts, an especially productive relationship developed between our Creative Director, Alexander Lasarenko, and myself, whereby Alex considered each opportunity or commission to score a TV commercial primarily as cinematic art (i.e. a potentially entertaining experience in and of itself) –its intent as a vehicle for a brand message or marketing piece –and our budget– notwithstanding.

By contrast, my responsibility was at the client's behest to ensure our client's marketing and message mandate was appropriately represented in our musical and sonic compositions, –and internally, that our creative solutions were executed in a manner that left us with either a profit or a relationship that would produce one later.

As as a direct result of this contrasting dynamic a lot of sparks flew between the creative and production departments, but I think the award-winning results speak for themselves. And I can't think of another music team that did it the way we did at the time, which made me feel at the time that we were invincible.

For a time, in some respects, we were.

A year and a half after my promotion to Senior Producer, Elias NY had become the toast of the North East, and was even drawing clients from the west coast and London. In 1996 we walked away with two of three AICP awards in the music category (Guess ‘Mambo’ (Schietroma) and ‘Levi’s Sensual’ (Jenkins)) and a Clio for a Marcus Nispel directed spot out of DDB, produced by Steve Amato, for the Digital Equipment Corp., called ‘Manifesto’.

What made that latter award all the more sweet was the fact that it had been a collaborative effort whose participants included several new composers working in tandem with Alex, Alton Delano, Fritz Doddy, and myself. The year after I left, several other awards rolled in for projects produced during my tenure, including AICP recognition for Levi’s ‘Primal’, composed by Kerry Smith.

Of the hundreds of awards the company’s staffers have earned over the years, I take great pride knowing that a creative team I recruited and assembled won a good many of those honors. For a time –when Jonathan Elias headed out west and Scott Elias stopped out to pursue other ventures– those of us who spearheaded the company’s flagship headquarters did a unprecedented job catapulting its capabilities back into national industry notice.

When I started my tenure, the company billed less than a quarter of what it reportedly billed during my last year with the company –according to publicly available records. We quadrupled profits and made the Elias Brothers proud. The awards were icing on the cake, but more importantly, for a kid who didn't immigrate to the United States until he was 13,  it was a good American dream to have lived.

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