05/14/15

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Our Crazy Collab for Pitch Perfect 2

This week we released a big one. We teamed up with Universal for the premiere of Pitch Perfect 2. Shot across London, Berlin and California, the music video features YouTube creators, Vine influencers and stars from the movie itself.

Mashable let loose on their headline: ‘Pitch Perfect 2′ music video will give you a ‘crazy’ toner — a musical boner. Check out other press features here.

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05/13/15

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Portal A Originals: We're Making a Show!

We’re thrilled to announce our new show (releasing later this year) – starring the Gregory Bros, in a partnership with Maker Studios, and Created & Executive Produced by Portal A. It’s an international travel and music show with a nod toward the one that started it all, Huge in Asia. The Wrap: A fresh new format from Portal A – a medley of music, comedy and travel. 

Stay tuned for more details…

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Finley Wise Makes SF's 32 Under 32

AD2SF and the SF Egotist teamed up to award Finley Wise, our Head of Production, with an annual 32 Under 32 title. Check out his full interview below, or read it here.

 

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Congrats on being chosen as one of the top 32 advertising and marketing professionals under 32. We selected people who really go above and beyond in their work. How do you think you approach your job differently than other people?

I think a big part of my approach is to leave any ego and negativity behind when I work. That, and lots and lots of meditation! It’s easy to get lost in the chaos of the production process or in the stresses of project management or the logistical fires of a film set. Clearing my mind of self-importance helps me keep a sharper focus on problem-solving, allows for positive collaboration (which can come from anywhere and anyone, so I refuse to buy into the myth that if you work in film you have to yell a lot or not treat people with respect), and lets me just enjoy the process. If we can’t find joy in the creation of a video that is meant to entertain and delight, we’re not doing something right.

What kind of accounts/projects are you working on these days?

We recently shot some beautiful spots here in the City and up in Sacramento for Waze and Über, two of our newest clients. I’m also supervising festival submission work for our award-winning YouTube Rewind 2014 project, and am deep in development on a fun new campaign for Credit Karma. Our ongoing pitches and projects are as big and promising as the line outside Bi-Rite, and it’s only April!

What is it about where you currently work that really pushes you to be better?

I am really, really lucky to work for a shop that’s on the cutting edge of both content and production. Portal A is at the head of the new media frontier, which means we have a sharp sense of the burgeoning digital world and we always push to find the smartest ways to execute our ideas, regardless of what the establishment may dictate. The innovation that I’m surrounded with — the people and the technology that’s changing the way we live our lives — compels me to take risks and to leap across creative boundaries where I might not otherwise venture. I’m never bored, because we can never be complacent if we want to continue to be a disruptive, positive force in the industry. It’s what makes me a better producer.

In thinking over your career so far, what work had made you the proudest?

I’m a perfectionist by nature, so the inevitable fact that there are always small things we could have done better or people we could have made happier with our videos sometimes prevents me from taking more pride in the amazing work we create. Still, there’s nothing quite like seeing a fantastic idea executed well (I’m thinking of the Ice Bucket Challenge montage from Rewind 2014 and the Mat Zo Pyramid Scheme music video)— or a particularly demanding scene that I’ve helped produce make its way into a cut and then come alive in front of people on the other side of the planet! In that sense, the past two YouTube Rewinds, which were exceptionally complex productions shot on over 5 continents with hundreds of talent, multiple stunts, explosions, camera rigs, etc., required huge amounts of teamwork, energy, and attention to detail and were utterly fulfilling for me to produce precisely because they were so challenging. I also get tremendous joy from the work I do outside of branded content: the music videos I produce with my director brother are crucial outlets for my imagination. Unfettered independent creativity of that kind is sunshine for the producer’s soul!

We hear you’re big into music. What are some of the projects you’ve done in that realm?

Though I am certainly not the most in-touch music fan in the Bay, I grew up with a father from New Orleans and a house full of guitars and old Beatles LPs. And music is an essential ingredient in my work. YouTube Rewind features a mash-up of the top tracks of the year, every year. In 2013, we worked with everything from Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines to Baauer’s Harlem Shake. For the most recent Rewind, we were able to work with songs by Pharrell, Meghan Trainor, and Taylor Swift (though Shake It Off was ultimately cut from the mix). In the music video space, I’ve been lucky enough to work with people like the brilliant Les Claypool (Primus), Mat Zo, Collie Buddz, Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, and Bobby Brackins. Great music makes for great videos!

Here’s a ridiculously clichéd interview question for you: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I think most people in our space have an eye on the future even as we draw on the past and make stuff in the immediate present. And ten years will be here before we know it! In 2025 it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to have a few shorts and a feature film under my belt. If in tens years I am creatively fulfilled and able to keep producing interesting, well-made content as a member of the Portal A family, I will be supremely happy. I just hope we’re all driving 100% electric cars by then!

This might be tough, but here’s your chance to give a shout out to one person who has helped you get to where you are today. Go.

Ha—impossible! I literally survive on collaboration, and don’t think I could ever distill my kinfolk down to just one. My wife, Vivian, pushed me to take a major leap and pursue filmmaking full-time when I could have just as easily stayed in the world of finance after graduating from Cal. My brother, Morgan, first hooked me on filmmaking with his incredibly creative music videos. And then my partners at Portal A—Zach, Nate and Kai—took a huge risk on me. More than anyone else, they fuel my self-belief by having me be such an important part of our team.

 

Building & Bonding

Getting out of the office never felt so good. The LA and SF teams put on their hard hats, construction belts, and sunscreen (don’t forget the sunscreen!) and headed over to two Habitat for Humanity sites to build homes for families in need. Even Otto joined in on the fun.

We’re already looking forward to doing it again next year.

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05/09/15

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Nate Stirs the Pot in Mashable

Our EP Nate Houghteling is back at it. “Why Your Agency Will Never Really Understand Digital” is the latest from Portal A’s resident leader-of-thoughts, Nate Houghteling. The piece prompted a fun response  -“Ad Exec Says Agencies Will Never Understand Digital” – in MediaPost, an agency must-read.

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