Kiddo launches in Vancouver

Giant Ant's co-founder and a former Cossette ECD open a creative-led production house to serve both agencies and brands.

Video production company Kiddo has opened its doors in Vancouver with a creative-run team.

Kiddo is being led by Michael Milardo, former ECD at Cossette, and Leah Nelson, co-founder and CD at Vancouver-based production house Giant Ant.

The company will be a sister shop to animation-focused studio Giant Ant and will act as its live action-focused arm. And, much like Giant Ant, Kiddo aims to work with agencies to produce and execute video content for campaigns, as well as directly with brand clients to conceptualize ideas, write scripts and execute them.

Milardo had been at Cossette’s Vancouver office since 2012 and was named ECD in 2015, with previous experience at Noise Digital, Rethink and several freelance stints at agencies in Europe. He says writing and directing his first short film in the spring reignited his passion for video production, but he adds that his own experience agency-side is going to be what sets Kiddo apart.

While the trend for many years has been for lead creative agencies to bring in more in-house production services to answer client demand for content, Milardo says the inverse trend in other markets has been for production houses to bring in agency creative leads.

“Leah and I are going to be wearing our creative director titles proudly,” Milardo says. “There’s always going to be a place for the lead brand agency, we’re not going to offer the whole array of their services, and my primary goal right now is to work with them to execute great video content. But my hope is, from a brand’s point of view, our background will also be appealing to them.”

Milardo says Kiddo’s initial primary audience will be Canada’s creative agencies. He says there is an opportunity to fill a gap in Vancouver, where the market currently tends to lean more towards production service companies that staff and service jobs coming from the U.S.

“There used to be creative production companies in Vancouver, but a lot of them are gone,” Milardo says. “We’re trying to occupy a bit of white space in this market, which is why it makes sense to me to be strong on west coast instead of maybe extending our reach to Toronto, where there are so many companies already doing a great job.”

When it comes to brand-direct work, Kiddo will be looking more towards working with U.S. clients. Milardo says this is partially due to the fact that most client-direct work is in Toronto – where there are many more production houses competing for that work – but also cites Giant Ant’s pre-existing relationships with U.S. clients, as well as the fact that many American brands already shoot in Vancouver and the city’s proximity to places like Seattle, Portland and San Francisco.

At launch, Kiddo is currently representing eight directors, and will engage other staff like producers and DPs as each job dictates. The company will also be able to engage some of Giant Ant’s resources, and capitalize on the opportunity to work on co-productions that call for both animation and live action.