The New Collaborators: Fyfe Shader

The company's freelance filmmakers allow brands and agencies to work more closely on content creation
Kevin Saffer and Cynthia Heyd, founders of content production studio HeydSaffer, put on new masks with Fyfe Shader, their new company that allows brands and agencies to more easily access directing talent.

Kevin Saffer and Cynthia Heyd, founders of content production studio HeydSaffer, put on new masks with Fyfe Shader, their new company that allows brands and agencies to more easily access directing talent.

The past decade has seen significant changes to how agencies, brands and production companies work. Those changes have been the result of client needs, including smaller budgets, mass deliverables, integrated and interactive components, and tighter timelines. Brands and agencies may be producing more work in-house, but there’s still one skill they can’t easily access: directing talent. Fyfe Shader offers a solution.

Launched in November 2019 as an offshoot of content production studio HeydSaffer, Fyfe Shader manages independent directors, helping them get opportunities without committing to an exclusive relationship with a production company. This model, which is new to Canada yet has proven results in Europe and Asia, also allows brands and agencies to work closer with content creators.

Fyfe Shader offers a pool of independent directors for agencies and brands, allowing them to up their creative game for internal productions. “This keeps pace with the changing relationships we see in the advertising industry where teams are built differently,” says co-founder Kevin Saffer. “Fyfe Shader’s mission is to build the next level of Canadian talent and see its directors working as much as possible.”

Fyfe Shader directors have been deployed to in-house divisions of brands and agencies and to production companies. One of the first completed projects had Paul Constantakis directing a short film with SickKids’ in-house creative department.

For SickKids, Paul Constantakis directed a spot that tells the touching story of a SickKids patient who shares some Valentine’s Day love with a patient at Mount Sinai Hospital, located directly across the street.

For SickKids, Paul Constantakis directed a spot that tells the touching story of a SickKids patient who shares some Valentine’s Day love with a patient at Mount Sinai Hospital, located directly across the street.

“More than ever, work is coming from places beyond advertising agencies, and many directors  don’t see this work because they are exclusive to a single production company,” says Cynthia Heyd, co-founder of Fyfe Shader. “At the same time, in-house agency production units and brands are scrambling for the same freelance talent. What’s new and disruptive about Fyfe Shader is an open acknowledgment that more directors are going freelance. We provide a solution to organize and support their career growth and business management as they work for a variety of different production entities.”

Saffer says a core part of the model is supporting directors by helping grow their careers and providing business management. “The directors we manage are varied in terms of skill level and experience,” he says. “Some want help with managing their schedules, billing and business affairs, whereas newer directors might need more help when it comes to exposure and building contacts.”

Fyfe Shader is currently working with 13 directors, including established names Matt Eastman and Lisa Mann. After his experience on the SickKids film, Constantakis says he sees value in the approach. “Early in my career, I believed the only route to becoming an established director was through production company representation,” he says. “The more I’ve progressed, the less I saw the benefit and the more I protected my independence.”

Heyd says that just as companies such as Sesler and Mantle represent DPs and The Assembly Reps manages editors, this is a natural evolution for the directing community. “Fyfe Shader directors have a non-exclusive relationship with the support they need, and agencies, brands and production companies can access them and plug them into their model,” she says. “In an advertising production landscape where the rules are changing, Fyfe Shader is positioning itself to be the go-to for independent directing talent.”

CONTACT:
Cynthia Heyd
Co-founder
cynthia@fyfeshader.com