The partner spotlight is a weekly series where we go behind the scenes with some of the companies that make VendorDB great. Next up is Aggressive!
Year Founded: 2008
Specialties: Aggressive focuses on story before seamlessly blending live action, design and 3D animation for commercials, music videos and film
What’s the Aggressive story?
Dan and I met when I moved to New Jersey from Europe, we became friends and somehow fairly quickly we decided to start making films together. One thing led to another and suddenly trusting clients, who didn’t know any better, were hiring us, 18 year old kids, to design, produce and craft VFX for their significant projects.
At the time Dan was studying anthropology at Rutgers University, and was renting this really crappy apartment above a pizza joint. What made his flat particularly shitty, was that for some reason it had no heating and the only way to get warm was to wait for someone to order a pizza downstairs, which would then translate into the oven getting activated, and finally, as a by product, would heat our apartment for a few hours…
When temperatures dropped below freezing, we would continue 3D modeling and animating while hugging our warm computers with our knees (a known trick that allows animators to survive in extreme climates) “that’s some aggressive animation!” I would yell in moments like this and we’d both laugh.
Sometimes Dan would run downstairs and order a large pie just to get the oven working again. “That’s pretty aggressive” he would proclaim climbing back up the stairs… and just like that “Aggressive” stuck, and became our attitude towards ourselves, our work and subsequently the name of our studio.
Fairly quickly, we started getting hired to work on site by a slew of VFX houses around NYC – we did pretty much every type of VFX job there was, with projects ranging from music videos for the likes of Eminem and The Roots, to commercials for Adidas, V8, Bud Light, Coke Zero and many others…
The more we worked in post production, the more I was getting the feeling that we are doing all the heavy lifting while the directors that hired us were getting most of the credit. There is nothing more unpleasant for a talented compositor, or animator to get some senseless comments at the end of a 24-hour marathon shift from a director who happens to be away on a boating vacation.
So two years later, and driven mostly by rage and a punk rock “we can do this ourselves” attitude, we decided to start directing our own work and launched as filmmakers. Needless to say it wasn’t a very easy transition. We cold called and e-mailed every production company in the book, got taken advantage of by a slew of shady independent reps and producers, did a few “no-budget” jobs financed by pure willpower and red bulls, got desperate… and then suddenly landed in a roster of a real-deal production company who was willing to give us a shot at directing real projects – the now defunct “Refused TV”.
From that point on things sped up dramatically; we successfully directed one commercial and music video after another, quickly advancing up the ladder in the industry and making a name for ourselves. Ad agencies, labels and clients loved us, and our soup to nuts approach to production, and when the owner of Refused TV suddenly decided to close the company to focus on her music label, we decided to launch our own production company… and so Aggressive was born.
The rest is history.
Now many years later, after winning awards and crafting dozens of prestigious commercials, music videos and films, we always try to be as “Aggressive” and unforgiving towards ourselves, as we were throughout the first steps of our journey; making sure that every frame of our work is painstakingly “Aggressive”.
What emerging tech trend will have the biggest impact on your business?
The Internet. Yes, I know it’s been around for a while.
Today more and more companies quietly reconfigure to a global pipeline, seeking out specialized individual talent outside of their immediate geographic location. With expanding bandwidth speeds, cheap hardware, cloud software and data storage, the workplace has changed dramatically. This is just the beginning of the placeless workspace – suddenly the geographic location of the individual team members plays little significance. Your designer / compositor / color artist / animator / copywriter can be in the next room or across the ocean – today what really matters is only how talented and professional they are.
What advice do you have for agency producers or creatives?
This might sound surprising, especially coming from Aggressive, but it could be really great if our industry’s focus shifted towards telling exciting stories, that reach beyond slick design and amped up visuals.
I think there is a real chance to venture outside all the touchy feely and happy clappy, one size fits all narratives, and craft exciting, distinctive, smart content that really engages the viewer while exploiting cutting edge design as a tool rather than the concept itself.
What is the best thing about working at Aggressive?