FANCY Content Signs Director Chris Shimojima
Musician, athlete, director, editor and writer, Chris Shimojima promises to add some interesting diversity to the roster at the L.A. based production company FANCY Content. Joining as a director, Shimojima is now part of a talent lineup at FANCY that includes RAD-ISH, John Mastromonaco, Sebastian Weiland, British director Rob Sanders, and Paul Laufer.
“We’re very excited to be working with a unique storytelling artist like Chris,” says Robert Wherry, Founder and President of FANCY. “He’s a non-traditional, award-winning director. That, combined with his creative background from R/GA, gives him insight into making content for brands that’s equally uncommon.”
Prior to signing with FANCY, Shimojima was working in a variety of roles, including editing for several New York ad agencies. Before that he was on staff at the agency R/GA, where he started after graduating from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Dramatic Writing.
Shimojima’s work has an authenticity borne of his personal experience. His talents as a musician, for example, lent themselves to his short documentary “Signal Strength,” which he directed and edited. The film depicts a group of street musicians playing in different New York subway stations who, thanks to the growing presence of Wi-Fi, are connected via Skype with a conductor above ground in Bryant Park. With all of the musicians visible on a host of laptops balanced on folding chairs, the conductor proceeds to have them play a specially-composed piece in real time.
He sent the short to Skype, which ran it on its blog and on its web site. Attention in the press was swift, with pubs like the Village Voice and The Guardian covering the film and approving geeks chiming in on CNET, creating online chatter about the sweet irony of Microsoft-owned Skype being accessed via Apple laptops.
This ability to resonate genuinely with both brands and consumers is a common theme in Shimojima’s work. The spec spot he did for the 2013 Young Cannes Lions Awards, “It Starts with a Playground,” was so well-liked by the advertiser that they ran it on air as a PSA. The spot, for KaBoom!, a non-profit that promotes physical activity for kids, features images of a young girl prepping for competition, shot in dramatic slo-mo like a pro football promo. Turns out she’s just getting ready for some big time playground fun. Shimojima was co-writer, co-director and editor.
Another example of Shimojima’s work ringing true was his short for Arena, which makes swimsuits and swimming gear. “When You Say You’re A Swimmer” showcases Shimojima’s touch with timing and rhythm, as it strings together fast-paced shots of a swimmer in action with shots of things like cascading icebergs, all set to a driving voiceover delivered in a poetry slam style. A swimmer himself, Shimojima wrote, directed, produced and edited the spot, which was shortlisted for the 2015 AICP Show, in addition to screening at sports film festivals around the world.
He also was a key player on the web-series “Downsized,” named one of YouTube's Top 10 Made-for-the-Web Shows, and was the writer, director and editor of the short “6-Minute Mom.” It’s a riveting portrait of a young woman’s awkward lunch with the disengaged, self-absorbed mother who abandoned her when she was a child.
Shimojima’s background in classical music performance and composition, along with his passion for film music, is what led him to visual and character-driven storytelling. After graduating from NYU he landed a job as an intern at R/GA’s production studio, and jumped when a position opened for a video editor, since he’d been cutting his own work since he was in high school.
Indeed, his post-production fluency informs his work as a director. “The way I shoot is editorially-based,” he explains. “It’s like editing in camera, so you know what you need ahead of time. But it also gives me the confidence to shoot flexibly and make decisions in the suite later on, which is preferred for a lot of content today. So I’m comfortable working like this, or in the more traditional model in which the director hands over the edit to a different team. I’ve worked with lots of directors in this manner, so it’s all very familiar.”
On joining Fancy, he’s eager to extend his reach to a wider range of agencies, clients and categories. “Robert sought me out after seeing my work, and was very interested in meeting up. We did and everything clicked.”