Comedy Director Joe Schaak Joins STORY
August 31, 2016 by Screenmag
STORY has signed award-winning comedy director Joe Schaak for exclusive representation. Schaak, whose work has been short-listed at Cannes and included in the permanent collection at MOMA, specializes in character-driven comedy and is known for delivering genuine performances whether working with actors, celebrities or real people.
“Joe is a true comedy pro,” says STORY Executive Producer Mark Androw. “Agencies love working with him because he always shows great insight to the strategy and brings great ideas to the table. We’re very excited to welcome him to our roster.”
Schaak has directed more than 200 commercials over the course of his 20-year career. His classics include a Johnsonville spot in which a rogue bratwurst vendor takes over the broadcast booth at Lambeau Field, and a Super Bowl ad for Century 21 that featured guest appearances by Deion Sanders, Apolo Ohno and Donald Trump.
Recent efforts include a campaign for technology reseller Gazelle.com featuring real people reading actual online reviews and cleverly staged to bring out their personality quirks. He also directed a deliciously deadpan campaign for health services nonprofit Baby Can Wait. In one spot, a man presents his nephew with an unusual gift: a breast pump. The boy, it turns out, is pregnant. “I loved that campaign because the agency was so collaborative and I was able to have a hand in developing the concepts,” he says.
The director adds that he enjoys directing comedy because each project offers new opportunities for invention. “I love finding the magic in characters,” he says. “The discovery process is always fun…that’s what keeps it fresh.” Schaak’s reel also includes work for McDonald’s, Target, Purina, Kellogg’s, Nyquil, ESPN and other top brands.
Schaak says he was attracted to STORY by its success in working with comedy directors and diverse agency relationships. “I was looking for a company with strong, established executive producers and footholds in Chicago, Texas and across the Midwest,” he notes. “STORY has a great reputation and impressed me their knowledge of the advertising market.”
STORY expects its relationship with Schaak to extend beyond traditional commercials. The director has experience in directing branded content, web series, reality and scripted television and features. He is currently independently developing a comedy television series called RenFest (www.renfest.tv), a behind-the-scenes look at the office politics in the world of Renaissance festivals.