Director Chris Applebaum Signs to FANCY Content
Chris Applebaum, the director who covered a nude Rihanna with silver body paint, armed Paris Hilton with a hot, dripping cheeseburger and turned Miley Cyrus from a Disney character into a flag-waving nymph, has joined the L.A.-based production company FANCY Content. The news was announced by Fancy Founder and EP Robert Wherry. To screen his work, please click here.
Applebaum boasts an eclectic background and a set of accomplishments that make winning Cannes Lions pale by comparison. His official FANCY Content bio claims credit for, among other things, creating the Macarena, owning the world record in eating Ferrero Rocher chocolates in sixty seconds or less and winning back-to-back world Freestyle Flamenco titles – none of which have been corroborated by independent news organizations.
More reliably, the highly prolific director is known for sexy, playful and fashion-focused work for brands such as Clairol, Sketchers, Candies, Head and Shoulders (with Sofia Vergara), John Frieda, Hugo Boss and Old Spice. No stranger to generating headlines, his ongoing campaign for Carl’s Jr. has consistently propelled his work to the upper ranks of social media and brand awareness. From that Paris Hilton heart-stopper of an ad, in which the reality TV star posed seductively with a hot car and an even hotter Carl’s Jr. sandwich, he’s gone on to direct spots for the brand featuring Nina Agdal, Kate Upton, Heidi Klum, Ronda Rousey, Padma Lakshmi, Evander Holyfield and other celebs and supermodels. His most recent, featuring renowned L.A. chef Michael Voltaggio, was so unexpected it was covered in the L.A. Times.
Applebaum’s music videos are as varied and talked-about as his ads. They include videos for Usher, Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez, among others. He directed the iconic 'Stacy’s Mom' for Fountains of Wayne as well as the aforementioned “Umbrella” (featuring Jay Z) for Rihanna, which won Music Video of the Year honors at the VMA’s. His 'Closing Time' for Semisonic was the first video ever inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. All told, Applebaum’s work with artists has generated dozens of number one rankings on MTV and too many MVPA, Billboard and VMA nominations to count.
“Chris is more than just a director, he’s a tastemaker,” says Wherry. “His work easily crosses over into the pop culture mainstream and becomes the kind of things people can’t help but share. You can tell from his Instagram account, where he’s got almost fifth thousand followers. Brands and artists are drawn to his vision, which is why we’re so excited to have him at FANCY.”
The director returns the compliment, saying that in Wherry he’s found his counterpart as an executive producer and production company owner. “I’ve learned how important it is to have an experienced and steady hand at the wheel, and Robert’s proven himself again and again,” Applebaum notes. “You’re most likely to succeed when you’re aligned with the right people, and that’s how I feel now. There are those in this business who can make a real difference in your work and your career, and Robert’s one of them.”
“I’ve been directing for a long time, and I’m still totally locked in,” Applebaum says about his passion for the work. “I started so young that I see myself as this seasoned veteran, one who’s happened to do work that people are so familiar with it’s become part of their lives. I remember when they got Osama bin Laden, people were posting comments on the YouTube page for Miley Cyrus’ ‘Party in the USA’ video to show how they felt. Having something you directed make that kind of impact on people is what I love most about the work I do.”
A preternaturally experienced filmmaker, as he mentions, Applebaum grew up in Hollywood, the child of a classically-trained musician who played on sessions with everyone from Nancy Sinatra to The Turtles. Heading east after high school, he studied film at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, where he got tuned in to the local music scene. That’s when he was asked by a local band to produce their video, since he was the only person in their entourage who knew anything about production.
The clip ended up on MTV and generated a phone call from the network’s offices in New York, offering Applebaum a summer internship that eventually turned into a full-time gig in the network’s legendary on-air promo department. From there he launched his directorial career with Satellite Films in the early ‘90s, at the tender age of 22.
At FANCY, he joins a directorial roster that includes Ed McCulloch, John Mastromonico, Chris Shimojima, Rob Sanders, Rad-Ish, Paul Laufer and Sebastian Weiland.