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Hires, Wins & Business

Director Matt Pittroff Migrates to Sequoia Content for Canadian Representation

Comedy director with a flair for marrying quirky performances with appealing visuals joins the Toronto company’s roster.

Director Matt Pittroff Migrates to Sequoia Content for Canadian Representation

Matt Pittroff, the American comedy director whose work is noted for its strong visual sense, animated by delightfully wacky performances, has joined the directorial roster at Sequoia Content. 

Pittroff is a relative newcomer to the Canadian advertising scene, according to Suzanne Allan, Executive Producer for Sequoia. “Matt’s ease with comedy scripts is well-suited to the Canadian marketplace,” she adds. “His work also reflects his taste level in art direction, with great visuals to go along with his ability to direct talent. We believe it’s going to resonate with creatives, and that we can really generate some momentum. 

As for working with Canadian teams, Pittroff explains, “I always strive to achieve synergy with my creative teams. One constant I notice up North is that the process feels very respectful and honest, perhaps because it’s a more tightly knit community. In my limited experience, finding that ‘synergy’ has been effortless.”  

Pittroff has directed spots for a wide range of advertisers. His current showreel includes spots for Hilton Hotels, promoting its Hilton Honors program by showing people who tap its bounty of benefits to alleviate the stress of personal or business travel. In a spot for National Car Rental, the actor Patrick Warburton gets painfully weird with a TV remote control, while for Enterprise Rent a Car’s tie in with last year’s “Star Trek Beyond” he shows the company’s associates getting in touch with their inner Trekkie. And for Heluva Good Cheese, he introduces us to a truly nutty cheese fanatic who shows up at a camping site hiding in the campers’ sleeping bags.  

A native Marylander, Pittroff got his start in the industry as an Associate Producer at the independent agency Trahan Burden & Charles in Baltimore, his home town. The agency had its own in-house production company, where Pittroff immersed himself in all aspects of production, paying close attention to the more experienced pros and taking it all in. “I watched everyone and everything,” he recalls. “I was fearlessly inquisitive and observational. It was the greatest four-year unpaid internship in the universe.”  

After leaving he launched his own production company, Working Stiff, and freelanced in a variety of departments while adding to his expertise and building a director’s reel. He signed for national representation in the States in 2007 with Twist Film, a New York and Minneapolis-based studio, where the roster of agencies and brands he directed for expanded greatly.  

Pittroff says he studied the Canadian production scene and was drawn to Sequoia’s roster and the work of their directors have done for Canadian clients. “We were excited when Matt connected with us,” Allan says. “There’s lots of opportunities here for a director with his talents, and we’re thrilled to have him part of the Sequoia family.”  

“I think what sealed the deal for me was their philosophy, chemistry and reputation,” Pittroff says of his new home. “We all know this business is a fickle moving target, but despite its unpredictability I like having a plan, and Sequoia does. They really have a lot to offer. And they’re super nice, and I don’t just mean typically Canadian nice. When you run a tight ship and you’re good people, you develop a solid reputation. It goes without saying that theirs precedes them.”  

He’s also acutely aware of the demands clients and agencies put on their production partners now to stretch budgets to cover added deliverables for web and mobile use. “They want added value, and I get that,” he says. “I’m usually offering things beyond the bid specs now all the time. It come down to being excessively prepared and communicating your vision. Agencies and clients should know they’re in good hands, and that we’re ready to embrace the unexpected moments and ideas that can happen on set. If you have a good plan going in, the sky’s the limit.”  

A self-professed compulsive people watcher, Pittroff spent a summer of his youth working on the boardwalk at Ocean City, Maryland, a popular Mid-Atlantic seaside resort, guessing people’s age, weight and birthdays. “It’s a great conversation starter,” he admits, “and I got paid to heckle people. It let me hone my sarcasm and quick wit. You only made money if you could convince people to spend $3 to win a fifty-cent prize. I had to size up midway walkers quickly and make an educated guess on what button I could push to get a reaction.”  

The experience seems to still serve him in good stead as a director. “I’m like Jason Bourne when I walk into a room,” he says. “I can't help but pick up on bits and pieces of what is going on around me, from conversations to hairstyles. I catalog it away and almost unconsciously fold it into my work. And of course, there’s no better place to do this than the freak show that is Baltimore.  

“What I’m driving is that no matter how unusual a situation may appear, there’s always a base of reality to be found, either in the characters or in the situation itself,” he sums up. “And that’s my favorite style of comedy: one that balances that reality with a dose of the slightly absurd.” 

To view Matt's reel, click here .

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Category: Business and services , Recruitment

Genre: Strategy/Insight