IRE: Origins

Posted: October 12, 2009 in 1
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Back in 1998 in New York, I had an idea for a film called “Faction,” about an underground spy network entrusted with keeping tabs on the rest of the intelligence community. It was also when the internet was still in its big bang phase, and startups were popping up everywhere like mushrooms. Tony Verderosa, who did the soundtrack for what the film finally became (another project called “Burnout“), was the first to record a track over the internet, working with Sinead O’Connor and Thomas Dolby. We discussed the possibility of making the story interactive, yet too little experience with would-be investors clouded our approach. The idea was still in mind, however.

In 2001 I left the rat race to teach English in China, a “vacation job,” to give me some time and space for a more clear approach next time. I reinvented myself, shooting another short film in my first 3 months there, which got me hired to be the advertising department of a US-Chinese corporate training joint venture, which got me into Beijing, and introduced to an editor for Cosmopolitan Magazine. I then ended up shooting “Asia’s Michael Jackson” with a Hasselblad for a 6-page spread, then as editor for a Starbucks magazine, then producing and shooting a nationwide multimedia campaign for Olay, then producing and shooting a 5-day shoot for a regional (5-country) campaign for IBM with Ogilvy in Sydney, and then hired by Getty for more international clients like Epson and Shell Oil… between that came more shooting for other clients, from upscale hair salons to a German magazine, model testing, private clients… all while getting a front row seat to history in the world’s fastest-growing economy and new cultural revolution.

Finally my idea resurfaced, and I ran it by Scott Mollan, very likely Asia’s most brilliant creative director. He caught on rather quickly, about the same time as I was shopping it to China Venture Labs for development. Scott gave IRE its name, and slashed away all the fog around the idea, leaving only a clear definition of IRE which anyone in the ad industry could understand. It’s value was clear: for less than the cost of a single tv spot, it is now possible to create multiple times the impact with an entire season of IRE programming.

Finally I hunkered down and wrote “Trace,” designed to be IRE’s first demonstration and proof of concept.



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