Derek Shapton

As the warm season draws to a close, the time has come for many to put their boats away and dust off the snowboards and skates. For others though, especially diehard hunters and fisherman, boating season is still in full effect.

Earlier this summer, Westside Studio’s very own Derek Shapton took another step forward in his motion career with the folks at Saatchi & Saatchi.  He already has four motion spots currently on air and another in post production.  In addition to two commercials for this year’s national United Way campaign (“Possibility” and “Not By Itself”), and a powerful viral video for the Humane Society’s efforts to stop the Yulin festival, Derek also recently directed two very funny and slightly surreal ads with writer Matt Antonello and art director Joel Arbez at Saatchi & Saatchi.  The spots have generated quite a lot of buzz, you’ve probably seen them on StrategyStimulant or Ads Of The World.  Check them out below, as well as some behind the scenes action from the shoot day!

Derek answered a few of our questions about this shoot and about working in motion along with his stills work.

Q: What attracted you to the job?
A:  I’ve worked with Matt in the past and when he sent me the project brief I jumped at the chance; there were a lot of elements in there that still photographers rarely get a chance to tackle when transitioning to motion work.
Q:  What do you mean?
A:  Well, the humour aspect for sure. And of course, the chance to work with real actors delivering actual dialogue as opposed to just stringing together a series of pretty images, which is a more typical ask for someone coming from the photography world. Matt and Joel are extremely smart guys and there were clearly some very strong ideas in the scripts that I really tried to flesh out when writing the treatment. It was a real opportunity to do something that people might not have expected from someone with my background, and I really have to give credit to Saatchi for believing in me.


Derek, Joel and Matt modelling the latest in on-set headgear.  Photo: Jeremy Benning


Framing up the shot for the Froggy spot, camera is an Arri Amira with Cooke mini s4 lenses.  Photo: Jeremy Benning

Q:  What do you like best about directing for TV?
A:  Two things actually; first the writing aspect of it — the treatments are particularly fun — and then, rather unexpectedly, the fact that I’m not actually running the camera or rigging the lighting or any of that! As a photographer I’m used to being very hands-on with that stuff but much to my surprise I’ve found it very liberating, it really frees me up to concentrate on actor performances and deal with the nuances and subtleties of the script. Of course it also helps to have a great crew and I was really fortunate on this job. I was able to work with some really talented people, in particular my producers at OPC, our amazing DOP Jeremy Benning, our brilliant editor Brian Wells, and Andrew Exworth and Michael Medeiros at The Vanity, who handled the transfer and online.
Q:  What was most challenging about the project?
A:  The weather was brutal — really hot and relentlessly sunny and of course there’s no shade to speak of when out on the water for hours and hours.  Also the shooting schedule was pretty crazy, but we managed to get everything we needed in the brief time we had! Again I really have to credit the crew and in particular my line producer Ian Webb (who also wore the production manager and 1st AD hats too) for that.


Writer Matt Antonello and some random photobomb guy


The requisite agency creative team thumbs-up selfie

Q:  Where do you go from here?
A:  I’m still shooting quite a bit of print stuff of course, and have just wrapped another TV spot, it’s in postproduction right now.  I’d love to take on some more!  I’m particularly keen on looking at other idea and dialogue-driven humour type projects.  I’m really looking forward to working with actors again!

Brand: Canadian Safe Boating Council
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi Canada
Executive Creative Director: Brian Sheppard
Group Creative Director : Matt Antonello
Group Creative Director: Joel Arbez
Writer: Matt Antonello, Cory Hansen
Art Director: Joel Arbez
Head of Production: Michelle Orlando
Director: Derek Shapton
DOP: Jeremy Benning Sesler
Editor: Brian Wells, School Music & Sound
Design: Boombox Sound
Colourist: Andrew Exworth, The Vanity
Online: Michael Medeiros, The Vanity
Production House: OPC
Producer: Ian Webb
Exec. Producers: Harland Weiss, Donovan Boden


    “Have you ever eaten dog?”

    If your response to that question was something like “what?! no?!”, “is that a joke?” or “….” then Derek Shapton’s new work for Humane Society International will alert you to a horrible fact.  The Yulin festival happens this weekend in China where in previous years, thousands of dogs have been killed and eaten.  These images and motion spot both speak for themselves and in partnership with great creative vision by Paul Bonsell, they send a very strong and clear message.  If you are an animal lover, prepare yourself.


    Yes, that is our very own #WestsideWoofs star, Jimmy!


    “The print ads were fun to shoot but pretty straightforward… as for the commercial, I’m finding that in motion work, as with almost everything else in life, getting out of the way of a good idea and letting it speak for itself is both the hardest and most rewarding approach.  We had other edits with multiple cuts and closeups and so on but ended up settling on a single-shot version, it seemed to best serve the script.” -Derek Shapton 

    Check out the motion spot that Derek directed below, make sure to share it as donations can only rise the more people see the link.





    If you want to help stop this festival that takes place this weekend- please click here to donate or here to sign the petition.

    Client: Humane Society International
    Creative Agency: Grassriots
    Creative Director/Art Director/Writer: Paul Bonsell
    Film Production Company: OPC
    Director/Photography: Derek Shapton
    DOP (motion):  Kris Belchevski
    Editor: Izzy Ehrlich, Rooster
    Transfer: Roslyn Di Sisto, Smith
    Online: Ernie Mordak, Fort York VFX
    Audio: Julian Rudd, Vapor Music
    Dogs: Christine Ford and David Smith


      Not sure what it might be like where you are, but here in Toronto we are in the middle of a serious cold snap.  Over night temperatures have recently sunk well past minus 20 degrees Celsius.  Prolonged exposure can be deadly.

      The homeless in particular are in tremendous danger at this time of year, which is why when Derek Shapton and Frank Hoedl were recently approached to work on a campaign for Project Winter Survival, they did not hesitate.



      From Derek’s blog: “Frank and I shot two print ads together, an exciting collaborative process that made for a rather unusual workflow. I scouted and sourced the locations, we co-piloted the cameras and co-directed the talent, and Frank applied his post-production magic to the final retouching. Frank has long been one of my favourite photographers and it was great to be able to work so closely with him. The final results are outstanding, and in fact won an Applied Arts Award in the Public Service category back in November.” 


      Frank lying down on the job

      Processed with VSCOcam

      Assistant Rebecca Leach sourcing some props


      Derek in ninja-mode while framing a shot

      “One of the setups also seemed to have some solid potential as a compelling little motion piece, and with the blessing of the creative team at Cundari, we gave it a go. We enlisted the help of Mike Rybinski at Spot Cinema and once the print ads were finished, shot a quick spec spot that turned out surprisingly well.”   See the final result below and visit Derek’s blog to find out more.

      Agency: Cundari
      Creative Director: Andrew Simon
      Art Director: Jason Lee
      Writer: Francesco Grandi
      Assistant: Rebecca Leach
      Motion Camera: Mike Rybinski
      Motion Post Production: Spot Cinema


        Derek Shapton Envisions “Possibility” for United Way

        by Alex Beetham on December 19, 2014

        What you are about to witness, was created with only still images from Derek Shapton, and post production magic from one incredibly talented Joe Fellows.  Observe:

        I’ll answer your question before you ask.  That gorgeous technique you just witnessed is named the “Parallax Technique,” from Make Productions. Mr. Shapton explains:

        “In essence, and without giving too much away, the Parallax method is a way of using various digital transforms, effects, and animations to breathe light, life, and a sense of depth into a series of still photographs.”

        For more insight into the day, and to learn more about the Parallax technique, Derek has assembled some words up on his blog.  Here’s who had a hand in creating this piece:

        Client:  United Way
        Agency:  TAXI
        C0-Director / DOP:  Derek Shapton
        Co-Director / Post Production: Joe Fellows / Make Productions
        Producer:  Phaedra Kennedy
        Creative Director: Steve Mykolyn
        Copywriter: Jake Bogoch
        Art Director:  Yuko Brown
        Broadcast Producer: Nicole Poon
        Print Production Director: Sharon Govang
        Stylist:  Cheryl Thompson
        Assistants:  Jon Brown, Gabe Nivera, Peter Olson
        Production Company: Westside Studio

        A few looks into the shoot days snapped by producer Phaedra:


        Gabe with flawless typing form on the left, and the ol’ location laptop huddle on the right.


        Derek capturing hoop angle variations.


        Shoot essentials: Good coffee, Sugar. Shoot Bonuses: Working lunch patio pints & beers.


        Derek caught this moment between shots. A trio of assistants, and one post production magician.

        And while we’re on the topic of Derek Shapton, are you acquainted with his alter-ego Thunder_Pino?  I’d suggest you give him a follow.  Here are a few of his observations from the scout & shoot days:

        Thunder_Pino_Assembled“Possibility” Video © Derek Shapton
        BTS Images © Phaedra Kennedy & Derek Shapton
        Thunder_Pino © Derek Shapton

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          by Westside on June 7, 2013

          MAward2-300x195-300x184If you’re anything like us, you like to unwind from putting in hard work with a bit of hard play – and last Thursday night at The 2013 Marketing Awards – we did just that. It’s been a long week of recovery, but we’re finally ready to revisit the spectacular evening with some shout outs to our agency friends who helped a few Westsiders bring home some hardware.

          We’ll kick things off with Chris Gordaneer and BBDO Toronto‘s MerCow, which brilliantly highlighted the GE Profile Double Oven Range’s ability to cook two meals at one time!


          Next up is a great campaign from Matt Barnes and john st. for Wiser’s Small Batch whiskey. For more info and a full list of who was behind this simple genius, give a click on over to THE PASSING SHOT for more from Matt.

          © Matt Barnes

          © Matt Barnes

          Now it’s time we send a big Westside hug to DDB Canada‘s Vancouver and Toronto offices for their work with Frank Hoedl on campaigns for both BC Hydro and Toronto Crime Stoppers (shown respectively).

          © Frank Hoedl

          © Frank Hoedl

          © Frank Hoedl

          Rounding the bend of this years awarded works is Anthony Redpath and DARE Vancouver‘s GiveSpace campaign, which in addition to it’s listed winnings below, took home SILVER for PUBLIC SERVICE – PRESS/ OUT-OF-HOME: CAMPAIGN!

          © Anthony Redpath

          © Anthony Redpath

          Closing out our re-cap of the evenings events with Derek Shapton and TAXI 2‘s Castor Gigashelf. Having successfully transitioned the worlds largest photograph (of a shelf) into a imaginative and unique website interface, the team behind the work is most definitely deserving of their Gold M!


          A HUGE thanks to everyone involved in the aforementioned works from all of us at the Studio, because without you, we’d have no excuse for our overindulgences ;D. Have a great weekend everyone!



            by Westside on May 7, 2013

            cover-smallThere’s a plethora of visual delights packed into the 162 pages of this years Applied Arts Photography & Illustration Awards issue, and selected works aside, that ChorusArt Silk 80lb paper combined with Mi5′s UV Pro-Brite printing process sure is a sexy sight. But enough about pretty paper, time to get into them pages, where a good showing from a number of Westsiders is what you’ll find.

            Kicking off with Chris Gordaneer, who received top marks in two categories this year with his Trials motorcycle series, as well as some unseen panoramics from his most recent trip to Africa.


            © Chris Gordaneer

            For more from his time in Africa go check out the PERSONAL section of!

            Following in Chris’ creative lead is Mr. Tyler Gray, whose fantastic images On The Run and Luke were awarded as both self promotion and unpublished works. Be sure to click the images and get the full story from Tyler.



            Next up is our newcomer to the Westside team, Anthony Redpath! While we haven’t had a chance to talk about the project, Anthony’s work with DARE Vancouver for BC Children’s Hospital is definitely deserving of it’s multiple awards.

            © Anthony Redpath

            Rounding the bend of our winners is Derek Shapton, who’s unique looking corporate portraits and innovative self promotion found themselves in the high praises of the Applied Arts Judges.



            The subsequent images come from two of our favorite campaigns shot by George Simhoni this past year. With their sticky situations and beautiful scenery (respectively), George’s work for UR Immunization and Freedom 55 Financial are great examples of his ability to paint a photograph.

            © George Simhoni


            Closing out our list of this years awarded photographers is product master Shanghoon, whose work with GREY Canada for The Salvation Army was a big success durring the 2012 Red Kettle Drive.

            © Shanghoon

            A huge round of high fives to all our winners and those who helped with the awarded works; and an additional thank-ya to the folks at Applied Arts for not only appreciating the fine images of our photographers, but for printing their stuff on that oh-so-sexy paper!

            **Side Note** Check out Matt Barnes sneaking his way onto the rear cover!
            All Images © Respective Photographers


              TGIW | CuSO4_5H2O

              by Westside on October 24, 2012

              It’s no secret that the boys over at Castor Design manufacture some amazing furnishings. Nor is it a secret that said boys are good buds with Mr. Derek Shapton, and given the opportunity to collaborate on a project, both sides dive in head first.

              For their latest endeavor, Castor was commissioned to create a custom lighting installation for the Bell Blue Room at Toronto’s TIFF Lightbox. They came up with the idea of growing copper sulphate crystals on a set of chandeliers, at which point they approached Derek to collaborate on a short film to accompany the installation. More details from Derek himself after the 1080p optimized film (so if you got the speed, full screen that sucker in glorious HD).

              Working with the Advanced Optical Microscopy Facility at the University Health Network, I shot a time-lapse of copper sulphate crystals growing in solution with an Olympus BX51 microscope using polarized light illumination and Olympus uPlan FL 4x and 10x objectives. Post production was handled by Mark and Mike from Spot Cinema, with sound design by D. Burke Mahoney.

              The installation and film will have their public début this Thursday night in the Blue Room, where it will be running for a year on a big monitor behind the bar. ~ DS

              If you’re interested in taking a more detailed look at one of the stills from Derek’s video, give the following still a click, then scroll on down to get a closer peek at Castor Design‘s copper sulphate crystal covered chandeliers.

              Video & Still © Derek Shapton
              Images © Castor Design

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                NEWS | ONE MAN, 234 BIRDS, & A PAINFUL OBSESSION

                by Westside on October 22, 2012

                Long time friends of the Blog may recall a tattooed Associate Creative Director who’s really into Birding and was on a 365 day quest to not only see as many different species of bird as possible, but also to document the entire process of his big year. An already hefty undertaking for a Associate Creative Director at a major advertising firm, our bird loving Gilgamesh then pushed his project to the limit, deciding to permanently inscribe the binomial name of each found species on himself when the year was complete. Ladies and Gents, please reacquaint yourselves with Mr. Paul Riss.

                Throughout his journey, Paul was fortunate to have the support of many different people willing to follow him into the wilderness in search of another tattoo. Bringing a Westside presence to the project, both Chris Gordaneer and Derek Shapton found themselves in Paul’s tow, behind the lens of what will become PUNK ROCK BIG YEAR.

                While time has run out on Paul’s ‘big year’, the work on PRBY is far from finished. Now entering the post-production phase, Paul and producer Marie-Pierre Toure are in the process of putting together his dream of getting,

                … a younger generation to understand that there are birders out there just like them and they should check out this most incredible pastime. Also, to make people aware of how fragile and important birds are to our natural environment.

                In an effort to keep his real world children’s college funds in tact, Mr. Riss has started a IndieGoGo campaign in hopes of garnering further support for his unfinished baby. There are some awesome donation perks availible, ranging from a digital pat on the back ($10), to a physical copy of the completed film ($50), all the way up to being able to tattoo your name or brand on Paul ($5,000 – no joke!).

                So whether your a Birder, an independent film fan, or just enjoy Paul’s work, if you got an extra buck why not get yourself a digital pat on the back, you’ll sleep better at night knowing you helped a man fulfill his dream.

                Just in case the above links weren’t obvious, CLICK HERE to check out the other perks offered on the PUNK ROCK BIG YEAR Indiegogo page.

                Images © George Simhoni, Paul Riss, & Chris Gordaneer Respectively


                  NEWS | THREE LUCK-Y BOYS

                  by Westside on October 15, 2012

                  The 2012 Advertising & Interactive Awards Annual from Applied Arts has been sitting on my desk for a couple days now and so what better way to kick off the week than with some NEWS!

                  Three Westsiders found themselves within the pages of this years annual, all thanks to awesome clients, fabulous agencies, and some really fun projects.

                  Don’t forget you can click on any of the images below to get the full low-down on the work. Now lets open ‘er up and find out who’s rounding out this trifecta.

                  First up is Chris Gordaneer and BBDO Toronto’s infamous Mer-Cow and Pig Family for GE Profile Ovens. The Mer-Cow snagged some recognition in the Young Blood Advertising category for Single Print, as well for Point-of-Purchase/In-Store Ad or Promotion (Single). Chris’ family of pigs found some love as well with hugs in Point-of-Purchase/In-Store Ad or Promotion (Series).

                  HUGE shout outs to Art Directors Mike Donaghey and Jonathan Guy, who’s work with Chris received top marks for Art Direction (Series).

                  Next in the annual is Andrew B. MyersRemember image. Shot with DDB for Historica-Dominion, the Remembrance Day campaign was awarded several times including: Newspaper (Single), Public Service/Charity (Single), and Experiential/Event (Single).

                  We close this years Advertising Annual with a visit to Planet Shapton – home to a man by the name of Derek – who found two enormous projects awarded in various categories. His Keep Exploring campaign with DDB Vancouver for Canada Tourism was recognized for Complete Advertising Program (Complete) under the Broadcast TV section, and for Online Campaign in the Interactive section.

                  Keeping us in the Interactive section is Derek and Taxi 2′s Gigashelf. If you haven’t seen the work before you should definitely click through and check it out because it was surely deserving of love from both the Consumer Products and Mobile Apps categories.

                  A big congrats to all the teams at BBDO, DDB, and Taxi 2 on their awarded works, and word to all our winning photographers mothers (we, like they, are very proud of them on their achievements).
                  All Images © Respective Photographers


                    Looking for some fun and interesting photo related activities to partake in this weekend? Well boy howdy do we got something right up your alley, as this Saturday Derek Shapton will be over at Pikto Gallery making his debut as Professor Portrait. The Pikto site sums up the senario quite nicely so let’s take a quick read and then we’ll meet with The Professor.

                    Drawing on his many years of experience, Derek Shapton will lead students through the challenges of environmental portraiture. This hands on workshop will explore available lighting techniques in indoor and outdoor locations. Shapton will discuss all aspects of creating the shot, including connecting with the subject and finding interesting and relevant locations within the parameters of specific assignments.

                    Why did you choose to lead a workshop?

                    I resolved this year to say YES to as many new opportunities as I could, and the workshop invitation came along so I thought I’d give it a try.

                    Are you excited about taking on the role of teacher?

                    Yes, but also a little nervous. I’ve never done this before, but I think I have some good ideas for the workshop & am looking forward to getting started!

                    Any advice for those who cant make it to the seminar?

                    Everything is a light source. Also, the world is your tripod!

                    There’s still a few spots open for tomorrow’s class, so if you’re interested in a fantastic opportunity to hone your portraiture skills be sure to click through to the Pikto site for all the details and registration. CLICK.
                    All Images © Derek Shapton