Director Brett Froomer is cooking up something new, and the recipe sounds scrumptious. He’s taking the discerning eye and narrative chops of a seasoned photographer, director and DP, liberally sprinkling in a gourmand’s familiarity with all things food-related, and blending it with the knowledge and insight of Ivo Knezevic, a veteran ad agency executive producer. Voila: He presents French Butter Films. The new company, with offices in L.A. and Chicago, opens with an expertise in food, beverage and restaurant brands.
French Butter Films
launches with Froomer as its sole director, but both he and Knezevic say the company plans to add to its roster as they grow the brand. The pair have been working together since the start of the year, producing work under the Froomer Pictures banner.
Knezevic is best known for his 17-year tenure at the Chicago office of FCB. A Wisconsin native, he’s also worked at Leo Burnett and has extensive experience with food and restaurant accounts, most notably KFC and McDonald’s. During his agency years he’s shot with just about every tabletop director in the business.
The launch of French Butter Films represents a coming together of Froomer’s lifelong passions for image making, storytelling and food. Born and raised in Los Angeles, he got his start as a photographer, shooting a range of advertising and editorial projects that focused on travel, leisure and lifestyle content. Coaxed into the film business by the legendary executive producer Frank Stiefel, he was on the Stiefel Films roster when that company was absorbed by Radical Media.
From there he built an impressive reel as a lifestyle director and DP, but the lure of shooting food was never far away. He grew up in a food-centered household, acting as junior sous chef for his mom, who herself had cooked alongside some of the most lauded chefs of the ‘80s and ‘90s.
Since transitioning into the tabletop genre he’s directed spots for such brands as Taco Bell, Arby’s, Post Cereals and Walmart, along with work recently for Buffalo Wild Wings and HOME CHEF.
“Everything I’ve learned in my career, coming from photography to working as a director and cinematographer, I’m applying to the culinary arts,” says Froomer of the French Butter Films ethos. “All of what we’re doing here comes from having a fresh perspective on food.
“We’re going to be capturing a sense of what I call ‘cravability’ in our work,” he continues. “What you’ll see is more than just hyper-stylized ‘pretty’ food. This is food that’ll look real, authentic and accessible. I want people to see why the dish they’re looking at calls to them, what makes them crave it. That’s what interests me.”
For Froomer, what drew him to capturing people on film is what appeals about the tabletop genre. “Food to me is a journey, and I’ve been all around the world,” he adds. “It’s like music is to others; I define myself through food, and it’s a natural extension of what I do when working with people.” A strong emphasis on hospitality – on sharing and savoring the experience of both cooking and dining – is a key part of Froomer’s home life, and will shape how he and Knezevic intend to build French Butter Films.
Indeed, French Butter’s secret sauce starts with the combination of Froomer and Knezevic themselves; smart, affable and well-liked, the two were introduced and instantly connected. Each offers an opportunity to learn from the other, Froomer says.
“Joining with Ivo provides a great complement to what I do,” the director says. “He has deep roots in the ad community, and thorough knowledge of the food industry from his years on the agency side. He brings an important perspective to our work.”
“Everyone I know who’s worked with Brett speaks highly of him,” says Knezevic about Froomer. “I admire his passion and energy, and he’s so committed to what he’s doing. He’s approachable, collaborative, authentic and easy to work with. We have open and honest conversations about projects, and both value what the other brings to that dialogue.”
Knezevic says both are ready to explore just what they can do for clients at their new roost, too. “We’re working in this smaller, more intimate setting, where there are less layers between us, the work and our clients, and that presents tremendous opportunities,” he observes. “What impresses me the most about Brett is that he’s always working, always experimenting with new ideas and techniques. It’s not just about building a reel, it’s about building a company with its own perspective and its own set of values.”
Speaking of taste and values, the choice of the new company’s name gives clients a hint of what’s to come. Its logo is the silhouette of a ramekin and a butter knife, conjuring up images of an afternoon repast in Provence.
“Real French butter, served in a small dish with a wax cover that bears the name of the dairy where it came from, is always rich, complex in flavor and premium,” Froomer says. “It’s a big step up from just plain old bread and butter. I want people who see our branding to know that we’re deliciously good at what we do.”