Matt Smukler is the latest addition to Rakish’s purposefully curated and well-balanced roster, where nothing and no one is arbitrary. Since opening its doors in Los Angeles in early 2019, Rakish has remained true to its vision as an artist-driven live-action production studio.
“Matt’s unquestionable pedigree was a huge factor in our desire to add him to our cultivated roster,” states Rakish co-founder and executive producer Brad Johns. “Perhaps more importantly, however, he’s a decent and thoughtful human being. His capacity for listening and his patience define his disposition on set, and in life, and that matters to us at Rakish. Matt’s dedication and character are world-class.”
On being introduced to Brad and fellow co-founder/EP Preston Garrett, Matt recalls: “It became clear very quickly that we share the same passion for storytelling and arresting imagery, and have a similar vision for our business and the future of advertising.”
He continues: “Most of all, I’m drawn to Preston and Brad’s unabashed vision for the company. They have a strong visual purpose that is already forging them a sterling reputation as an emerging new production house. I want to be a part of the culture they’re creating.”
Los Angeles-born and bred, Matt has been directing commercials and films for almost two decades. His work is characterised by a timelessness and impeccable truthfulness, both charming and resonant. Known for his spot-on casting and ease working with actors, Matt’s ability to draw sincere performances and weave a story with or without the use of dialogue illustrates his deft command of the craft.
A former agency creative, Matt fuses this insider perspective with an innate talent for naturalistic storytelling. He has helmed award-winning ads for brands such as Nike, Toyota, Coca-Cola, the NFL, Microsoft, Budweiser, Reebok, MTV, 20th Century Fox, AT&T, Absolut, and McDonald’s, to name a few. Matt’s Duck spot for IAMS, which weaves the tale of a boy’s life-long bond with his dog, earned him a 2016 AICP nomination for Best Direction.
Matt’s first feature documentary Wildflower is now in post-production. The film follows an 18-year-old track and field star as she juggles her endeavors in school with the challenge of supporting her mentally disabled parents. He spent five full years following the wildly endearing and eccentric family. Matt is also in pre-production on a feature narrative entitled Prince of Lost Places, based on the book by the same name.
“Our ethos as a company is that ads and films shouldn’t just be made to be seen and heard, they’re meant to be felt,” explains Brad. “That breaking-through is undeniable within Matt’s work. He knows how to create genuinely cinematic and magical moments. We’re excited to be a part of the next evolution of Matt’s artistry.”
Rakish is all about pushing forward. The EPs are unusually candid in articulating their vision for the next phase of Matt’s career: “We’re challenging Matt to take his advertising experience and take risks. By channeling his innate passion and skill into fresh and unexpected avenues, we’re confident that we’ll be able to achieve brilliant outcomes.”