Posts tagged Merman
Merman Welcomes Director Nicole Ackermann

Merman celebrates the addition of director Nicole Ackermann, who joins the company’s multi-faceted roster of filmmakers working across the spectrum of advertising and entertainment. Nicole is a passionate, detail obsessed storyteller who blends visual style with a strong intuitive approach to performance. 

“It is rare to find a director with a strong visual aesthetic who has an equally strong conceptual point of view,” says Kira Carstensen, Global Managing Partner of Merman. “Nicole’s film is gorgeous. But every beautiful shot is in service to the story and emotional arc. We are excited to bring her unique storytelling skills to advertising and entertainment projects here at Merman.”

“I am super excited to be joining the Merman family,” Nicole relays. “It’s an honor to be part of a company with such great vision and high levels of creativity and craftsmanship.”

Nicole’s directing career kicked off with writing and directing theatre, unearthing her drive to create beautiful, emotional narratives first for the stage, then for screens. Inspired by a burgeoning interest in cinema, she went on to study film at Wits University in Johannesburg and completed her studies through a scholarship program at Tisch, NYU. She immersed herself in the world of advertising through years of creative research and a stint at TBWA/Hunt/Lascaris before directing commercials. 

She commenced her directing career in the duo PHI, gaining a plethora of knowledge from the partnership before embarking on a solo career. Since working independently, she has collaborated with an impressive list of national and international clients including PSG, Singapore Airlines, Samsung, Nestle, McDonald’s, and KFC. To view select works, visit

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Merman Makes Mermade: Execs from Maker Studios/Disney and Channel4 join new digital content company
Pictured from left: Jeremy Rainbird, Kira Carstensen, Sharon Horgan, Clelia Mountford

Pictured from left: Jeremy Rainbird, Kira Carstensen, Sharon Horgan, Clelia Mountford

Merman, the production company founded and run by award-winning duo Sharon Horgan and Clelia Mountford has today announced Mermade, the brand new digitally focused arm of the expanding business. Mermade will specialize in the creation of non-broadcast content of all shapes and sizes, funded by and for social and streaming platforms, brands and publishers, with a particular focus on short-form episodic.

Mermade gives creators control over their output, fostering new and original voices with subject matter that is not bound to convention,” explains Horgan. “The digital space allows us to create a format that fits the idea, instead of creating an idea to fit the format. The idea comes first. It’s about working with diverse creators and blurring the lines between TV, film and branded entertainment. It’s very exciting for us.”

The development of Mermade follows the 2017 expansion of Merman into LA and NY, and the launch of its branded entertainment and advertising division in both the US and UK. Merman Global Managing Partners Jeremy Rainbird in London and Kira Carstensen in Los Angeles will run Mermade, alongside Sharon Horgan and Clelia Mountford.


“Mermade is very much an extension of Merman,” comments Carstensen. “We make scripted and non-scripted premium short form episodic entertainment, brand-funded and beyond, for audiences who consume their content online and who are attracted to the truthful and irreverent shows they have come to expect from the Merman brand.”

The board of Mermade in the US and UK is bolstered by the addition of non-executive Directors Rene Rechtman and Dan’l Hewitt, both formerly of Maker Studios/Disney.

In the UK, former Channel 4 and All4 commissioning editor Joshua Buckingham has joined as UK Managing Director:

“We are already working with an electric mix of writers, performers and directors and with them we want to embrace the way audiences actually consume content and innovate storytelling accordingly.” added Buckingham.

The Development Director USA is Melanie Donkers, who joins the Mermade USA team from Pulse Films and Fullscreen where she was in Digital Development.

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The Power Is In Your Hands: Merman & Director Brad Turner Unite with Ogilvy on IBM Mobile’s Interactive Film “Outage”

Turner, Director of 24, Homeland & Designated Survivor, Helms Take-Action Experience            

Mobile technology’s impact on humanity comes to life in IBM Mobile’s “Outage” an interactive thriller created in partnership with Merman and directed by Brad Turner for agency Ogilvy. Director of Homeland, 24, and Designated Survivor, Turner applies his talent for high intensity narratives and passion for innovation in this one of a kind interactive film which premiered at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and can be experienced here:

“Working alongside Ogilvy, we helped concept and execute the script using an episodic television approach. We shot the interactive film over two days in Vancouver, employing an experienced TV crew and one of the world’s most accomplished and respected directors of action thrillers, Brad Turner,” says Kira Carstensen, Global Managing Partner of Merman, a studio working in all areas of entertainment, from award-winning TV and film to the next generation of branded entertainment. “Ogilvy was an incredible partner in developing a unique user experience that is a reflection of their visionary client, IBM Mobile, and the technology they create.”

“You could say that action is my specialty,” comments Turner. “I’ve also been intrigued by how quickly our world is changing through technologies like AI and mobile. So when Merman and Ogilvy approached me to create a film for IBM Mobile solutions, I was extremely excited. For years in television and film we’ve dreamed up technology to further storytelling and help our heroes save the day, so the idea that you can actually DO these unbelievable things now with AI – like analyze thousands of manuals within seconds while running – is really incredible.”  

In the film, an engineer faces a citywide blackout on her first day on the job. It’s a massive storm, with equally massive impact where mobile technology plays a critical role to saving lives and fixing the crisis. Viewers are able to explore different aspects of the dramatic story in an interactive “take action” format, which puts them in the driver’s seat to create their own film based on decisions made along the way.  Seven films are woven together to uncover the full story, allowing for multiple experiences. The apps and action may be simulated, but the capabilities are real.

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Merman Welcomes Director Paul Briganti, Known For SNL shorts, Late Late Show with James Corden and C

Merman is excited to announce the addition of Paul Briganti to their directing roster. Paul Briganti is a comedy television, film, and commercial director in Los Angeles whose filmed pieces for Saturday Night Live include Melissa McCarthy’s musical transformation into Sean Spicer and Totino’s parody spot starring Kristen Stewart.

“Paul is a director whose film is driven by concept, and where his astute observations of pop culture and brand allow him to craft films that capture specific visual genres for great comedic effect,” comments Merman Global Managing Partner/EP Kira Carstensen. “Paul is a multifaceted talent – he writes, directs, and has been in

Paul has directed and produced several comedy TV pilots: Adam Ruins Everything (TruTV), Imaginary Friend (NBC), Pick Me Up (MTV), and Middle Of The Night Show (MTV). He's directed episodes of those shows, as well as an episode for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (CW).  His award winning short films have premiered at many festivals, including South By Southwest, Clermont-Ferrand in France, LA Comedy Fest, and Palm Springs Shortfest. His debut feature film, "Village People,” shot last March in Nicaragua will be released next year.  He has also made films for Comedy Central, CollegeHumor, The Late Late Show With James Corden, Funny Or Die, The Onion, and more. Paul played Ryan in the movie "Obvious Child,” and was in a few comedy groups, including UCB's Onassis and Bleak! Comedy.

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Merman Launches Branded Entertainment Division

Merman dives deep into the advertising industry with the launch of a division focused on crafting entertaining, brand-supported content. The company, founded by Sharon Horgan, the co-creator and star of the multi-award winning comedy series “Catastrophe,” and the woman behind Sarah Jessica Parker’s “Divorce” on HBO and her award-winning producer partner Clelia Mountford, has opened offices in Los Angeles, London and New York and features a family of award-winning writers and directors.

Merman is led by US-based Global Managing Partner, Kira Carstensen, who brings a wealth of advertising experience to this unique enterprise, which she and Horgan incubated, alongside Jeremy Rainbird -- an advertising & production industry veteran -- while Carstensen was at Pulse. The advertising division will work alongside and cross-pollinate its globally recognized and accoladed narrative film and television division run by Mountford, tapping the brain-trust and talent of founder Horgan, along with the likes of David Cross, Rob Delaney, Chris O’Dowd, Heather Graham, British comedian Morgana Robinson, and Jack McBrayer to name but a few, for projects with agencies and clients.

The company’s directing talent features Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmaker Lucy Walker, rising Brazilian star Mariana Youssef, the widely respected MJ Delaney and one of the busiest comedy directors in the UK Peter Lydon. In the UK, Merman is led by EP/Partner Dan Dickenson, formerly of Partizan, and Business Development Director, Siobhan Murphy, who moved over from Moxie. In addition to Merman’s roster of talent, they will exclusively represent the directors signed to Superprime in the UK, including Martin Scorsese, Paul Thomas Anderson, Terence Malick, David Lachapelle and Damian ‘La La Land’ Chazelle.

A majority woman owned and operated company, Merman is proud to have four female directors on its growing roster. Diversity of experience is also key to Merman’s talent offering, where multidisciplinary teams are united to develop and execute projects - from web series to short films and commercial campaigns - hand-in-hand with the brand stewards and creatives at agencies.

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