Spin to rep offbeat duo Clyde Henry

A duo known as Clyde Henry Productions has signed a worldwide representation agreement with Toronto's Spin Productions. Spin president and executive producer Connie Dercho says Clyde Henry offers something very different from what folks in the advertising and broadcast design industries...

A duo known as Clyde Henry Productions has signed a worldwide representation agreement with Toronto’s Spin Productions. Spin president and executive producer Connie Dercho says Clyde Henry offers something very different from what folks in the advertising and broadcast design industries are used to.

Clyde Henry, for the record, is not a he, it is a team (like Pink Floyd, for example). A pair of twentysomethings named Maciek Szczerbowski and Chris Lavis make up the company, which specializes in what can be described as filmic art. They bill themselves as filmmakers, animators and collage artists, but the work being done by Clyde Henry is a little more complex than that.

Clyde Henry started out designing puppets and illustrating for a number of different clients. They have a longstanding relationship with Vice Magazine, for which they produce a monthly comic strip called The Untold Tales of Yuri Gagarin. A year ago, says partner Lavis, the two were driving back from Montreal after finishing a series of avant-garde posters for a Quebec-based theatre company, when they agreed it was time to move from still to moving pictures. They signed with Spin in mid-March.

Szczerbowski believes the newly forged partnership with Spin will be advantageous for both parties.

‘Our [affiliation] with Spin could be a very interesting thing because I think we have something to offer that is rare,’ he says. ‘I don’t know anyone else who does what we do here.’

Clyde Henry, through Spin, is already working on a series of ids for ChumCity. Brought to life with a collection of strange props and marionettes, all built from more or less scratch by the pair, the new ids for MuchMusic and Space: The Imagination Station are different from anything either of the specialty channels have offered in recent memory. Using collage techniques including puppetry, stop-motion and even a couple of quick live-action sequences, the bizarreness of the spots, if nothing else, will leave an impression on viewers.

Spin’s Dercho marvels at how Lavis and Szczerbowski can make their art, props and puppets out of virtually anything they find.

‘They have boxes and boxes of literally garbage they found on the street or that people have given them, like doll heads and plastic junk,’ says Dercho. ‘They build sets from respectable items people have thrown out as trash and they are able to create this incredible art from it.’

As an example of this for the discerning viewer, in one of the Space ids Clyde Henry is working on, the spaceship in the spot is actually a made-over bleach jug. For the series of Much station identifiers, Lavis and Szczerbowski created 14 marionettes that dance about, depicting a strange rave scene. The ids will be subtitled in German, French and Japanese.

The rough look of the spots is all part of the Clyde Henry charm, says Lavis.

‘I think one of the differences between Clyde Henry and Spin is that Spin’s work is very slick and perfect, which is something we can never do,’ says Lavis. ‘What we do is a different kind of esthetic, which is rough around the edges and has a certain character that I don’t think has ever been seen at Spin before. I think it is a nice match.’

Despite the loads of equipment and various suites within the walls of Spin, the Clyde Henry chaps insist they will continue making their art their way and will use little in the way of the new technologies Spin can offer to complete the work.

‘What we are excited about is not necessarily using visual tricks and computer animation or special things like that,’ says Szczerbowski, ‘but actually creating objects that have a sort of artificial life which take up space and actually live in three dimensions with shadows, making you believe you are seeing people or real life.’

Szczerbowski and Lavis may be novices to the broadcast design and commercial games, but they admit they are looking forward to taking on both fields.

‘It wasn’t advertising that got us into film and animation originally,’ says Lavis. ‘We wanted to make avant-garde films, and we still do. We also would like to merge avant-garde art and advertising. We are much more turned on by the European style of ads than the Canadian style, which we’d like to throw on its ass.’

Those curious as to the work being done at the Clyde Henry studios in Toronto need only dial up www.clydehenry.com, Szczerbowski’s and Lavis’ recently launched website. There, viewers can take in La Vida Rotten, a short, stop-motion puppetry piece about the final day of Sex Pistols bass player Sid Vicious. It’s bizarre to say the least, but will definitely give one a clear picture of the work Clyde Henry does.

Szczerbowski and Lavis say they will continue with the illustration, art direction and other projects that initially led them to Spin.