A turbulent year

for Radke Films...

for Radke Films

For the first time in almost five years, the commercial industry bounced back to levels of activity reminiscent of the halcyon days of the ’80s. The question on everyone’s mind now is whether the burst of full-slate activity will be short-lived or if it signifies a return to a state of health.

Started in a partnership with The Partners’ Film Company two and a half years ago, Radke Films has become a major player in the commercial production industry. With a huge spectrum of clients throughout North America, the Toronto-based company is also the Canadian representative of Satellite and Propaganda Films in the u.s.

For Radke Films, 1994 has been a turbulent year. Tina Petridis, an executive producer at Radke, shares some of her views about the past months.

On May 12, the man responsible for Radke’s initial success died suddenly of a brain aneurysm. As many people in the advertising and commercial production community will attest, Richard Radke was a well-respected friend and a highly talented director. At the age of 41, he was at the height of his career; in 1993 he totaled close to 100 shoot days for clients in both Canada and the u.s.

The industry felt a huge sense of loss at his passing, but the death was especially hard on those who worked with him.

Says Petridis: ‘Because of the way the company is structured, we’re all very much a family. An important part of the mandate Richard built this company on was teamwork.’

She admits everyone had concerns about where the company was headed, but Partners’, and its parent Labatt Brewing, felt differently. ‘There was no question in their mind that the company would move forward.’

It was decided that Petridis, general manager Edie Weiss, and executive producer Ron Grittiani would be made the three key members of Radke Films.

‘In the first few months after Richard’s death we had to work really hard to make sure that people out there knew that Radke Films was still doing well and was going to move onwards,’ says Petridis.

Work hard they did: the company embarked on the most productive summer in its history, shooting 85 days between May and September.

Major projects included the entire Chrysler and Toyota campaigns, the Hyundai Accent spots, Unitel, Bell Canada and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. They also filmed an aids psa, which Petridis assures is some of their best work to date.

As a result of the amount of business the company has taken on, Radke has had to hire a lot more freelance help within the office, and directors who were once considered secondary to Richard Radke have been able to make their mark.

Since its creation, Radke Films has operated on a director-driven/sales-oriented basis. Although this is a style more common in American production houses, Petridis feels this directive is a major contributor to the success of the company.

According to Petridis, this new prosperity has also created some new opportunities. ‘There’s been a really nice wave of new directors that are starting out, and I would call this a real growth process for the company.’

There are, however, challenges ahead. ‘Budgets from the agency side tend to get smaller and smaller and their ideas remain the same or are bigger and bigger.’

Petridis also sees the changing face of advertising possibly having an effect on productions, and cites infomercials as an example. ‘Although infomercials are low-quality, they are making their mark within the market and that has to be considered. Thirty-second spots could end up turning into a longer format. You have to modify your company in order to meet the demands of the client.’

Future permutations aside, Radke Films managed to overcome the worst conceivable tragedy with the strong mandate of its founder intact. Says Petridis: ‘That was the vision Richard had and that vision works.’