Nick Childs, ‘90, Executive Creative Director and Independent Filmmaker

Nick ChildsAs a writer, director and story-builder, Nick Childs is one of the creative powerhouses behind many award-winning and well-known ad campaigns and films.

In the branded world, Nick is an Executive Creative Director of Content Development at Fleishman Hillard, the second largest communications agency worldwide. At Fleishman, Nick creates ideas that can be shared across multiple platforms -- TV, social media, print, event launch -- for clients to build their brand stories with audiences.  It is in this "transmedia" world, by going beyond the confines of the thirty second TV time slot, that Nick sees the greatest creative opportunity.

Previously, Nick oversaw creative production at the New York headquarters of Grey Global Group, a worldwide marketing agency. Nick helped build Grey’s powerful production capabilities, a job he says let him push himself as a director, creative executive, producer, and writer, instead of simply being pigeon-holed into a single discipline. Early at Grey, he helped forge better campaigns for existing clients and won the E*Trade account -- the first client in a streak that continued with brands like the NFL, Ketel One and DirecTV. Nick helped create and produce Grey’s notable E*Trade“Baby” commercials -- a campaign that debuted during the 2008 Super Bowl and won multiple awards for best ad of the year -- and expanded his brand work with the Febreeze “Breathe Happy” campaign.

Nick also oversaw the collaborative, online film project "The Story Beyond the Still” for Canon. Working with Pulitzer-prize winning photographer Vincent Laforet, they created the first chapter of a story that ended on a still image and asked the audience to pick up their own cameras and continue the tale. The initial short set the stage for six more chapters which, when stitched together, linked a narrative movie that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011. Nick was onsite at Sundance for the premiere, where he also collaborated on, and helped launch, Lance Weiler's 5-day transmedia story, "Pandemic 1.0.” Part of Sundance's "New Frontiers" section, the project combined mobile and online technologies with the traditional narrative of film to allow audiences to enter the world of Pandemic's man-vs.-pathogen storyline.

Yet Nick is most proud of the work he did with Penguin and Jay Asher for his novel, Thirteen Reasons Why. Working on a limited budget, Nick and his co-workers adopted the project. Penguin had simply requested a television ad for the novel, but the team instead devised a social media campaign with almost no money, creating films pulled right from the novel’s plot and giving a haunting voice to the protagonist with the talent of actress, Olivia Thirlby. Nick says, “our audience helped spread the videos which drove Jay's book to become a national bestseller, currently slated for film adaptation.” The New York Times lauded Nick’s innovative campaign, and its unexpected success, for both creativity and execution.

Extending his talents, Nick continues to pursue television and independent film with a focus on adapting fiction, a path he admits can be long and frustrating. Despite the challenges of small audiences and low-budgets for independent movies, Nick’s first short film, “The Shovel,” a dark small-town mystery, won the Tribeca Film Festival and hit #1 on iTunes.

Nick notes that because of his writing experience at Colby and NYU, he still applies an approach he first learned from Professor Susan Kenney at Colby in his sophomore year to film ideas, spots, scripts and even presentations: “All writing is rewriting.”  That persistent work ethic translates to his directing and producing style in many different areas and has led Nick to his well-deserved success.

Amy Cunningham, ’15, William D. Adams Presidential Scholar