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In the Eye of the THX Storm

Michael Klima, left, and Kyle Ruddick are behind the recently launched company Eyestorm Productions.

Photo/Eyestorm Productions

The next installment of the famed THX trailer � produced by USC School of Cinematic Arts alums Michael Klima ’03 and Kyle Ruddick ’04 � is about to hit theaters nationwide.

“We had to think fast every step of the way,” said Ruddick, who noted that the trailer took five pitches to get a green light. “It proves that if you’re not afraid of doing things, then you’ll figure out a way to do it.”

“We literally had people tell us it couldn’t be done, that no production company our size could possibly do this in six weeks,” Kima added.

The 100 percent computer graphics trailer titled Amazing Life, which hits THX Certified Cinemas this month, features plants, flowers, wind and other nature-based eye candy coming together, backed by orchestral harmonies. The visuals seamlessly meld into the famous logo, augmented by the famous THX crescendo.

Working as a motion graphic design freelancer when he was at USC, Ruddick was referred for a position at Lucasfilm Ltd. by one of his clients immediately after he finished his courses. Klima, his former partner at the school, joined him in the Bay Area months later and the two were assigned to the company’s marketing branch.

“Kyle is the guy who’ll throw paint on the wall and watch it until it forms into something while I pre-think an idea over and over in my head,” Klima said about his polar opposite. Coupled with their respective backgrounds in editorial and design animation, the duo’s work plays out as if they were still in film school.

“Things are smooth in the beginning and then we argue at the end,” Klima said with a laugh.

Their Lucasfilm colleagues entrusted the team with youth marketing spots for Star Wars: Episode III � Revenge of the Sith. Following up that project with numerous video game trailers for LucasArts as well as personal projects for George Lucas, Klima and Ruddick formed Eyestorm Productions, their “hybrid” of a Venice Beach-based advertising agency and production company in the summer of 2005.

Even though they “were just getting cards printed” and had no physical location when the THX possibility first appeared, Klima and Ruddick tackled their new challenge head-on.

While most agencies first develop a client’s idea and then hire a production company to execute the project, the USC alums set out to combine the steps, bringing together high-concept ideas and cutting-edge visuals with a dollop of artistic bravado.

Together the two have remained focused on the youth market with short-form productions (music videos, commercials, documentaries and viral videos) as well as postproduction marketing (theatrical/video game trailers, commercials, documentaries and motion graphic driven pieces), with an ultimate eye on features.

“It’s nice to have your hands in everything and hiring insanely crazy people who can do a lot of broad strokes has also helped us,” Klima said. “We all worked immensely hard on THX.”

Both men readily agree that Lucasfilm was a great place to start, but now they feel poised to fly on their own.

“We’re on the verge of building our own empire,” Ruddick said, with a wry smile.

In the Eye of the THX Storm

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