WHO DO WE THINK WE ARE?
Purple Onion is a tightly-knit family of directors and video content providers who tell stories, make pretty pictures, and bend over backwards to exceed expectations at every turn. Our directors are seasoned in a wide range of media from broadcast spots to corporate programming to digital content. We consider every job a creative collaboration and push hard to deliver content that hits the mark creatively and strategically.
We’ve been at this for a while. We’ve never wanted to be the biggest or the busiest, just the best at what we do. If you’ve worked with us before, you understand. Welcome back. If you’re visiting here for the first time, enjoy your stay, spin through some reels, and think about bringing us onboard for your next production.
Above all else, Purple Onion is good people. When you work with us, you will be heard, respected, and treated as a creative ally. You’ll have fun and come out refreshed. We’re like a day spa (if day spas had cameras and craft service).
Who do we think we are?
We Are Purple Onion.
Managing Partner | Director
As a founding partner of Purple Onion in 1987, Steve has been there since its humble beginnings. From the early days of shooting music videos to earning respect as a director of campaigns for Fortune 500 brands, Steve has basically remained the same – a creative guy who cares about the work and the people he works with. He’s directed hundreds of commercials for agencies, large and small, on a local, regional and national level. In a business that is notoriously stressful, Steve attempts to infuse a little chill and humor into every production. (It’s really not worth it, if we can’t have fun doing it.) A serial collaborator, Steve loves to expand the creative through an active dialogue with the creative team. He’s happy to borrow good ideas from anyone on set and gracious enough to give credit where credit is due. Steve isn’t a “settler”. If the spot can be better, he’ll put the time and resources into making certain it IS better. Steve is fond of brand new books, vinyl records, puttering in the yard, old cars, and older houses. Someday, he’ll travel cross-country with his wife Jenny in a restored ’65 VW Beetle. By then, his kids, Alice and Henry, will be self-sufficient and mailing money home for him to spend.
Director | Animator
Understatement Alert: Frank has led an interesting life. Born in the Philippines. Raised in rural Wisconsin. Played pedal steel guitar in bars and beer halls as a teenager. Attended San Francisco State University, majoring in Ancient Japanese languages. Moonlighted as a sideman for country western performers such as Rose Maddox and Johnny Paycheck. Spent most of the ‘80s freelancing for several Bay Area-based animation houses including Colossal Pictures. Was an in-demand session musician in the ‘90s, playing on dozens of recordings for legendary record producer Butch Vig (Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day). Designed the Milwaukee Brewers famous Racing Sausages. Directed for Tricky Pictures, the animation subsidiary of Backyard Productions. Co-directed the critically acclaimed feature film, The Life of Reilly, based on the life of comedian Charles Nelson Reilly. Taught animation and film studies. Wrote two books. Maintained a much-respected blog. Launched the animation and motion graphics shop This Is Mythic with his son Oliver. And, in his spare time, directed dozens of successful commercials for Purple Onion over the past 20 years. Take the time to work with Frank - a true original.
Erin Elders is a multifaceted filmmaker, living in Los Angeles, CA. He studied film at Columbia College in Chicago, where he helped found the band Maps & Atlases. The band released two EP's, two full-length albums, and toured internationally. Directing music videos and web content for M&A brought Elders back to the world of filmmaking. He left the band in 2014 to pursue that passion full time. Since then, Elders has directed broadcast commercials and brandscapes for healthcare clients and Harley-Davidson. He has also created music videos, album promos, and web content for acclaimed artists such as Lorde, Alanis Morissette, Iron & Wine, Davie, Sam Beam and American Football, which have premiered on publications such as Pitchfork, IndieWire, Stereogum and Consequence of Sound. His short film, Penny Sucker, screened at the Palm Springs International ShortFest and HollyShorts Film Festivals. Erin has just completed principal photography on his first feature film, The Cleaner, starring Shelly Long and Luke Wilson.
Jack has been directing film and video in the commercial and documentary arenas since 1997. His work has taken him all over North America and Europe. Specializing in day-in-the-life storytelling of real people, Jack has an eye for the beauty and humor in the unusual and in the everyday. His non-commercial works include a documentary currently in production on the acclaimed photojournalist Art Shay. Away from the camera, Jack spends his precious free time teaching himself piano, Greenland kayaking, racing his bike in 24 hour cycling events, and playing with his son Jasper.
Raised in the same Oklahoma hill country as his hero folksinger Woody Guthrie, Manny has led a similarly rambling life. Pulling up roots, he settled in Los Angeles in his teens and received a degree in film writing and directing from the revered Art Center College of Design. His engaging personality and fervent curiosity make him a natural documentarian. Over the past decade, Manny has honed his chops by directing documentary programs for the documentary storytelling collective About Face Media. This experience has put him at ease working with real people in unscripted situations. His travels have taken him to all ends of the earth with time spent in Europe, Asia and South America. Manny has recently spent time in the Phillipines shooting a documentary exposing what happened to the people and community that built-up around the production of Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now”. Manny has settled in Hood River, Oregon with his wife Leigh and their four children, Gus, Levon, Frances and Paschal. He enjoys riding his bike around the Columbia River Gorge and sampling the many craft breweries around town. He'll be drinking an IPA.
Steve has a good eye. So it makes sense that he began his career as an agency art director. Over time, however, the bright lights of commercial production proved too tantalizing. He worked various positions on the AICP from gripping to art department, finally settling on producing. For the past two decades, Steve has brought his attention to detail and can-do spirit to hundreds of productions. He listens and engages, priding himself on being prepared and having the right answers. He’s also a strong creative type with inventive ideas that improve the creative while respecting the budget. Outside the cozy confines of Purple Onion, Steve enjoys cycling, English Premier League soccer, attending film festivals and traveling with his wife and two teenage daughters. He can also quote most of the movie Fletch.