Director Exposure

Reversing Roe: Behind the Scenes on Netflix’s Abortion Rights Documentary

Directors Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg - repped for ads by kaboom as ricki+annie - on diving into a contentious issue

Reversing Roe is a new documentary feature directed by Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg (represented for advertising projects via kaboom as ricki+annie). The film exposes a decades long political campaign to overturn Roe v. Wade, a 1973 landmark decision in the US surrounding laws that criminalised or restricted access to abortions, using interviews with abortion rights supporters and opponents. We spoke with the directing duo about the film, which is now available on Netflix.

Reversing Roe is a new documentary feature directed by Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg (represented for advertising projects via kaboom as ricki+annie). The film exposes a decades long political campaign to overturn Roe v. Wade, a 1973 landmark decision in the US surrounding laws that criminalised or restricted access to abortions, using interviews with abortion rights supporters and opponents. We spoke with the directing duo about the film, which is now available on Netflix.

LBB> How did Reversing Roe originate?

Annie> The film was originally developed by Lincoln Square Productions (a division of ABC) as an historic examination – think ‘Eyes On The Prize’ approach - of reproductive rights in America. We first started to talk about this project on Election Day, 2016, and we all felt like, okay, let’s take our time and figure out just how we want to tell this story. When Trump won the presidency, the whole project took on a new urgency. Eva Longoria came on board as an executive producer, and championed the project, which was sold to Netflix. We started shooting at the inauguration in 2017.

LBB> What was your approach to the film?

Annie> The film begins with a look at the realities and the culture in America around abortion before the wide-reaching decision of Roe v. Wade. At the time, there was growing concern and awareness of illegal abortion and the rates of women who were suffering as a result; abortion was considered by many to be a public health issue, not a political one, and the earliest waves of reform actually came from Republicans who were following the lead of physicians who were seeing a real crisis in ER wards across the nation – and these doctors were for the most part white and male. There were calls in various states to liberalise abortion laws to allow women to seek legal and safe care, and Gov. Ronald Reagan was the first to sign a liberalised abortion bill in California. Following the 1973 Roe v Wade decision, there was tremendous ideological pushback that placed reproductive rights as a central election issue and changed the political landscape of America. 

Ricki> In the film, we follow a number of central figures in the debate on reproductive rights, those who self-identify as ‘pro-life’ and others who consider themselves ‘pro-choice’. No one is ‘pro-abortion’ -- our goal was to have frank discussions about the various aspects of reproductive rights, and the fallout from a landmark decision that ultimately helped to transform the Republican Party. 

LBB> How did Justice Kennedy’s retirement impact the film?

Ricki> We’d locked picture when the announcement was made. It was quickly agreed by everyone involved, and at the encouragement of Netflix, that we revisit the film’s ending. It now includes the potential appointment of Brett Kavanaugh, and a look at how a conservative Supreme Court could impact, among other major issues, reproductive rights legislation.  

LBB> How do you know when a project is right for you?

Ricki> Our films tend to be character and story driven, so in many ways this was both a departure and an opportunity to explore an issue with historic context and differing perspectives. We generally embrace projects that are either very timely or timeless with stories that we perceive as vital.  

Annie> It’s hard to have constructive dialogue when people are so polarised around abortion; however we hope this film sparks conversation about its politicisation and what’s at issue in the coming election and beyond. Since the film is being released before the midterm elections, we also hope it activates people to vote. Currently, turn out for American elections is abysmal. If more people are engaged in the election process, the legislative results will be more truly reflect what constituents want. Axios released a big poll this week that shows 71% of respondents want Roe to remain intact.  Let’s make sure our legislatures echo that.   

kaboom's Erik Moe Finds Effervescent Comedy in Sparking Ice Marketing Mayhem

Satirical spots created by Bread N Butter and produced by kaboom take a humorous approach to the advertising industry

Nothing goes better with Bread n Butter than Sparkling Ice, as evident in the new campaign directed by kaboom’s Erik Moe. The spots are a comedic take on the advertising industry, where an effervescent duo of eager interns seeks original ways to sell Sparkling Ice. A music video, spinning prize wheels, and viral stunts – all make their boss think WTF. What The Flavor, that is.

According to Tommy Hernandez, Creative Director: “Working with kaboom was to have a true partner in the creative process from start to delivery. Erik’s passion for comedy and talent in eliciting amazing performances were not only essential, but made the experience as fun as what you see on the screen.” 

In addition to production, kaboom produced the project through post including the collaboration with kaboom director/editor Doug Werby who cut the campaign. 

Watch the intern antics below.


In celebration of International Women’s Day, Brawny® paper towels brand is highlighting inspiring stories of four women from traditionally male-dominated professions who have overcome adversity and are empowering others through their accomplishments. Produced by kaboom and directed by ricki+annie, the #StrengthHasNoGender campaign, via agency Cutwater, features real women who are challenging gender stereotypes.

The #StrengthHasNoGender videos were produced by woman-owned kaboom productions and directed by the Emmy-nominated duo of Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg (ricki+annie), with over two dozen women in key production roles bringing these docu-stories to life.

According to annie, “We hope that these spots will make people think about their own definitions of strength, of what guides them and pushes them to be their best selves. There’s a palpable excitement in filming with real people who are unrehearsed, who are authentic, and who inspire us with how they face their challenges. We hope that this campaign connects more people with the strength in each of these women’s stories. They are amazing, accomplished individuals and we hope people are just as energized and inspired by their journeys as we were during the making of these spots.”

“What was interesting and surprising to me,” adds ricki, “was that all the women we interviewed, despite the broad spectrum of careers they have, were all raised without a sense of any gender divide. There was never a thought that they could not do something because they were girls. Hence their career paths were propelled by passion rather than having to overcome any perceived gender divide. An inner strength is matched with a humble quality about their accomplishments – the hope is that whatever success they've achieved will inspire the next generation of young women.”

Read more about the project featured in Adweek, Creativity, and Little Black Book.

SHOOT: Special Olympics


doug werby of production house kaboom directed this spot titled “Tess” featuring Special Olympics World Games golfer Tess Trojan. “Tess” is part of a campaign conceived by agency Hill Holliday honoring the 2015 Special Olympics on behalf of sponsor Bank of America. werby credited Trojan with capturing the spirit of the Special Olympics. “Tess articulated it perfectly--judge the ability, not the disability,” said werby. “This is the spirit of Special Olympics.”


Variety: Knuckleball


By Josh Chetwynd Read the post on Variety »

Filmmakers ricki stern and annie sundberg weren't serious fans when they started working on their baseball-themed documentary "Knuckleball," but their uncanny choice of subject material not only suggests they may have a future in player development but has also proved to be a game-changer for their film.The movie chronicles the experiences of two pitchers, the New York Mets' R.A. Dickey and the Boston Red Sox's Tim Wakefield, during the 2011 season as they battle to succeed at the Major League level throwing baseball's rarest pitch, the knuckleball. While the story is compelling, the project's prospects took an upward turn when Dickey's career trajectory unexpectedly skyrocketed this year, with the journeyman pitcher suddenly becoming one of the top performers in the National League. (Wakefield retired before the start of the 2012 season after 17 years in the majors.)

"At the end of the 2011 season, R.A. Dickey was no one's idea of a star," ESPN Insider baseball writer Paul Swydan says. "But he has become a marquee attraction -- the kind of player that both die-hard fans and casual fans are excited to see, whether it be at home in Flushing, N.Y., or out on the road. That he has done this at age 37, which is very old for a professional baseball player, makes his story that much more remarkable."

FilmBuff, a distribution company that specializes in Video on Demand, secured distribution rights to the doc in June, with Dickey riding a nine-game personal winning streak that would peak at 11. Still, at the time, he had yet to establish himself as a full-fledged media darling. But as the season has worn on, Dickey has hit his stride, including an engaging appearance on "The Late Show With David Letterman" in July, and the sales success of his memoir "Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball," which hit the New York Times bestseller list.

Suddenly, the film's game plan was transformed.

"I could have spent millions of dollars and not created the phenomenon that R.A. Dickey has become," says FilmBuff head of marketing Julie La'Bassiere. "There's no question that had he not had the type of season he's having, we probably wouldn't have been able to do everything we're doing."

Considering Dickey's newfound profile, FilmBuff is giving the movie a limited theatrical release with weeklong runs in Boston (beginning Sept. 18) at Coolidge Corner Theater, and in New York, starting two days later, at the IFC Center. Also, in part to capitalize on the currency of Dickey's story, Filmbuff added the pic to its VOD schedule as quickly as it could. With the significant lead time required to get a project in the pipeline for cable delivery, September was the earliest debut dateit could manage; the docu will be released on VOD in conjunction with its theatrical bow Sept. 18, with DVD sales set to begin in December. While the long lead time has left the film unable to capitalize on the team's early-season success (the Mets have fallen out of playoff contention), Dickey remains a candidate for the Cy Young Award, which goes to each league's best pitcher.

Even with the truncated schedule, Dickey's success has helped ease the marketing process, particularly in New York. With the city's long timelines for advertising in public spaces, La'Bassiere worried she might have difficulty securing bus shelter advertising locations for "Knuckleball." But when she explained to municipal representatives that the film starred Dickey, they "bent over backwards" to line up space for the film. As a result, there will be approximately 20 ads on bus shelters to coincide with the doc's opening. Special events supported by city officials in Boston, where former Red Sox pitcher Wakefield remains an icon, and in New York are also planned.

And the Dickey bump should continue. Filmmakers are now in negotiations for a TV rights deal for the documentary, and are aiming for an airing next spring, when a new season begins and fans show renewed optimism.

As to how the project will do in its upcoming VOD and theatrical runs, its distinctiveness certainly won't hurt.

"This is a very unique situation," says Jeff Freedman, who runs FSPR, a Los Angeles-based firm that specializes in marketing sports-related film, television and book projects. "It is uncommon for a sports documentary to be about a player in his prime, or one who is still playing. … Having R.A. Dickey succeed beyond expectations coincident with the release of 'Knuckleball' is a most fortunate and rare synchronicity."

In other words, you might say the knuckleballer has thrown marketers a curve.