From Toronto to Tessa.
Director Mercedes Bryce Morgan has joined the directorial roster of the Chicago and L.A.-based Tessa Films. Already busy with a variety of projects under the Tessa banner, her commercial work reveals a flair for creating characters and building worlds. Her first feature, “Fixation,” just premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Other credits include the wildly comic short film “Come F*ck My Robot” and videos for the costumed DJ and producer Marshmello, among others. She continues to be repped by Summercamp and Dream Bear for music videos and UTA and Sugar23 for longform productions.
Morgan’s commercial reel includes upbeat, visual storytelling spots for Allstate, Solo Cups (in a cute Disney cross-promotion for “Solo: A Star Wars Story”), Walmart, Amazon, Red Bull, Fujifilm, Google and Unilever’s Degree. She’s just wrapped her first spot via Tessa Films, for Cap’n Crunch via The Marketing Arm, in which a playful live-action costumed Cap’n gets ready for a voyage with his trusty cap-wearing dog by his side. She also recently wrapped a female-focused project for Edelman and Yamaha titled “Women on the Water,” which highlights women boaters in full action mode.
Take a break from your workday and enjoy Morgan’s hilarious short film “Come F*ck My Robot”…
Tessa Film’s EP and Founder Lisa Masseur found Morgan while poking around the web for fresh talent. “I was doing some old school research online and found a DPs work I liked,” Masseur explains. “When I followed the thread to see who directed it, I found Mercedes. We met up and instantly hit it off.”
What made her a good fit for Tessa? “That’s easy,” Masseur adds. “Her unique visual style, her ability to capture honest and real performances, her enthusiasm about filmmaking of any kind, her interest in the tech side of filmmaking (she’s shot a couple “interactive” films and invented a robotic arm), and her sunny disposition – plus her incredible work ethic – are reasons why she belongs here. Her films are visually stimulating and impassioned, but they also have heart.”
A graduate of the USC Film School, Morgan’s move to Tessa is part of her plans to further her commercial work, expand on her client base and take on bigger projects. “When Lisa and I connected, she said my kind of work is what people are really looking for now – it’s got a lot of energy and a kinetic feel to it,” she notes. “And so we really clicked on that level. The company is well connected in a lot of amazing ways, and I like the way they treat directors. I thought, ‘These are the people for me.’”
No stranger to social media success, Morgan’s shorts, series and music videos have often generated massive numbers, with her narrative music videos alone having gained attention worldwide. “Happier,” for Bastille and Marshmello, was nominated in 2019 for a VMA. It was Number 1 on YouTube the day of its release, and currently has more than one billion views.
Her features are no less distinctive. “Fixation,” an eerie thriller shot under Covid restrictions, was described byReel News Daily as “a visually stunning feature debut that takes audiences through trauma and trickery.” Her second feature, a dramatic horror picture titled “Spoonful of Sugar,” is premiering at Fantastic Fest in Austin later this month. She was also a director on “Forbidden,” Todrick Hall’s feature-length visual album; she’s directed videos for such artists as CHVRCHES, Slushii, SayGrace and more.
Morgan’s flair for wrapping compelling stories around the thorny side of technology is on full display in her 2020 short, “Come F*ck My Robot,” which presents an interesting take on the man-meets-machine storyline. In addition to directing, Morgan co-wrote the script, which was based on a real-life Craigslist posting. “This guy watched ‘Ex Machina’ drunk one night and made the post that’s in the short,” Morgan explains. “When he woke up, he had like a thousand messages. And he was like, ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe people had this response.’ We thought it was a great idea, but we added a twist: What if the robot isn’t into it? What if she doesn’t consent? And that’s what it’s about.” The film features a nerdy computer genius, an exceptionally nervous young man and the tentative female voice of the robot itself.
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