Couscous signs partner/director Bear Damen and director Henry Kaplan
Couscous kicks off roster expansion, adding top-tier international directors for US commercial representation.
By growing its U.S. footprint, the production company offers a multicultural scope and global slate of directors for commercial and music video projects for brands such as HP, Asics, Hornbach, Tele2 and Midas, and artists including Miguel, Benny Sings, 6lack, Khalid and Charlie Puth, among others.
We’re excited to welcome Bear and Henry to the Couscous roster under Bear’s creative leadership with the rest of the team
says Couscous co-Founder and EP Salim El Arja. “With stylistically similar pursuits and ways of embracing the storytelling craft, we can’t wait to apply their thorough filmmaking expertise to future brand projects.”
Damen’s portfolio pairs shocking visuals with abstract cinematography to hypnotize his viewers. He prioritizes strong narratives and transmits these stories to an audience he keeps locked in the present moment. His work has been tapped for festivals including the Leed International Film Festival, Nederlands Film Festival, LSFF, Byron Bay Film Festival and the Raindance Film Festival, among others. His music videos have earned or been nominated for Dallas Independent Film Festival honors, La Guarimba Film Festival honors, the Berlin Music Video Award, and the Independent Shorts Awards.
As co-Founder and Partner, Damen first united with Couscous co-Founders El Arja and Jordan Cardoso when collaborating on the Benny Sings music video Not Enough. The three creatives became business partners afterward to continue expanding the production company’s global reach. He is additionally represented by Czar in Europe for commercials and ANORAK in Berlin for film.
Says Damen, “I’m incredibly excited to bring new talent from around the world to Couscous’ roster and further expand their global reach and body of work. Their ethos, anchored in representing a multitude of cultures and viewpoints, meshes well with my directorial background and stylistic interests.”
Born and raised in the Netherlands, Damen’s vibrant education and upbringing consisted of joining his father on sailing trips around the world, voraciously consuming films and directors that would later become his inspirations. His introduction to cinema began with classics boasting frame-perfect storytelling, such as Jurassic Park, Silence of the Lambs, Seven, Fargo and many more, and directors including Takeshi Kitano, Mamoru Hosoda, Satoshi Kon, Paul Thomas Anderson, David Lynch, David Fincher and Steven Spielberg.
Damen currently resides in Amsterdam, in-progress on two feature-length projects and a music video for Mac DeMarco + Benny Sings.
Inspired by short films with styles that convey a highly specific concept, Kaplan’s strategy hinges on ‘effective’ directing and leading with thorough communication. By choosing to prioritize the intended emotional effect of a work on his audience, he reverse-engineers the appropriate filmmaking style to match, rather than embrace one routine aesthetic. His many spanning styles are put to great effect for musicians and bands including Charly Bliss, TW Walsh and St Lucia, among others.
Kaplan was first introduced to Couscous through mutual friends, fast-tracking their future partnership. “Everyone in the Couscous family approaches film from a global perspective,” notes Kaplan. “Nothing is ever hyper-local or in a bubble; things are always looked at in terms of the planet as a whole. It might sound lofty or nonsensical to some, but it makes sense to us!”
Hailing from Connecticut, Kaplan attended Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, to study film. He fondly calls the institution “a Ninja academy for filmmakers,” famed for its intense study of traditional filmmaking, shooting film on 16mm and cutting by hand on a Steenbeck editor. His background in editing as a result directly informs his directorial choices, with past clients including Zoe Saldana’s company BESE, Apple, Smashbox Cosmetics, several record labels including RCA, Warner and UMG, and many more. His scope also includes editing music videos for award-winning artists including MUNA, Rüfüs du Sol, Jay Prince, Vagabon, 6lack and others. He is currently in-progress writing his first feature film, and amidst post production on his latest short film.