AboveGrey Pictures operates as a strike team formed from top film and advertising talent, crafting award winning commercials, music videos, films, branding and print advertising. Holding multiple directing awards for his cinematic commercials, AboveGrey Pictures is owned and operated by Ezra J Stanley an alumnus of SHOOT Magazine's "world's hot New Directors!" Michael Axtell helps steer the ship as producer for AboveGrey Pictures. He also comes with his background in Anthropology, creating ethnographic cinema, and capturing intimate journalist interviews. Toymail "Pancakes", their co-produced cinematic commercial, written and directed by Ezra J won the Best Commercial Award at the 2016 HollyShorts Film Festival "the Cannes of Short Films!" The commercial had its World Premiere screening at Hollywood's TCL Chinese Theatres with other Oscar winning and Palm D' Or winning films! From the bar napkin to the awards show, AboveGrey Pictures specializes in crafting from inception, uplifting and inspirational to the comedic and mind bending cinematic film and ad media.
Ezra J Stanley - Writer-Director, Creative Director, Owner
Ezra J Stanley is a multi-award winning Screen Artist and Writer. He is a two-time winner of the Best Commercial Award at the HollyShorts Film Festival, billed as the "Cannes of Short Films." A native of San Francisco, and with creole roots in Belize, he is Maya Mestizo and Garifuna (Black Carib) giving him a versatile on screen look. Ezra J is the brand face of the Cannes Lions and AICP awarded Michelob ULTRA Courtside Campaign, with Peyton Manning and Scottie Pippen. It is one of the biggest national commercials of the Pandemic, bringing the NBA’s courtside views to the home, through Microsoft Teams virtual technology. He’s starring in Junior, an Oakland based short film garnering official selections and awards, including the 2020 SF Indie Film Fest and Winner of the 2020 Detroit Black Film Fest. His won the Best Commercial award as auteur Writer-Director for his Toymail “Pancakes” Commercial with a world premiere at Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatres, screening with Oscar winning animations Bear Story, Oscar winning Manoman, and Palm D’or winner Waves 98. Stanley’s director work ranges from inspirational and uplifting, to the twisted and humorous branded commercials, music videos, and fine art. Ezra J creates fine art paintings and video art, and in 2020 had his video art selected for exhibition at the Lightbox Gallery in Manhattan.
At SF State, he overindulged in courses in film theory and history ultimately receiving a BA in Cinema. He later co-founded AboveGrey Pictures with classmate turned producer-cinematographer Alejandro Wilkins who is also a recipient of the 2016 ICG’s Emerging Cinematographer Award. Stanley had his debut in SHOOT Magazine’s 2010 New Directors Showcase selected as one of “the world’s hot New Directors,” held at New York’s Directors Guild of America theater. As a writer-director at AboveGrey Pictures, he has showcased today’s leading tech, fashion, painters, dancers and Grammy winners through his award winning cinematic commercials, and concerts to audiences that number into thousands. Producer-Director, Michael Axtell now co-heads with Stanley at AboveGrey Pictures. The boutique works as a strike team consisting of top film and advertising talent creating commercials, music videos, films, and print ads.
Michael Axtell - Producer, Director, Operations
Michael Axtell was born and raised in the misty hills of San Francisco, CA. He is a visual anthropologist, educator, photographer, creative writer, adventurer, and athlete. He studied film production at the San Francisco School of Digital Filmmaking and also carries a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. His work explores the intersection between science, technology, ancient knowledge and spirituality, and the evolution of human consciousness. He fully produced, by directing, photographing, editing, and anchoring the “Gaucho Scoreboard,” a college sports television show in Santa Barbara, CA. He has trekked to the Outback and Great Barrier Reef of Australia, walked on the sands of Zanzibar and the primordial Serengeti plains of Tanzania, regularly attended sumo wrestling events during a year of work in rural Japan, and most recently enjoyed conversing with the locals in Spanish in Guadalajara, México. He is directing and producing his feature documentary Nyogon: together, which gives an intimate portrait of the current food security crisis in West Africa. Axtell won the Best Commercial Award as producer for Toymail "Pancakes" at the 2016 HollyShorts Film Festival. He’s fully zenned out even though he aggressively roots for the 49ers, enjoys watching crazy art films, and traveling to exotic lands on a shoestring. He holds down the fort for AboveGrey Pictures in San Francisco.
Ilaria Chang - Graphic Designer and Advertising Strategist
Ilaria’s dive into the advertising world started in highschool where a research project showed her that she could combine her business studies with her art talents. She now bosses a Bachelors in Advertising & Design from The Art Institute of California in San Francisco. She has experience in working with multiple advertising mediums creating and designing popular campaigns for Red Bull, Pearl, and Hotels.com reaching for innovation and uniqueness in her designs and concepts while achieving the strategy. She brings her passion for marketing, graphic design, and advertising strategy as a busy Creative Director on the board to AD2SF. After the Hunger Games debuted she has spent her time studying the nuances of Jennifer Lawrence’s talents by watching every movie she has been in. Well, she used to be into spy and mobster movies and thought about being a spy when she was five, but has decided to perfect her graphic design art and advertising talents which have been in high demand, especially at AboveGrey.