June 2, 2022

In Focus

In Focus: Moffitt Cancer Center

For this month’s In Focus Interview, we’re honored to feature Moffitt Cancer Center, a leading cancer treatment and research center located in Tampa, Florida. 

We sat down with Sarah E. Hoffe, Senior Member of Radiation Oncology at Moffitt. In addition to being a physician, Hoffe is an experienced creative writer who has written and produced several Telly Award winning videos. This includes the script she wrote for a 360 video that showcased the new patient journey through Moffitt’s GI clinic, which received two bronze Telly Awards. More recently, Hoffe wrote an educational video explaining the complexity of the patient journey on the MRI linear accelerator, which won 7 Telly awards including a gold award. This past year, Moffitt embarked on an exciting new project using virtual reality to improve patient experience. In collaboration with Ringling College of Art and Design, Hoffe and her colleagues developed a VR prototype to aid their patients undergoing treatment in the MRI linear accelerator. The virtual reality experience allows patients to prepare for being inside the MRI and practice the necessary breathing techniques. This project took home 13 Telly Awards this year. Hoffe and her husband are also working on a VR children’s book with important health messages for children. 

Hoffe’s work is a shining example of how creative thinking, powerful storytelling, and experiments with new technologies can move the medical field forward and ensure that every patient feels knowledgeable and comfortable as they undergo cancer treatment. We’re so excited for you to read our Q&A with her below!

How does your team define creative success?

Our mission at Moffitt Cancer Center is to “contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer”. When we are able to create content that our patients feel is helpful and can make them less afraid and anxious, we consider that a home run.

How do you balance creating content that is both educational and engaging?

We are always focused on connecting with our patients.  As a physician, I find that my patients really relate to story driven educational content.  I feel it connects with them better and helps them remember the specific elements we are trying to explain.  By integrating a patient storyline with important visuals, I feel that our patients really respond.  We review these videos and VR experiences with our patients in the clinic and have received immediate positive feedback which has been very helpful.  

What is your approach to video creation, especially as a non-profit focused on health? Has this had to change at all throughout the last year?  

Our approach at Moffitt is to leverage the experience of a very diverse team.  We storyboard ideas with doctors/nurses/patients/radiation therapists and researchers. We have an accomplished group of PR/Marketing colleagues who are very active in our projects as well.  This way, we try to get the 360 perspective of everyone involved.  During the pandemic, we have had to curtail some in person video shoots and reschedule when the local disease burden was low. 

Whose work inspires you the most? Shout out some work that you feel deserves more attention!

I am a big fan of innovators in the medical space.  In fact, I first heard of the Telly Awards after Peggie Sherry (CEO of Faces of Courage) won an award for her video depicting cancer patients post mastectomy who were body painted.  She is a tireless advocate for improving the lives of cancer patients and creating awareness of health, wellness and cancer prevention.  Her work is always truly inspirational.

What is your favorite piece of work you created in the past year? Tell us the story behind it.

By far my favorite this year was our Virtual Reality Introduction to the MRI Linac.  This came about due to Moffitt’s collaboration with the Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD) in Sarasota, Florida and has been greatly supported by Moffitt’s CEO Dr. Patrick Hwu.  RCAD was the first undergraduate institution in the US  to have a VR major for students.  This work was truly special due to the amazing innovation of a remarkable student named Joseph Janssen who just graduated and will be working on VR for General Motors.  Joe worked with his professors (Morgan Woolverton and Marty Murphy) as well as our industry colleague and VR thought leader Jeff Hazelton (Captain VR).  This team worked closely with our Moffitt team which included Edmondo Robinson (Chief Digital Officer at Moffitt), physicians, physicists, researchers, patients  and even a Moffitt Board Member (Ted Schilowitz) who is also a Hollywood futurist.  To see how well this team flowed ideas and brainstormed creatively was a true highlight for me and to have Ted part of our team was inspiring.  We are currently testing this novel tool with our patients to see how much it can help them.  The MRI Linac is a game changer of a radiation delivery unit but at the price of having patients cooperate:  laying still for 1.5 hours, holding their breath intermittently, and being in a narrow aperture for treatment.  To think that now we can have our patients experience this virtually first and we can train their breathing is transformative.  Our patients who have used it so far relate that it really helps them understand what to expect and practice their breathing.  On a personal note, my husband and I just got the demo of  our VR children’s book back and are currently integrating the audio tracks.  We collaborated on this personal project with Jeff Hazelton and are so pleased with the book that we plan on developing a whole series.  The books are written with fun characters and subliminal medical messages regarding health topics.

What is Moffitt looking forward to this year? 

Our next project is to create a video that explains the portfolio of research going on in our department.  Visual communication is essential due to the complexity of information we need to translate to non-medical audiences.  We have a dynamic leadership team in our department who are very supportive of the vision to create an edutainment piece that will hopefully explain what some of our cutting edge research work is and where we think the future is.  This will be a complex project that will require us to use animations and lots of graphics so we definitely feel it will challenge our team.  I am also working on a VR grant project with Dr. Lee Green and Dr. Issam El Naqa.   Dr. Green has been a steadfast supporter of VR and co-led the Moffitt/RCAD collaboration with me.  Our proposed grant will use VR/AR in a novel way to enhance diversity representation in clinical trials. 

What does winning a Telly Award mean to you?

For me personally it means validation. In high school, I won a national writing award and knew I loved creativity but that I also wanted to pursue medicine as a career.   When I was a freshman at Brown University years ago, I was told by my physician course instructor that “medicine is not creative” and if I enjoyed creativity I should pick another field.  The 27 Telly Awards our team has won over the last few years mean the world to me as they validate the choice I made to become a physician and not abandon creative projects. I have been thrilled to find kindred creative spirits in medicine such as my former Department Chair and co-founder of MyCareGorithm, Dr. Louis Harrison.  Dr. Harrison’s passion for visual creativity in medicine mirrors my own and I am happy that I found my “place”.   I am beyond thrilled I am surrounded by creative talented colleagues at Moffitt and Ringling College of Art and Design and humbled that the Telly Award  judges have recognized our efforts.

April 5, 2022

In Focus

In Focus: MCM Creative

For this month’s In Focus Interview, we are proud to feature full-service production and post-production company, MCM Creative. With over twenty years experience in the New York creative market, the company has established itself as a high-tech playground for content creators, as well as a solid production partner, with a fully built studio in Chelsea, New York available for rent, as well as high end camera packages, full G&E trucks, and a full staff of editors, colorists, and re-recording sound mixers.

MCM Creative also produces narrative features, documentaries, music videos, tv/web series, promos, commercials, and corporate communications projects, offering podcast recording, sound studio and gear rentals and VR/360 experiences. 

This month, we sat down with MCM’s Founder and CEO, Michael Canzaoniero. Born and raised in Shoreham, NY, Canzoniero is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the New York University Graduate Film Program. His explosive short film Hyper played in the Centerpiece of the 2002 New York Film Festival where it opened for PT Anderson’s “Punch Drunk Love.” In 2009, his first feature The Marconi Bros premiered at the SXSW Film Festival. In 2011, Canzoniero directed the award winning documentary Shelter Island. In 2013, he created Mindshift, a consciousness raising talk show starring Daniel Pinchbeck. Canzoniero’s 2014 film Don Peyote featured Dan Fogler, Anne Hathaway and Josh Duhamel. Canzoniero’s latest feature, Making The Day, a charming and often funny film about making an indie film in NYC and never giving up, will have its worldwide premiere this Friday, April 8, at NYC’s Village East Cinema followed by a two week run ending April 21.

What are the creative goals for MCM Creative in 2022? 

MCM is excited that we are now being repped by Rick Dorfman at Authentic Management.  Our hope is that our collaborations with the amazing talent at Authentic will lead to some very cool work in the television and film space. Recently we produced a talk show series for JB smoove (also repped by Rick Dorfman) with guests such as Tina Fey and Roy Wood Jr. and see that as indicative of the type of projects we’d work on together.

If at all, has the pandemic affected the way you produce content? Have you had to change your strategy, creative or logistically?

We actually built out a contactless stage during the pandemic that kept our facilities and team very busy. We certainly hope that this type of precaution will be less and less necessary as we move farther away from the pandemic peak.

Can you tell me a bit about what the past year has looked like for MCM in terms of growth? How has your strategy for business changed/been affected?

MCM actually doubled in size on several fronts in the last year (real estate, staff, and gross income) so we are very excited to see that production needs in NYC have never been greater.

What is your team working on at the moment?

We are really excited to be launching the distribution of our feature film, Making The Day, with a two week theatrical run at Village East Cinema. This will be followed by an aggressive marketing push by our internal digital marketing department. After using traditional distribution methods on three other features, we are really excited to take matters into our own hands and control the process and campaign 100%.

We are also about to launch a new casting division with seasoned casting director Mary Clay Boland (Sopranos, Welcome to Smallville) taking the lead in this new space for MCM.

What does the creative process look like at MCM Creative? Does it differ from project to project? If so, how?

MCM has dedicated hours every day where we work with writers to develop new content.  This usually occurs at the end of the day around 4-6pm after we’ve “eaten our vegetables,” so to speak, and then get to have some fun creating new ideas for “dessert.”

What does MCM believe are the most important qualities to have on a creative team? Has this changed as you’ve scaled?

An “MCM-type,” if you will, is someone who lives and breathes filmmaking. If you don’t love being on set, creating, and all aspects of the business, this isn’t the place for you.

What are you looking forward to this year? Project wise, industry wise, etc. 

After three years of construction and build outs (including the recent addition of a 5.1 mix suite), we are really looking forward to just “greasing the wheels” of our operation and finding ways to streamline workflow and build processes that make MCM a smoother operation.

If you could give advice to creatives today, what would it be?

Work your ass off, don’t give up, and keep an open mind about what you are and what you really want as that may change as you grow and get to know yourself. For me, I’ve come a long way from my childhood dream of being Steven Spielberg to preferring to be the type of filmmaker and business person I now see myself as.

 

MCM has created a special offer for the Telly Awards community! 

THIS FRIDAY, April 8, at Village East Cinema in NYC! Attend the Making The Day 7PM World Premiere + following open bar Red Carpet Gala at half off the listed ticket price. 

Go to www.makingthedaymovie.com to purchase tickets and use the code: TELLY

 

March 11, 2022

In Focus

In Focus: Stept Studios

For this month’s In Focus Interview, we are proud to feature creative production studio, Stept Studios. A strong name of influence within the advertising community, Stept creates unique campaigns, commercials, and branded content for agencies, platforms, and brands with unmatched entertainment value. If their past work or list of previous clients leaves any room for doubt to their potential, it is quickly and easily mangled by an impressive roster of award-winning directors, including the double cinematographer+director threat Dana Romanoff, known for leading stunning campaigns for Google, Budweiser, and Best Buy (to name a few), as well as the Gold Telly Award Winner, Jess Colquhoun, famously credited with the fantastic visuals of the Times Up Foundation PSA in 2020, among others!  As their website claims, Stept Studios prides itself on being the home the next generation of storytellers, working across commercial and documentary genres and we couldn’t agree more.

Among the list of stirring directors at Stept Studios, is CEO and Founder, Nick Martini.

Nick fell in love with filmmaking while skiing professionally in remote corners of the globe. After a series of injuries, he quickly ended up behind the camera and found his true calling; Directing.  Bringing the vision and fearlessness further into film production, he opened Stept Studios alongside his brother Alex Martini and best friend Cam Riley who were also professional skiers with the mission to tell stories that explore what it means to be human, to inspire, and to influence. In 2022, Nick, Alex and Cam have expanded on Stept’s offerings of creative and production to include post production arm, Lockt Editorial and a development department. Vault Rentals, their cinema gear rental company has also expanded to include a facility and studio.

We caught up with Nick to discuss Stept’s massive and unexpected growth over the last year, how their creative ambitions are driving their craft forward into a post-pandemic industry, and what new technologies they are utilizing to advance their work to the next level.

Check our our In Focus Interview with Nick on Stept Studios below!

 

What does the creative process look like at Stept Studios? Does it differ from project to project? If so, how?

Creative is at the heart of everything we do at Stept. Stept Studios consists of three divisions; Creative, Production, and Post. Our work with brand partners begins with developing the creative and then overseeing the project through final delivery.  Our projects with ad agencies typically land with creative concepts in place and we manage production and/or post. Our post division, Lockt Editorial, services Stept’s projects, but also works with countless other production companies to provide support across editorial, visual effects, and sound. 

You’ve experienced such a tremendous amount of growth over the past year. Can you tell me a bit about what that growth looks like? Has scaling up changed your strategy for business?

It’s been a wild ride for the past few years. The company that was originally based in the founders’ apartment, has now grown to a family of almost 80 full time staff in LA and Jackson. We’ve evolved our approach as we have scaled adding new capabilities and creative talent – we’re always looking for new ways to meet the needs of our clients. And despite our recent growth, we’ve been fortunate to keep the same culture and obsession with the craft.  It’s still as strong as it was when we got started, it’s a big priority. The new resources at Stept have also allowed us to work with more types of partners, and more types of content. We used to partner primarily with agencies and brands, but now we also work with publishers, movie studios, streamers, and other production companies. We also continue to explore new formats outside of commercials – anything from 15s social ads, to 90 minute feature films.

What does Stept believe are the most important qualities to have on a creative team? Has this changed as you’ve scaled?

We like our creative team and directors to think big, and to not be afraid to push the vision as far as it can go. We have a highly collaborative team across Stept that can take that creative vision and just as creatively work together to figure out how to execute it with our production and post capabilities. We know it’s a really crowded space out there, so we want our work to stand out, and show how we can execute creatively as well.

Has your work structure had to change given the volatility of the industry due to coronavirus? (Has your process had to change due to covid-19 restrictions?)

The first couple months were difficult for everyone, including Stept. We were very proactive in being solution-oriented with our partners, and we came up with new ways to get them the marketing assets they needed. In the early days, we focused a lot on repurposing existing assets, creating new content digitally with CGI and animation, and exploring the limits of remote and virtual production. We were able to rebound quite fast, and ended up growing our team and revenue over 100% during the pandemic. 

What are the creative goals for Stept Studios in 2022? 

We want to continue working with our directors to tell stories that are impactful to the audience – regardless of where and how the stories live. In addition to our commercial work, longer form entertainment projects will be a big priority for us. It’s been great to see the interest in the work we are doing so far.

We are also really excited to embrace new technologies to create visual work that feels fresh and new. With the advent of XR stages, UnReal Engine, camera tech and even the metaverse, we are now able to build across worlds, environments and augmented practical spaces. It’s a really exciting time for the industry and Stept Studios. 

What are you looking forward to this year? Project wise, industry wise, etc. 

We see lots of opportunities in the next year to build on our creative vision and continue to look at new technologies that expand our capabilities. On the commercial side, we are really excited to see many of our directors break into top-tier opportunities and expand Stept’s work with an even deeper roster of agencies in the US and internationally. Our new Entertainment Division will be a top priority for us in 2022 and beyond. We have a passion for and are deeply rooted in authentic storytelling and we want to find ways with brand partners, media companies and platforms to bring those to life.

What does winning a Telly Award mean to your team? 

The Telly Awards have always been special to the Stept team, and we have been participating for years in the show. There is nothing quite like that feeling when the physical awards arrive at the office and we get to share that and celebrate with the team that brought those projects to life. It’s a real honor.

If you could give advice to creatives today, what would it be?

So many people will tell you there is a “right” way to do it, because that’s how all successful people in the industry have always done it. Do your best to not listen to that voice – it’s alright to make up your own approach and follow your gut. The world needs more disruptors who bring something new to the table.

October 18, 2021

From The Tellys

In Focus: British Broadcasting Corporation

Melissa Hogenboom is a multi award-winning science journalist, film-maker and editor at the BBC where she launched and leads the documentary site BBC Reel. She is writing her first book, The Motherhood Complex – it was released in May 2021 by Piatkus, Little, Brown (Hachette). She has written hundreds of articles, made short and long-form films for broadcast and digital, and has reported for radio and TV.

What motivates the BBC to create?

In short, our audience – making great content that our audience enjoys. I think we do this by telling stories that matter, either by intriguing them to find out a fascinating new historical or scientific insight, or giving solutions that can make a real difference, say in climate change. I also think it’s important to be able to tell inspiration and informative stories that take our readers away from what can be quite a negative news cycle. Of course people come to our pages for News, which is important, but if they can stay and also see something heart-warming or learn something new, then as creators we have done our job. 

How do you find inspiration for your work? 

This is always a tricky question to answer because honestly, everywhere. Overhearing conversations on the train, letting your mind wonder while you run, but I think most of all from talking to people. Brainstorms with colleagues can lead to such wonderful ideas, as can speaking to experts and freelancers. Often we are so busy we find it hard to really listen, we put on headphones, we immerse ourselves in our creative projects, but when we listen with an open-mind, that’s when ideas come to us. 

What are some of the challenges the BBC faced when creating content this past year? How did you overcome those challenges?

Working remotely has been taxing on everyone. It’s hard to have spontaneous creative discussions when we are all at home, but we made sure to keep in regular contact and have ideas sessions without strict agendas, which always leads to more collaborative discussions. We remotely directed films before the pandemic, working with a range of talented freelancers from around the world, so aside from the strictest lockdowns, we have actually been filming in person throughout the pandemic. We also experimented more with personal narrated mixed-media film-making ourselves, as well as working more closely with animators to bring content to life in new ways. 

What is your favorite memory of creating content this past year?

For me it was working on a TV and digital documentary called A Mother’s Brain – which was a personal journey into my understanding of what it means to become a mother and how our identity changes in the process. I spent a year researching this topic for a book ‘The Motherhood Complex’, so it was such a brilliant experience to turn all that research into a visual format. I combined my personal experience with scientific expertise, and brought (and filmed) my family along the way for the journey, even speaking to my own mother about her experiences. We worked with five different film-makers in five different locations, with a director/editor and post production team in yet another location, a true collaborative and international project. 

What is your secret to creating insightful, successful documentaries?

Collaboration and continually working with people with different skill sets – as we can all learn from each other. It ties into my earlier answer on listening. Also – hiring good people and giving everyone a chance to experiment with projects they can take full ownership of end to end – with guidance where needed of course. I benefited from that kind of trust early on, and it’s something I think is vital when working with creatives (but a gentle deadline always helps – because we can always keep tinkering).

What would your advice be for creatives looking to explore the boundaries of human relationships and science in their work? Are there any specific challenges that face that kind of subject matter? If so, how do you tackle these challenges?

When it comes to science, pick up the phone and speak to as many experts as you can – to find threads that make a compelling story. A challenge can be distilling the one idea into an engaging narrative because there always seems too much to include, which is when talking to others helps – a little bit of outside perspective can help us find the story that works. I think keeping an open mind can also help, we all have an idea of how a piece of content will turn out, but once we dive into a particular topic we may learn things that change the intended story and potentially make it even better. 

What, if any, are your goals for the upcoming year, creative, professional, or otherwise?

Write another book! I’m (half) serious – it was such a huge undertaking that I need a break from it, but it was also something that gave me a lot of creative satisfaction. Combining that with a full time job was challenging to say the least, but I found the writing process quite mindful and more rewarding in the evenings than, say, binge-watching TV shows. 

Professionally I’ve been super proud of some of the content coming out of our team – such as The Seven Sins – led by Anna Bressanin in our New York office, and Spiritual Awakening, originated by Griesham Taan. There’s too many good pieces to mention 

 

Congratulations on winning multiple Telly Awards this year, including a Gold Telly Award for the piece “How To Hack Your Health!” What does this recognition mean to you?

Deputy Editor and series commissioner Dan John said: It was great to win a Gold Telly Award for ‘How To Hack Your Health’ because it was such a collaborative project. It brought together the editorial teams of BBC Reel and BBC Ideas to develop a series together from conception to execution where each producer brought something to the project. It also represents how we had to completely rethink our approach to the project following the Covid restrictions, forcing us to come up with a new graphics led style that would enable us to use Zoom interviews in a creative way that felt totally in keeping with the overall aesthetic of the piece. For me it shows how we all had to adapt to the changing circumstances in order to still be able to tell compelling stories in a creative way, and so it was awesome to see that get this recognition.

December 2, 2020

In Focus

Defying the Limits: Relativity Communications

Throughout this season, we will be spotlighting past winners who have defied the limits. Defied the limits of lockdowndefied the limits of geography as well as shining a light on those producing award-winning work from diverse and minority communities.

We spoke with Millie Elston, CEO, Executive Producer of Relativity Communications. A veteran of advertising and marketing industries: From award-winning creative director, to executive accounts director, to producer/entrepreneur, Millie Elston has the ability lead her team and thrive under the pressure cooker of the industry. In the industry for over 30 years, and CEO of Relativity Communications, a woman-owned marketing communications firm since 2015.

With her diversified background and a variety of interests to draw inspiration from, Millie has expertise in Retail, Consumer Packaging Goods, Healthcare and Hospitality and Non-Profit sectors. From working on a major luxury hotel brand and all their projects from their identity and graphics to marketing materials to branding their lobby bar, to enhancing visual experiences, she operated with a solid grasp of Brand Aesthetic.

How did your creative process change given all of the unexpected turns of 2020?

I must say we were pretty fortunate. We have a great creative team, and a big part of being creative is being open to new ideas and making the most of new circumstances.  And we’ve always been accustomed to working lean, to delivering On Time, On Budget.

 We also understood that it wasn’t just us–that our clients have also been experiencing the “unexpected turns of 2020”.  So, more than ever, we needed to communicate, be flexible, improvise, and hope that they too understood that we were all in this together. That everything had changed, except our commitment to them and to delivering good work, On Time, On Budget.  They have given us every confidence that they will continue to partner with us.

 What do you think is the secret to having a successful creative team?

Winning awards, for one thing!  And, while we have always shown that we value our creative team, the pandemic has given us yet another, if unwelcome, opportunity to prove it.  By suspending studio filming for as long as their safety depended upon it.  By following official medical guidelines and instituting strict health precautions for them and for all of our show participants.  By looking after their mental as well as physical well-being, as we have all been taught to do through the many years of producing our show together. 

Our team has always been fueled by mutual energy and our ability to brainstorm and bring ideas to life. Luckily, we’ve still been able to do this remotely throughout the pandemic. Though nothing is quite like being in a room together, working “together” separately has forced new challenges–and new perspectives–on all of us.  And, as in many families, we appreciate one another even more now that we are all back together again.

 What’s the most important lesson you learned while needing to adapt to an unpredictable world environment?

 This crisis has demanded flexibility, quick thinking and, above all, communication.  As a communications business, we were prepared for this to a very great extent.  But this crisis has reinforced those principles and brought them into even sharper focus as we implemented them in new and unforeseen ways.  So the big lesson is that, while the tried and true philosophies and methods have held up, they’ve also become the foundation for working in this current, new reality and solidly positioned us for the future, whatever that may hold.

 What was the biggest hurdle you faced and what surprised you about creating during a lockdown?

These new constraints became a springboard to seeking alternate approaches to the way we do business. We are delivering work that acknowledges and responds to the challenges of this pandemic while nurturing creativity under quarantine. From existing footage, we’ve crafting new, culturally relevant ads that reflect current developments and feelings; abandoning creative executions that don’t represent this new environment; seeking to strike the right tone during this crisis; responding to changing client needs in innovative ways. But what surprised me the most was how well and how quickly our team adapted to these new rules and to thrive in what may well be the conditions for some time to come.   

 What do your Telly wins mean to you?

It’s an honor, it is humbling.  It’s our abiding wish to develop and create work that is as good as or better than the work that won us our past Telly Awards.

These awards allow us to spread stories of hope and to help eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness. Our slogan, “Let’s Talk About It!” is an everyday reminder to each of us that the work we do is truly important in promoting the conversation, support and acceptance that is so critical to the one in five Americans suffering from some form of mental illness.

And it’s an honor for our entire organization. Not only is it our goal to provide our clients quality collaboration and solutions, but we know how important it is to provide our employees with an environment that encourages creativity and offers them recognition. These awards validate RELATIVITY Communication’s reputation and commitment to our clients, community and team.

This could never have been possible without the dedicated work of our Team and Crew through everything we’ve faced this year.  For this I thank them all, as well as those brave heroes who have continued to share on our show their stories of triumph over the most unimaginable odds.         

 

October 27, 2020

In Focus

Defying the Limits: Suck My Chic

For the second installment in our series spotlighting winners who have defied the limits, we are excited to shine the light of female-owned and diversity-first multimedia production company, Suck My Chic. In their own words, the company operates with two goals in mind: to create state-of-the-art, relevant, inspiring content; and to elevate the new majorities in the creative industry.
The entertainment business has always been handled by the same demographic. We are a forthright solution to this problem. Our proudly colorful team has developed and produced over 450 successful multimedia projects.

We sat down virtually with their Founder, Carolina Bradilli, an Afro-Latina multimedia producer rooted in NYC-LA,  to find out more!

How do you find a good balance of including your teams own creativity and letting the story you’re telling speak for itself?

I think that a good balance between creativity and letting the story speak for itself is using the right point of view for that story. The more the team can identify with the story being told, the more we will have an authentic result and the story will be able to speak for itself. Therefore, I think the balance is looking for a specific point of view and trying to be as faithful to it as possible so we can have incredible results. We are proud to have such a diverse team, but we would love to make it more diverse. We would like to be even more inclusive and would love to work with more female directors. But everybody on our team believes in our mission and the fight for diversity and inclusion, which facilitates the process of creating this perfect balance.

How did your creative process change given all of the unexpected turns of 2020?

2020 has been extremely challenging because we were set to triple our income for the entire year in just one month, and we were in a very good position that allowed us to give many opportunities to the people on our team. Unfortunately, all of our contracts were canceled due to the pandemic. We had to turn our attention to creating our own content, which is a bittersweet feeling since it is amazing to make your own content but we also deeply miss being on set.

What was the biggest hurdle you faced during your creative process?

The biggest hurdle we face during our creative process is finding companies and brands that are aligned with our ideals and goals. Companies and brands tend to be very standardized, they all look for the same thing. Being different can sometimes be a hurdle because we insist on working with diversity and focusing on that authentic point of view, and not everyone is prepared for that. Some companies and brands have yet to accept this which can be very difficult.

What do your Telly wins mean to you?

Winning the Telly Awards was very important to us, firstly, because it was the first prize that our company has ever won; and secondly, because it was a recognition for a very diverse work. Our crew was filled with many Latinos, African-Americans, Asians and White Americans, which gave a lot of opportunities and created a very good balance filled with diversity– something you can clearly see in the result of this movie that was awarded, which was “Real Me”. When you look, you see a diversity that was a part of our reality when creating this project. I think having won an award for this particular work was a really awesome thing because it proved to us that we are going on the right path to achieve the diversity we dream of.

October 19, 2020

In Focus

Defying the Limits of Lockdown: The Juilliard School

Throughout this season, we will be spotlighting past winners who have defied the limits. Defied the limits of lockdown, defied the limits of geography as well as shining a light on those producing award-winning work from diverse and minority communities.

First up, we spoke with Marathon Digital – a revolutionary social media company representing Broadway shows and other live entertainment clients in New York City and around the world, who converts fans to customers by cultivating communities and creating quality multimedia content across platforms. 

Marathon Digital worked with the renowned team at The Juilliard School in NYCFounded in 1905, The Juilliard School is a world leader in performing arts education. The school’s mission is to provide the highest caliber of artistic education for gifted musicians, dancers, and actors from around the world so that they may achieve their fullest potential as artists, leaders, and global citizens. Currently more than 800 artists from 44 states and 42 countries and regions are enrolled at Juilliard, where they appear in over 700 annual performances in the school’s five theaters; at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully and David Geffen halls and at Carnegie Hall; as well as other venues around New York City, the country, and the world.

We will be featuring their piece, Bolero Juilliard, in our upcoming digital screening series! This piece features a musical and choreographed performance of Bolero, entirely filmed and choreographed remotely.

How did your creative process change given all of the unexpected turns of 2020?  

There were MANY things that changed with the unexpected year that 2020 has turned out to be. First, we typically work in the Broadway space but have expanded beyond that due to the need for all arts institutions to switch to an exclusively digital presence. It has allowed us to collaborate with new partners and has stretched us to do work that is outside of our typical day-to-day.

We also are a team that is extremely collaborative. In “normal life” we all work out of the same office, constantly discuss the creative process and rely on each other’s feedback to make our work the best it can be. This changed to more Slack and Zoom conversations, as meeting in person was not an option.

What’s the most important lesson you learned while needing to adapt to an unpredictable world environment? 

In adapting to an unpredictable world environment, we’ve learned patience with ourselves and others. We had to shift to learn new skills and new ways to effectively communicate. At some times it can be frustrating, but shifting your mindset to give space for the fact that this is new to everyone, and allowing time for a learning curve was necessary. It is infinitely easier to read body language and be in the presence of others while creating, and right now that just isn’t possible.

What was the biggest hurdle you faced and what surprised you about creating during a lockdown? 

Working in isolation, the biggest hurdle and surprise was how seductive tunnel vision is. With such an intricate piece like Bolero, it’s easy to lose yourself in your work and *poof!*,12 hours goes by in a flash. In a group setting, we help balance each other out.

How do you think the outcome of your work changed given the environment it was made in?

This work is totally unique to our usual fare because prior to the lockdown, Zoom videos weren’t a concept. It’s difficult to compare to prior works for that reason alone. That said, the influx of the output of Zoom videos challenged us to create a work that would stand out among the saturation of this style. The outcome of this piece was much more involved and intricate because it was important to communicate a deep sense of emotion. Putting aside the usual goals of promotion or entertainment, Bolero Juilliard had to communicate the school’s response to the lockdown and capture the breadth of their reactions– the work was a direct result of its environment. 

What do your Telly wins mean to you?

Winning these Tellys means that even in this environment, we can muster up the resilience and creativity to make works that have social resonance. It’s an honor to be recognized but more so, to be part of a group who challenges themselves to contribute to culture, particularly during such challenging times.

 

 

 

 

September 3, 2020

In Focus

In Focus: Citizen Dane

For 25 years, Citizen Dane has supplied Denmark’s largest and most demanding businesses with visual communication. The company is situated in the center of Copenhagen and is a market leader in Denmark. Citizen Dane is part of The International Quorum of Motion Picture Producers (IQ) – an international network in 50 different countries.

We sat down (virtually of course!) with their in-house director, Marcus Mandal. Marcus has made many films for clients such as Maersk, Novo Nordisk, GN, ISS, Bestseller and Rolls-Royce. He has also achieved worldwide acknowledgment for his documentary films including  “KAREN BLIXEN – Out of This World”, featuring Meryl Streep.
Marcus graduated from the Danish School of Journalism and the University of Copenhagen (Political Science). He has worked with TV news as a reporter, anchor, and editor-in-chief. For 10 years he was a director and editor-in-chief at Nordisk Film.
And in addition to this, he made the Guinness Book of Records holding the world record in snowball-juggling marathon!

Citizen Dane have won 14 Telly Awards during the years, and you have directed most of the films. How does that feel?

We are all very proud when we are awarded by Telly Awards. It’s an award that is respected among our colleagues around the world – and the statues look very impressive on the mantelpiece in our meeting room. For the team who have invested a lot of energy in the projects, it’s great to feel that other professionals appreciate what we are doing.

Our clients are usually very impressed, and they can often use the appreciation to get better publicity.

What kind of film has been awarded?

At Citizen Dane we have specialized in corporate films, but we also do documentaries and many films about HSE. And all the genres have been awarded by The Telly Awards! 

What do you find important in a successful corporate movie?

For us it’s vital to be involved in the films at a very early stage, so we can develop creative ideas and write the scripts ourselves.

We always try to focus on people in our films – not on impressive buildings or machinery. What it is important to most companies are their employees; and as film is a great media to communicate feelings and emotions, people are far more interesting. 

What are your latest works?

I have just made a series of 10 small films to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Danish company GN, which is a global leader in intelligent audio solutions.  In this production we developed new ways of making old black and white photos and paintings work in a modern video.

And in a very different genre, we produced a music video with 40-year-old Christian who is diagnosed with autism and who wrote and performs his own song.  

It’s always fun and inspiring to be challenged by new topics…

 

July 13, 2020

In Focus

In Focus: ESPN CreativeWorks

ESPN CreativeWorks is a combination of creative experts who live and breathe sports, in-house at ESPN, made up of creative directors, designers, digital developers, writers, producers, editors, project managers, strategists. We leverage our direct access to actionable fan data and ESPN products to build creative solutions that natively integrate into our platform as brands are seeking higher quality, contextually relevant placements. Brands turn to us as the resource for big ideas, fan insights, league relationships and access to athletes, as well as to build campaigns that live across any platform, reaching fans on every device. We also develop the creative for one of the most valuable sports brands in the world – our own brand – ESPN.

How do you balance keeping your own branding consistent as well as staying on message for the companies your work is highlighting?

The first thing we do is make sure we are staying true to our core identity, we know what fans expect when they see those four, iconic, red letters. The next step is to figure out how to marry our brand with a partner brand without diluting either. They have a voice and tone, like we do and we try to honor that. It is a great creative challenge and one that we love tackling every day.

What are some essential elements to having a successful creative team?

Diversity, not only in the people that comprise our team but also in thought and capabilities. Collaboration is something else we take a lot of pride in as ESPN is a vast organization and to get anything done, you need to work across groups and departments. And then of course there is our deep knowledge of sports. Our team is composed of creative people from all walks of life and the one thing that bonds all of us is our passion for sports.

How has your work structure changed with all of the fluctuation of the 2020 landscape?

While we are all working remotely from home, we are doing a lot more video conferences as opposed to conference calls. Even in this strange time, our creativity and passion for the work hasn’t changed at all. At ESPN we believe in, “constraints breed creativity.” This has really come through in our recent efforts. We are already looking forward to entering our latest work into the 42nd Telly Awards.

What do your Telly wins mean to you and the team?

It’s an honor to be recognized at such a prestigious award show, especially when you consider all the work that goes into creating our content. It’s a true testament to our tremendous team and how we all work together.

 

May 11, 2020

In Focus

In Focus: Rückenwindfilm GmbH

Rückenwindfilm GmbH was founded in 2014 by Christoph Deja, who was working for 9 years as creative director in a Munich based agency. Pretty soon the necessity of expanding the team became clear. Hana Tsutsumi, Producer and Director, with an international background joined in early 2015.

Working for clients like Red Bull, BMW and SAP, amongst others, we expanded our team again by the end of 2018 with Julia Konitzer, another creative.

With a team of three our company is based in the heart of Munich from where we operate all over the world.

What are the most important elements of videography that allow you to capture and portray the freshness and speed of the equipment and sports on display?


The most exciting aspect of our job is that you can never generalize a theme or subject. You always have to come up with new ideas and techniques that best capture the essence of your subject and convey the message you want to bring across. If you feature a sport like in “What It Takes to Fly the Red Bull Air Race,” the most important thing is to understand the sport. For me this means: talking to the pilots. If you’ve got that, the vast variety of modern equipment enables you to transport the message and fascination to the audience.

For a spot like “A story in 2.8 seconds,” it was all about bringing dynamic motion to a standing object. This led to the decision of working with a special and unusual light design.

What is usually the first step of your creative process when working to showcase a product?


Before we start to develop an idea or concept for a film, we want to understand two things. First, the product itself and its USP.  Second, the intent the client has with the video, such as the message they want to bring across and the audience they are aiming for. Combining these two aspects usually lead us to the first idea of a concept.

Who else in Germany is creating work that inspires you?


There are so many great creative heads out there, it is impossible and simply unfair to point out a single one. A lot of production companies and agencies are producing amazing and groundbreaking films. This is one reason why awards like The Telly Awards are so important, because simply watching the Winners works offers so much inspiration and new input.


What do these wins mean for you and your team?


Coming from representatives of the industry, these awards are very special to us. We feel honored and happy. It is great when all the hard work and efforts are recognized and appreciated in this way. Also, it’s always an especially nice way of validating the whole team, knowing what we can achieve and create together. It makes us happy, knowing that we are not only privileged enough to love our work and what we do, but also that it leaves an impression on others. It pushes us to keep striving for even greater ideas and works. Eventually, it also makes clients happy, and hopefully confirms that they should continue working with us on future projects as well. 

April 6, 2020

In Focus

Christie’s Auctions & Private Sales

When filming art, how do you strike a balance between letting the piece speak for itself and creating something new, and visually exciting? The video team at Christie’s auction house knows exactly how. Founded in 1766, Christie’s has auctioned and sold some of the world’s great fine art, antiques, interiors, and more. Today, they’re expert video team helps give auctioneers and art lovers alike a window into their process, the stories of pieces coming to auction, as well as behind the scenes content into artists studios. In our latest In Focus interview, we spoke with Lucy Jackson, Production Manager for the London Video Content Team on what the creative process looks like for her team, the most memorable piece she’s shot, and more.

How do you go about finding the right balance of displaying creative videography and also letting the art you’re capturing speak for itself?

We look at creating a mood around an artwork through lighting or slow close-up camera moves, to highlight the texture of the paintwork. We are always respectful of the subject matter and show the work in full at some point in the film.

There are occasions where we take the energy of an artwork and let that inform the way we edit a film or trailer. An artwork by Jean-Michel Basquiat really lends itself to a punchy, fast paced edit to reflect the artist’s style. 

 What does a day look like for the team at the start of the creative process? 

We meet as a team every Monday morning to talk through new briefs and projects. The brief might be for a film to promote an artwork coming to auction at Christie’s, or for evergreen content such as an artist studio visit or a collecting story.

Art historical research is at the heart of our films, so we will often take a brief and look deeper into the potential stories around an artwork. We work closely with in-house specialists who have scholarly knowledge within the genre that they work, such as Contemporary Art or Old Master painting, which allows us to have expert insight into the object that we are filming.  

We tend to produce and direct films ourselves, and work with the director of photography to plan how to best shoot the film in the style we are looking for.

We have departments spanning many categories, which don’t just focus on art, such as natural history, decorative objects, Islamic artifacts, furniture design, and books and manuscripts. We have an incredible raft of intriguing items to film, which keeps us all enthusiastic to continue to create engaging content. 

What has been your most memorable piece to shoot?

Filming George Michael’s art collection was a real highlight last year, and having access to the extensive collection of Young British Artists that he owned felt like a real privilege. Within that sale, there were many large-scale Damien Hirst formaldehyde works, including The Incomplete Truth, which dominated the gallery.

Who else in the UK is making work that inspires you?

In terms of video platforms, Nowness is consistently creative and stylish in their delivery.  

We work with a team of freelancers on a daily basis including:

Bruno Ramos – Fantastic DoP for filming artworks 

Fgreat –  Animation studio that creates a beautiful treatment of artworks in 3D

Chris Vickers  – Director specialising in motion graphics 

What do your Telly wins mean to you and the team?

It means a great deal. It is a recognition of the team’s hard work, and will keep us motivated for the year to come!