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August 2011

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Getting the W Competition is tough and budgets are tight, so bringing in work and making money is always a challenge.This month a handful of studios revealed how they differentiate themselves from the com- petition, and win work without slashing rates. Many note that relationships go a long way for repeat business, and a strong knowledge of the tools can help build workflow efficiencies as well. SEEING THE FUTURE Brendan Kiernan and three partners set up Fu- turistic Films in Denver around four years ago. He brought an advertising background, having started and sold a digital agency to Crispin Porter. His partners bring a combination of editing, directing and producing skills. All four have ties to the Den- ver community and wanted to position Futuristic Films as a company that could look at the current advertising space and help clients — directly or through agencies — go after next generation ad- vertising content. "I had seen, from the agency side, how quickly things were shifting and how dramatically I felt things were going to change in the way content was being created for advertising and branding, and how it was being distributed," recalls Kiernan, who serves as an executive producer with the company."We still do broadcast and :30 commer- cials, but we do a lot of work that is non-tradi- tional.We do a lot of work with interactive video, augmented reality and immersive experience spaces.And a lot of work that is sort of Web-fo- cused and branded entertainment-focused." The company also has an office in Venice Beach, CA, but Kiernan says their goal was always to avoid having the big infrastructure that many production and post facilities follow. "We try to create the appropriate level of in- frastructure to be able to create a wheelhouse to do the projects and also be able to have the ex- pertise to identify the appropriate partners for the various types of projects that we do," he notes. The Denver studio, located in a warehouse dis- trict, is home to three Final Cut Pro edit suites.A partner company is located in-house for handling motion graphics. In Venice, there is another FCP suite, which is used for client review and offline work.The company's roster of directors bring an assortment of cameras, including Sony F3s and EX3s, and the studio taps rental houses when in need of an Alexa or Red One. In terms of growing the company and getting work, Kiernan says much of it comes through agencies, existing relationships and the studio's network of reps. "I would say 30 to 40 percent of our work is client direct, and those come from existing relation- ships or word of mouth," he notes. One example is the work Futuristic did for the Santa Rosa, CA-based company Marmot, a sub- sidiary of the Jarden Corporation, which offers per- formance clothing and equipment for the outdoors. "We had worked with Marmon and done some short documentary films with them as part of their advertising and branding," Kiernan explains."They were so happy with our work that they passed our name on to other companies in the Jarden family, which included Rawlings, which is the 'Official Base- ball of Major League Baseball.'They make baseball gloves and things like that, so we now have a long- standing relationship with Rawlings." Another client that Futuristic worked with is camera maker Pentax USA. "We did two different :30 spots for product launches and then we did what we call 'The Pentax Director Series,' a series of short films by our directors.They range from three to five minutes in length and were shot with the Pentax DSLR camera." The work, says Kiernan, was "not particularly profitable," but they never lost money on it."In the past, [we had] to go out and shoot spec spots to attract work and show what we can do. But that isn't something that you can do when you are a small company, especially in a time of economic challenges.That type of speculative investment is tough, so we went out and found clients that we felt we could do some really creative work for and pitched them on the work,won the work and par- Ma 34 Post • August 2011

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