The theme this weekend seems to be about event filmmakers going commercial. A good friend and colleague of mine is Ryan Koral, the international award-winning event filmmaker behind Epic Motion who has recently launched a new commercial video production company Tell.
If you’re interested in making a transition from event to commercial work, check out what Ryan has to say about his experience.
- I noticed you started new division/company called “Tell.” What is it and what does it provide? Tell is our corporate/commercial division. It’s sort of like Epic Motion.. with Epic Motion, we craft stories for life events and stories… anything business related falls under our new brand: Tell.
- Why the new name? Epic Motion is such a cool name. Epic Motion lives on. We wanted to eliminate brand confusion. We have lost out on potential jobs because agencies have come to our website and the first thing they see are images and text targeted to brides. Rather than convince people that we know how to tell stories and make great films – for brides and for businesses, we thought it would make everyone’s lives a lot easier to build this sister company.
- Are you switching your focus from weddings to commercial work, or will you keep them relatively balanced? We will keep them relatively balanced from our end and see what happens organically. I think within time, our commercial work will keep us busy year-round rather than just our initial hope of keeping us busy during the slow season (November – April).
- I’m seeing a lot of high profile wedding filmmakers undertake a brand change to do more commercial work? Why do you think that is? For us it’s two-fold. 1. It gives us an opportunity to think differently. Our creativity and approach are both challenged by doing commercial work… it’s good for our brains. It is really stretching us to become better story-tellers.. whether through weddings or through businesses… and 2. We have so much margin during our down time to create new work. If we were as busy filming weddings during the 6 months of our slow season, we would obviously double our income. With commercial work, the jobs are usually bigger and the profit margin is greater – so if only for those 6 months we are busy, we’ll be doing more than what weddings do for us and we’re not planning on stopping at 6 months: we’re gonna try to make Tell busy for 12 months out of the year.
- What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced establishing Tell? Doing all of the branding in our slow season was hard financially… Outside of that, our branding guy is AMAZING and our experience with creating new stuff made for a pretty smooth launch. The other hard part was creating a promo piece for ourselves. It’s hard to make films about one’s self probably because our standards are so high.
- What advice would you give to others looking to make a similar change? Know what you want to do and what you don’t want to do. Have procedures in place for taking on big clients. Have a team in place ready to turn projects around way faster than any bride and groom want their stuff back. Hire a branding expert. Hire a web design firm. Don’t cut corners. Make it awesome from the beginning if you really believe in what you’re doing.
- What advice can you give on growing a staff? Don’t do it. Just kidding. Make sure it’s what you want and need to do. Be authentic. Don’t hire people just because you like them. Get a business consultant. Get help interviewing. Have job titles and responsibilities laid out for every area in your business. Know what areas you need help in. Hire for those areas. Don’t do it alone.
Ryan Koral is owner and producer of both Epic Motion and Tell. He has been named one of the Top 25 Most Influential Filmmakers in the World by Event DV. Based in Royal Oak, Michigan, he is passionate about people and their stories. He is crazy about his family, too.