This week’s small business spotlight brings us full circle in a few ways. Our own co-founder, Mike Samson, was once a Producer and Production Manager in the film and television industry. Many of his frustrations with trying to outsource video work are some of the reasons crowdSPRING was created.
So today we’re bringing you Cameo Content. Founder Sean Barney worked as part of the production team for both a documentary and independent feature. He then went on to begin producing spec commercials for directors looking to submit their work into crowdsourcing contests (sound familiar?). After a steady stream of success and awards, including MoFilm Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions Advertising Festival, Sean formalized his company. Though they work primarily with advertisers now, Cameo Content is currently developing two feature films, a short film and a short documentary.
Sean took some time to share more about his company:
How would you explain what you do to somebody’s grandmother?
Cameo Content creates and produces TV commercials, web videos, industrial videos and any type of “short form” video content. Our team consists of some of the most creative and resourceful minds out there. We are able to write concepts and create material that is far more original and unique than most content you see being made. As a young startup with backgrounds based in independent filmmaking, we built our business model around low overhead to bring a much higher value to our customers than is traditionally found at most other production companies.
What are some industry specific challenges you faced?
They say the biggest challenge is the blank page, so whenever we’re writing a new idea for somebody we make sure to work with them in tandem to learn as much as we can about them to ensure we can produce an idea and product they will be thrilled with. Most audiences today don’t want to be “sold to”, but everyone connects with relatable characters and great stories. With everyone production we do, we try to integrate products naturally into compelling stories — as opposed to the traditional approach of telling the audience to buy something.
What made you use crowdSPRING?
Many members of our team actually jump-started their professional careers through the crowdsourcing community, by creating videos and commercials on spec to submit to branded crowdsourcing competitions — which we’ve been well rewarded for! We are firm believers in crowdsourcing and will continue to participate with several organizations who turn to crowdsourcing to generate concepts and scripts for their commercials and videos. Add the fact that several of our close friends have had great experiences on crowdSPRING and it seemed like the perfect fit for us.
What was your biggest learning curve/experience?
One thing I wasn’t fully prepared for was the sheer amount of paperwork, accounting, and legalities one must deal with when starting up a new company. No one tells you up front everything that needs to be done when you start your own business. Because of the fact that I never took any business classes in school, the “business side” of the process has been a huge learning curve — but being able to create our own content and doing what we love makes it completely worth our while.
What’s the craziest story you have from starting your own business?
During one of the first commercials Cameo Content produced, we really had to stretch a small budget as far as we could. As a consequence, I ended up lending my house to the production for filming — which also ended up being the same weekend of the worst rain storm Los Angeles had seen in 8 years. Not to mention it was meant to be a “bright sunny” spot, including people lounging in the backyard, but thanks to a talented crew and a little “movie magic” we were able to pull it all off without too much mud in the house.
If you could go back, would you do anything differently? If so, what and why?
I was very fortunate in that I was able to start the company with clients and jobs already lined up, however it meant the actual creation of the business had to happen faster than what would be ideal. I’ve had to create my business plan a bit after the fact, and in a perfect world I would’ve liked to have had a solid long term plan from day one.
How do you see your company growing in the future?
We’re constantly aiming to work with more filmmakers, more clients, and a wider variety of projects. In addition to planning future commercials, we are developing a short film, a documentary, and a couple of feature films. We fully expect to expand into those fields of entertainment over the coming years.
Six words of advice to those looking to start their own company.
Remember to find time to sleep.
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