Always Create. An Article from ProductionHub, by Me

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This article first appeared in ProductionHub:

When a big part of your job is creating art for commerce, it’s really easy to get busy with the commerce side of things and forget to feed your artist side. Ten years ago, a friend of mine got a tattoo that said: “All Ways Create”. The spelling was intentional, he’s a versatile artist of many mediums. The point is, I’ve never known him not to be working on his own projects alongside his corporate and commercial work.

But it’s been harder for me to create for myself, especially as I’ve grown up. My business takes a lot of time and attention. It seems like I’m always flying off to direct and shoot for clients, working on proposals, writing scripts, or in post-production with often brutal deadlines. It’s been really hard to find the time to do something not “on the clock”. And hey, I’m grateful: it’s wonderful to be able to create for a living.

Then this November I had a big setback at work. A job I’d committed to got frozen for a month. I was out a lot of money and scrambling to reschedule and move other things around to accommodate. I knew this “dead time” was really bad for me and for my small team, who were expecting to get paid right before Christmas. Things felt pretty bleak.

So I wrote. Quickly and from the heart. A few hours later, I had a concept and a script for a very short, very heartfelt holiday film about family and being apart for the holidays. I sent it to my LA producer Jessica, who loved it and had great ideas on how to make it better- even on the non-existent budget we had. That night, we finished the script together and we put out casting notices for New York (where I was) and Los Angeles (where I would be in a week). 

The only way to make this project happen was to keep things small and agile. That meant a New York crew of me, my DP friend Eric, and a PA. In LA we added a makeup artist and Jessica produced while she and I also filled in all the gaps with things like wardrobe, props, and art direction. Eric caught a free flight to LA thanks to an understanding friend who works as a flight attendant. It was total guerrilla operation, but we’re all working professionals who know how to be scrappy. It helped that we did like Robert Rodriguez says to do in his book “Rebel Without a Crew” and wrote to locations and resources I knew we could get. And we used the camera and lighting I had on hand thanks to the job that fell through, while Eric brought his anamorphic lens along for the fun.

We filmed on the streets of New York, guerilla-style in Central Park, at Rockefeller Center, Fifth Avenue, even outside Tiffany’s. It was magical. A week later, we were in LA filming at a condo, on Hollywood Blvd., and at Runyon Canyon overlooking downtown LA. Also magical, in a completely different way.

About a week later, I finished editing and post-production and we put “A Cup of Kindness” out into the world. Just in time for the holidays. 

It’s been amazing getting messages from friends old and new, telling us how much the film touched them. I love that people are enjoying it and sharing it online. It’s become the perfect “Thank You” card from us to everyone who’s made an impact in our lives this year. My soul feels truly fed, my creative batteries are recharged. I’m grateful for the once terrible setback that has turned into a chance to create.

And I’m sure that’s not the end of the story. See, another thing my friend with the tattoo taught me is when you are creating stuff that matters to you it often leads to opportunities you’d never expected. This has proven true for me in the past. About 3 years ago I did another project for love that has unexpectedly helped my company land work with large Fortune 500 companies and a few prominent ad agencies. It seems like when you put your creative energy out into the world, it usually comes back multiplied.

So downtime? Setbacks? Yeah, they suck. But I urge you to be resilient and use them to work on your own projects. To always create. You’ll definitely hone your voice and satisfy your soul. Maybe you’ll create something that resonates with an audience. You might even create something that helps you in ways you cannot yet imagine.

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Patrick Ortman Interview by New Filmmakers LA

I’ve been meaning to post this for a long time. Here’s Danny De Lillo interviewing me about my short film “A New York Love Story”:

Wipster Says We Rock

Five years ago I gave a short, squinty-eyed video interview to a startup called Wipster that not only makes cool tools for video agencies, they actually care about the industry.

Now, all these years later Wipster’s bigger than ever. And this week, Wipster says we’re one of six cool video agencies producing boundary-pushing content. Thanks, Wipster!

Here’s what I said about the future of video five years ago, in Austin, Texas at SXSW:

 

Why Is It Still So Hard to Find a Great Corporate Video Production Company in Los Angeles?

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A million years ago (ok, back in 2014) Noam Kroll wrote that corporate video production companies in Los Angeles were lazy sloths who didn’t bother to keep up with the times, didn’t deserve to get the work they got, and mostly did utterly crapola work. OK, I’m paraphrasing. A lot. You can read what Noam really said here (and you should, as Noam’s not just a smart guy- he’s also much more polite than I am).

Done? OK, cool. Thing is, Noam has a point. In the land of 2,000 video production companies, Los Angeles is exceptionally lacking in high-quality corporate video companies. Here’s why I think most corporate videos in Los Angeles suck:

The Greater Los Angeles area covers 600 square miles. It’s HUGE!!! Not only is Los Angeles so big, there’s far too many companies competing in the video production space. While some may say “Great! The more competition, the better” it’s not so. The fact that LA’s so big and so crowded with production companies means it becomes very hard for clients to find the right company to work with. Even if your work stands out head-and-shoulders above the competition, your prospective clients have to wade through dozens and hundreds of listings to find you.

At the same time, 99% of the companies doing corporate videos in Los Angeles don’t take it seriously. Noam’s probably right that most of them wish they were doing Hollywood stuff. Thing is, whatever you do you should take it seriously and do your best. It’s shocking to me to see over-exposed, poorly-composed footage and flat-out lazy storytelling in 2019. I don’t get it, because to me you’re only as good as your last job. And fairly enough, most of these fly-by-night video production companies go out of business quickly. But they clog up the system bigtime, and make the rest of us look bad.

It’s kind of like dating. You go on two dozen dates with total duds? Your expectations get lowered and you settle for less than you should.

Therefore, finding a great corporate video company becomes insanely hard for clients. They become fatigued during the search. I’ve been there: it sucks looking at hundreds of (mostly crappy) reels. So you know what they do? A) they just look at the companies spending the most on GoogleAds and pick a few to talk with, B) they say to hell with this mess and hire an advertising agency instead of going direct to a production company, or C) they give up and stay with the aforementioned lazy sloths who don’t bother to keep up with the times and really do not deserve the work they get.

 

Evolve the Corporate Video

One of the more interesting bits Noam’s article suggests is that the low quality of Los Angeles’ corporate video production companies has resulted in not only bad videos, but in companies without the vision to do something great. He suggests that clients need to be brought into the now, and they need to embrace corporate videos that use storytelling and entertainment to get their points across. He points out a few examples, and they’re worth checking out.

Noam basically feels it is past time for the production companies and the corporate clients to evolve. I think he’s right. There’s so much “noise” in the corporate video world that to stand out and get your ideas out there you need to change things up. Some of the bigger companies (Fortune 500s, brands you know) have embraced this approach. And it’s working for them.

For corporate video production companies, this means changing how you do business. You need to start seeing yourselves as creative agencies, not just button-pushing video monkeys. And probably you need to understand that part of the job is educating clients about the possibilities video offers when done right. I’m not sure many production companies are set up to do this. I think most of them can’t do it at all, actually. Certainly the aforementioned lazy sloths cannot.

So do I think all is lost? No. Not at all. I think there’s a huge opportunity for smart video production companies and corporate videos in Los Angeles. The question is, are you as a client or production company willing to evolve and demand more?

 

NoFilmSchool: Article about “Cup of Kindness” and the Fuji X-T3

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Patrick wrote an article for famous filmmaking website NoFilmSchool about the Fuji X-T3 and how it was used on the short holiday film “Cup of Kindness”. It’s at: https://nofilmschool.com/Fujifilm-XT3-Film-Review, so enjoy!

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Welcome, 2019.

Every year I write a “year in review” before the new year comes. This year, I won’t. Don’t get me wrong- 2018 was exceptionally great for us in a lot of ways. And it’d look like bragging if I listed all the reasons. But it’s more that there’s much going on at the moment, so it feels best to not look back right now. It feels best to continue the forward momentum. Because there are big positive changes afoot. I’m excited to share them with the world, when its time.

So I will keep this year’s wrapup blog simple:

Thank you for being part of our story in 2018. We loved having you along as part of our big adventure. May 2019 bring you peace, happiness, love, and success. However you define those things.

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New Short Film: “Cup of Kindness” Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays

We made this micr0-short film to thank everyone we’ve worked with in 2018, and to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

“Cup of Kindness” is about family and the holidays. Sometimes we can’t be with our loved ones for the holidays, but family is always together in spirit.

Filmed in New York and Los Angeles for an insanely tiny budget and with a very small crew. Shot on a Fujifilm XT3 camera in 4K DCI (uploaded in UHD).

Starring Patrick Stoffer and Rebecca Noble
Directed, Edited, and Post-Production by Patrick Ortman
Written by Patrick Ortman and Jessica Rothert
Story by Jessica Rothert and Patrick Ortman
Produced by Jessica Rothert & Patrick Ortman
Director of Photography Eric Richardson
Makeup Artist Gabriela Banda
NY Super Production Assistant Matt P. Jones
Music by Dexter Britain

© 2018 Plucky Films, LLC For more visit http://patrickortman.com

Commercials and Brand Films Showreel: Winter 2018/9 Los Angeles & New York

We’ve been quite busy over here this year. And now, just two days after completing filming for a secret project, is our winter 2018-2019 commercials and brand films showreel:

Local/Regional Holiday TV Commercial: BesDam Soup

We’re becoming most known for creating Fortune 100 brand films and other agency-style video productions. But that’s not all we do. Sometimes, we work to help smaller businesses get noticed. That’s what we’re doing for our friend Ed Covino’s Bes’Dam Soup brand. Ed needed a very cost-effective TV commercial for the holidays that would grab his audience’s attention. And he wanted a heavy direct response television (DRTV) vibe to it.

We love a challenge, and there’s nothing like the challenge of finding ways to work with the budgets small businesses require. And, I really like helping small businesses who have a great product and want to get known. It’s the kind of work that warms your heart maybe just a little more than the typical project. Especially around the holidays.

We helped Ed edit his script, and then made it happen for him in Los Angeles. Ed and his son Eddie came out to co-star in the commercial, with pro LA actors Bryna and Jenna rounding out the cast. Our goal was to create a cute and effective commercial for Ed that would look like it cost more what it did and help get Bes’Dam Soup noticed this holiday season.

Ed’s very happy with the results. Here’s what he said:

After a few years of good business growth, I realized that I needed to advertise Bes’Dam Soup Nationally on TV if I was ever going to have the huge expansion that I sought.  

I’m a creative and resourceful entrepreneur, and I’m also wise enough to know when to bring in the right experts with good chemistry between us.  After researching and speaking with several TV Commercial production companies, I still didn’t feel a connection. Then I spoke with Patrick of PatrickOrtman.com.

From the moment we first spoke, Patrick took the time to get to know not only my business, but to know me, my family and our story.  This was vital for us to work together and envision Bes’Dam Soup’s marketing strategy. For the months that then followed, the creative chemistry between us strengthened as we developed the project.  Any ideas or concerns that were brought to the table by one of us, would be completely understood by the other. Patrick has since gotten to know my wife and son, and I now consider him to be a good friend.

Patrick showed patience and worked with my financial challenges to make this dream happen.  Although we have become friends, this has never lessened his commitment to my project and my satisfaction as a client first.

We have now completed this first of many TV commercials, and I must say that the quality of his work exceeded my expectations.  Although this whole “Filming” world is new to me, I could recognize strong talent and style as Patrick worked with the actors, and setup of the entire shoot day.  I even had my adult nephew there to observe, who is in “the business” with 5 Emmys; and he expressed to me that he was very impressed. That meant a lot.

Patrick’s editing skills proved priceless, as he then worked with the many “takes” that he shot that day.  The finished segment with graphics, audio and cinematography artwork resulted in an amazing commercial and opportunity for me to launch Bes’Dam Soup onto the National stage.

I highly recommend PatrickOrtman,com for all production needs!

Ed Covino, Owner
Bes’DamSoup.com

Look for the Bes’Dam Soup holiday commercial on TV this weekend and after Thanksgiving.

By the way, the soup? It’s very delicious and it makes a great holiday gift. They ship the soup frozen to lock in the flavor, and it tastes… well, like the Bes’Dam soup you’ve had. You can get some at besdamsoup.com.

Another New York City Corporate Video Project- Fortune 100

Coverpath Onboarding Corporate Film for Financial Advisors from PatrickOrtman, Inc. on Vimeo.

Here’s our latest work for MassMutual. It’s aimed at their 10,000 or so financial advisors and is meant to help give them a more in-depth introduction to their new Coverpath insurance platform. It’s more educational than the other videos we’ve created for this series. But we worked hard to make it as entertaining as possible.

We shot this over a few days in September in New York, including some shooting at Roosevelt Island. It was a blast!

About PatrickOrtman, Inc.

PatrickOrtman, Inc. is one of the top-rated video production companies in Los Angeles and New York City. We make high-end corporate videos, and commercials for TV and digital for clients that include 11 Fortune 500s.