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:

 

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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It was 7 Years Ago Today

7 years ago, we did our very first promo video. This is it, from the archives for your enjoyment.

Back then, PatrickOrtman, Inc. was a digital agency. Which really meant we made websites. But the seeds were planted: the fun stuff was moving on to film and video. So we did, too. Now we have 12 Fortune 500s on our client list, and we’re in both Los Angeles and New York City.

It’s good to look back, now and then. Thank you to everyone who’s been a part of our journey: crew, clients, talent, and friends. So far, so good. I wake up every day grateful that I get to work with such talented and fun people, on both sides of the lens and on both coasts of our country.

ps: here’s some stills from that day of filming, courtesy of Nic Adams.

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More Behind-The-Scenes Shots, these from a Los Angeles Commercial shoot

Hi, Patrick here. The frequent flying back and forth between New York and Los Angeles has its perks and its pitfalls, but I know I’m super lucky to have two amazing crew families between these two fine cities. Jessica (bicoastal producer) and I really love so much about each coast, and I think being bicoastal helps our work continue to improve in interesting ways. So here’s our LA family doing what we do best- making moving pictures!

Help Wanted, Boutique Video Production Company Seeks Everything

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I love that talented, smart, hard-working people want to work with our production studio. Every day we get resumes and inquiries from at least half a dozen people who’d possibly make great co-conspirators in our company.

And that’s a problem. Meaning, we are a boutique video company. We don’t have an HR staff: the partners are our HR staff. And there’s not enough time in the day to watch every reel and to personally respond to everyone. Not even close.

This is a part of our  business that, frankly, we’re still figuring out. So it’s not rudeness if we don’t get back to you. And it has nothing to do with your worthiness or talent. Mostly, it’s that we’re not looking to fill a position that you’d be right for at this time.

And yet, I don’t want to discourage someone from sending us their stuff. Because once in a while, someone has perfect timing and their work comes across our desks just when we’re saying something like “wow, we could really use a great motion graphics designer”, or “I wish we had a junior director/dp in xxx city”. Or whatever.

We keep your stuff when you send it to us. We have files. We tag your emails and your reels so we can pull you up when needed. It’s just, we might not respond directly to you until we do have an immediate need.

We’ll keep working on our hiring process as our company grows. I just want those who share their creativity with us to know that I do appreciate it, and you. Thank you.

 

2017 In Review Part One: When a Project’s Not a Good Fit for Us

We do commercials, DRTV, and higher-quality corporate/promo/brand videos for clients and agencies. We get a lot of client inquiries, and as our business has evolved it’s become clear that a percentage of these leads are not a good fit for us. There was a time when we went after every lead that came our way, but that’s really inefficient for us and it’s not right for every potential client. So, in the past couple of years we’ve been working to refer leads that we don’t match with to video production companies that might be a better fit for their needs. We haven’t asked for anything back from these companies, we do this because it’s the right thing to do.

In the past year we’ve referred maybe $80,000 of video work to smaller companies in Los Angeles and New York who could use the business. I feel really good about that. See, I don’t believe life is a zero-sum game. I think life can be a win-win. I feel like being clear about the kinds of projects we do helps us focus on our strengths and attract the right kinds of clients for us. And I feel that referring business to other companies when the lead isn’t a good match for us helps the overall communities in which we operate.

One of our core values is giving back, and we’ll keep on helping others in the new year.

 

A Moment Can Make a Difference

A moment from one person can make all the difference.

Steve was working at the grocery store today. He’s a bagger and he’s always working to keep things tidy. Steve has the best attitude of anyone I’ve ever met. He’s also a special needs guy.

Today, I was feeling a little wistful because it’s Isla’s last day of preschool before Kindergarten, and as I was walking out of the store, Steve jumped in front of me and high-fived me, saying “today is a beautiful day!”. “Yes, Steve it is”, I replied. He liked that. And it put me in a good, maybe more mindful mood.

Then on my drive, I saw an older lady who was sitting on the ground. A friend was with her, but something didn’t seem right. So I turned around and asked if she was ok and if she needed any help, or even a ride home. They were actually ok, and lived a couple houses down, but, like Steve taking care of me, they were super-thrilled somebody stopped to show they care.

And maybe today they’ll be more mindful of others, too. And so on. To infinity and beyond. I like to imagine a human wave of kindness overtaking the frustration and bad feelings we’re all getting exposed to on a macro level.

Micro matters, too. Thanks, Steve.

How to Spend Money on Gear Wisely in 2017 (Skip the Camera!)

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This one’s for my fellow video production nerds.

Smart people realize that cameras have been solved. This might be why RED’s new product is a phone. Not a camera. Cameras are done. They’re great. Today. And semi-affordable. The huge gap between “great” and what the average DP can afford is pretty much gone, and if you’re still selling yourself based on your camera instead of your work, you are way behind the times.

Put simply, the most important thing is your talent in using the gear. The gear alone doesn’t differentiate you, anymore. Pros can Continue reading

On the Importance of Personal Projects for Creatives

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I keep relearning the lesson of how important it is for us creatives to always be working on personal projects. First, they’re fun to do! Second, they let you hone new skills. And third, sometimes they show clients a side of you that they didn’t know about. This can pay huge dividends.

For instance, about a year and a half ago I was in New York more than I wasn’t. I live and work in both LA and New York, and I’m not sure why LA wasn’t clicking for me at that time, but I was grateful that New York was. New York was keeping Continue reading

Storytelling.

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The longer I direct films and videos, the more I see that one factor, above all, helps make or break a project. It’s not the camera (although that matters), It’s not necessarily even the actors or director you hire (although those certainly matter, too). It is story.

If a project has a crappy story, it will fail- no matter how much money you have, no matter how much star power you throw at it, and certainly no matter which state-of-the-art camera you use.

And it’s my job to at least do everything I can to help my clients tell their stories.

It still surprises me when a potential client tells me they don’t want our input on the story they’re telling. I deal with story everyday. It is my lingua franca (that means it’s my trade language, I love Wikipedia).

My job is to learn everything I can about a client and their business, and it’s my job to then take their story and do what’s possible to make it a great story- one that appeals to their audience and incites them to action.

Sometimes a client comes to us with an idea almost-fully realized, and just needs a bit of input. That’s fine. Often, we write the whole thing. That’s fine, too.

But I hate it when a possible client believes they have everything nailed down, and won’t take my input at all. That’s the potential client who will freak out during production or editing, when it’s usually far too late to change direction.

I don’t have time for that silliness.

And so, today… finally… I am drawing a line in the sand. My job is to be your director. And my company’s job is to be your video production company. If a potential client approaches us from now on, and does not want us to help them make their project fantastic- including getting our input on their concept and script to some degree- I will not work with them.


Patrick is the founder of Los Angeles and New York City based PatrickOrtman, Inc., a creative video agency that has won a ton of ADDY and Telly awards, worked with 9 Fortune 500s (and tons of startups), and been featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, Toronto Star, USA Today, and many other print and online publications in the advertising and other industries.

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.