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HomeNewsCorporate Video: Strike Alternative

Corporate Video: Strike Alternative


By Paige Donner
Is there an alternative to TV and film production work for crew as TV shows are halted or suspended due to the WGA strike? Some production companies and crew are seeing just that in the realm of corporate video production.
“This is the beauty of corporate productions: There’s always a need for new media,” says Craig “Burnie” Burns, owner of Burnie’s Grip and Lighting in Laguna Beach. Burns says demand for his services has grown rapidly in the past 18 months, with orders for lighting and grip equipment coming in from production companies contracted by such corporations as Oakley and Red Camera.
Corporate video productions are a market that is exploding, fueled by the proliferation of web TV, Internet channels and branded entertainment. A quick glance at Bud.TV, for example, gives a solid sense of where the corporate video market is and what it’s evolving into.
A large portion of corporate production is “disposable media,” meaning that the information produced has a short shelf life. Much of what’s produced is meant to be seen by small groups, such as corporate executives or a specific employee division, that can number less than 100 or as many as 1,000. Some become viral videos, such as jeans maker Diesel’s “Heidies” underwear campaign, which began as a web video campaign and was so successful the company expanded it into print.
“Corporate production work is really a hidden market,” says Burns. He recently provided Oakley, which is launching a new product line of rainproof clothes, with a 24-foot Mitsubishi truck, an 18K and 6K lighting package and a dolly for a night shoot. Burns’ relationship with Red serves him well: the camera was used on the Oakley shoot and Burns, who was the gaffer and provided the lighting for the development team while they were testing the camera, knows just what to have on hand to optimize production results.
Bud.TV is a slick example of corporate video productions. The site offers a dozen shows, such as The Arrogant Fake British Guy, Replaced By A Chimp, What Girls Want and Donnie Briggs: Life Coach.
“Adult beer drinkers are actively seeking new, professionally produced, entertaining content on the web, yet there are very few destinations for high-quality entertaining content,” says Jim Schumacker, VP of digital marketing for Anheuser-Busch. “Bud.TV helps fill that void by being a portal for original entertainment found nowhere else on the Internet from some of the world’s most creative content providers.”
Bud.TV sponsored an open contest in October in which entrants were asked to reinterpret one of the movie scenes featured on the site. Viewers vote on their favorites with the winners’ clips airing on Movies Rock Dec. 7 on CBS.
“One of the beauties of working on corporate productions is that they have immediate needs,” says Burns. “Their marketing departments will decide on what they want specifically and then they will expect it to be delivered within 24 hours.”
Burns also provides lighting and grip services in association with DLP Lighting Services, owned by Kelly Porterfield, for The Sarah Silverman Show and Curb Your Enthusiasm. “The development of web TV and Internet productions creates an entirely new dynamic,” says Burns. “There’s more work than any one person could hold on to, and that’s even just down here in Orange County.”
Burns has provided his equipment for corporate video productions contracted by companies such as: Mazda, Nissan, Toyota, Ralphs, Vons, Toshiba, Cannon, Broadcom, Winnebago, Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons, Hyatt, Verizon and Pac Sun.
Other advantages to corporate productions are that the budgets are fair-market value, on a par with standard commercial and Hollywood production budgets. Also, usually, once you’re done shooting, they release you from the set.
Not so, says Ada Shaw, assistant editor on the ABC show, Greek, which is halting production as a direct result of the WGA strike. “Corporate video productions are often very demanding, requiring an editor to not only edit, but do their own visual FX, sound design, color timing and mastering to DVD. The distressing thing about this is that these jobs only pay about half the rate we are normally paid in network TV. This is because these productions are non-union, so there is no minimum rate for editors. Editors also get no health benefits or pension hours for these kinds of jobs.”
Large corporations such as Anheuser-Busch are active in all spectrums of film and video content. “Here’s To Beer” is the industry development effort led by Anheuser-Busch, which commissioned a documentary-style film called The American Brew earlier this year. The film, which celebrates brewing and beer’s role in American culture, aired in April on A&E to coincide with the 74th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. All content produced for the web video channel is handled by their advertising agency partner, DDB, out of Chicago.
“The future I see is absolutely limitless,” says Burns, “We’ll go from the 150 or so channels that we have currently to 15,000 channels or more,” he states, referencing the explosion in web-based TV and Internet channels. “The mix of entertainment and product, the meld of the two, will outpace anything we are doing right now.”
Shaw, whose network TV job will soon end, adds: “I never want to take a non-union job, but editors’ salaries are currently so low that I won’t be able to survive a 10 month strike if I don’t go outside the union to take an independent film or even a job in reality TV. By the way, this whole thing really hurts the movement to unionize reality TV, because here we union people are turning to them for work.”

Written by Paige Donner

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