MarTechSeries: Interview with David Mason, CEO and Founder, StudioNow

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Tell us about your role and journey into technology. What made you start StudioNow?

I have been an entrepreneur for the past 25 years. Along the way, I have dabbled with having a normal job here or there, but always found that my passion was to create ideas and companies from scratch. My key ingredients have always been to identify a large-scale trend (internet retail, WiFi communications, digital video, etc.) and then create a new business model for that industry that utilized technology to disrupt the status quo. I started one of the first internet bookstores in 1994, which later became Buy.com, which was then sold to Rakuten. I started StudioNow in 2007 because I was taking a ton of birthday and vacation pictures of my five- and two-year-olds at the time and never got around to doing anything cool with that content. While thousands of these pictures and videos were clogging up my hard drive other and more experienced individuals with film school backgrounds and editing software were uploading funny and entertaining videos to YouTube and generating millions of views. My original idea was to create a marketplace where less experienced individuals (people like me) could be matched with video experts to turn their pictures and videos into something that was worth watching. StudioNow 1.0 was born and on the first day, we had about 80 video professionals sign up to be part of the StudioNow Creative Network. Fast forward to today, and we now have over 10,000 creative vendors from mom and pop creative shops to some of the largest, high-end production companies in the world. We stopped making video content for individuals in 2008 and our software platform now manages the video creation process (vendor sourcing, bidding, project management, contracting, payment, etc.) for some of the largest companies in the world, including Coca-Cola, P&G, HP, Bridgestone, etc.

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Creative Network Story: Lane McCall

The team at StudioNow sat down with Texas-based Producer, Lane McCall, to hear more about his career and inspirations. Alongside his cousin, Lane runs McCall Films where they produce, direct and edit amazing content for their clients.  His company recently produced a TV docu-series that he claims is the most rewarding project of his career and is a story that the nation needs to hear.

Lane Head Shot-1.jpgStudioNow: Where do you call home?

Lane McCall: I currently live in Houston. Love me some Texans. I am originally from Maine and bounced around a lot for school, work, etc...

SN: What do you do?

LM: I run a production company with my cousin and business partner, Kit. By our powers combined we are... McCall Films. (Cheesy reference, I know, but – I am an 80s kid.) I mainly produce and direct when on location. I also edit, color grade, make phone calls, write emails, build websites and market. My favorite part of production is being on-location and working with people. The variety is great. My least favorite part is the laborious editing, but it's a necessary means to an end.

SN: How did you get started in film and video production?

LM: I floundered around in liberal arts college for a couple years with no direction. It was an expensive and bad idea. I then decided to follow my passion for acting which took me to New York City where I studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse.  Two years later, once actor training was completed, it was either throw my hat into the ring of auditioning or take a summer class at the New York Film Academy. I picked the latter and fell in love with being behind the camera. This was in the year 2000 and I have been fortunate to work in production ever since. 

SN: When given a blank canvas, what’s your creative approach with a new project?

LM: I usually try to exchange it for one of those inspirational cat posters. I like those. OK, not really.... Each project is different. When working for a client I have a desire to see the “full picture”. This always involves asking a lot of questions. I need to know what their goals are with the project and who the audience is. I also want to know about their business.

“I am always looking for ways to 1. Identify which story to tell and 2. Find great ways to tell it.” 

BTS-1.jpg

When I'm in charge (no client), the process involves a lot of brainstorming.  I always like working through ideas with others, but I have found over the years that I do have the ability to execute projects on my own, but when I have someone to work with- 99 times out of 100 – it is a better result. My cousin and I work well together. We ran our own independent companies for over a decade each before teaming up. He's in Maine and I'm in Houston, but we basically leave our phones on speaker phone all day with each other.  We have been in post on a very large project for the better part of the past year and it's been great.  We are always trying to hone in on the two points I mentioned earlier... 1. Identify which story to tell and 2. Find great ways to tell it.

SN: Share with us your most recent/favorite piece of work. How is it reflective of your style and what about it are you most proud of?

LM: This past year we produced a 13 episode TV doc-series called Growing Home. It tells the stories of U.S. Veterans who have come home from their military service and are ranching, riding, farming and working with the great outdoors. It has been a large undertaking. We shot in Maine with three of us running around the state as a skeleton crew for about two and a half months. We then spent the next several months in edits and re-edits. We aired all 13 episodes on the NBC affiliate stations across Maine to some tremendous reviews and ratings. We are currently shopping it around for national distribution. (If you're a TV exec – call me).

This has been the most rewarding project of my career. The veterans that we met are absolutely amazing people. The love they share for their brothers and sisters in the military is outstanding. They are all selfless givers. About half way through the filming process I realized that this was the story we were telling, and it's a story that people and our nation needs to hear more of .

This program certainly reflects my style. I love producing television, but not over-dramatized programming. These are all positive, uplifting stories of real people who continue to believe in each other and are willing to go out of their way to help one another.

SN: What would you say sets you apart from others in your field?

LM: I understand that business is competitive, but I never like to think about my work that way.  I sincerely try to put my best foot forward in each project. I do have a few keys that I have focused on over the years that I continually work to maintain:

I like talent to feel extremely at ease. I think about their comfort, their nervousness, their trust in me and the team. I try to address each of these.

I always like to be prepared. I don't like rushing to a shoot. I typically have all gear ready to go the night before, the plan in place and I try to arrive 30 minutes before I need to be there. (Houston traffic can be.. um... uncooperative at times.)

I am always learning. I marvel at the work of other people and I am always trying to get better. To shoot better, to direct better, to light better, to edit better.

“The learning literally never ends.”  

SN: If you could tell your story through your work, how would you?

LM: Interesting question, you made me pause and think for a few... I think, over the years, my work as been about showing the beauty in people. This isn't something I planned, but looking back it's definitely a constant theme. Fundamentally, as a person – I believe in the good of people, and this is the part of their story I enjoy telling – or at least ending with! While this has largely been an unconscious internal direction with my work, it's actually served me well for corporate clients. Quite often I will hear them say.. “make me look good!” and I always think to myself... “that's all I'm trying to do!”

SN: What/who inspires you?

LM: I almost gave a shallow answer here. It's easy to think of a few people that I admire their careers (number one for me would be Mark Burnett – I am thrilled about his career in TV. If you are Mark Burnett - call me.) But in all honesty, my inspiration largely comes from my faith. I didn't grow up with faith, but trusting in a God that loves me has been absolutely life changing. It has caused me to actually reach for my dreams – and probably best of all, caused me to believe in the dreams in others.

SN: What other forms of media and art do you draw inspiration from? Art, design, fashion, architecture, music, etc.

LM: I love nice hotels. No joke. I walk into a nice hotel lobby and marvel at the construction and design. How this affects my video work – no idea. I do like straight lines though. Neat angles and clean design. You should see our living room. My wife says our home looks like a hotel.

SN: What’s next for you?

LM: We actually have several things in progress involving different aspects of video businesses. We are also in development on more TV. We have 5 more and better TV shows down the pipe that will all be great in their time. (If you are a TV exec or Mark Burnett – call me.) I love building things, not as in carpentry (I'm horrible at that), but as in businesses. The next decade should be a lot of fun.

I sincerely want to thank StudioNow for inviting me to share my story here. You have been a very, very great company to work with over the past several years, and have meant a lot to me and my family.  

Big thanks to Lane for sharing with us his story. See Lane’s work at https://www.mccallfilms.com/.

Want us to share your story? Email our Creative Network team at network@studionow.com and be sure to keep your eyes open for the next StudioNow Creative Network Story. We look forward to hearing from you!

 

About our Creative Network

Cameron Gray
ABOUT THE AUTHOR | Cameron Gray

 

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