We sat down with the guys from Offbeat, a video production company based out of the Pioneer Collective, to hear a little bit about how they got started in the industry. Thomas Ackles & Danny Chastain come together to create content for everyone from small startups to big companies like Nestle & Dreyer's. To see some of their work, check out their site here.
Q: How did you get interested in film? What’s your background and what led you to your current career?
T: Growing up my brothers and I were nerds and would make short films, music videos, and news broadcasts around the house with friends--much to my mother’s chagrin)--since then I have always loved the process of making something creative. I spent the years leading up to Offbeat as a videographer in a few different cities but decided to join forces with Danny because of his incredible talent and our ability to work together as a team.
D: Growing up I was all about playing sports. However, when I got to college I started to become more interested in the arts and the beauty that they bring to everyday life. I began to sing in the choir and take broadcasting classes and that's when I truly started to dig in to storytelling. Having projects and assignments that were engaging and made me turn on a creative mind really helped me fall in love with photo and video. Since those assignments in college, I've always had a camera over my shoulder wherever I go.
Q: You’ve both been making films most of your lives. What was each of your first films about?
T: One day my older brother convinced me to be the main actor in his music video for "Rainbow Connection" by Kenny Loggins... Needless to say, it may be the most embarrassing video of my life. To this day he claims he will be showing that video at my wedding.
D: The first memorable film that I made was a spoof of the show, “The Osbournes”. Our version was called “The Fatbournes” and my friends and I just stuffed our shirts with pillows and took everything out of the pantry at home and sat around this table with a bunch of food and big bellies talking like Ozzy Osbourne does.
Q: How did you both meet and what made you decide to start a company together?
T&D: We met in college at Gonzaga University. We originally became good friends through music and clubs we were in; then, being in the same major, we worked on projects together and liked each other’s work. We would watch videos of our favorite production companies and also videos from other companies and thought, 'we could do that!'. It was about Junior or Senior year that we decided we wanted to start a company together and after a few years in the field learning separately, we’re finally making it happen!
Q: What are some of the difficulties of being a small production company?
T&D: With the advent of the cell phone camera and affordability of DSLR style cameras, it’s been harder convincing clients that it’s worth their money to hire professionals to produce high quality video content. Everyone knows of a friend with a nice phone or some equipment, but there is value in hiring professionals who can work full time to create the best product.
Q: Offbeat’s aim is to help people get their story out, whether that’s for a restaurant, a student, or a hospital. Why is that important to you?
T&D: Everyone has a story - cliche I know, but it's true. And we are storytellers by nature. We are passionate about people and want to help them to tell their unique stories. Everyone you meet, whether a CEO, janitor, small business owner, or student -- they all have their own story in its own wonderful rite. That being said, with the internet functioning the way its functioning today, there is so much saturation in our lives when it comes to content. We want to tell stories that impact at least one person. If one person is impacted by our work then we've done our job.
Q: What’s the difference between working with, say, students at Gonzaga, and working with big companies like Nestle or Dreyer’s?
T: Honestly, it has been a learning process from the beginning, and I hope that never changes. We always are trying to improve. But I would say the scale of some of our productions and the amount of time and effort that goes into planning things has been a fun but challenging change in our recent projects.
D: To us, only the creative strategy changes with each client. We try to keep the same dedicated approach no matter who the client is. Since we are a small business, we cater to our clients as much as possible and to really make them feel like they're working with friends.
Q: There are a lot of production companies out there. What makes Offbeat different?
T: We are a company where creativity inspires passion. Our goal is to make people feel when they watch our work. That can be happiness, wonder, anger, or even inspiration to act, our goal is for people to feel connected to the human story through the medium of video.
D: Like we said, everyone has a story and everyone knows that to be true. What makes us different is our ability to pick out the story and tell it in an engaging and fitting way. We have a great ability to match the mood of the client and deliver something that they are going to be happy with.
Q: I have to ask… What’s your favorite movie, commercial, or video?
T: So many options! However, I know Danny and I both love the movie La La Land.
D: Thomas is right, La La Land is the best. My favorite commercials were from the 'Real Man of Genius' campaign Budweiser ran many years back -- they still make me laugh every time I watch them.