A lot has changed for local video production companyDeer Run Mediain the past year-they moved into a storefront, toured the country in an RV, started work on a feature-length documentary and worked with clients, such as Unum.
“We’ve grown into this company,” co-founderDaniel Russell said. “I don’t feel like a startup anymore. At first, we were working out of a living room. I’d wake up and walk 10 feet [to start working]. Now it’s a different feeling. It’s almost surreal.
Settle and Berger went to high school in Chattanooga, and the entire team has grown to love the city and the positive ways it’s changed in recent years.
Their office is other near Humanaut and Spartan Ventures.
“There’s a ton of startup companies; there’s creative energy you can feel,”Berger said.
Houston Settle,Jordan Berger and Gavin Fields joinedRussell in founding the company after they all attendedthe University of Mississippi.
They’ve bootstrapped the business, and since launching, they’ve picked up enough client work to support their documentary, the making of which took them across the country and into Mexico.
“The start of 2015 is when we started getting some offers to do jobs that were pretty significant and led us to what we’re doing now,”Settle said.
Driving an RV can be like driving a kite,Russell said. There were some long white-knuckled legs of the trip across the country that ended inMexico’sBaja California Peninsula.
The team of 20-somethings headed there for the Baja 1000, an intense off-road race.Settle described it as an “anything-goes” event, where “people die every single year.”
Settle’s brother-in-law grew up riding dirt bikes and always had this race as a goal. He convinced the Deer Run Media team to come document the event.
The idea was to drive across the country to the race and interview people along the way for a film about the human spirit’s curiosity and adventure, Settle said.
“Why do we do crazy things like that?” Settle said, explaining the theme of the documentary.
Along the way they talked to people like the head of astronomy at the University at Colorado-Boulder about the idea exploring the “final frontier,” Settle said.
The team is currently assessing what else needs to be filmed for the documentary, and there will be a lot of post-production work, but they hope to be finished by next fall.
“This is sort of our first Deer Run Media product that’s not client based,”Fields said. “We definitely want to debut it in Chattanooga and get the filmmaking community excited about it.”
The team also hopes that the process of finishing and debuting the documentary will connect them more to the local filmmaking community.
Challenges and the future
In the past year the team has learned-and they continue to learn-about the details of running a business.
They’ve gotten more comfortable than living paycheck to paycheck and have their own Southside office.
“We have learned a lot,” Berger said. Just being in a more traditional type setting and learning the hard way how to operate a business, how to pay taxes and besides that we’re beginning to refine our style…”
There’s a good amount of demand for video work right now,Berger also said.
The team wants to maintain high-quality work for clients while finishing the documentary. The goal for the year is to debut the documentary, and looking ahead, they see a new hire in the future.
They’ll want to hire someone to help on the business side and to help market them.
Settle said the image for the future is that they can become a collective of four directors, eventually make films and bring their complementaryskills to their projects.
And they said Chattanooga is an ideal place to do that.
“[Chattanooga] is very collaborative,” Settle said. “It’s very friendly.”
And the high-speed Internet doesn’t hurt either,Berger said.