Surviving 2020

Being grateful, finding ourselves and highlighting our year

entry no. 31

As I'm sure this year has been a whirlwind for many, we're most grateful we survived, and sometimes that's enough. This isn't the first, or the last time we'll face hardship, but what helps us push forward is ingesting the information and deciding what to do with it. 2020 had plenty of small to large setbacks, but we were lucky enough to still grow along the way.


Being a creative is so much more than just making a great piece of art, buying the next tool for the job, or finding motivation. It's being in-tune with yourself, building mental strength, critical thinking, taking care of yourself, pleasing others, and many more. This year we managed to land jobs still, maintain our standard of quality, improve systems, and find ourselves, but not without sacrifice.


WE STILL HAVE CLIENTS

Obviously, we were fortunate to have work and be in demand. While we still took a dip in overall revenue, we found ourselves being sought out by more serious artists, who better understood our unique value. That alone helped make every project more optimistic and more manageable to push through. Our client onboarding felt productive and made it smoother getting into each project.


This year we took on 21 fewer clients than the previous year; however, I think this allowed for more growth in the long run. It's easy to look at numbers or information and judge, but the truth is, we made the most of this year regardless of our financial situation, and for that, we are proud.


FINDING OURSELVES

As a service provider, it's easy to get caught up in the cycle of working "in the business" and not "on it," let alone making the time to create things for yourself. For years, we've been planning and setting things up to get back to the roots of narrative-driven work, in the form of short films, skits, or whatever we can dream up. With fewer clients, more free time, and quite a few ideas we had been sitting on, it became "go time." We managed to shoot seven short films and a few smaller skits. Shooting the shorts recharged our drive, bringing us back to our love for filmmaking, being the first time in years we made something for ourselves, with our full vision intact.


In addition to creative work, a tremendous amount of alone time has had us more in-tune with what we want and what the business wants. It's allowed us to re-invest into education, give back to various other communities (Studio Sherpas, The Video Community, Creative Bloc, and a few others), and grow as people. Closing up 2020, we've never felt more prepared to handle our projects, maintain what makes us JECP and give back all simultaneously.


TIME IS PRECIOUS

It's been a trick getting to this point, but it's all come down to a realization of time being more valuable and how to create better systems, impacting our time positively. We've refined how we take a client from start to finish and make the whole experience next-level. We're so proud of that work and having the time to give JECP a full make-over and not while we're moving. I think this year forced us to do things differently, which opened our minds.


WE GOT PRETTY GOOD AT VIDEO CALLS

The most considerable change in many ways is video calls, which may sound silly. We're pretty old fashioned, and when the time is right, I know we'll still prefer a good face-to-face meeting, but for now, it's video meetings. It was hard to find a way to connect at the start, and we felt like we were learning how to conduct meetings from the ground up.


We love meetings, and they are the start of every JECP project. Connecting with our artists, understanding their brand, the challenges, and the task at hand all play a role in building better projects. When we get meetings right, it impacts a better proposal, which brings us to production smoothly and creates alignment. It was essential for us to get this right. Today, we love video meetings because we can better control our time, save on travel, and ultimately bring us to projects quicker. It took us a minute to realize this, but now we enjoy video calls and are finding ourselves investing in more tools to improve that experience.


While I'm grateful to have positives, we are realistic about everything and understand that negative things happen. This year was adapt or die, unfortunately. It's sad to see other professionals throw in the towel, but my hope is that time allows them to take care of themselves, recover and emerge healthy, more prepared, and better than ever.


SMALLER CREW

One of our main ideas has been that people build projects, and 2020 hit us here the hardest. Financially we survived, but not without making many changes to how we conducted production. Stripping crews back to reduce costs and increase safety was hard. We wanted to maintain safe sets but also make sure JECP survived to fight another day. The truth is, a healthy business stays in business, and the business that's still around continues serving its clients. We made decisions based on that vantage point. We asked a lot of every freelancer who worked a set, and thankfully they all rose to the occasion.


We could not have made it through this year without the people we willing to play multi-roles, work hard, and stay dedicated to serving our artist's great experiences. My hope is what we did this year will pay off bigger in 2021, between referrals, repeat clients, and making a more well-oiled and adaptable team. Even outside of projects, our creative community is pretty unique, and we've been missing everyone a lot.


MENTALLY EXHAUSTING

Innovation doesn't just happen, and this year was a lot of last-minute curveballs and trying to make the best decisions. We're great at executing, but getting there is a lot of mental work. The theme for many projects was getting all the details locked in, which was more problematic in a pandemic, and then days before production, something would fall through. We try to solve everything we can with grace, but the mental exhaustion was real.


Having less volume probably played a role to some degree, but we were all feeling pretty close to burnout around July. This is the moment we switched gears into dedicating time towards passion projects. If we hadn't done that, I'm not sure we would be as happy with this year's closing or still have the passion for the paid projects. We love our clients, but the mental toll is real. Our advice for creatives is to satisfy yourself as often as you do your clients; it's crucial.


To sum it all up, we survived, grew, and helped a few others along the way. We're optimistic that 2021 will be full of some big wins because of 2020 efforts. This year took patience, looking inward, getting things done we put off, and being true to ourselves. A huge thank you to every artist, director, or producer who hired and trusted us. You fueled the JECP machine. Additionally, our team stuck by our sides even in the uncertainty and under pressure with a can-do attitude. JECP survived in 2020, and that's enough.


Below we have links to all our projects for the year that are released publicly. Enjoy!

90's Kids | High School

We kicked 2020 off strong with a very ambitious long-take style music video with 90's Kids.

Inferious | Weak Willed + Bloodline

This project technically falls into 2019 when we produced them, but they were a part of a 2020 release and thought we should share here.


The Fears | Break Me Down, Love Me Tonight + I Don't Know

We produced this campaign of work to help establish The Fears from a performance aspect and to introduce the deeper meaning associated around the band.


Outsider Heart | Leper's Bell

We've wanted to work with Outsider Heart for a while now and this project brought together a simple creative with fun execution. Love this group!


Brewdog x Lamb of God | Ghost Walker Collaboration Beer

Being the music video guys opened up a door and great relationship with the team at Brewdog. We're eager to see where this relationship takes us in 2021.


David Curtis | Walk on Fire


​Working with DC is always a ride. This time he took us to Vegas (right before the pandemic hit) and we made this really cool project with fire and a desert backdrop.

Midge Robie | Kylie Kylie is a fav for a few reasons. Mostly we wish more hip-hop artists we working with us because we love the creative opportunities, but these guys were so fun to work with.

Like Moths to Flames | Habitual Decline + Selective Sacrifice

This was round two with LMTF x UNFD and it was such a pleasure getting to visually support the release of No Eternity in Gold. The album is a masterpiece top to bottom and it's an honor to be trusted as video professionals.

Softspoken | Sleight of Hand

It's been a few years of waiting to finally work with Softspoken. They have consistently written incredible music and it was such an honor to produce two great films for them. One will be releasing in early 2021 that we're all very excited about.


Room 228 Shorts | Feed, Tethered, The Haul, Sunday the 31st and 427LR

In October we set out to release five short films each Friday and we're happy to say we reached that goal. These really were an exercise to prove what we could do, and set a foundation for what we aim to achieve in 2021. Expect more narrative ideas of this level and higher going forward. These all can be found on Ross Theisen's Youtube.

If you read this, thank you. If you shared it great! Thank you for giving us your time.

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