Brad190

Editor’s Note:  Brad Hagen is one of the most respected people in our business in Orange County. 

He’s an award winning producer, director and editor of video and multimediaand has creative expertise in producing and directing videos, multimedia and live shows, camera operation and mixed format linear and non-linear editing.  He lives with his wife and two children in Orange County.

 

He’s the founder of Video Resources Inc, an audio and video production company that has been in existence for some 30 years. Video Resources has provided services to well over a thousand clients worldwide, including numerous Fortune 500 companies, national and regional legal firms and advertising agencies. A partial list of clients over the years include:  Allergan, American Career College, Bristol Meyers Squibb, Cooper Tire, Coldwell Banker, Del Mar Avionics, Eastwood Insurance, Frito-Lay, Hoag Hospital, Hologic, ITT, The Irvine Company, Merrill Lynch, New Horizons, Nordstrom, PepsiCo, Philips Medical Systems, Procter and Gamble, Secure Horizons, St. Jude Medical, Taco Bell Corporation and UnitedHealthCare.

Brad has been very generous with his time helping others who are just coming up the ranks or promoting Orange County as a place to do production and post-production and the industry in general.  He’s a member of MAOC – Media Alliance Of Orange County, where he served as president for many years, NCRA - National Court Reporters Assoc., and MCAI – The Media Communications Association International (Formally ITVA).

OCS:    Where were you brought up?
Brad:   I’ve lived in Orange County since I was five years old.  I went to Huntington Beach High School, and met my General Manager, Ecar Oden there when I was a freshman.  I went to college and had an office in Long Beach for a couple of years, but I’ve had the same office address in  Orange County for 28-plus years. I love the weather here, the abundance of recreational activities available, the great restaurants, and of course our friends.  

So, from a personal point of view, I love Orange County, and from a professional point of view, I think you can get a lot of great productions services here.  Great DPs, Grips and Lighting, Voice Over Talent – I don’t need to go outside of Orange County for many resources.  And I like to think that other people don’t have to go outside of Orange County for other video resources because of us.  Because we have RED Cameras, lenses, we have jibs, jokers, kino-flo lights – you name it – we’ve got it.  It’s great to be a part of the Orange County production scene.  And Orange County has a great base of businesses for us to draw upon for clients.  And the referrals that we’ve gotten from local businesses has made us an international company to where we now have an offices on the East and West coasts, and we do jobs for clients all over the globe.

OCS:    Was there an aha! moment when you knew you wanted to be in the production business?
Brad:    The first time I got hooked on the production business would have to be the day that I got my first still camera.  It was a Minolta SRT-101 that my Uncle gave me.   I remember taking my first pictures with it, and then having them processed and seeing the results.  It wasn’t like they were artsy or award winning, but I was just amazed by the fact that I was able to capture what I saw - there - on a piece of paper.   Just seeing the power of what a camera could actually do was something I’ll never forget.  I still have the first picture I took -  a photograph of my cousin at Universal Studios.

OCS:    How did you come up with the name Video Resources?
Brad:    It was right after I got out of high school that I began toying with names for the company.  I came up with Video Resources, and it has been a good name for us, because we have become a resource for our client’s video needs and it’s all encompassing.

We have expanded beyond video - into Staging, Live Events, General Communications, and Litigation Support and I’m proud of the coincidence that “Resources” has had for us, but now we do so many more things than just video.  If you call us today, you’ll hear our receptionist welcome you to VRi.  But I’m still very proud of what we became, and how we still are such a great resource for video services.  But now, we’re VRi!   Many industries are about acronyms these days anyway.

OCS:    Of the hundreds of productions you have delivered, please give an example(s) of those that stand out?
Brad:    As far as productions that I am most proud of – there’s so many of them - but those that stick out in my mind, are the recent ones that we shot with the RED Camera.   One in particular, was a production for a local “Pharma” company that just had a really good combination of great storytelling and creative inspiration.  And having used the RED camera, it provided the ability to harness a certain kind of cinematography power – having that kind of cinema power in my hands – it finally was possible for me to execute whatever was in my mind.  And it’s really exciting to get to those kinds of moments for me.

OCS:    Do you have a particular goal when you develop a project with a client?
Brad:    I just enjoy communicating, and communicating through video is one of our strengths.  Obviously, quality video now is now easier to do than ever before, but telling stories is not just for the big screen.  It’s something that everybody and every company needs to do.  One thing that has been exciting and stimulating for me is the fact that I’ve been exposed to all kinds of technologies and operations within the corporate video world–whether it’s been retail, manufacturing, diagnostics, or entertainment - I’ve been able to see things and be part of stories that most people don’t get to experience.  Whether it has been in an operating room, or on the roof top of a sixty-story building, or inside a chemical laboratory, a clean room, or riding on the Goodyear blimp – lots of stuff that most people don’t get to do – that’s the kind of stuff that I get to do most everyday.  And that’s all because of video.

OCS:    Besides writing scripts and the actual shoot, what do you like best about what you do?
Brad:    I’ve been extremely lucky to have some really outstanding clients.   Not only outstanding in the way that they service their customers, but also in the way that they treat their vendors, or their partners like us.  Our company has been to really great locations and stayed at really nice hotels and resorts, and have eaten many-a-good-meal and sipped some really great wines together with our clients, all over the world.  And that has been a very nice benefit for all of us.  In just this last year alone, I’ve traveled to Spain, Canada, Asia, and all over the United States.

I have a very curious nature, so I listen carefully to my clients.  And, because of my passion for what I do -I just become passionate about what my clients do - and how I can help them tell their own story about how passionate they are about what they do.

So, a client comes to me with a widget that they want to tell the world about.  Well, the widget might not seem like it’s that interesting at first.  But, I try to make that widget the most interesting thing in the world.  Where people want to have it or try it or learn more about it, once they watch our videos.   Whether it’s a medical device, a fast-food restaurant, a retailer, or a service that somebody provides – I want people to say, “Wow!  I have to have this!”  And that’s what we do as a company.

OCS:    Do you have a secret formula you use to approach new production?
Brad:    I’ve basically been doing video production and storytelling my whole life.  I think the three basic tools that a video storyteller needs to have is passion, their eyes, and ears.  Recognize how you as an individual then feel, see, and hear things differently, and follow that creative path.  Time will tell if you’re on the right track.

OCS:    What is the most important thing you try to achieve when you do a production for a client?
Brad:    First and foremost, we want to make sure that our shows wow our clients and meet their objectives.  We always want to give them more than they expected.  And we do that on a consistent basis.  Many of our clients have been with us for decades.  And as a result, we’ve had a lot of accolades from the film and video community for various productions.  We’ve won dozens and dozens of awards, and those are nice, but I’m not really sure that they add value to any of the work that we’re doing.  But it’s nice to recognized by your peers.   And even though I appreciate the awards, I don’t always pay for the trophies we win.

OCS:    Along the way, were there any additional aha! moments that changed the course of how you operate?
Brad:    In one of my first jobs I was assigned to make a training video for an Oil Well Service company, and that sort of gave me the insight and exposed me to the idea of having a corporate video business.  And at that time, there were only a few dozen companies that were creating quality corporate television across America, but there were very few in Southern California.  So I sought the best ones across the country, studied their work and modeled my goals after them.

So, that is where our cinema-feel and storytelling attributes come from, and I certainly like to consider myself as one of the first corporate video pioneers in Orange County.   I’ve been running Video Resources for 32-plus years, and I think that speaks for itself.  There are very few of my original peers still around today.

OCS:    How do you promote your business?
Brad:    Our business started and still exists by just answering the telephone.  Somebody that we did a good job for, refers us to another company, and they refer us to someone else, and so on.  That’s how we get business.  We don’t have any sales people per se, and we haven’t done that much outreach until recently – today we use the web and social media.  Early on, I remember doing a job for a healthcare company that was having a live-event at a hotel, and the audio signal that they were using to show the video that we made for them at their event was total crap, and it ended up affecting the quality of our product.  So, from then on, we always asked our clients if we could do the audio for our videos at their live events, and that led to clients asking us if we could help them with their lighting, and then they asked if we could help them with projection, and it wasn’t very long after that we found ourselves in the “Staging” business – everything from the set design, to the speaker training, speech writing, teleprompting - whatever clients needed - we provided the services to make their events successful.

So, our prolific Live-Event and Staging business came about as a result of us caring about how a client’s video was going to perceived by the public at large, and we didn’t want our hard work, or our client’s reputation to be damaged by something that could easily be fixed with the right gear and a little know-how.  So, now we have two talented staging team based on both coasts, that do hundreds of live-events a year, and it’s all because we take the time and the effort to embrace all of the cost-effective technologies that are available to do those jobs better, and worry free for our clients.

OCS:    What would you say are the most significant changes during your career?
Brad:    10 or 15 years ago, we didn’t have the same type of technology tools that we have today. For example, in order to make a small doctor’s office look beautiful then, was much more of a challenge than it is today.   And often times, technology can’t be a part of the budget when you’re trying to recreate reality. To make things that really don’t look that great with the naked eye and look really beautiful is an art.  And to do it without the help of technology really requires having the right team of people with the right skillset.  And we were able to do that with the old equipment.  But today, with the new equipment like the DSLRs, the RED Camera, the AF-100s, and all the large-sensor cameras with the right lenses allow us to control the depth of field and we can get this look of cinema to the images we produce.  And it’s a lot easier to do.  So, I really like these tools, and I think everybody is appreciating them now.  But even with all these great technology tools, it still takes the three basic tools to get the story right.

OCS:    In addition to being a production company, you are also a respected rental house.  How did you get into that business?
Brad:    I’ve always been a “Gadget-Head” type of guy, and most of my employees share that same passion.  So, I’ve always tried to use technology, and put together kits that make life easier for my business and my clients.  We employ these production equipment kits that solve problems in a cost-effective and professional way.  And when we are not using them, I’m happy to rent them out to others for their use – and the revenue is a bonus.  We invest in the best equipment, and we take care of it, so in return, that word-of-mouth has helped to create our rental business.  And the rentals have been so successful that it allows us to stay up with the ever-changing technology.  Synergy.

We were one of the first to have the RED Cameras.  We have serial numbers:  15 and 16 in our inventory, and we’ll soon be the first in Orange County with the Epics.  We were the first on our block with the AF-100s, and we had DSLRs, Canon 5-D the first week they came out –- -So we’ve been on the cutting edge for a while.  We don’t buy everything that’s new and comes out.  We do our own research, and we have had a sort of sixth-sense to these technology investments that we made, and they’ve turned out to have made a really big impact on our business and have had a big impact on our client’s productions, too.

OCS:    How have you fared in the recent economy that has hit many in our industry very hard?
Brad:    Although we have seen budgets cut over the last 3 years, we were able to ride out the recent economical challenges without having to let any of our staff go since we always run pretty mean and lean.  By that I mean, we’ve never really tried to live beyond our means or try to be something that we’re not.  We’re not about ego – we’re about doing a good job.  And if you ask any of our clients about us, they’ll tell you that we’re passionate about what we do.  We listen to what they’re saying, and we treat their project at hand as the most important job that we have.  And we do.  And when it’s done to their satisfaction - then we go on to the next job, and that becomes the most important job to us.  We really do care about our clients and their business and we consider it a privilege to be working for them.

OCS:    Are there times when you offered new products or services and, in effect, jeopardized your business if they failed?
Brad:    I’ve certainly taken a lot of risks – most of them I didn’t see as risks at that time.  Like going with the RED Cameras – to many this appeared as a risk, but it ended up providing great rewards.  Investing in gear, hiring employees, expanding services, opening remote offices – all are risks I guess, but most have paid off for us. Our office in Boston has worked out brilliantly - I am so proud of our people out there, and the work that they do everyday just amazes me. 

Speaking of people, I love how everybody at VRi has taken my passion for Corporate Communications, and has extended it out company-wide.  And that’s something to be very proud of, and that alone is such a great reward.   But it takes a lot of work, and we’ve all put in a lot of hours in this business.  But hopefully, everyone thinks it has been worth all the effort.

OCS:    Why Boston, not New York?
Brad:     I opened the office in Boston as a result of being referred to a growing healthcare company that was headquartered there.  It started out with us doing one job for them, that led to another one, which led to another one, and before we knew it, we had done about hundred different jobs for the.  And that was taking quite a toll on me - flying back and forth, the time change, and everything else involved.  So, Ecar Oden, our General Manager and I decided to invest in having someone on the ground in the North East full-time to handle all the interface and production management things.  And the person we hired – Chris Wells– did such a great job - that we ended up expanding the operation, getting him the staff to accommodate our growing list of East Coast based clients.

OCS:    You have been a successful producer for years.  Are there aspects about the business you particularly enjoy?
Brad:    What’s nice about our business is that you get to work on a project that gets to a finite place, and then it’s done.   Then, you get to show it off to the client, or your audience and then move on to something else.  Not every career is like that. 

Many of our projects start off with an objective and a vision.  Then you do the pre-production, go write a script, go out and interview people, shoot the locations, get back and look at your footage, and it blows you away!  And it just keeps coming together, better and better throughout the postproduction process.  You find just the right music, create the right graphics, record the right narration, and when it’s all complete – you can’t believe that it looks and sounds so good – and it started out as an original idea that germinated in your brain! That’s a really cool thing -- what every storyteller is after.  That’s what we get to do.

A lot of these stories that we bring to life feature obscure body parts, or a widget, or some sort of thing that most people don’t have the slightest interest in whatsoever so even though we are proud of the work, it’s not always suitable to share with our friends.  So, it’s nice when you get a job where you get to work with a celebrity or one where it’s a name brand product that most people know – like Nordstrom or Taco Bell. That’s when we get to share some of the wonder and the wow that we create, with family and friends.  And it actually gives our own families the opportunity to (for them) tell friends what their spouse or parent does for a living.

OCS:    Are there any interesting things you plan to work on in the coming years?
Brad:    I made some art films in high school, but I haven’t done any sort of purely personal project since then.  But this year, we are venturing into producing some documentaries.  We have two projects in our pipeline and we’re excited about creating general interest documentaries because they are such a natural fit for us.  Corporate videos and documentaries basically involve the same type of skill set; both require doing interviews, doing research, associating images to words and music, and they both require good storytelling.  We’re going to try and grow by telling some stories on subjects that interest us and that we want to share with the world.  So stay tuned.  One of them involves my family and I will leave it at that for now. We are expecting to learn a bunch of things during this venture including distribution channels, so that’s exciting. I’ll look forward to sharing our experience about these new projects in the near future.

OCS:    Please give us a peek into the future as to where technology is taking us.
Brad:    The web is certainly the driving force behind distribution these days.  People with their mobile devices, now access the web from almost anywhere. And, it’s much easier to distribute media over the web, rather than onto a tape or DVD.  But more importantly, and especially from a Corporate Communications point of view, the web is much better because you can constantly be updating the content.

The web is essentially the Cloud for video distribution now.  The bandwidth is there; the applications, the hardware and the software are there, so it’s working out great for our clients and us.  Everyone enjoys the ability to access the media anywhere so from that point of view, I think the web is fantastic.  Like most production companies, duplication was a revenue source, but we’ve adapted to the change by becoming experts in encoding video for the web.   We know how to get the best quality media in the least amount bandwidth, and we’ve taken it to that next level by considering what titles and composition of shots play the best over the web versus a big screen TV.  It’s not just about your picture quality anymore – now, it’s also about your screen size.  If you watch something on your i-Phone, it’s a lot different than watching it on a 55-inch plasma screen. I also find that optimum viewable length is shorter then it used to be – attention span has been reduced from 7 to 8 minutes to 3 or 5 minutes, especially on mobile devices. So, the way you communicate has to change.

OCS:    What does that mean for production services?
Brad:    In some cases, it means you might have to have different versions of the same program.  One that’s meant to play back on Blackberry or iPhone, and one that’s more suited for big screen at a trade show.  It’s the same basic content, but you tweak the delivery of the final versions by considering the screen size, the running time, and the size and length of effects and titles that play on those screens.  Quality video recording is available to anyone now.  $ 300 iPhone and Go Pro Cameras shoot 1080 HD video – and that’s a huge change right there.  These are ideal for some applications – we even use them for some things - but typically the people using them don’t have the skills or accessories to make quality video, and more importantly, quality audio recordings.  We know this to be a fact, because we get this type of material all the time and we are asked to mix-into our shows, and we must figure out a way to make it appear seamless – which is not always possible.  I know that there’s always going to be place for the kind of high quality recording and production, and the extras that we contribute to making stories come alive.   The bottom line – as in the past, going forward - is that there’s going to be an even greater need for video in communications.  We will continue to try to perfect what we do as part of this ever growing communication’s industry, not only in Orange County, but throughout the world.


For more information about Video Resources, or to contact Brad, click on the logo.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017
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