Startup Spotlight: Voco Studios

Editor’s Note: Enter Lou Gatti, co-founder of Voco Studios, a video production startup that went through the McGill Lean Startup program back in the fall. Lou kindly wrote for The Dobson Chronicles about his team’s journey so far. Learn more about Voco Studios and their approach to creating video content by working with new and talented creators, giving them their first job in the film industry.

Voco Studios is a video production startup that produces affordable video campaigns by working with new and talented creators in Montreal. We believe that future creators need an accessible way to start creating. We aim to empower anyone who wants to create by giving them everything they need to grow: the resources, mentorship, audience, and opportunity to get paid for their work.

READ ALSO: McGill Lean Startup 2016 Final Presentations Recap

Ian McNeice, George Popi and I started Voco Studios because we believe in storytelling. Connecting over a good story is something that has not only brought us together to create and share our own favourite stories, but to start something with the opportunity to empower others to do the same.

There’s no denying that the internet has changed how content is distributed and consumed. Video is everywhere, and we watch more of it online than ever before; from small snippets of our lives on Snapchat to long-form entertainment on Netflix. The future of storytelling is online, meaning anyone has the ability to create and share narratives through an endless variety of mediums and channels.

As filmmakers, we see the future of storytelling as the way video creators develop into professionals in media. How people go about creating professional content has an opportunity to change, in the same way consumers have changed their viewing habits, channels, and most importantly, their expectations of new shows, movies, and entertainment as a whole. This shift in attention opens up a possibility to create a grassroots community that can successfully produce and distribute high-quality content outside of the dominant and recycled Hollywood narratives. As alternative distribution channels become more and more popular, we want to develop a diverse community of tomorrow’s creators from the ground up.

From L-R: Ian McNeice, George Popi and Lou Gatti on TVM’s semi-annual “Bootcamp” weekend, where members learn video production by completing a full project in 24 hours.

READ ALSO: McGill Lean Startup 2016 Highlights

The three of us started working together back when we were green and doe-eyed members of TVM: Student Television at McGill. While a lot has changed since meeting each other, our passion to create content remains the same.

We loved creating with TVM, but we found that continuing to work towards creating professional content would be incredibly difficult after leaving McGill. Where could we find the community of people, resources, and hands-on experience to continue creating?

About to graduate, I realized that if I wanted to develop my skill and build a career in the film and television industry, I faced 3 options to continue growing outside of TVM:

  1. Film school: Which to me, wasn’t exactly something I looked forward to after four expensive and exhausting years at McGill.
  2. Going “All in”: Meaning I’d buy the costly film equipment myself. Did I already mention that university tuition was expensive? Even if I could afford basic gear, what community would I create with?
  3. Reach out: hoping that someone at a networking event cared enough to let me squeeze myself onto their set. For someone trying to learn about filmmaking, I’d probably learn more about the coffee preferences of the crew more than anything useful.

We like to refer to this problem as “the gap” that anyone interested in pursuing a creative career faces in getting a first job that:

  1. connects you to a larger community of like-minded (and established) people,
  2. Hands-on experience and mentorship needed to grow as a creator, and
  3. Something that pays you for your time.

Our solution is to make easy access points for ambitious creators to get real experience in the planning, shooting, and editing stages of filmmaking. We offer this kind of mentorship via both our creative and commercial projects. This means you can come out to one of our creative projects (things we do aside from our video campaigns for business, for example, our parody of Netflix’s Chef’s Table).

Here, you can learn about how we write, produce, and edit our videos in-house. Beginners are encouraged to start here as they can ask us questions and go through the motions before building their skills and moving on to our paid productions.

Our paid productions are often micro-sized film sets that put new and talented filmmakers in front of the action. Here, you can build the experience you need to start working in the film industry. You’ll be working with mentors who will help you tangibly contribute to producing commercial campaigns for businesses in Montreal.

Lou (left) gives some camera tips in between takes on one of Voco Studios’ original productions.

This is our first step towards creating a community that teaches and empowers everyone interested in creating. Our recent experience completing the McGill Lean Startup program offered by the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship was a huge step forward in achieving our vision. We were supported by an incredible team – from the compassionate instruction of Renjie to the friendly help of volunteers like Camille and Maher, we were shown a very human side of entrepreneurship. They helped us set out to serve the business and creative communities around us, where individuals could gain from relevant learning and working experiences, while businesses within Montreal’s ecosystem receive professional videos at a fair price.

Right now, we’re looking for more creators and companies around Montreal to work with. If you’re looking to produce video for your business, check out Voco For Business to see our previous work and to request a quote. Similarly, if you’re interested in creating with us, or know someone who is, send them to our creator’s page! Otherwise, you can come drop by our new office in Notman House and say hello.

A friend of ours asked us why we decided to start Voco Studios. Our obvious love for storytelling aside, we believe in creating with a conscience. The best content is the kind that tells the stories not currently being re-used by the majority of current media outlets. A good story is everything and Voco Studios wants to build something that values and encourages the telling of the untold; the building of a community that helps all voices grow into active and skilled storytellers.  

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Dobson Chronicles

The Dobson Chronicles is the official blog of the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship.