Cinema majors become cinema makers

August 22, 2016

“We’re greater than the sum of our parts.” These are the wise words of Andrew Johnson ’14 of Loose Films, a startup creative production company based in Columbus, Ohio.

Johnson, along with Noah Dixon, Ori Segev and Brett Reiter (all ’14 Denison graduates), are thinking much bigger than just having a post-graduate job. Instead, the team centers on the ideal of collaboration – and the belief that they can utilize their individual talents toward a larger goal of building an entire company from scratch.

The team moved to Columbus after graduation and was granted an LLC license in 2015. Although they are aware that they must compete with many other startup companies, Loose Films is not your average film production company. It strives to maintain all production positions in-house — with the ability to staff every shoot, from the director of photography to the production assistant.

While some of what Loose Films does is typical of the industry — commercials for businesses, music videos, promotional advertisements — their projects are breaking the mold, including animations, sketches and screenplays, and videos that may not fall directly to one specific genre.

They vow to stay away from anything generic, especially stock footage, and see their videos as visual storytelling with a “skate culture vibe.” Reiter adds that their goal is to “craft compelling videos that capture both the eye and heart of the viewer.”

Producing even a few minutes of quality output requires more work than meets the eye. “Doing it the right way,” as Segev says, requires more than just one person and a camera. Although they each have their own specialties, they often find their job descriptions to be very fluid: “it’s a vessel for everyone’s creative talent in their own unique way,” said Johnson.

This culture of collaboration at Loose Films began in the Department of Cinema department at Denison, a phenomenon Segev calls “that Denison Cinema love.” The team credits the department, and the liberal arts pathway overall, with their ability to have the camera in their hand but also to think critically and learn from mistakes together, surviving — and thriving — while they are pursuing their passions.

Loose Films doesn’t identify themselves as a group of colleagues. Rather, they choose the word “squad” to identify who they are. To share their fervor, Loose Films hired two interns for the summer of 2016, Jabari Johnson ’17 and Peter Mathes ’19, both cinema majors, who are developing their own projects.

Loose Films knows that there is a long road ahead. However, the team isn’t worried. Johnson says, “we embrace failure as a learning opportunity, so the risks aren’t really risks anymore.” They plan to grow by building relationship with their clients, and more importantly between themselves, finding their artistic voices along the way.

“We teach our students that filmmaking balances individual talent and artistry on one hand, and collaboration and cooperation on the other,” said Jonathan Walley, assistant professor of cinema and chair of the department. “Loose Films successfully strikes this balance. And we’re glad to see that in addition to getting commercial work that ‘pays the bills,’ they’re able to pursue projects that are more unusual, more personal. That kind of work is the most gratifying, and it’s what we ultimately want our alums to be able to do, no matter the size of the paycheck.”

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