Vantage Point Media House
What started about a decade ago as a company that produced popular videos and programming for fly fishing aficionados has become a hot property in the video and film production business. Belleville-based Vantage Point Media House, as it has been known for nearly seven years since changing its name from Flymax Films, employs nine remarkable talented, creative and hard working folks, developing a host of programs, films, shorts and other video enterprises for everything from ad agencies, to top sports and entertainment networks throughout North America.
Founded by Nick Pujic, the company’s formative days were spent operating out of a basement with limited gear and even more limited budgets. About seven years ago, Pujic was looking to expand, and his first hire was a recent graduate of Loyalist College’s Television and New Media Production program, Victor Cooper, who is now Vantage Point’s senior producer.
One of Vantage Point’s more recent hires is Rob Howsam, a talented director of photography who has become an integral member of the Vantage Point team. Both recently chatted with Quintevation about the company’s amazing ascent from humble beginnings.
Cooper and Howsam said the growth of the company since changing its name to Vantage Point Media House has been spectacular, proof that a reputation for excellence within what is generally a pretty insular industry, goes a long way to not just success, but a sustained success over a long period of time.
“The size of the company, employee wise, hasn’t really grown that much, but the amount of work that we have taken on and the quality and amount of gear and the size of the facility have grown a lot. Basically, we push ourselves to the next level of production and then we do everything we can to make sure we’re equipped to handle that. So the faster we grow, the faster that our technical skills and capabilities grow and the faster our gear grows,” said Howsam.
“And I think it’s a long game too. Two or three years ago we probably could have capped it as far as our gear went and started putting money away or just paying ourselves more. But the long term game is to build ourselves up to the point where we never have to turn down a job because it was too big. And we’re getting really close to the point where we can do everything, and if we can’t for some reason, we know the person we can sub-contract out to. So that’s more important than just starting to line everybody’s pockets once we hit a certain revenue level,” Cooper added.
“I think it was a really smart choice to keep building our company because today we’re working with literally the very best cameras in the world. We’ve got three REDs, which is a top brand name that is just kicking ass in the industry, basically winning Oscars every year. And we also have an awesome crew to go with it and they just keep pushing themselves, because if you keep handing them better gear, they keep having to up their game to match the gear.”
So what has been the key to Vantage Point’s success, aside from their exceptional technical wizardry and acumen?
“I think it’s because we tell compelling stories, period. We don’t care if you are a potato farmer who wants to tell your story, or a downhill skier or fisherman, we want to tell compelling stories. We have been doing it for a long time and we are pretty good at it. And whether it’s a corporation like Nutella looking to sell some product, or an organization looking to tell their story to shareholders or investors, a documentary or a horror movie, everything needs a story. All this gear that we get and all the space that we get for our offices and studio is only there to help us tell stories. The only reason for a higher definition camera is to give us more options in telling those stories,” Cooper said, adding that this philosophy and their approach to their work has led to them getting clients in so many different and often unexpected ways.
“We get jobs about a million different ways. Sometimes someone saw our show and watched the credits and said, “I want those people to produce my next film or video. Or it starts with us deciding we want to make something, taking it to a network and saying, ‘here’s the pitch, will you pay for it?’ Or it comes from just old fashioned industry water cooler talk – someone saying they know people who would be good for such and such a project. Honestly, if you just keep doing a great job, and never be a pain in the ass to work with, then you most likely won’t have any trouble finding work,” said Cooper.
Fishing shows still make up a good portion of Vantage Point’s work with their anchor program, Facts of Fishing: The Show, one of the most popular and most-watched angling programs in the world. But they have also worked for many other prominent and prestigious organizations.
“We’ve worked with some pretty awesome companies from the Discovery Channel on two of their Shark Weeks; we have produced things for CBC, NBC, and ESPN. We have had things on Daily Planet, worked for various big marketing companies doing ad campaigns and lots more. And we do lots of work locally,” Cooper said.
“With Facts of Fishing, we had been working on parts of that show for probably five years and for last season and this current season, we have completely taken over production of the show, which is awesome, because we get to travel all over the world shooting people fishing in these wonderful environments.”
Being sporty and outdoorsy types, the Vantage Point crew love living and working in the Bay of Quinte region and say being located in Belleville has not been a hindrance in any way to the growth and development of their company.
“If anything, it’s a major benefit, for a lot of reasons. We do have a lot of creative people we can find by literally just walking down the street. We have other great video production companies and marketing companies locally. And obviously the overhead is much lower than it would be in Toronto. Our placement doesn’t matter because we’re shooting in Spain or British Columbia, Mexico or Panama and Florida, so being in Toronto would not help that at all. I think the only downside I can possibly think of is the two-hour drive to the airport,” said Cooper.
Besides Vantage Point Media House, Cooper and his wife Jodi, and Howsam and his wife Kirstin Wight-Howsam have created a passion project called Five Year Plan, which has already produced one acclaimed short horror film, Mercy, and is in pre-production for a second called The Woodsmen.
“Mercy did really well. I don’t want to say better than expected because we hoped it would do really well, but we were pleasantly surprised. It went to festivals all over the world and the critical reviews for it were outstanding. And the reason why we do horror is because it’s something we really love and it’s a lot of fun. It’s a genre that allows us to show all sorts of different filmmaking elements too. It’s also not super stressful. It’s an after-work project that we need to set aside a lot of time in our lives to do, so it might as well be a lot of fun,” said Cooper.
“The whole purpose of making short films is to hopefully break even financially and tell a great story that will make people want to help you to tell a feature-length story or a series. But, listen, there are very few things that are more fun than getting together with a film crew and telling a scary story and getting a room full of 100 people together to watch your film and watch them cover their eyes for the scary scenes. And we’ve all said, even if it wouldn’t amount to a feature film or TV series, and never broke even, I think we would still do it.”
For more information on all the various projects and services offered by Vantage Point Media House, visit, http://vpmediahouse.com.
For more information on Five Year Plan, visit their page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fiveyearplanfilm.