With the rapidly evolving digital landscape and the increased access to quality video technology, the film industry is a tough nut to crack. While there are plenty of opportunities for aspiring filmmakers to get work, the competition is fierce. As many video production companies have come and gone, keeping a studio afloat is no easy task and Terry Talley is fully aware of this.Talley never intended to be an entrepreneur or a business owner but when he was given the opportunity to start his own company, Rocky Mountain Audio Video Productions, Inc. (RMAVP) he took advantage of the opportunity when he saw it. Now after 34 years, Talley’s studio continues to thrive and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
“The process of telling a good story has not changed,” Talley noted. “But, the process for creating those stories has changed dramatically.”
Talley can recall a time when they needed three machines in the editing suite to create a simple visual effect such as a dissolve and an engineer was needed on staff to produce something that now can be done easily with the click of a mouse. Now something that was once rigorous and time consuming can be accomplished with little effort, let alone cost.
With that being said, one of the greatest challenges for an industry veteran like Talley is that the resources for making films can be acquired fairly inexpensively nowadays. Moreover, people who don’t have a lot of money can go and create their own films. Now as all of their potential clients have more options to choose from, RMAVP has to make a stronger effort to stand out in the crowd.
“There are a lot of people out there with an iPhone and a laptop trying to vie for their chunk of the business,” Talley stated. “It populates the market with a lot of people who maybe shouldn’t be there, as they may not always do good work.”
Perhaps what sets Talley apart from his competition is his ability to communicate a strong knowledge of the business with his clients. With each new project he takes on the position of the executive producer, where he can discover the needs of his client and their project by asking the right questions. He describes his approach as a back and forth process.
Of the many tasks leading into a production, Talley ultimately needs to discover the scope of the work that they need to do. From there, he will define the crew, secure shooting locations, acquire props and tie a timeframe to the project while keeping the budgetary restrictions in mind.
However, Talley’s biggest challenge may be satisfying his customers creatively as many of his clients tend to have a change of heart once shooting has wrapped.
“We are mostly taken off guard in post, when the client comes to us and talks about doing something we didn’t initially talk about,” Talley added. “They get their creative juices flowing and deviate from what the original discussion may have been.”
While this sounds somewhat frustrating, Talley has come across this scenario many times and is ready to make changes on the fly. As his position requires a lot of flexibility, he is ready for just about anything that may come his way.
Although, that isn’t to say that all of Talley’s challenges are because of client meddling.
“Sometimes you go in with the hopes of capturing something and it doesn’t happen,” Talley added. “We don’t get surprised when we go in confidently and it blows up on us.”
With that in mind, Talley always has a plan of action prepared in case something doesn’t work out. He is prepared to enter the post production process with a mentality of how he can compensate for faulty footage, whether that be with the addition of graphics, B-roll or voice over narrative.
“I’ve made more mistakes than anyone, but you learn,” Talley was quick to point out.
Looking back on his career so far, Talley wouldn’t change much of anything. While he is open to admitting that he has made mistakes, Talley feels that he has made a lot of smart decisions as well.
He considers himself a true entrepreneur by definition, as he started with nothing, worked hard to become profitable and ultimately fulfilled his vision of what he wanted RMAVP to be.
“Be passionate. If you heart is in it, you will find a way to make it,” Talley told me when I asked his advice. “It is a tough industry to make money in but nothing comes easy that is worthwhile.”