NBCUni 7.26

Meet The Studio Owner: Brian Drewes

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NAME: Brian Drewes

COMPANY: Zero VFX (http://www.zerovfx.com, @ZeroVFX)

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
Zero provides visual effects design and execution for the moving image. We work primarily in the feature film and commercial markets.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
A timely question — I’ve actually been debating what it should be! It seems no title really gets to the heart of what a business-minded person must do in order to grow a creative shop. I’ve been thinking of just leaving that blank for a while. (On his site, he’s listed as executive producer, and is a co-founder of the studio with Sean Devereaux.)

WHAT DOES YOUR DAY-TO-DAY JOB ENTAIL?
It’s really about energizing the company and keeping it moving forward on lots of different fronts from tiny little things to big picture aspects.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
I’ve never been one to say, “That’s not my job,” so literally I’ll do anything from sweeping the annoying dust-bunnies from the corners of my office to traveling like a mad man when needed.

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED OVER THE YEARS ABOUT RUNNING A BUSINESS?
There’s a term I picked up along the way as a producer that’s served me well: strategic flexibility. I love the concept, and it’s always been central to my philosophy. Have a vision, have a goal, but keep your eyes open and observing with humility and neutrality what your company is doing and the general environment you are operating within. The point is to sculpt those realities into your vision or make adjustments to your vision given dynamically changing realities. Otherwise you are going to always be missing the boat.

A LOT OF IT MUST BE ABOUT TRYING TO KEEP EMPLOYEES AND CLIENTS HAPPY. HOW DO YOU BALANCE THAT?
I prefer to think of it in another way. Professional stagnation is the enemy of all creatives, no matter what side of the relationship they are on. I see our employees and our clients wanting the same thing – new, innovative thought and continually evolving challenges requiring creative innovation to solve.

It’s my job to make sure I’ve created a professional management structure that always supports this process and at the same time is nimble enough to keep up. t’s not just about having a cool office that has a bar in it; people need to advance in their careers, and that requires a lot from the organization.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
I really enjoy the ability to follow my intuition. It’s risky and involves personal sacrifice but for me it can’t be beat. No matter where I’ve worked, I’ve brought an “owner’s mentality” to my position. So it was time to actually have the authority match the responsibilities.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
Four years in, I don’t think I’ve taken much of any vacations and I’d be afraid of counting the number of hours in a day I think about “work.” But let’s be honest, that complaint doesn’t really hold much water because I still like it, and my work directly helps me grow my future. I guess the “idea” of being able to take some time away is what I miss. I’m working on that for the coming year, promise.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
Morning coffee at home, sitting with my loved ones chatting before the day gets going. It’s definitely my grounding time.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
I’d be running someone else’s company probably.

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CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT CLIENTS?
Columbia Pictures, New Regency studios, Annapurna, Arnold Worldwide, McCarthy Mambro Bertino, Hill Holliday, Sapient. We’ve been working on the following feature projects: The Equalizer, Basic Math, American Hustle, Business Trip. Commercials: Ocean Spray, Progressive, Subway, Toyota, Dodge Trucks, Cigna, Liberty Mutual.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
Our rendering software ZYNC, Excel and, of course, my phone. I just checked, I’m up to 45 days, 15 hours of call time…


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