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Crucial Pictures, Production House & Shadow Marketers (INTERVIEW)

— October 24, 2011 — About
Blair Vermette and Lee Harris of CrucialPictures.com are two of the most passionate filmmakers that the Trend Hunter team has had the privilege of working with. While filming our two minute documentary on the origins of Trend Hunter, we were inspired by the duo's creative talents and their raw excitement of making films that matter.

Not just another production house, Crucial Pictures was the first to coin the term "Shadow Marketing," which is a "way for companies to build their profiles through engaging and powerful films."

Vermette and Harris are setting out to excite and inspire the world with their work, so we sat down with them to get their views on trends, the film industry and what it is they do.


7 Questions with Crucial Pictures

1. How did you become interested in film and what motivates you to continue?

First and foremost we are storytellers and film is the way we can put these stories out to the world. Both of us believe that there is tremendous power associated with film and television. We can see from some of the things that are happening in our world that this power can do both good and bad. We believe in the good and this is what inspires us. Our company motto is "Inspiring others by inspiring ourselves" and so far all of our projects have fallen in to this vein.

2. How significant is the topic of trend spotting in the world of film?

Trend spotting is now more important to the world of film and television than ever before. Just like with everything else, the internet is changing the media landscape in such a way that production companies, agencies and channels can no longer ignore the sheer influence of it. Televisions are on their way out and anyone who fights this reality is sadly working against themselves. Worldwide audiences that aren't locked into programming schedules means that the race to be "first" in original viewing or marketing concepts has become vastly more competitive and in our opinions far more exciting. That's where trend spotting and the ability to expose those new ideas through social media is the carrot everyone is chasing after. We'd like to think that we're helping pioneer a trend in how short films help companies build their brands through powerful storytelling; we're calling it Shadow Marketing.

3. What is the best way to create an infectious video?

There are a million ways to create an infectious video but for us it's all about drawing out emotion. Firstly, we prefer to call them films and not videos. Our style is very cinematic and even though they're short in length, they are still documentaries. We believe that making something as uncontrived as possible allows an audience to be far more engaged even if a brand is behind it. More than ever, companies need to be conscious about giving back because their consumers demand and expect it. We look for the good a company is doing and tell that story. Our first 'Shadow Marketing' film was for Campbell's NOURISH, a meal in a can created for the sole purpose of providing food banks with better food. Our film was used as part of a greater social media campaign to jumpstart this initiative and so far it's been a great success.

4. How have your views about film changed since the rise in popularity of social media platforms?

Social Media, in our opinions, is a huge blessing for us and for so many companies in general. In the past, only companies with huge advertising budgets could get a message or product out to the world. Now we all can because we share the same stage. Our ability to reach a global audience is instantaneous -- it's a beautiful thing. We didn't individually choose Facebook and Twitter as a way to communicate, society in general chose it collectively and that's what makes it social media. We have embraced it as its helped Crucial Pictures get more exposure just like the brands we represent.

5. Where do you see Crucial Pictures in five years?

Based on the success we've had in the last year alone we see ourselves in a pretty cool place in five years. We are already in discussions for opening up offices in LA, New York, London, Paris, Sydney and some other places in between. Our work is important to brands everywhere and we realize that we need manpower in key markets to grow the way we want to. In five years we hope to have several hundred short films under our belt along with a couple big prime time television series.

6. How do you reset yourself to be creative?

Everyone has their own technique when it comes to finding their creative groove. For us it's really important to make sure that we believe in what we are producing. Knowing that we can make a serious difference to our world automatically triggers the creative parts of our brains and to be quite honest, we're not sure we could do this if we weren't giving back. It's a matter of loving and being inspired by what you do that is a real measuring stick for where creativity comes from. There's nothing more rewarding than that sheer excitement we get when from a client who watches their film for the first time and in turn seeing how the masses respond favourably.


7. What are your most important hobbies?

Lee loves the outdoors and enjoys escaping the city to visit a cottage, going backcountry snowboarding in the Rockies or white water canoing in Northern Ontario. Blair, unlike his counterpart, loves video games and nerding out on zombie films, but also cooks up some mean Italian dishes.


8. What provides you with endless inspiration?

We're not kids anymore and though at times we may still feel like it, it's clear to us that we didn't come into this world to just float through it. We have an opportunity to be good and do good and so that's what we choose. Besides, we love what we do and so we're really not compromising our lives, but simply keeping ourselves in check. To everyone out there who respects others and this world we share, you're our source of inspiration. We want to leave this world better than the way we came in to it and our work is the way in which we can accomplish this!
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