Drew Johnson, Director of Finance and Producer at Loose Films, LLC, everyone. Don't let his relaxed and casual demeanor fool you; this guy means business, as does the rest of Loose Films' squad.
Loose Films specializes in visual narrative creation and curation and offers collaborative pre-production, the highest quality of video shooting, and extensive post-production editing. I encourage you to check out their site, which features their work, here.
I met Drew through my boyfriend, Cam; they were a couple years apart in the same fraternity at Denison University. Fun fact: The second time I met Drew, he stopped over for a get-together at my place and accidentally knocked over *and shattered* (not to add insult to injury) about a half-gallon of beverages within a minute of arriving. But here we are today, soaking up Drew's advice and learning about his career, driven by friendships, passion and hard work. Check it out!
The Reference Club: What is your role with Loose Films and how did you get involved?
Drew Johnson: Everyone wears many hats within Loose Films. My main roles are Director of Finance, Producer and actor. That means I’m handling all budgets, pitching clients and organizing everything that surrounds the logistical side of filming on certain projects. We all share in the creative aspect.
I joined Loose Films in 2016 after spending time acting/producing in LA and teaching English in Madrid. Basically my good friend Noah (Chief Editor, Director) convinced me to move to Columbus and join the company to provide a more business-minded perspective to Loose.
TRC: What do LA and Madrid have over Columbus anyways....Backing up a few steps, how did Loose Films become Loose Films?
DJ: Loose Films “started” when founder Ori Segev (Director of Photography, Creative Director) began calling his film projects by that name in high school. The company really started after we graduated from Denison University in 2014, got an LLC in 2015 and all of us (Ori, Brett, Noah, Roger, me) became full-time employees in 2016. Basically we found that we all liked working together and made cool videos in the process, so we turned it into a business.
TRC: Talk us through the process. How do you go from finding clients to creating masterpieces?
DJ: I wouldn’t call anything we’ve done a ‘masterpiece’ yet *haha* but the process goes roughly like this:
1. Meet the client and assess their videos wants/needs
2. Creative Session the idea (we all get together, go to an interesting location, and get creative in coming up with a few concepts for the video)
3. Pitch the idea to the client – if they like it, heck yeah!
4. Bring the idea to life (this includes casting, creating props, scouting location, writing a script, creating a shot list, figuring out a bunch of other things and finally shooting the video)
5. Edit the video (this is where the magic happens. We usually cut 5+ drafts of a video before we decide it’s done)
The whole process, depending on the film, usually takes 1-3 months. One thing that helps is constantly reminding ourselves the goal/vision of the project and keeping that in mind throughout.
TRC: Are you hiring? Kidding. Kinda. How did Loose Films grow from an idea/hobby into a business?
DJ: Actually? Sort of! We’re always looking for collaborators and creative people who want to bring their ideas to life, hit us up. But really, the hardest part of turning a creative passion into an actual business is taking yourself seriously – and after that, mostly trial and error. Once we started to put some marketing and strategy behind selling our videos it really turned into a business.
TRC: As an MBA candidate enrolled in an entrepreneurship class, I admire that whole-heartedly. (..I'll send you my resume in a bit). In all seriousness… If you had to choose between coffee or beer for the rest of your life, what would it be?
DJ: Is wine an option?? That’s the stuff. But really, Coffee (with Bailey’s).
TRC: Good call on the Bailey's. What would you tell someone who is on the fence between a stable corporate job or starting his or her own thing?
DJ: I would tell them to think hard about their own happiness and how it relates to their career. But in the end I would say – do your own thing. This may be biased, but I was just telling another Loose member (Roger Phelps, Music and Social Media Manager) that we could be working our way through our twenties in a nice job that pays well, or we could be bold, grind it out for a few years doing what we love and eventually make that our career. Easier said than done, though, it takes a lot of work.
TRC: In terms of what you do, what do you consider to be your expertise? And is that because of training, your degree or real life experiences?
DJ: I consider my strongest skill set to be in producing. That means making sure everything about a project is in order; from finding funding to providing food on set to making sure the creative direction of the video is never compromised. I think that comes from experience more than anything. I’ve started a few companies throughout my career (funding), I’ve served at restaurants (organizational thinking) and I’ve spent my life in creative realms (writing scripts, studying art in college, etc.). Because film is such a niche industry, the best way to learn is to simply get your hands dirty and figure it out.
TRC: What does your family think of what you do for work? Or maybe more accurately, what do they think you do for work?
DJ: I find myself explaining this often… My sister usually says “he does what he wants” and my dad usually shrugs. But no, they support me in everything (especially mom) and always watch the videos we make. They’re great.
TRC: Ah, the classic dad shrug and the supportive mom. But that's great. Tell us about the best adventure Loose Films has taken you on.
DJ: London! In December we were flown to England to film an event there. We got the work done and took a few extra days to rent a car and drive to Devon (southwest England), make a short film on the way and explore the countryside. Peep the video here: LONDON VIDEO
The Squad | Pictured left to right: Ori, Roger, Brett, Drew & Noah | Photos by: Zane Osler