The Stark Crew Story: from a Craigslist Ad to a Global Social Impact Media Company
I moved to Madrid, Spain from Toledo, Ohio in 2004. After completing a Masters Program in Documentary Film at the Madrid Cinema Institute, I was broke and had no idea what to do. So, I put an ad on Craigslist in the video / tv / film section, advertising myself as an “American Video Producer” in Madrid. There was no competition there – Spaniards were not using Craigslist Madrid at all at that time – in fact, it’s still pretty dead. But back then, it was probably the first place an American would go to find something, or someone. Jobs came in right away.
My first client: Travel Channel. Second client: Discovery Channel. Other big brand American clients kept coming in. And they all said the same thing:
“Help us – we can’t find anyone local who speaks English!”
Bingo #1- I had discovered my market. I would be the English-speaking, American video guy in Spain helping American companies with their local video projects.
I’d work for them as a cameraman, help them to hire other crew members, rent gear, do location scouting – whatever they needed. They felt comfortable because, not only was I American too – a strong competitive advantage, but because I busted my ass to get what they needed, answered emails fast, took calls at any time of the night, and just got it done. I can’t tell you how many clients told me that one of the reasons they hired me was because I was the fastest to respond to all of their questions. Straight up good customer service was key to it all.
Over time, something interesting started happening. In the beginning, I was getting work from TV networks, news crewing services, and agencies. But then I started to notice a growing trend: more and more big global companies were contacting me directly. In other words, a lot of big companies you might think have their own video production capabilities or agencies – well, they didn´t. Not for global video work anyway. These companies had specific brand guidelines, they needed quality consistency, they needed post-production, and they often then needed creative ideas as well. Basically, they needed a total full service. Many of the folks we were working with had done plenty of print and digital marketing – but nothing with video.
And they started asking if we could do the same work for them in other countries.
Bingo #2 - a new market!
At this point, I figured I was on to something. I could leverage the fact that my clients were global companies to offer them the same services that I was offering them in Spain across the globe. I decided to find guys and gals like me in other countries and grow out my video team. Were there video producers like me in Beijing, Buenos Aires, and Zurich? You bet there were.
We’d help big multinational clients maintain their brand consistency from country to country. If clients were new to video production – as so many were – no problem. I had a background in documentary filmmaking as did many of my colleagues; we leveraged this experience to tell engaging stories for our clients.
I launched a new Stark Crew website, more big corporate clients rolled in, and we helped them with their diverse video projects across the world. During this time, I also completed an MBA in Entrepreneurship at Madrid´s Complutense University, did many different business plans for Stark Crew, and was thinking hard about our growth strategy. I just had a feeling something even bigger was on the way.
Then something really, really cool happened – Facebook called. And what began from a video interview with a politician in Kosovo grew to shooting and editing videos across Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania, and the Americas.
From that moment until today, we have worked continuously with the folks at Facebook Public Policy, showing how Facebook makes a positive impact in the world through video interviews and micro-documentaries.
Finally, I have come back to my documentary film roots! We´ve made micro-documentaries about how Facebook helps find missing children, how they help refugees, how they promote online safety, and many other social impact initiatives. This was the type of work I had gone to film school in the first place to do!
Bingo #3 – third time’s the charm! Many years have gone by, but now we are doing the kind of work that excites us the most. And when I say we, I mean all of us – my new core staff members Lauren, Eli, and Sian, as well as the vast network of video partners around the world who we work with daily. Doing social impact work is extremely fulfilling. It truly gives us purpose and meaning and something to be excited about each and every day.
So that´s how Stark Crew became the Global Social Impact video people. Via our network of 1000+ local video producers across the globe, we’re back to our roots in documentary filmmaking. We´re helping purpose-driven companies to show how they make the world a better place – through video, of course.
I decided to announce this change now publicly to hold me accountable - because we are going “all in” on Global Social Impact. We’ll be launching a new website, reaching out to new clients, and even making our own original content series.
Our videos will focus on social impact, being a force for good, cause marketing, and elevating brands through their social missions. We’re very excited about this change and are thrilled to have you as a part of our story.
Brace for social impact!