BUSINESS PROFILE: Juicy Studios - Scotty Carlson
Based out of the lofted top floor of the old Post Office on the corner of Columbia and Queen is a creative hive of activity that is producing top notch work for some big name clients around the globe. You may have seen the Juicy Studios logo on the unassuming door heading up the hill on Queen Street and wondered as I once did, just what goes on in there?
Having a chat this week with Scotty Carlson one of the three principle staff at Juicy, I learned what goes on in that old building and why Rossland has been such a good base for a company that works with clients worldwide.
So for those that might not know exactly what Juicy is, fill us in on what it is you guys do?
Well, we started out as a production facility so we did everything from web design, graphic design, to editing and film production for other people. We were creating what our clients had in mind. They would come to us and we would do it for them and over the past couple of years we’ve started transforming into more of a creative agency where people are coming to us with more of a problem and we’re put in place to solve it. We do a lot of the creative, coming up with story ideas, pitches and take-it-from-nothing to storyboards and ideas to finished products and that ranges still mostly in the mediums of film and motion graphics all the way down to web.
How did the whole Juicy concept and business get started?
I think it was a bunch of seemingly unrelated events that lead to it. A bunch of us went to school together and during school we started to collaborate. A couple of the guys were from Rossland and we thought, ‘that sounds like a pretty sweet place to live’. It was originally going to be this temporary time in Rossland as we got the business rolling and we were going to do it up out of Rossland and ski and have fun. Six years later we’re still skiing and having fun. It’s worked out very well so far.
How many people work in the studio?
There is at any given point anywhere from three of us up to about eight depending on the projects and what’s happening. We have three people that work constantly and Derek (Frankowski) and (Ryan) Gibb who do their own thing also help us out a lot, so there’s five people working most of the time and then another three to six contractors that come in and help us from project to project. A few of them are local and a few of them are based all around the world.
Who are the typical clients that you do work for?
We’re doing a bunch of different stuff. We still work with Nokia who is our sugar daddy and they treat us very well. We work with Red Bull a lot and we have also started working with a bunch of HD networks recently. We’ve started working with three different HD networks so we’ve been doing a bunch of stuff for them and we’re really excited. We do a lot of stuff for Focused. It’s a TV show done by Matchstick productions. We do work with Red Mountain and they treat us well–Kona bikes and all kinds of fun stuff.
The majority of your clients are spread out all around the globe. How does working from Rossland work out for that?
It’s a double edged sword. One half is amazing and no complaints and the other half is that it is tricky. Nobody gets to see you and you’re not down the street from anybody. Face time with clients is something we don’t get so it’s hard to meet new clients and it’s hard to get your work to them when you need to, based on technology limitations here. For the most part you learn to work around it and you work hard at keeping your clients happy and satisfied. We work really hard to make the distance not an issue.
The big thing is that we love it here and we feel very fortunate to be able to do it here. Over the years we’ve had a lot of offers to take the company other places but we’ve always just liked it here. People that come here to work with us are just as drawn to it as we are. We’ve had big clients that come and their business is becoming a lot more frequent just because they love coming here. We’ve had a couple of clients talk to us seriously about moving here just because they love it here. We make no excuses for working from here.
It’s great that in your industry you can have the luxury of not needing to be in a big centre and can work largely online to get things done.
Totally. When we first started six years ago, it wasn’t actually happening that much and we still had a lot of the marketing directors coming out here or we’d have to fly there and kind of shake hands and do old school business. In the past few years, people have become much more comfortable with creating digital relationships over the phone and e-mail and not having to require the face time as much. It’s kind of a cool factor now like, ‘Wow you guys are in Rossland! That’s amazing!’ It’s not so much anymore that we’re not in New York, Toronto, Vancouver or LA.
We get to have a really great studio here and really great views out all the windows. You step out of the door and you’re in this great little quaint town with four coffee shops in the space of one block. I call it our secret mountain headquarters where you get to work away and nobody cares what we’re doing up here and nobody bothers us. There’s no traffic and sirens are rare so it’s just this unique place to do what we do.
It’s a nice bonus, I’m sure, being able to duck out of the office and go biking and skiing within minutes?
We’re super fortunate that no matter where you live in town you’re five minutes away from everything, so we partake in as much adventure as we can.
Where do you see Juicy heading in the future?
It changes day to day [laughs]. Ultimately, we’d like to start pursuing more of our own productions so doing production and shows that are our own and doing movies and films that are our own. Right now we work on a slew of everybody else’s shows. I can’t even count how many TV projects we’ve worked on over the years and we’ve added a lot to their productions. Now the challenge is to start doing it from beginning to end on our own. It would be really fun and really rewarding, but it’s tricky. It’s hard to pull off and it’s hard to convince other people to give you a lot of money to do it. At the same time you just keep going for it and pushing and pursuing. I think that’s the one thing this place has. Here is the one place where your outside distractions are so limited you feel like you could do it. You don’t have an hour commute to and from work, you don’t have a lot of other stuff going on so you can just keep trying.
What advice would you give others in the business world?
In the six years that we’ve been doing this, the one thing that always proved to be successful is just naive optimism. There’s going to be so many people out there that tell you how hard things are or how difficult things are and kind of sceptical but as long as you have your naive optimism on than you can kind of do it. It might be hard and it might be difficult but you just got to do it.
The way I see it is everyone out there is an artist. My brother draws stick figures and he’s a horrible drawer but if he spends time and he has an idea he can be just as good at telling a story as I can. if you ever want to do it, you just have to go out and do it.
There’s so much of that ‘just do it mentality’ here where people want to try things and they go for it and if it doesn’t work try again. The fall isn’t that far here when things don’t work out.