2020 in Review: Mary Caddy of The Colonie

(Mary Caddy, Bob Ackerman, Brian Sepanik)

Editor’s Note: In 2020, the world changed right before our very eyes. Ad agencies, production companies and post houses were forced to adapt and begin a “new normal” working, living, exercising and entertaining out of home. Now that we have just entered 2021, we asked around our industry friends to reflect back on the year and how it changed them.

The Colonie is an award-winning creative editorial and post-production house offering motion graphics, color grading, VFX and finishing. Founded in Chicago in October of 2008 by partners Brian Sepanik, Bob Ackerman and Mary Caddy. They are located in the Historic Schatz building at 610 N Fairbanks Court.

Brian Sepanik and Bob Ackerman are award-winning editors, and Mary Caddy is Executive Producer and managing member of the company.

We sat down with Mary Caddy and asked how 2020 affected her, both personally and professionally.

1. How did you adapt to working remotely? Do you prefer it, or can’t wait to get back into the office? 

It saved me 3 hours a day commuting!  I definitely do not miss that!  I/we adapted pretty quickly.  We set up protocol for all jobs and office communications so I don’t think we skipped a beat.  I do miss the personal and creative interaction though.  You can do to it through Zoom, Team, BlueJeans, FaceTime, etc. but it’s not the same.  I think a hybrid of remote and in office would be great in the future.

2. What was the most challenging project you worked on this year?

The most challenging project we worked on was in March during the initial shelter-in-place mandate. We collaborated with Leo Burnett on a series of spots for United Healthcare Group. The pace of the project was absolutely insane. The entire country had just shut down and we all needed to work together to figure out the most efficient way to shoot, edit, design and finish a series of spots and get them to air as quickly as possible. We worked alongside Leo Burnett as technical advisors to coordinate the production of 13 interviews over 4 days with Healthcare workers from all over the country. We used a combination of people’s personal cell phones and Zoom to conduct the interviews and capture the footage. Since any type of location shooting was not possible at that time,  we relied heavily on stock footage and graphics to help develop the story. It was a whirlwind, working 24/7 but wonderful for everyone to roll up their sleeves and work side by side… remotely!


3. What project are you most proud of?

Considering the challenges of the past year, we are proud of all of the projects we were a part of.  We worked with TMA on a State Farm project using existing and found footage edited by Joe Clear, a Burrell Xfinity animation project for LGBTQ edited by Bob Ackerman and our design team, and United Healthcare Group with Leo Burnett edited by Brian Sepanik and Keith Kristinat.  It is difficult to pick one but being a part of a new company launch, Rare Beauty, edited by Jimmy Helm, was great fun.  It was a collaboration of many and included all aspects of post.  Fortunately, it was also a successful campaign. 

In addition to the work mentioned above, I am very proud of being apart of the local AICP Board and National AICP Post Council.  We were able impart vital information about changes within the industry related to Covid.  We were also able to impart information to non-members that helped them to navigate the uncharted waters.

4. All things considered, was 2020 a good year or a bad year for your business? 

In light of everything that was going on in 2020 we remained busy and retained all employees which made it a good year. We’ve worked remotely for years with many of our clients so that was not huge adjustment for us.  I think some of our Chicago based clients learned a lot about The Colonie and our capabilities that they may not have without the limitations of this past year. We of course learned and adjusted as needed based on the requirements of each project. We also confirmed what an amazing group of incredibly talented people we work with at The Colonie who have all gone above and beyond.  We are very fortunate.

5. Do you think 2020 changed us permanently? 

I do think 2020 changed us permanently. I think we learned a lot about what we are capable of when put to the test.  We learned about personal and professional flexibility, how to meet the needs of others and how to try to set boundaries and meet new challenges. We are always adjusting to the needs of the industry. This year we packed years of adapting into a very short period of time. We pushed technology, our imaginations, experience and endurance to their limits and have come out the other side relatively unscathed, not withstanding many of the personal tragedies some of us endured.  

6. What goals have you set for 2021? 

Maintaining a viable business and keeping all employees employed!  Taking what we have learned in 2020 and improving upon it. Finding a good remote/in-office work balance and continuing to do great work for our current clients and new ones.  

BONUS QUESTION: Did your team gain or lose weight in 2020?

A couple people lost, a couple gained but overall we stayed the same!  

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Barbara L. Roche is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Reel Chicago and Reel 360. She can be reached at Barb@reelchicago.com