Explore Media has covered a lot of terrain over the past fifteen years. Besides completing hundreds of jobs in locations throughout the United States from its original office in South Bend, the production and post company expanded to Chicago last month.
Along the way, it has added a sizable number of awards to its trophy shelf, including nearly fifty Tellys, nearly a dozen Addys, and an Emmy.
The new space comes with big windows, exposed brick, and timber loft ceilings in a warehouse that was originally built to house a candy factory. Nestled among galleries, restaurants, and other creative businesses in River North, it is both a destination and a starting point.
“This is the first step to kind of put our focus in the city where we’re doing so much business,” explains Explore Media Director Jeremy Pinckert. “It really speaks to our aesthetic: there’s an interior design company on one side and a gallery on the other, and a lot of agencies are a walk away.”
The vendors that Explore enlists for larger jobs are also located nearby.
“We offer full service and we do audio post and do finishing work,” Pinckert continues. “But when things are beyond what we do, we partner with Nolo and Colonie and Noisefloor and all the usual suspects.”
Besides traditional broadcast commercials for clients like OKRP — who brought them on to produce Groupon and Home Chef — Explore has conquered a startling variety of projects over the past year and a half.
Adventures in Acadia, a promo for the recreational vehicle organization Go RVing, could almost double as a mini-doc on the Travel Channel.
Seth Deahl, a longtime freelancer who Explore hired permanently as Executive Producer in April, helps keep the jobs on track. Deahl began working with the company about two years ago and, according to Pinckert, has proven to be an invaluable member of the crew.
“We are really confident in Seth’s ability to not only handle any project but also to really kind of knock it out of the park,” says the director. “This guy’s for real.”
Deahl returns the enthusiasm, explaining that, “this is one of the first times I was tempted to come out of the freelance world.”
“I like the way Explore thinks about production,” he continues. “We work hard, but we work smart.”
Working smart often includes multitasking, and the company has developed a knack for scouting locations in particular as a result.
For Gogo squeeZ, Deahl found a Chicago park “where it would be likely that these kids would be on their own.” For Go Rv’ing, the crew hiked up a mountain in Acadia National Park one day and began shooting on the next.
The advertising work that the company handles also creates unique challenges, usually due to the ambition of the concepts. OKRP created a spot for Home Chef called Making Things Happen that breezes through a handful of scenarios in 30 seconds.
“It was almost like two different crews and units,” says Deahl. “We put together a tabletop overhead shoot in a house combined with lifestyle footage and talent.”
MAKING THINGS HAPPEN FOR HOME CHEF
A Groupon spot called Haves and Have-Dones, also created by OKRP, called for a similar whirlwind of visuals, but added a moving bicycle shot into the mix.
“It was tagged on to a successful spot they had been running but was for the Groupon to Go market out west,” explains Pinckert. “We did a little car-to-car and on-foot shots with bike delivery folks through the streets of Evanston. Our DP got a hell of a workout.”
HAVES VS HAVE-DONES FOR GROUPON
Explore commits the same level of energy to scripts that do not call for such an intense flurry of content. Everything You Want, created by the agency 88 Brand Partners for the credit union Cefcu, allowed the company to shoot in an indoor and controlled environment. But the crew’s enthusiasm was just as high.
“The credit union job was a great one,” says Pinckert. “It was a beautiful tabletop shot with an ice tea glass that filled to represent a checking account growing and shrinking.”
EVERYTHING YOU WANT FOR CEFCU
With its recent move into Chicago, the Explore Media crew has opened a new leg on the 15-year journey that got them this far. Their enthusiasm and sensible priorities promise a lot of good things on the way.
“We are excited to come to work every day because we’re inspired,” says Pinckert. “Clients can count on us to bring that attitude along with our experience to every project, that’s what we’re all about.”
To learn more about Explore Media, click here.
Send your latest production news to Reel Chicago Editor Dan Patton, firstname.lastname@example.org.