Mass FX Media is a small business that delivers big creativity in the area of video production. Shawna Schultz and her husband, Matt, met in high school, drawn together by their interest in producing videos. After they both completed their Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in film production at the University of Colorado, they got jobs making documentaries for Group Publishing for almost three years. When faced with the opportunity to go on a four-month documentary project around the world called Unreasonable at Sea, they decided to take the leap into business ownership and started Mass FX Media. After they returned home, they found themselves without much in the bank and only a few projects in the pipeline.
The Schultzes were ready to find full-time jobs to give them some stability with their careers when they decided to consult the Small Business Development Center to learn more about running their company. They had their craft down, but had no idea what a P&L statement was, let alone how to run a business. The one-on-one SBDC counseling started at the beginning with tracking mileage and bookkeeping to the details of taxes and finances. Once in, Shawna was hooked, and she started taking classes on the basics of Quickbooks, opening an office, and hiring. Schultz felt as though learning the ropes from a business professional created a helpful experience with a human touch. She now feels confident about conducting business within all the legal constraints. She said, “The experience of working with the SBDC saved us. We were ready to throw in the towel on our business.”
The Schultzes started Mass FX Media over five years ago to serve clients from a large variety of businesses, large and small, and other filmmakers who need more advanced motion graphics for their videos and films. They describe their professional niches as motion graphics, visual effects, and cinematography. “If we can’t shoot it, we can create it in post-production,” says Schultz.
Today they run a full video production house, with a team of four full-time people providing video services for three main types of customers:
- They make corporate videos from beginning to end: brainstorming the concept, script writing, shooting, editing, and graphics.
- They work with other video production companies to capture footage or create motion graphics for their projects, like infographics and animations.
- They work with documentary filmmakers to adds maps, timelines or data visualizations within the documentary to help tell the story.
For the last two years, Mass FX Media has had many large clients, but most notably been a preferred vendor for Facebook, creating “how to” videos and conference videos. They are also a part of the team working on a film directed by Jeff Orlowski, director of a Sundance film Chasing Ice, on his next feature documentary project about how climate change is affecting the state of reefs around the world.
Shawna Schultz said, “The best feature of this business is the variety of projects we complete, the people we interview, and the causes we get to be a part of. The biggest challenge comes down to the fact that we’re in a very subjective business, and getting it ‘right’ for a client can be a hard thing to pin down.” She loves her work as an artist and admits, “I can’t imagine doing anything else, and having our business allows us to do what we love with people we love for a living. You can’t beat that.”