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On Crews Control [Costco Connection magazine]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
The Costco Connection, January 2007
Member Profile, page 23

MICHAEL H. NEEDED HELP. The producer / director had to schedule four video shoots for a documentary he was filming in India, and he didn’t know where to start.

So he contacted Crews Control, a Silver Spring, Maryland, company that represents independent film crews from Alaska to Zimbabwe. The firm connected him with Dushyant Mehta of India Pictures, someone they had worked with for years. The shoot went off without a hitch.

“With the level of worldwide visibility we were after, it was critical that we work with a world-class organization,” Hull explains. “Working in India is very challenging, but
Dushyant seemed to be plugged into the whole country. One phone call, and we always had what we needed.’

That’s the goal for Costco member Andrea Keating, who founded Crews Control in 1988. And that focus has put her firm on the fast track with clients that include 3M, AARP, Anheuser Busch, General Mills and Reebok, to name a few.

Of course, keeping those high-end, sometimes demanding clients happy isn’t always easy. Consider one of Crews Control’s more challenging jobs.

“We got a call from Publishers Clearing House giving us about 48 hours’ notice that they needed us to help them execute a massive three-day shooting blitz,” Keating tells The Connection. “Our cameramen taped nearly 100 winners in a host of cities across the country, and the footage was used as part of a national advertising campaign. It was a
lot to organize, but it worked out pretty well.”

Indeed. Since Keating opened her lenses, her crews have taped everything from simple in-house documentaries to complicated training films. Sometimes the shoots get downright high profile.

“When it came time to tape singer/songwriter Wynonna Judd for a national news release on asthma, they called on our crews to do the on-location shoots in Nashville and Boston,” Keating says, adding that other notables who have found their way in front of Crews Control’s cameras include Neil Diamond, Matchbox Twenty and Donald Trump.

Keating came up with the idea for Crews Control while working at a creative agency in Washington, D.C. “My local clients began asking me to refer them to film crews in other cities, and after a while a light went off in my head,” she explains. “I knew that companies like Coca-Cola and Kodak were producing videos in cities across the U.S. If I could locate talented local crews in each of those cities, I could save companies up to 40 percent on
location production costs.”

And so she did. In 1994 she signed her first crews, and she took her service global two years later. The business has been growing steadily ever since.

The key to her success, Keating says, is that she has a knack for connecting the right film crew with the right assignments.

“Instead of just offering clients a laundry list of film crews, I created an agency that represents only the best crews in the business, she says. “Then we handpick the right crew for the right project, and that inspires everyone to do their best work.”

In 2003, Keating noticed another gap in the market.

“I heard from my clients that they needed stock film footage of cities around the world, but they had to pay per shot for limited use, which was expensive and laborious-and that didn’t make sense to me,” she says.

Using her relationships with numerous film crews, Keating founded Reelcities, which sells entire collections of royalty-free shots, angles and pans of city landmarks that can be used repeatedly for about $500 a reel.

Keating recently founded yet another firm, called TeamPeople, a media staffing venture. Her ambition, she says, is to always be on the lookout for new opportunities.

“I love not being limited by boundaries of time or geography,” says the 43-year-old mother of three. “It’s a challenge to build a company, but it’s incredibly cool to see an idea grow into a business, and watch it grow. I adore my job.”


More Costco Connection Articles

"I get by with a little help from my friends," says Hope, who gives special thanks to:

• MICHAEL GIBBS, website illustration and design: www.michaelgibbs.com
• MAX KUKOY, website development: www.maxwebworks.com
• STEVE BARRETT, portrait of Hope on Bio page: www.stevebarrettphotography.com

Contact HOPE KATZ GIBBS by phone [703-346-6975] or email.