As I sit down to write about the team behind The Nursery, it strikes me that I’m writing specifically from my own point-of-view, and I’ve no doubt that Jay and Glenn might have their own nuances to share about our friendship and partnership of the last 20 years or so. I suspect, though, that we would all share a very similar perspective, but keep in mind that I might be–as the professionals say–an unreliable narrator.
I’ve known Jay Sapiro since college, which is now a long time ago in a city far, far away (not all THAT far, actually, but dramatic license and all). We were both students in the Radio-TV-Film program at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh, where our paths occasionally crossed; but we didn’t really form our friendship until a few years later when both of us ended up living here in Madison, WI. While Jay and I were at Oshkosh, Glenn Chung was studying at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where he earned his MBA and began his career as a consultant helping startups write business plans.
At a time when the three of us were off following different career paths, Jay and Glenn met, and before long they decided to start their own small business together: a boutique media production firm called Visuality, which Glenn had actually founded earlier to do freelance media design and animation work. A year or so later, I joined them at Visuality, and the three of us have been partners and friends ever since. I would imagine that there are lots of ways to hammer out a satisfying, rewarding career, but I’m not certain I would have been particularly good at any of them other than the one I stumbled into.
Working with individuals who are friends first and colleagues second can certainly be challenging from time to time. Like any personal or professional relationship, conflict is inevitable. Disagreements arise over creative or strategic decisions. Miscommunication (or simply poor communication, more often than not) leading to frustration or irritation. Personal peccadilloes that grate on each others’ nerves.
Personally, when I’m irritated or frustrated, I shut down completely. Many has been the time when I’ve slipped into my office in the morning, closed the office door, and communicated with my colleagues exclusively through terse e-missives or grunted answers when actual verbal communication was wrestled out of me. Though difficult to admit, some of these immature episodes lasted days on end.
But the great thing about working with friends is the ability to push past that kind of nonsense and know that it will be gone soon enough, and that the personal investment and trust you have in your relationship is far more substantial than all the garbage that piles up from day to day.
I remember one day–a Friday–when me and one of my partners simply were not speaking to each other. Doors closed. Practically hostile email exchanges. Going to whatever lengths necessary to avoid the other. Then, Saturday morning, one of us texted the others with an invitation to get our families together for breakfast, and whatever it was that was vexing us on Friday was long forgotten in the workplace on Monday.
Over the past twenty years or so, Glenn, Jay and I have forged an enduring working partnership based on mutual trust, respect, shared values, creative compatibility, and just plain liking each other. Jay and Glenn both stood up in my wedding in 2007. We see movies together. We grab meals together frequently. We’ve known each others’ children since the day they were born. We laugh together.
More importantly, from a professional perspective, we are each good at different things, and our strengths–and in large part, our aesthetic sensibilities–complement each other. That is the kind of thing you never think about ahead of time, but ultimately is essential to a successful working relationship.
Our media firm, Visuality, has been serving clients all across the country for the past twenty years. Working in the areas of politics, advocacy, education, healthcare, and Tribal government & business–just to name a few of the core ones–we call ourselves a one-stop, full-service solution for member engagement, message and strategy, association brand development, and innovative media production and campaigns for clients of all sizes.
First and foremost, though, we are a media production firm, going back to the first day that Visuality turned its lights on.
Our political media has won elections. Our advocacy media has shaped public opinion on key questions and issues. Our traditional advertising media has run in nearly half the states in the nation, and our “new” media (not so new any more!) has effectively reached highly targeted audiences–both small and large–in every corner of the country and beyond. And our best media and production work has been honored with literally dozens upon dozens of top awards and discussed on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and in The New York Times.
We know how to be creative. We know how to do outstanding production work. And now it’s time for us to take that expertise and do something completely different.
We certainly aren’t three cynical, longtime veterans of the movie industry taking our turn at helming a feature. Nor are we three amateurs who have never picked up a camera before. We are somewhere in between, and we happen to think that that place we occupy in between is somewhat of a sweet spot.
In setting out to make an independent, feature-length film, we have lots of creative and production experience to build from; and beyond that, we also have a real passion for movies and a shared dream to do something that we’ve never done before. In that regard, it will be a challenge, for sure, but also a labor of love.
So, please come on this journey with us! Share our passion. Laugh at our mistakes. Help us celebrate our successes. And, most of all, enjoy the fun.
One thing is certain: you’ll know from start to finish that you are among friends.