Every producer and filmmaker (especially this filmmaker) understands the headaches (and heartburn) that accompany finding, and keeping, a great crew.
Face it, great crews are hard to find. And they get scooped up fast. Add to that the studio re-orgs, budget cuts, and consistent Covid delays, and you have a perfect storm.
Enter Secret Weapon Studios. This is the only 24/7 support marketplace for filmmakers and content creators to quickly find and vet crew, remotely staff and manage projects, and provide Hollywood studio-style support for productions ranging from documentaries and unscripted television programming to branded content, music videos, and feature films.
Launched in July of 2022 by award-winning filmmaker Greg Olliver, the company is quickly revolutionizing the future of production by hitting the time and budget-intensive processes that have plagued the industry for decades head-on.
Olliver was born on the high plains of Texas and raised on the mean streets of New York City. Lemmy, the acclaimed rock doc about Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister; Jack Daniel’s Chasing Whiskey; and countless productions for CNN/Warner Media’s Courageous Studios have earned Greg a reputation for crafting honest, compelling stories about iconic musicians, war heroes, major brands and everything in between for feature documentaries, narrative films and short-form branded content work.
Through a combination of old-school production expertise and new-school tech, Secret Weapon provides near-immediate crewing services, 24/7 emergency support, and remote post-production solutions – saving clients thousands of dollars and weeks of production time in the process.
“Since its inception, filmmaking has been 99% problem-solving.” shares Olliver. It’s about time somebody stepped in to make the process easier, giving filmmakers and content creators more time and budget to be creative.”
Secret Weapon’s key offerings, CrewHero and PostHero, have quickly caught the attention of major networks, independent filmmakers and branded content creators who are battling crew shortages, budget cuts, remote production challenges, and timing issues as the industry adjusts to its new norm.
The company plans to roll out CastingHero, LocationHero, PropHero™ and other resources in the coming year as they become the hero in every department of filmmaking and production.
Reel 360 News had a chance to chat with Greg about Secret Weapon, CrewHero and Post Hero.
Greg, this is really fascinating. Can you go into how both CrewHero and PostHero work?
We’re here to cut out all the chaos and wasted time and money that is a standard part of film and content production. With all our products and services – our goal is to eliminate the amount of time the client normally spends on prep or production so they can concentrate on the creative… so we do the heavy lifting thanks to layers of automation we’ve built.
In the instance of CrewHero – a client normally spends hours calling, emailing, texting and asking for referrals for the crew in a new city. To eliminate those hours they spend – we’ve built a carefully vetted network of the crew that a client crew request notifies instantly, and if no one is available in the immediate network, our automated system pays crew in-network for their referrals so the search process happens very quickly.
The old joke that every freelance crew knows; “if I had a dollar for every time I recommended someone for a job” now has actual money as a punchline.
PostHero was created after a client asked us to help streamline their remote editing process. There’s always a shift in technology every so many years, especially in post – and we’re now at the beginning of a new shift. I used to edit on Final Cut, and then everyone shifted to Premiere.
Now Davinci Resolve is quickly becoming the future of editing and remote post because they offer a platform that syncs edit, sound mix, color grade, graphics and VFX all on one timeline that can be worked on simultaneously from anywhere in the world.
We built PostHero with the help of Davinci Resolve/ Blackmagic folks. For a fraction of what a client might pay for remote Avid or Premiere setups, we supply hardware, software, cloud service, crew, crew training and 24-7 service for a flat fee.
How does this make it easier when productions are coordinating for the shoot? Is it like Bumble for Crew?
You don’t know who is real on Bumble, just like you don’t know which resumes are real on any other crew database site out there. We are a 100% vetted crew network so the client doesn’t have to “swipe left” – they just “click to book” because we’ve done the vetting, availability and rate check.
You mention the Food Network, Discovery and Disney+, but is there room here for indie filmmakers?
Secret Weapon Studios was built by indie filmmakers like me – so every bit of what we offer is made to help film students all the way up to film studios.
Everything is a la carte or we have full-service offerings for big companies that turn out a lot of content. If you just need a boom op tomorrow in Toledo, we’ve got that. If you need help overseeing delivery specs on $50m worth of outsourced productions – we’ve got that too.
What about when costs are so tight on a short film?
If you have a low-budget project, it’s extremely expensive to set up insurance, payroll, hire an attorney, and open accounts at big rental houses. We have all of that for really low markups available to anyone. We are film-studio support for anyone working outside the studio system – with a set of tools coming that will make the studios jealous.
Is this available just for LA productions? What about Chicago, Atlanta and New York? International?
We’re global. We launched domestically and have supported projects from LA to Wisconsin to Virginia to New York. We’ve already got a team working in Mexico with other countries including India in the works. The beauty of what we built is that it’s easy to duplicate anywhere once we find the right local partners.
Rates tend to be different when it comes to advertising productions? Does this have a section for advertising producers and production companies?
We’re currently working with clients that range from branded content to reality TV to commercials to music videos to non-profit. When they make a request, they enter the project type and rate which automatically notifies the appropriate type of crew.
Where do you see Secret Weapon in 5 years?
In the next 18-24 months we’ll be the only tool you need to produce any type of content. Imagine a hub that is fully integrated with 3rd party software that filmmakers already use. You’ll be able to click through budget, crewing, casting, locations, coordination, post and delivery options all in one place. Thousands of emails and endless wasted hours will be removed from the production process. That’s happening in less than 2 years so imagine what we can do in 5.
What’s your ultimate goal with the service
We’re here to revolutionize an incredibly messy, clunky, archaic and wasteful industry.
In my 30+ years in the industry, I’ve spent more time problem solving than being creative – so I want to flip that to let creativity thrive for all types of film and content creators out there. Every film needs a hero – and we’re yours!
Contact Secret Weapon Studios here.
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Colin Costello is the West Coast Editor of Reel 360. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @colinthewriter1