Rage Productions Up Raveled

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Sounds like the name for one of those caffeine laden soft drinks doesn’t it?   Well it’s the name of a film production house right here in Bend that produces and competes with the best in Hollywood for national commercial film production.    

One of my favorite quotes from Einstein is the following, “Logic will take you from A to B.  Imagination will take you everywhere.”  This quote describes Sky Pinnick, owner of RAGE Productions.  I first met Sky when I was trying to get some ideas I had on film.  I was impressed then and continue to be two years later. Coming from L.A. I have been in multiple film production houses and I was shocked and impressed to see what Sky has created right here in Bend, Oregon.  

CBN:  How did all this begin?

Pinnick: I started RAGE in 1994 as a sophomore at Bend High producing videos.  I went to film school at the Art Institute of Seattle and from there worked in film and TV production at Microsoft.  From there I and a couple of partners started an internet video company in 1999 when video was just coming on to the internet.  We pioneered a way to get video online in a bigger picture.  Five patents later and a start up in the dot com era we sold it to a company, VidiGo, in Toronto in 2000.  Everything was going gangbusters and set to go public in October 15, 2001.  One month and four days earlier 9/11 put the kibosh on the plans.  Several people in the investment firm taking the business public died in the world trade center and it changed everything.  The whole situation unraveled and now I own a lot of worthless stock.  

At that point I decided I was getting out of a major metropolitan area and left Toronto.  The world had changed and I decided to come back to Microsoft to work on X-Box. I was making my way back from Toronto to Seattle and decided to hang out with my brother who was living in Salt Lake City.  The ten day stay turned into ten months and a ski movie.  It was a great scene and my brother knew all the pros.  I had been traveling with all my production equipment so I thought, why not.  I kept putting off Microsoft saying “in six months I’ll be back.”  It was kind of a nice safety net.    

On my way from Salt Lake City to Seattle I came through Bend and decided to reinvent RAGE in the model it is today and make of go of it.  That was 2002.  I opened an office, began networking and was working on finishing my personal project, the ski film.   I sort of randomly got involved with BendFilm when it was just starting up and in that group there were some ad agencies.  I edited the first investment video for BendFilm to get people involved.  That spring boarded into everything I’m doing now.

CBN: What are you doing now?  

Pinnick:  We do 60 percent commercial production, TV commercials or video for the internet.  Commercials are confined to 30 seconds, on the internet we can go longer to 42 seconds which we consider the ideal time.  40 percent are internal projects, short film, music video and action stuff.  This last year I produced a featured documentary on Malbec wine called Boom Varietal.  Ninety percent of the time I get clients coming to me saying “Can you do this idea for this budget.”  And I say…”Yeah we’ll figure out a way.”

CBN:  What drives you personally?    

Pinnick:   I have a passion to create cool imagery.  There is always some challenge in every shoot.  I love the challenge.  I guess that’s the left side of my brain coming into play.  I always work non-stop.  In Toronto I worked constantly. Now 16-18 hours days don’t seem long.

CBN:  How did the economic downturn affect your business?

Pinnick:  We did notice a big turn with the economy going away.  The biggest change we made is we took a hiatus from producing our annual big ski film.  We did that because the sponsors helped pay for the film and they were the ones most suffering from the economy.  Those projects are the biggest risk but also the biggest reward.  I looked at the trend and decided not to take the risk.  This will be the third season we haven’t filmed one.

CBN: What did you do instead?

I took that same time concept to the wine industry. There are potentially five to ten million people you can touch with a ski film where there is a potential 500 million you can touch with a wine film like Boom Varietal.  It’s being shown at the San Luis Obispo film festival.  It’s been in a dozen film festivals and is going on that path.  

CBN:  How do you finance the business?

Pinnick:  It’s been all self financed.  Of course I have various equipment loans for new equipment. What is really hard is eight months later I have to get the next round of gear, it’s expensive; software, computers, cameras.  But you have to stay on that bleeding edge of technology, right?

CBN:  What makes your production house different than others in Central Oregon?  

Pinnick:  The technology and gear we have is key.  Specialized camera equipment, such as RED EPIC digital cinema camera, provides the quality that sets us apart from other production facilities.  It’s a camera that a lot of Hollywood directors are using.  Another technical advantage we have is our on-site, green-screen studio.  It’s an asset both for us and to our community as a place for other production crews to rent. We have been able to bring in business from larger film studios in L.A., Portland and Seattle who need to rent equipment or studio time for their film projects. It’s a great way to help entice big film productions to bring their business to Central Oregon.

CBN:  What has been your rate of growth?

Pinnick:  Roughly 30 percent a year, every year.  I have been very fortunate.

CBN:  Why do you think you are successful?

Pinnick:  Attention to detail in our product is what makes us different.  Those details are what 90 percent don’t notice but that is what makes us successful.  More and more people care about having good quality.  Ten or fifteen years ago people just thought “I want a commercial.”  Now they want to be on air in style.   

Another key to our success would be the team. Our team has worked together for many years both in the studio and on-location which allows us to be very efficient and precise in executing the client’s vision.  

CBN:  What is your take on the economy?  Do you see things improving?

Pinnick:  Oh absolutely I see it in this business and I see it in Velvet, the downtown bar my partners and I started in 2008.  We recently sold it to the bar manager.    

CBN:  Has being located in Bend been a benefit or a hindrance?  

Pinnick:  Both, I made the decision ten years ago to stay in Bend and trade quantity of life for quality of life.  To me quantity is money and things.   Even a simple quantity move would have been to Portland or Seattle and then New York or L.A. would have been the best move career wise.   Yeah I would make more money but it’s not all about money. I work hard and play hard.  If there were eight inches of snow this morning I would have cancelled this meeting.  The reason I live in Bend is that if there are eight inches on new snow on the mountain you gotta go tap into it.  That’s the quality of life I’ve traded.  The other favorite phrase I like is “Passion over Paychecks.”  What’s the other one I like?  Oh yeah, “Do what you love and the money will follow.”  Well I think it should be,  “Do what you love and you will always love what you are doing.”  I love what I’m doing and I’m making it work, I’m happy.

CBN: What would you tell another who is considering taking a leap of faith in business?  

Pinnick:  Nowadays you can do anything you want because the information you need is all on line.  Twenty years ago you had to go to school to learn.  Today it’s all on line, even in film nowadays I can find a current video on how to do the things that take in the evolution of the craft. When I went to school what was taught was the foundation, which was great and I don’t discount it but the rules have been rewritten.  If you want to learn how to do things say like shoot a film like Avatar go on-line, some sixteen year old has figured it out and put it on the internet.  It’s a digital age and anyone who wants to go out there can do it.

You still have to be self motivated.  When I went to school there were many sitting humming and hawing and then there are those who take something and push it forward.  Those are the entrepreneurs.

Sky Pinnick is certainly the entrepreneur loving life on his terms.  Commercials are a form of advertising and businesses don’t spend the big money on film commercials if they don’t believe there is a market to capture.  The fact that RAGE Productions is busy is a positive sign of the times.  

www.rageproductions.com. , RAGE Productions , 20727 High Desert Court Suite 4+5 , Bend, OR 97701, 541-382-1001.   

Elizabeth Ueland   International Sourcing Agent

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