White Knuckle Studios was really birthed on foreign soil: Marshall Burgtorf and Paul Powers, both in the video production industry for years, first met while filming in Kenya and Uganda. Soon after, they worked together on a project in Mexico. Less than a year later they were filming together in El Salvador. With a great rapport and similar values, the two talked about starting a business on American soil, a vision that seemed impossible at the time. Fast Forward to 2009 and the onset of the economic turndown, Marshall, Paul and their respective families all ended up in Bend, and (long story short) White Knuckle Studios was born.
WKS focuses on telling stories—whether it be the story of a business, a brand or the story of local balloon-chair pilot flying to Iraq in search of the ultimate adventure, it is our passion to communicate our client’s message in creative ways.
How has your business been impacted by the economic downturn?
Starting a business that supports two families in the recession was difficult. Bend businesses were hit hard, cutting budgets across the board. Advertising budgets for small to medium sized businesses were virtually nonexistent. Those businesses with an advertising budget were not willing to take a risk on a newly-branded film company.
How have you reinvented yourselves to stay in business?
Since we were born in the recession, keeping our overhead and debt down was an absolute essential. Starting in a spare bedroom with two older computers and one camera, we began to build up our equipment slowly, often reinvesting in the company rather than paying ourselves. With each new piece of equipment, our efficiency and quality level rose.
Also, since Central Oregon was hit harder than most, we started looking for work outside of the area with the goal of sourcing locally and bringing that money back into the local economy.
What are your goals going forward in our present economic climate?
Our goal is to capture compelling images and tell engaging stories. Every decision we make, really is determined by, “Will this help us in making better videos?” We’re filmmakers, first and foremost, filmmakers who love helping businesses reach their communication goals.
What have been the keys to your continued success?
Our success comes from the fact that we love seeing our clients succeed. Making a high quality video can be a considerable investment, and we find great satisfaction when we hear from clients that they received a good return.