the BUZZ with Adam Hurst, Executive Vice President, Interface Media Group (IMG)
IMG is a DC-based creative media company that was founded in DC in 1977. IMG develops, creates, strategizes, executes and manages all aspects of media, across every platform and in all mediums. Long time clients include PBS, HBO, Discovery Channel, National Geographic and The Smithsonian among others. IMG also developed the WDCEP’s new website video that can be viewed here. For more information please visit http://www.interfacemedia.com/.
1) To what do you attribute IMG’s growth from a 2,500 sq. ft. office in 1977 to a 40,000 sq. ft. office today?
When we opened in 1977, we were a company of 3 people. Today, we employ a full time staff of 50 creative artists and technicians and have dozens of independent contractors that we work with on a regular basis. We attribute our growth to a number of factors: the first is a focus on doing what we do best: partnering with our clients to understand and deliver their messages in new and creative ways to engage viewers, and deliver top quality products and service to that end; the next is constantly evolving and growing our company from both a creative and technology standpoint ; finally concentrating on work that is endemic to the DC area, and understanding that while creativity is key to the industry we’re in, it’s still a business and we need to balance creativity with the bottom line.
2) Since IMG was founded it has moved twice, both times within DC. Why did IMG choose to remain in DC?
We’ve always believed that DC is the information deep water port of the U.S. (if not the world). Given the variety of work we do with private sector as well as government agencies, we feel it’s important to be centrally located in the region and the heart of DC is the perfect place for that.
3) What are some examples of IMG’s work that people might have seen on TV or on the web?
People can see a lot of the work we do on the various networks that based in the area. We work with PBS to create a majority of the on-air promotions that appear on their networks. We produced a two hour documentary titled “The Boomer Century” which aired on PBS, as well as an independent feature “War Child” which was shown locally at the AMC 14 in Georgetown and the Landmark E Street Cinemas and then distributed in theaters nationally and on DVD. We’ve also worked on dozens of shows that have aired on the Discovery Networks and the National Geographic Channel.
You can walk into the National Museum of the American Indian and see a number of ongoing exhibits that incorporate our production work. We established a relationship while they were in the planning stages and have continued to produce cultural media pieces for them ever since.
We recently started doing some very interesting work with a local company (International Launch Services) that provides the launch vehicle and services for getting commercial satellites into orbit. The launches take place in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. We produce a live show that is broadcast and streamed each time a launch takes place. Given the content, the number of people involved in various parts of the U.S. and Russia, the time and language differences and the rigorous schedule, this is a challenging but very fun project. Typically in our business we like to say that what we do is ‘not rocket science’, but in this case it is.
4) What new technologies is IMG incorporating into its company and services?
We’re constantly exploring and incorporating new technologies into our work flow. It’s been part of our nature since we opened our doors 34 years ago. While the main emphasis for us over the past few years has been the growth of streaming and social media as marketing and distribution tools, the next major revolution is 3D production work. We’re starting to explore the various forms of 3D and how it can best be used to tell stories and communicate our clients’ messages.
5) What are the branding and marketing trends in the industry?
The heavy focus in branding these days is in the social media realm and all that this encompasses. From destination websites to mobile applications, Facebook and Twitter sites and everything in between, clients know that in order to make sure their message has maximum impact, there needs to be a social media or on-line component. Our digital media department works with clients to create and implement online and social media strategies and is the fastest growing area of our company.
6) What does IMG look for when pursuing independent productions?
For our original production division, The most important thing is that there is a market for the stories we’re telling. We try to find a need and fill it. Or we find great characters and stories and look for the right fit. But timing is the tough part.
The Washington area offers many of the subjects that any large city has. We’re currently working on development projects with Chef Spike of Good Stuff and Chef Rock (recently of Ben’s Next Door). Food and lifestyles programming are a big trend right now. DC is also a natural for American History. As an example, we’re currently in development on a series exploring new ways to look at the Civil War. The DC area has just about anything you need geographically or architecturally to shoot recreations.
DC also has some fun quirks. We recently shot a pilot for a Burlesque series we’re developing, at the Red Palace in the H St. Corridor. Burlesque and DC – two things you typically don’t find in the same sentence (or television show).
7) What are the biggest changes in the creative media industry over the past 30+ years?
The biggest changes in our industry are typically on the technology side of things. 30 years ago, the barrier to entry for our industry was extremely high. Today, with the democratization of technology and a very low cost to entry, a lot people are getting into the production business and media is everywhere. At the same time, keeping on top of the latest creative trends is a challenge that a lot of people aren’t up to. Making sure to balance the two is paramount. Being able to understand someone’s message and effectively communicate that message using the latest tools and creative techniques is what we’re all about.
For more information, visit: www.interfacemedia.com