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Meet Elaine Strutz of Four a Minute Productions in Echo Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Elaine Strutz.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I began my filmmaking journey in high school in a suburb just outside Detroit, making videos with friends who vowed to move to New York City and live as scrappy artists together. I packed my NYU application into the trunk when we made the drive, wanting to drop it off in person. We only made it halfway, when our car flipped on black ice and rolled twelve rotations before crashing. While my friends recovered from injuries such as a broken neck, broken ribs, and collapsed lungs, I felt lucky to get off with just a concussion. The nurses let me play musical chairs, visiting their bedsides and sleeping in birthing chairs. Once everyone was stable, I took a taxi to the junkyard where I had workers pry the trunk of my boyfriend’s mangled car with a crowbar to get to my application. I had to overnight it to make the deadline.

I got in and was set to start my junior year as a transfer from community college to one of the most reputable film schools in the country when I came down with symptoms of achy joints. By the time I had finally made it to the city I’d longed for, I could barely walk. A New York rheumatologist finally gave me a diagnosis. As she described an autoimmune disease called Sjögren’s Syndrome, I cried a mixed bag of sorrow and relief for having a name to attach to my mysterious illness.

With the help of steroids and a lot of dedication, I went on to graduate and work in the film & TV industry for over ten years.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Even without an autoimmune disease or the massive student loan debt, I graduated with, the movie-making industry is tough. The hours are long and the work grueling. But I loved editing for TV and formed relationships with so many talented freelancers along the way. From DPs, showrunners, and sound designers, I’ve picked up a wealth of collaborators to turn to for all my projects.

Over the years, I found a healthy balance of work and a happy life. My autoimmune disease went into remission. In a karaoke bar in Chinatown while singing “All By Myself,” I met my future husband and business partner, Tim Young. The same year we got married, we formed our own production company, Four a Minute Productions.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Four a Minute Productions story. Tell us more about the business.
Since 2014, we’ve been gleefully creating content together including web series, short films, music videos, and social media for companies. We especially love making videos for startups and small businesses because we’re a small business. It’s a very cool thing to share our passion for filmmaking with the same level of passion that our clients have for their product or service.

Tim and I get to wear many hats in the process, something you only get to do if you’re Steven Soderberg or say, run a little boutique production company. We often get to write, direct, shoot and edit material. On larger projects, we can hire the talented freelancers we know and love. We’re currently launching a huge corporate chapter to our company, as we’re set to merge with a company called Executive Video.

The name Four a Minute comes from French New Wave director François Truffaut, who said there should be four ideas for every minute of film. That’s the creative standard we hold ourselves to, and to me really sums up our company. We’re a couple of film dorks that love what we do.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Luck is a nice idea, but who knows. I’ve seemingly had A LOT of it in my life – both good and bad. Where I do feel lucky is being able to put things in perspective. I look at my life and feel utterly grateful.

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Image Credit:
© Four a Minute Productions LLC

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