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Meet Mike Vannelli of Envy Creative in Simi Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mike Vannelli.

Mike, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I started my video career producing music videos for artists like Three 6 Mafia and Machine Gun Kelly. A friend from high school was working for Three 6 Mafia as an Engineer and reached out when they needed some new and fresh music video produced. I wanted to get more into commercial and film work so I phased out of the Music Videos sector. I started from the ground up, with some of the equipment I had, to start making commercials. At the beginning, I did a lot of different styles of videos and commercials, to see what style I liked and what I knew I could do well. Then, Envy Creative started getting attention. Companies, brands, and startups started asking us to make their videos and commercials. From then on, I have been making commercials, ads and startup videos, mostly for business, products, brands, and tech. Some videos we make are large-scale productions and some are smaller, to fit the budget of bootstrap startups, for example. To date, we have produced almost a thousand videos.

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?
The video production space is a competitive one. We haven’t had a lot of “struggles,” but it has been a long road to get where we are today. Envy Creative is a completely self-funded company. We have never taken out loans, giving out equity or borrowed money. For the first couple years, almost 100% of our profits went back into building the business. We also made it a point to start out by producing specific kind of videos, then expanding from there. We started by only making videos and commercials for mobile apps. This way, we could hone our skills, style, and voice when it came to making videos. Then, once we got a handle on things, we expanded into making videos for any kind of app or website. From then on, we kept expanding and now we still making videos for apps and website, but we also make commercials for companies, brands, products and more.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Envy Creative story. Tell us more about the business.
Our tagline at Envy Creative is “we make great commercials, ads and startup videos, mostly for business, products, brands, and tech.” That pretty much sums up what we do. We specialize in commercial style videos. Whether that be 30 second TV ad-spots, 2 minute Kickstarter videos, Facebook-feed ads or just someone taking to the camera, with a white background. One of the main reasons a lot of clients use us, as opposed to our competition is because of our pricing, timing, and quality. We own all our own equipment required for large-scale productions and rarely have to rent equipment. We also try to shoot in-house at our studio if possible. Plus, being in Los Angles with access all the film resources it has to offer, we are able to offer high-end productions at a fraction of what other companies might charge. You might notice that we reuse a lot of actors in our commercials. We have a pool of actors that we have on-call for a lot of our videos. From time to time, we try out new actors that we think have a good look and style to act in a wide range of videos. Once we use them a few times and like them, we add them to our normal pool of actors. This way, when we produce a new video, we usually don’t have to go through a long and drawn out casting process. We know we have competent actors who can play most of the roles we need them to, and who will look and perform great. We also have an in-house creative team that writes our scripts and treatments for new videos. They have done so many of them, they could do it in their sleep! It still amazes me though, that they can write new and creative content with each video. One thing we do that is unique is we offer a free script writing service in hopes to earn the clients’ business if they like the script. So, they can see a script before they even order a video from us. This makes them feel a little more at ease, knowing that there is already a game plan for their video. Mostly all the videos that we do are “all inclusive.” So, we can do everything from creating the concept/script, pre-production, filming and post production, including the editing, effects, and music. With all that said, one of the things that set us apart from the others is that we like to put ourselves in our clients’ shoes when it comes to timelines for delivering a final product. I’ve heard of other production companies and creative agencies taking upwards of 6 months to deliver a commercial. If you have to rent all your equipment, work with outsourced writers, book locations to shoot at and do a casting, all before you even start on production, then yes, I can see it taking that long. But, since we own all our own equipment, have a competent, in-house creative team, have our own studio and have a pool of vetted actors, our turnaround time is much faster. From start to finish, it usually takes us around 8 weeks to deliver a completed video.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
We have had a decent amount of both up front good luck and good luck, disguised as bad luck. When any company is new, if you don’t have a lot of work coming in, you just hope to make it to the next job. When Envy was starting out, there were some close calls where we thought the well of clients had run out, and sure enough, just when all hope was lost, we would get an influx of new work. There has also been a good amount of times where something would go wrong or not our way. At the time, we may have been upset by this. But, when we look back, all those things were learning experiences and if something went wrong, we made it our goal to fix it and make sure it did not happen again.

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