Victor Cooper | Business Owner | Interview
Victor Cooper and Kelly McKinney established Eighty Twenty Studio in Belleville, Ontario in June 2019. Their goal was to establish a production company that would allow them to funnel their creative energy and bring ideas to life.
Since then Victor has been hard at work as a co-owner, creative head, and director for the studio; working with local businesses to bring their brand stories to your screen. I sat down and had a chat with Victor to find out what Eighty Twenty Studio was all about and what his plans were for the future, and what it's like to have his first full time employee.
First of all can you tell me about Eighty Twenty Studio? What do you guys do?
Eighty Twenty Studio is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. It offers a new and exciting way for us to tell stories. Clients of all kinds come to us with a need to convey something to their clients. It may be a physical product, a service, or just a script that they want to bring to life. We then help them make that a reality with high-end 4K video, crisp audio, and sometimes even stop-motion animation. We cover everything from corporate to comedy to horror.
Can you tell me about what inspired you to start Eighty Twenty Studio ?
I’ve always been a storyteller at heart. I was a musician long before anything else, and I just love the idea of captivating an audience and telling them a story. Film is just another way to do that. I’ve been doing it for over a decade now and it just doesn’t get old. I want to offer customers more than just a cookie cutter approach. It’s more of a “Let’s find out what you need, then what you want, then how can we make it brand new.” That’s exciting to me.
Why did you chose Belleville, Ontario to set up shop?
I’ve lived in Belleville for about 15 years with my wife Jodi. We love the city, the people, and the landscape here. A lot of my friends moved to Toronto after college but I really believe you can carve out an industry for yourself no matter where you are. It may look different, but I like different.
What is your role at Eighty Twenty? What does your everyday look like?
My role has only recently been definable. Yes I am a co-owner with Kelly McKinney but my day to day has always been a bit crazy. Up until two months ago I was the only employee and so I filled all the roles on a day to day basis. Then we brought on Cody. That was a great decision. It’s allowed me to focus a bit more as he has proven very competent both in the field and in the edit suit. I still do a bit of everything from filming to editing, to voiceover work, too invoicing and banking. But being confident that Cody is working and doing a great job takes off a lot of the stress that comes from switching gears so often.
What is it like having a company with a full-time employee for the first time at Eighty Twenty?
Having a full time employee is 99% fantastic. More work is getting done, we can accomplish things that we have not been able to do in the past, and it’s great just to have someone else in the office to talk to and run ideas by. This is a very team oriented business and new ideas come more easily with a group. There is a bit of work that comes with an employee, like setting up payroll and making sure they are taken care of, but it pales in comparison to the benefits.
What can clients expect when they choose to work with Eighty Twenty?
We try to treat every job differently, as our client’s needs are all different, but there are a few things people can count on. We will be on time, energetic, respectful, and just as invested in a great product as you are. We pride ourselves in knowing what it’s going to take to complete a project and not coming back saying we need more time or money. We’ve been doing this long enough that when we say we can do it, we can do it.
What are your goals for Eighty Twenty in the future?
We would love to move even more toward narrative (scripted) content. I love telling stories of any kind, but there are a stack of stories that I have been wanting to tell for years and we are getting to the point where we can bring them to life now. I have a real soft spot for horror films but there are a couple of comedies in the stack as well. Kelly is a very funny guy and so we have been working on a comedy project as of late. I think that is somewhere he is really going to shine. I think within the next year we would like to have a feature length film under our belts.