(Executive Producer/Co-creator) Your average day is probably full of interactions with Google, Facebook, and Twitter. But it wasn't so long ago that those companies were unknown startups, hoping to find an audience and struggling to survive against the established titans of tech. Shot exclusively for The Verge and presented by AT&T, Small Empires is a series of stories about young entrepreneurs who are building their own businesses outside of the Silicon Valley. Season 2 will take viewers across North America; from Atlanta to Miami, across the border to the Canadian province of Ontario and beyond.
Alexis Ohanian — who helped launch Reddit, Hipmunk and is now a partner at Y Combinator — is back as the host of Small Empires, sitting down with these founders to discuss their trials and triumphs.
(Senior Producer) Since 2005, an estimated 30 patients worldwide have undergone experimental face transplant surgeries - extensive procedures that replace one's skin, muscle, nerve and bone with that of a donor. Carmen Tarleton, who suffered deep chemical burns over much of her body following a devastating attack, is one of them.
Produced in conjunction with Katie Drummond and the Verge Features editorial team, Beyond Recognition appeared alongside a 3,000 word article published on The Verge. The film went on to be an official selection of the 2014 AFI Docs Festival, winning the Audience Award for Best Short Documentary.
Editorial Lead: Katie Drummond
Director/Editor: Sam Thonis
Camera: Stephen Greenwood, Sam Thonis
Photos: Shell Stein
(Director) Bob Diamond was a 20-year-old engineer when he discovered the Atlantic Avenue subway tunnel. After 30 years, he's no longer allowed to go inside. (9:18 - Canon C100)
Tunnel Vision appeared alongside a 3,000 word article by Adrianne Jeffries, who had pursued this story for many months to bring it to the Verge. Tunnel Vision went on to be an official selection in the 2014 Brooklyn Film Festival and win the Spirit Award for Best Short Documentary.
Editorial Lead: Adrianne Jeffries
Editor: Ryan Manning
Camera: Zach Goldstein, Jordan Oplinger, Stephen Greenwood
Drone Pilot: Zach Goldstein
From November 2013 to August 2014, I served as the Associate Creative Director for Vox Media. This meant having a birds-eye view of Vox Studio's efforts and the opportunity to work with small teams from each of Vox Media's seven verticals.
During my time as Associate Creative Director, I was able to direct the launch video for Ezra Klein's highly anticipated site, Vox.com and the announcement video for Vox Media's acquisition of Racked.com, Eater.com and Curbed.com.
After acquiring Racked, Eater and Curbed and overseeing the hiring for new staff at Vox.com, I worked closely with these teams to adapt to develop and implement Vox Media's style guidelines for video.
Vox Creative was born in 2013 as the in-house creative agency of parent company Vox Media. Led by Creative Director, Chad Mumm, we developed the first native advertisements and branded content series for several blue chip clients such as Ford, Microsoft, Samsung, Comcast and Intel.
Director, 'What's Next' Series produced by Vox Creative for Comcast (3 Episodes, May 2014)
Director, 'Austintatious with Jesse Thorn' series produced by Samsung and Vox Creative for The Verge (7 Episodes, March 2014)
Director, 'The Future Is Now" series produced by Intel and Vox Creative for The Verge (3 Episodes, February 2014)
Series Creator/Senior Producer, "Detours" series presented by Ford for The Verge (12 Episodes, Summer 2013)
Director, "Press Reset" series presented by Microsoft for Polygon.com (13 Episodes, Fall 2012)
Director, "Ford at CES" Pre-Roll 15-Second spots produced by Vox Creative for Ford (3 Spots, December 2011)
(Director/Editor) Kickstarter Campaign launch video created for Avegant. Avegant's Kickstarter launch yielded more than $250,000 in the first four hours and raised over $1.5 million by the campaign's close. It is currently in the top 50 Kickstarter campaigns of all time. (4:12 - Canon C100)
Featuring: Ed Tang (Founder), Alan Evans (Founder), Grant Martin (Head of Martketing), Yobi Benjamin (COO/CTO), Philip Rosedale (Founder, Second Life), Mike Kail (VP, Netflix)
Producer: Grant Martin
(Director/Editor) A short lifestyle video showing Avegant's Beta unit of the Glyph in the real world. (1:33 - Canon C100)
Producer: Grant Martin
Model: Basam Tarazi
(Senior Producer/Co-creator) It takes more than a leap of faith to leave your nine to five and build an empire. You need capital, infrastructure, and the unrelenting courage to chase your ambition from inception to reality. But these aren't your typical Silicon Valley success stories. These are the stories of men and women whose pursuit of their vision turned into real products and real jobs. These are the startups of New York City, and this is Small Empires.
In the Winter of 2012, I brought Alexis Ohanian to The Verge to be a guest on On The Verge, a monthly studio show hosted by Joshua Topolsky. Seeing what we were capable of, Alexis decided to pursue development of a show with Vox Media and Small Empires was born.
Season 1 spans 10 episodes based in New York City. From startups like ZocDoc, OkCupid, Squarespace (who host this lovely site) - or Rap Genius before they became known as simply 'Genius' - we covered a broad spectrum of fascinating entrepreneurs and users utilizing technology to make the world a better place.
Machine Language (Producer/Director/Cinematographer) A short feature video for The Verge that goes behind the scenes at Nuance Communications, a company that develops voice technology for Apple, Dragon, and many others. Technology companies have been trying to make computers speak "naturally" since before the PC was first introduced. Now, with more advanced software and an elaborately crafted process, companies are getting closer to making computer-human interaction seamless. (10:27 - Canon 5DMIII)
Editorial Lead: Lessley Anderson
Editors: Zach Goldstein, Jordan Oplinger
Sound Mix: John Lagomarsino
Living with the Tesla Model S in the Real World (Senior Producer/Camera) Chris Ziegler travels to L.A. to put the Tesla Model S electric sedan through its paces, traveling all the way up the coast to San Francisco. (11:46 - Canon C100)
Lead Editor: Jordan Oplinger
Editing: Billy Disney, Ryan Manning, John Lagomarsino
Camera: Sam Thonis, Jordan Oplinger
The Death Dealer (Director/Producer/Cinematographer) More than four years after Oprah-endorsed self-help guru James Arthur Ray killed three people in a heat endurance test outside Sedona., Ariz., he's been released from prison. While Ray plots his re-emergence into the $11 billion self-help industry, the family of one of his victims is on a crusade to ensure that he — and other like him — don't kill again. (14:37, Canon C100 / 5D MarkIII)
Editorial Lead: Matt Stroud
Editor: Sam Thonis
Camera: Zach Goldstein, Sam Thonis
First Person Shooter (Director/Producer) Stun-gun company Taser want to make 'Cops' on steroids, but who does it serve? The Verge goes in-depth with Taser and the Mesa Police Department, one of the many law agencies testing this new technology. (12:29 - Canon 5DMarkII)
Camera: Philip Knowlton, Stephen Greenwood
Editors: Sam Thonis, Ryan Manning
Additional Video: Adam Barenblat
Finding Paul Miller (Senior Producer) For 365 days, Paul Miller disconnected from the internet. We'd like to tell you it was an idyllic journey of self-discovery, but that isn't quite the truth. On the eve of Paul's return, we follow him on a road trip as he prepares for his return and takes a look back at the last twelve months. (16:43 - Canon C100)
Director/Editor: Jordan Oplinger
Camera: Jordan Oplinger, Stephen Greenwood
Audio Mix: Brendan Murphy
Depression in the Holy Land (Director/Producer/Cinematographer) The West Bank has virtually no medical infrastructure for treating mental illness. That's a tragedy — and an opportunity. Here's how a group of idealistic Palestinians brought neuroscience to their people. (8:37 - Canon 5D MarkIII)
Editors: Ryan Manning, Stephen Greenwood
Additional Editing: Jordan Oplinger
Camera: Stephen Greenwood, Sam Thonis
Audio Mix: John Lagomarsino
Producing TED (Producer/Director) Joshua Topolsky visits the TED 2013 conference to see how it's run. (5:33 - 5D Mark II)
Editor: Billy Disney
Camera: Drew Mylrea, Stephen Greenwood
In late 2010, I helped cofound a small mobile app startup called SignEasy. Distributed on 5 platforms (iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows 8 and Amazon), SignEasy's app allows consumers to sign documents and send documents out from their mobile devices; anywhere, anytime.
Through rebranding, filming promotional campaigns and pitching to multiple online & print news outlets, my involvement helped increase SignEasy's download count from around 10,000 activations in December of 2010 to over 2 million downloads and counting today.
(Senior Producer) In the summer of 2013, The Verge traveled around the United States to see how science and technology are driving the next generation of American innovation, looking beyond just apps and gadgets.
The series brought stories from Pittsburgh, Detroit, Kansas City, and New Orleans that explore how communities and companies are changing in our own backyards. This is the road less traveled. This is Verge Detours.
(3 Episodes, ~10min each)
(Director) Polygon.com launched in November of 2011 to a very attentive audience that had been following the progress of the site over the course of four months. When news broke that Vox Media had assembled a veteran team of games journalists to launch their third vertical, Microsoft's Internet Explorer team approached Vox Media to produce an original series that documented the launch of Polygon.com in real time. Over 13 episodes the series clocks in at 1 hour and 57 minutes of in-depth behind-the-scenes material and a raw look at how modern web-native media companies build new ventures. With a social imprint of over 15 million interactions, the series was considered a huge success in quality and in reach. (13 Episodes - Canon C300/5D MarkIII)
Executive Producer: Russ Pitts
Associate Director: Tom Connors
Camera: Stephen Greenwood, Tom Connors, Jimmy Shelton, Patrick McGowan
Editors: Patrick McGowan, Jimmy Shelton, Tom Connors
Motion Graphics: Noah Shulman
In 2011, SB Nation partnered with YouTube to become one of just 100 companies selected to launch an original partnership channel on the emerging YouTube platform.
I was brought to Vox Media to develop and launch SB Nation's channel and lay the foundation for Vox Studios with three other colleagues - overseeing the creation of multiple series for the launch, which later evolved into a full fledged studio that services seven unique verticals and Vox Media's in-house creative agency, Vox Creative.
In addition to the series developed and shot for SB Nation, I had the chance to produce, direct and shoot several pieces (Dullahan, #39, US Open, Belmont) as a one-man-team. Each piece was tied to a news peg, resulting in short 'featurettes' that were shot on location and edited at our studio on a turnaround time of less than 48 hours.
In 2011, I consulted with San Francisco-based airline, Virgin America for 10 months to develop their online content covering events, launches and special interest projects. Working with the in-house marketing team to plan, shoot and edit the airline's online and social media video initiatives, we launched Virgin America's first blog with video content and showcased the videos on their RED in-flight entertainment platform.
After graduating from UCLA's documentary program at the School of Theater, Film & Television, I spent six months in Arusha, Tanzania volunteering with several organizations in the Kilimanjaro region and later, in several towns in Madagascar.
(Director/Editor/Cinematographer) One of four videos produced for ToughStuff International, documenting one of ToughStuff's first village entrepreneurs. Elias is a ToughStuff entrepreneur in Ifaty, Madagascar and is currently renting out 20 lamps to surrounding villagers - making enough money to soon purchase even more for the entire village.