In the last eight years, Bottle Rocket Media has grown from a small, independent video production company to a well-known Chicago presence with big name clients like Dyson and The Chicago Cubs. The impressive rise is all thanks to the brand’s passionate and tireless founders, Dan Fisher and Brett Singer – award-winning veterans of the legendary Oprah Winfrey Show – who back every project with decades of field experience, technological know-how and a signature, down-to-earth client approach.
Here’s what Dan and Brett had to say about their love of production, Bottle Rocket Media’s evolution, and where the company is headed:
What was the inspiration behind your individual careers?
DF: My career started well before I knew what I really wanted to be in the industry. All I knew, when I first arrived in Los Angeles, was that I wanted to be part of Hollywood’s filmmaking machine. Once settled, I began to experiment with different industry roles, from production assistant to director, while at the same time really learning about storytelling through photography and editing. Ultimately, getting the Oprah gig helped seal my fate as a seasoned storyteller, but more than that, it gave me the courage to do my own thing. And teaming up with Brett helped me take it to the next level.
BS: Midway through college, I decided I wanted to make movies. Unfortunately, Michigan State had a film theory program, which I received a degree in, but not a film production program. After graduation, I fell into design as a career, hoping it would eventually provide a route into the production world – which it did. My plan worked! After gaining experience at Harpo, where I met my partner, I willed my way to becoming a director—and by willed, I mean I just started doing it with Dan.
What was the inspiration behind Bottle Rocket Media?
BS: That’s more of a Dan Fisher question. Technically, he was here first.
DF: Bottle Rocket Media was born out of the idea that I wanted to create videos on my own terms, with other talented people. It was a reaction to 10 years of storytelling for The Oprah Winfrey Show machine. I thought it would be nice to share stories in a more personal way – direct to client, with the client. I also wanted the work to be just as much about the process as the final result. You know, let’s do great work AND have fun AND work with good people.
How did you guys team up?
DF: Brett and I met while working on The Oprah Winfrey Show; he was a motion designer and I was an editor. We knew we were like-minded from early on in our relationship, but the gig was extremely demanding and we both had young families. So, we were unable to really connect until the show ended. Ultimately, I started the company in 2011 and Brett finally came to his senses in 2013. I knew within three months of working together that we were going to be partners.
BS: After Harpo, I tried the startup route with some friends, but as a COO I missed being creative. And I missed working alongside Dan. I called him up asking if he needed any help. He’d just started making videos for a couple of clients, and the rest, as they say…
What makes you similar? Different? How do you complement each other?
BS: I’m a quarter of an inch taller than Dan. He’s so tiny.
DF: We are similar in our love for authentic storytelling, filmmaking, and art. We are similar in how we approach the business and how we approach the client. This is the core of the relationship. What makes us different is our previous experiences—Brett has a design background and a passion for feature filmmaking, while I have a production background and a passion for high concept imagery. Storytelling is the common element that connects us, and when we collaborate, we drive the best results. There is trust that the right choices will be made for one another, the company and the client.
How would you characterize your brand? How has it evolved?
DF: It is all about authenticity, a love for story, and a passion for imagery. Since inception, we have become more efficient in how we communicate with the client and more versed in the language of video storytelling. But, at the core, we are simply doing what we have been doing all along: pinpointing the most effective way to reach the desired audience and tell our clients’ stories.
BS: I agree. Our brand is about delivering an exceptional product with best-in-class customer service. We really take pride in what we do, and how we do it. It’s been a consistent part of the company from the very first day. The only difference now is that we have a whole team that shares in that same passion.
What keeps Bottle Rocket Media running? Why does it stand out?
DF: At BRM every team member has a voice and every voice is heard. We are constantly discussing projects and next steps with one another. No idea is ever totally off the table. Brett and I approach the business of being creative with no ego, and therefore best idea always wins. Our experiences have taught us that the demand for quality results should be challenging and fun. If not, then we have done something wrong.
BS: Listen, I’m sure everyone says the same thing when asked this about their company. But we really do care about our clients and what we make for them. We love what we do, and we feel lucky to be able to do it every day. I think you can feel that in what we deliver.
Why is 2019 such a big year? What can we expect?
DF: This is an exciting year! We’re shaking it up – which is something we like to do often to keep things fresh. Specifically, we’re teaming up with four new directors to expand our creative offering and portfolio to include more hospitality, documentary, lifestyle, and product-oriented videos.
BS: We anticipate a lot of growth, both in the number of clients and the opportunities we share with our new team of directors. Shifting some of the directing load off Dan and I and onto our new, amazing directors will allow us as a company to flex our collective, creative muscle.
What video technology are you most excited about right now?
DF: I’ll let Brett answer this. I’m not into tech. Just give me a lens and a light and I’m good to go!
BS: I’m always interested in the trends in 360/VR/MR/AR. We have a new 360 camera we’re playing with and we’ve officially begun some AR development. More to come on that.
Last annoying question: What is your favorite movie of all time and why?
BS: Too many to mention. Really. My tastes shift all of the time. But recently I really enjoyed First Man, directed by Damien Chazelle. He took such an interesting perspective on the story. I really loved how it was filmed.
DF: This is the impossible question. I know Shawshank Redemption usually lands in the top two: “Hope is a good thing.”