From two guys brainstorming in a hotel conference room, to the entire top floor of a downtown Chicago office building.
SolidLine Media has come a long way in just over a decade. Today, we celebrate our 11th year in business. SolidLine Media founders Greg Vass and Michael Kromm took some time to look back on how this crazy idea started, and how far this company has come thanks to the hard work and support from staff.
Greg Vass (Executive Producer / Company Founder): Kromm and I have been video geeks since we were in seventh grade together. Both of our dads worked in high level positions in corporate America for over 20 years. They were forced out due to mergers, acquisitions and younger talent. It just didn’t seem right. We knew coming out of college that we wanted to create our own path. We’re definitely risk takers and we knew what we wanted to do – create a brand that focused on high end corporate production, something that viewers didn’t expect to see when they watched what they thought was a typical “corporate” production.
Michael Kromm (Director of Post Production / Company Founder): On the first real day of SolidLine Media, I remember setting up my desk in Greg’s dining room of his apartment. We did a lot of talking about the future and what to do next. We always started by 7 a.m., putting in 12-15 hours a day was the norm.
GV: The phones didn’t ring on the first day, nor was there anything to edit. Well, I’m pretty sure my mom called to see how we were doing. We were in business, and it was the first day of what has been an amazing 11 year journey.
MK: We always knew it would be successful on some level, but never where it is today. Greg and I have always been the driving force behind every project from day one. But now, we have this incredible group of team members that is driving this company forward. They allow us to create stories for our clients that we would have never dreamed of on that first day. In fact, our first business plan for the 10 year outlook never featured any art person. Today, we have an entire art department with three full-time Motion Graphics / 3D animation artists.
Whether they just started within the last year, or if they’ve been on the team for nearly 10, the SolidLine Media staff had a few memories to share about the company.
Mike Petrik (Art Director): I joined the team in April of 2003, and I remember really keeping to myself at first. After getting snubbed on some freelance jobs elsewhere, I was at a point where I was thinking this was just another couple of dudes who didn’t know what they were doing. Turns out I was right, but I stuck around, and here we are now. I remember sitting across from SolidLine writer Marcus Leshock, everybody walking through asking us “Are you guys, like, brothers or something?” Nope!
Marcus Leshock (SolidLine Writer): I remember those days at 120 N. Riverside, sitting in the front of the office. I also remember a skinny-as-a-bird Mike Petrik coming in to interview for his job, looking absolutely terrified. To think a decade later he would be the company’s art director and managing a staff is crazy, but it’s a testament to his drive and abilities with his craft. That’s probably what I remember most – how small the company was, but how driven Michael and Greg were. There was no doubt this company was going to succeed. They managed to get everybody to maximize their potential and work hard, but make it a heck of a lot of fun in the process. They were operating like Google before there was a Google (actually, Google was probably around, but you get the point).
John Courchane (Editor): The relaxed, but effective atmosphere has to be the best part of working for SolidLine. Now, as for Mike Petrik keeping to himself? On my very first day as an intern, I remember walking in to see him standing on a chair yelling random sounds. Not words – SOUNDS. I knew right away this wasn’t your average production company.
ML: For the record, nobody does random sounds better than Mike Petrik. Or the robot.
Justin Younger (Motion Graphics Artist): The first day I worked here I rode my bike in earlier than everyone. I was stuck outside unable to get in. John showed up and we waited outside until Petrik arrived. He exclaimed something I won’t repeat here, then let us in. It’s the best thing about working at this place, hanging out with all of the fellas (oh, and Ali).
Allison Miller (Production Coordinator): One year ago was my first day, SolidLine’s 10th anniversary. At that time, I was interning and knew nothing about cameras, zero-turn mowers, script notes, teleprompters, excessive emailing, or juggalos. Everything I’ve learned is all thanks to this awesome group of gents, and I’m proud to be part of the team!
Ed Boe (Director of Photography): The best part of working at SolidLine Media has to be the strange cast of characters I’ve met. From Mike P to Justin Sweatland, from Sam Sher to The Forn, from Brandon Geier to his doppleganger who lives in White River Arizona. From taking time off to graduate from college, to taking time off to get married, it has been at times frustrating and fantastic by equal turns – what a ride.
Today, SolidLine Media begins its 11th year in business, providing professional video productions to clients around the world. EP Greg Vass looks back on this day with one phrase in mind – “Open For Business.”
GV: Since the very first day at that Palatine apartment, to our office at 120 S. Riverside Plaza, on over to 209 W. Jackson, and now at 180 W. Washington – we are “open for business.” It’s a humbling and warm feeling looking back at the last 11 years. Each day I get to walk in here and say “open for business.” SolidLine is this amazing place, our team is continuing to blow our minds with their unique work and creative visual imagery each and every day. I’m excited to see what the future holds, and what dreams will be bringing to the screen next.
Before we go, we thought we’d share a bit of “before and after.” Check out one of SolidLine Media’s first demo reels, from way back in 2004….
And take a look at our 2012 reel. Quite the difference…
If you’d like to see what the staff at SolidLine Media can do to help your brand with a cutting-edge video production, CONTACT US HERE.