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Producing Commercials: Production house – Alkemy X

Master of all trades

By Michael Fickes

Director Mark Finkelpearl, a senior VP of development and production with Alkemy X, preps a shot with his crew on location.

Director Mark Finkelpearl, a senior VP of development and production with Alkemy X, preps a shot with his crew on location. The production was one of 11 three-minute episodes, a series in which comedian John O’Hurley promotes AARP’s various discount programs. The series will run on the AARP website at www.aarp.org.

Alkemy X (formerly ShootersINC) produces commercials, network promos, original content, branded entertainment, and visual effects. Clients can bring to Alkemy X one part of a project or all of a project.

“More and more companies like ours do editorial and post finishing along with production,” says Jim Huie, executive producer with Alkemy X. “I will say that I think we were at the forefront of this movement.

“The reason for that relates to our original location in Philadelphia,” he continues. “In the mid-1990s, we were going to New York for color correction. We decided to bring on a good colorist and offer the services here. The same was true for editorial. We were going to New York, but decided it would be more efficient to learn to do it ourselves.”

Alkemy X always has offered production services for small projects. For instance, when a political commercial requiring 24 seconds of graphic design came into the shop, Alkemy X would arrange to shoot the six-seconds of the candidate in-house.

Over time, the Alkemy X post clients and their projects grew in size, and they began to ask the firm to bring in good freelance directors. That led Alkemy X to a decision, implemented last year, to launch its own directorial roster.

“We looked at our clients’ objectives, what type of work they were asking us to produce and we intentionally searched for directors that fit those areas,” says Huie.

Multiple skills enable Alkemy X to produce many different kinds of projects entirely or in part. A current project illustrating what the all-encompassing business model can do calls for the production of an 11-part series of three-minute episodes promoting AARP’s various discount programs. Comedian John O’Hurley serves as spokesperson for the series.

“We traveled the country with John and did a travel series,” Huie says. “He pointed out all of the best AARP discounts.” Shot, edited, and posted by Alkemy X, the production values mirror national commercial campaigns.

The episodes will run on www.aarp.org. You can watch the first one at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGmnMzBxLsk.

February 10, 2015