Running a Successful Studio & The Pursuit of Meaningful Work

Running a Successful Studio & The Pursuit of Meaningful Work

Today on Filmmaker Freedom, an in-depth interview with Clara Lehmann and Jonathan Lacocque.

Clara and Jonathan are the co-founders of Coat of Arms, a full service production and post studio that's created work for some of the biggest companies on earth.

They also take their passion projects very seriously. They've made short animated films and documentaries. They made a web series that was nominated for a Webby award. They've done music videos. And currently, they're in the process of releasing their first feature length doc.

Oh, and they're married to one another.

Anyhow, over the course of this wide-ranging interview, we talk about the mechanics of building a successful production company, working directly with large corporate clients without having to go through an ad agency, pursuing passion projects in the midst of a running a business, creating work that you can be truly proud of, and quite a bit more.

It's a damn good conversation, and I hope you dig it..


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What we cover in this interview

Like I mentioned before, Clara and Jonathan run a studio called Coat of Arms, and they've done work for some seriously sizable corporate clients.

Think Google, Microsoft, Land Rover, Marriott, WebMD, and way more.

Their motion design and animation work in particular are stunning. No joke. Here are a few of their old demo reels to give you an idea of it.

Anyhow, the first half of this conversation really leans toward the commercial and corporate side of Jonathan and Clara's lives.

We get into the weeds of how they got started with Coat of Arms, got their first clients, and continued to build the company into what it is today. Lots of great insights there if you want to build a service based business of your own.

Then in the second half, we talk passion projects, how to balance them with the demands of running a company, how they've promoted and gotten exposure for their work, and lots of other stuff.

For instance, here are a few of their cool short-form passion projects over the last few years.

If you dig this one, be sure to check out their detailed BTS post from this site. It’s quite rad.

And we finish off the convo talking about Born in a Ballroom, their first feature documentary, which should be coming out in late 2019.

So yeah I hope you're excited for this one, because it's a truly wonderful conversation with loads of insight on stuff like…

  • Why it's so damn important to build relationships with other filmmakers, no matter which stage of your career you're in.

  • How Jonathan and Clara built a thriving production company by shunning conventional wisdom.

  • How their company shape-shifts based on the type of clients they're working with.

  • Winning big clients without having to go through agencies, do spec work, or any of the other tomfoolery that's prevalent in the commercial world.

  • How to balance the work you do for clients and the work you do for yourself.

  • How their backgrounds in psychology and sociology inform their creative work, and make it stronger.

  • The story behind Born in a Ballroom, their new feature documentary, and how they'll be promoting it to niche audiences.

  • The advice Clara and Jonathan would give to aspiring creatives who want to follow in a similar path.

  • And lots, lots more.

Hope you enjoy it!

If you’re truly invested in putting these ideas to use, I’d recommend joining Freedom Fighters, my private community for entrepreneurial indie filmmakers.

It’s not another spammy facebook group or noisy forum. It’s an online oasis just for people like us. A place of sanity and respect, where we try our best to support one another in our respective journeys.

So if you’re interested in becoming a member, here’s where you can get the full scoop and apply (don’t worry, it’s totally free).

Hoping to see you inside.

-Rob Hardy

Lastly, if you enjoy thoughtful content like this, you'll love my Sunday newsletter, Filmmaker Freedom Weekly. 

Each week, I share my latest writing and podcasts, as well as a few hand-picked stories from around the web, a short film I love, and a healthy dose of filmmaking inspiration.

If you’re an ambitious indie filmmaker, it’s an email you’ll actually look forward to each week. Pinky promise :)