Santa Cruz Good Times

Nov 30th
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The City

AE-4studioImpact Media Group takes business to the city but stays grounded in Santa Cruz
It’s hard to make a name for your business on a global scale when you’re based in a small town like Santa Cruz. It’s even harder if you’re a production company.
Impact Media Group on Soquel Avenue may be 340 miles from Hollywood, but the company has a history of accolades including a 1984 Academy Award nomination for founder Eric Thiermann’s film In the Nuclear Shadow: What Can the Children Tell Us? and an Oscar for his 1986 documentary short Women for America.

Thiermann, who was in the first graduating class at UC Santa Cruz, founded the company in 1976. Impact started out producing a documentary about artists in maximum security prisons, then moved on to filming music videos starring artists like James Brown, then on to high profile weddings. Today, Impact creates everything from documentaries, to technical product videos for Silicon Valley companies, to TV commercials for brands, to educational videos and everything in between.
While they have had tremendous success locally over the years working with companies like Seagate and Plantronics, in July, the group of 12 producers decided to take their business to the big city. Santa Cruz may be Impact’s home base with most of its producers living locally—five of their employees are UCSC alums, two went to Cabrillo—and equipment being stored here, but now the company has added an office in San Francisco as well.

“If someone’s out in New York, they may have heard of Santa Cruz, but they’ve definitely heard of San Francisco,” says Thiermann, who believes expansion will do wonders for Impact’s exposure. “It’s nice to place your bets somewhere else.”
With a new market and a diverse talent pool to work within the city, the Impact crew feels that they can become a media powerhouse with opportunities for projects in San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Santa Cruz. But it is their own unique business style that has CEO Bryan Rawles convinced that the company will trounce the competition.

“We shoot all of our material, we edit, we script, we do 3D animation; everyone’s involved,” says Rawles. Production costs can get expensive if a client has to work with several different agencies for each part of the process, but at Impact, each team member is a producing editor that can manage a project in-house from start to finish. “We felt that San Francisco could use a little of our Santa Cruz talent. Our real appreciation for art is just our Santa Cruz approach to life.”

Some of Impact’s latest projects include a documentary about the cultural and spiritual significance of bells around the world, Sierra Club footage for their Climate Recovery Partnership, 13 short documentaries for display within the exhibits at the Computer History Museum in 2011, a documentary about ’70s anthropologist Gregory Bateson from UCSC to show at the Santa Cruz Film Festival and animation sequences for over 700 screens on the casino floor of Wynn Las Vegas resort.
But the company’s most recent claim to fame is doing the post production on the film Wild Tigers I Have Known, which showed at Sundance a few years back, as well as doing the post production and online editing for Shit Year, which premiered at Cannes Film Festival this year. The director and screenwriter for both those films, Cam Archer, worked at Impact as a video duplicator and an editor during his years as a film student at UCSC. Archer left the company five years ago to pursue his feature film career.

“He’s got a very unique visual take on life and is fun to brainstorm ideas with,” says Thiermann, who has helped Archer throughout his career with offering editing services and gear rental.

Things are just getting started at the San Francisco office, but Impact’s expansion and the success of their former colleague, Archer, has the company excited about their future. San Francisco will mean bigger clients, a broader reach to other parts of the country and the opportunity to share their small town, interpersonal approach to media with the rest of the world.
“It’s time to show the city what Santa Cruz is all about,” says Thiermann.

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