Alicia and Renato Ghio are the real-life and reel-life couple running the Danbury-based video production company RmediA LLC, which specializes in creating commercials and corporate and industrial videos. In this edition of Suite Talk, Business Journal Senior Enterprise Editor Phil Hall spoke with the couple on their work behind the camera.
When did RmediA begin and why did it begin?
Renato Ghio: “We began it in 1999.”
Alicia Ghio: “It was sort of like a side hustle originally. Then, in 2001, we jumped full time with the business loan and the office space and all of that kind of stuff.”
Renato Ghio: “That was the frightening part, but it made us get up, get out of bed and do something.”
What were you doing before going full time with this endeavor?
Renato Ghio: “I was doing video production work. I was working for other people, working freelance.”
Alicia Ghio: “My career path has sort of been all over the place. But at the time, I was finishing my master’s degree in psychology and working at WestConn. I did a little bit of computer technology writing stuff when they were implementing a new computer system. Previous to that, I have a background in print journalism, and then I was at the dean of freshmen’s office doing a lot of communication stuff. We were both at a turning point. It was like, ‘I think we can do this on our own.’ It was like a now or never — if we were going to do it, let’s do it now and see what happens.”
You’ve been around for 20 years and you’ve witnessed many technological changes in video production and distribution.
Alicia Ghio: “Oh, yes! We were shooting on tapes. There were a few instances when we were doing a local commercial and we had to deliver a VHS tape to the client. We knew where the direction was going. Even at the time, we were telling the client, ‘We can make a file and send it to your email.’”
Renato Ghio: “And we used to do a lot of DVDs. Now, there are no DVDs. Everything is … somewhere in the cloud.”
What is your preferred equipment for video production?
Renato Ghio: “I use the DSLRs. I use cinema cameras depending on the job, as well as mirrorless cameras. We do a lot of photography work, so sometimes the DSLRs are great because I can do photo work and go right to video work. It’s really about being versatile without having too many cameras. And we shoot in 4K now, so everything’s done in 4K. For editing, I use Final Cut 10, an Apple product.”
What is your secret to making commercials appealing?
Alicia Ghio: “When we say commercials now, it is usually not on television. It is paid ad space on social media that are hyper-targeted, so you know your audience and know what is going to be appealing or not. For some reason, they are going to be served that ad, whether it is their ZIP code or something. It’s basically the first six seconds when someone will decide if they’ll sit for the next 15 or 30. Either it’s humor or a deal or something totally different.”
When presenting ideas to your clients, are they always receptive to your concepts or do you sometimes have to negotiate over what is being done?
Renato Ghio: “It depends. Some come to us with a very clear idea and we’ll execute that and manage them a little bit if we need to. But sometimes we do have to negotiate a little bit.”
Alicia Ghio: “The key is you get a little bit less negotiation when you take the time to do the pre-production meeting and you flush it out and explain why you have these one or two concepts. Then, they can understand where you are coming from and you can tweak from there.”
You created a viral sensation last year with your comedy-tinged recruiting video for the Danbury Police Department. How did that come about?
Renato Ghio: “The police chief wanted something funny and we worked directly with Lt. Vincent Daniello (the host of the video).”
Alicia Ghio: “Being a police officer is hard and there is a lot of bad PR, so they wanted the ‘this is who we are — we can have fun, too and, this is a very good place to work.’ It was a very good collaboration on that project.”
Renato Ghio: “In fact, we’re starting a new one. We have to try to top that.”
Is this basically a two-person operation?
Renato Ghio: “It’s the two of us. When we started the business, part of the problem is there would be the guy in charge, then there would be another guy, and then there’s me at the bottom doing all of the work. We can do this all by ourselves and keep it lean and mean.”
Alicia Ghio: “It depends on the project. We can pull in from our network of people for sound or animation. But we’ve seen a lot of agencies come and go and it’s not that they weren’t good agencies — they got too big too fast and had too many upper people, and they ended up imploding when the recession happened. We’ve been able to weather a lot of that up and down because it is just us at the core of what we do.”
What is it like working together while being a married couple?
Renato Ghio: “Our personalities are such that when I’m freaking out, she stays calm and vice versa. It’s about communications.”
Alicia Ghio: “We overlap a little bit, but our skill sets are different. We’re not doing the same thing on the same projects. And, we were dating when we started the business, so it could have all blown up a long time ago.”