Jeremy Richter has managed over 4,500 productions in the past 25 years which have spanned 48 states and 12 countries. He has won over 100 awards for film excellence and serves as the CEO of Richter Studios, based in Chicago. Specializing in animation, brand films, commercials and corporate videos, his company has championed productions involving the ESPN, Star Wars, Tesla brands.
We are thrilled to have you on the jury for the 2023 US International Awards. What was the decisive factor that made you participate?
The decisive factor for me to participate was Filmservice International. Over the past 13 years, they have run an exceptional festival with the Cannes Corporate Media & TV Awards in France. Creatives from around the world know that winning an award through that competition is an incredible accomplishment. Because I know the same folks who created that outstanding festival are now driving the reimagined US International Awards, I’m all in. It is an incredible honor to serve on the jury.
Please tell us more about your work background and your everyday work life. Could you also tell us what you enjoy the most in your job?
I began my career as a graphic designer. I thoroughly enjoyed that time in my life and it inspired me to become a great visual communicator. It also provided me with an excellent foundation for what was to become my true passion, motion imagery. I founded Richter Studios in 1997 as an animation studio but it eventually grew to include video production and still photography. At this stage in my career, I’m primarily a talent scout who builds creative teams that can fulfill the promises I make to a wide range of clients. At Richter Studios, our driving passion is to infuse the art and craft of cinematic excellence into the productions we manage. With video content now everywhere, it is important to differentiate your message. I believe in this creative philosophy so much that I even trademarked the phrase “Be Cinematic®”. The part I enjoy the most with my job is when clients get to see the marketing films we create for them for the very first time. That’s when they fully understand the difference a cinematic approach has made for their brand.
What projects have you done so far? Are there projects that stand out for you personally and what was the most challenging project you worked on so far?
My company has managed over 12,500 short-form films over the past 25 years. Standout productions were the ones that involved brand names that many creatives were inspired by as young kids. As a small business entrepreneur who built his company’s reputation one production at a time, the great brand names arrived at our doorstep when we had become masters of our craft. I’m incredibly proud to see my creative teams champion productions involving the Disney, Star Wars, ESPN, and Tesla brands. I would say the most challenging production so far had to be for a luxury yacht brand. Filmed in the Bahamas, this was a production that required a great deal of planning and focus. We used one of the first available digital 4K cameras in the world, the RED One. We literally had one of the very first models available. It was radically unique and advanced at the time but we also ran into various issues just getting it to work. Additionally, part of the two-day shoot had us filming from a helicopter over the ocean. Due to cost constraints, we had less than an hour to capture the yachts from the sky. For the boat-to-boat shots, we partnered with an Oscar-winning team that specialized in gyro stabilization. While motion stabilization isn’t nearly as big a deal in 2023, it certainly was 15 years ago on the water. To win this opportunity, we did tests in Chicago on Lake Michigan in the middle of the winter, which in itself was a great challenge. In the end, this shoot in the Bahamas translated into five promo films which became a marketing campaign for the ages. The luxury yacht company was sold out for almost two years in advance after the films were launched.
What are you currently working on? And what else is planned for the upcoming time?
Currently, we are working on a nice mix of commercials, lifestyle brand films and corporate pieces. What’s exciting is that with camera technology continually improving, the lines are increasingly blurring between these three types of productions. We always strive to infuse the look and feel of cinema into every project we take on, so the creative payoff has been very rewarding. I also recently purchased and renovated a 10,000-square-foot building to be the new home for Richter Studios. It’s wired from the ground up to be a cinematic playground. We have four separate production stages, a green room and several editing suites. I took the extra step of populating the studio with a vintage jukebox, pool table, games and even wired the entire building with rotary phones from the '30s, '40s and '50s. We even have a classy red carpet room with a wet bar that overlooks two of our production stages. Many shoots lately have been at the studio versus out in the field and our clients have really enjoyed this option.
You were awarded many awards yourself. What does an award represent to you?
Winning an award is a validation of the creative effort involved. When you are pursuing excellence, it often requires longer hours and a great deal of care and focus. When you know your team has worked hard to create something really special, it feels wonderful to see them win an award. Being recognized for creative excellence is the fuel that drives my team to push themselves toward even greater goals and to continually reach higher.
In your opinion, what makes a “good” corporate video? Alas, what are you looking for in a winning entry?
To me, a good corporate video is one that makes a strong emotional connection. It’s the surest way for a video to be memorable. This can come through laughter, awe, excitement or many other emotions. Set out to establish a tone and mood with your video’s messaging and own it. I know the trend is to create shorter and shorter videos but if they are emotionless, it doesn’t matter. Viewers don’t remember facts; they remember emotions. If you and your team are moved by your video, that’s the surest sign you are onto something. Also, look for ways to communicate your message in ways others haven’t. Be unique. Study videos that are not in your industry and see what interesting things are being done. There are so many ways to differentiate your visuals and messaging. Depending on the tone of your video, this may mean animated graphics, aerial drones, time lapses, interviews, handheld cameras, etc. The more you challenge yourself to be unique, the better your finished production will be.
Are there any tips for potential entrants? Production-wise and presentation-wise?
Be cinematic. This means you should find ways to improve the quality of your production within the budget you have to work with. Coming up with a great concept and script is not expensive; these just require time and focus. The next most important thing is to identify a truly great song for your video; one that conveys the tone and emotions you are after. I can’t stress this enough. I have seen many videos that didn’t have the best video quality to work with but took the time to get the messaging and music driving it perfect. They worked really well. Having said that, keep building on these first two items if you are able to. Look for ways to capture your product or service in an environment that elevates your brand image and helps tell a visually interesting story. A great approach to captivate viewers is to feature your product, service or idea in a way that hasn’t been seen before. You can incorporate graphics, sound design, stock footage and so much more. If your video takes viewers on a new journey that emotionally connects with them - your chances of winning an award will be far greater.
Ewa Ewart is a journalist and an award-winning filmmaker who specializes in groundbreaking and influential documentaries. Born and raised in Poland, she spent most of her career based at BBC TV in London, England. She has traveled and worked in many countries, producing and directing programs ranging from investigations and political to social observational documentaries.
We are thrilled to have you on the jury for the 2024 US International Awards. Please tell us more about your work background and your everyday work life. Could you also tell us what you enjoy the most in your job?
My journalistic background is in TV News. I learned about documentary filmmaking at the BBC in London. Back in the 1990s, it was a golden era for documentaries. There was money, and we traveled the world making films on various fascinating and relevant subjects. It was an inspiring stretch of my work as a filmmaker, and it lasted a good few years. I am now a freelancer and enjoy the freedom of freelancing offers. However, raising funds for a project can sometimes be daunting and time-consuming. I never had to worry about getting budgets for my films while working for the BBC.
What do you enjoy the most in your job?
I love the documentary format for many reasons, but one is of critical importance: documentaries offer you enough space to tell what happened and why it happened. It was the main reason I eventually had enough of news. This format often leaves the viewer with many unanswered questions. In a documentary, you have time and space to create in-depth context for complex events and make them easier for a wider audience to understand.
You have made plenty of films - are there projects that stand out for you personally?
When I work on a film, it always seems unique and the most important thing to me. But there are some films I made that I still feel attached to personally. “Children of Beslan” is one of them. It is the story of the tragedy that happened on September 1, 2004, when a group of heavily armed Chechen rebel extremists stormed into School No 1 in Beslan, Russia. For three days, more than a thousand children and adults were held hostage in a sweltering gym, denied food and water, and forced to keep their hands over their heads. The siege ended three days later when Russian Special Forces stormed the school to free the hostages. A series of explosions and an exchange of gunfire killed over 350 people- half of them children. I chose to tell this story with the words of those who survived- young heroes; the youngest was six, and the oldest was 12. I worked on that film for nearly a year, traveled many times to Beslan, and got close to these exceptional children. This experience is still very vivid.
What are you currently working on? And what else is planned for the upcoming time?
The year 2023 is proving to be busy. I will have made two 60-minute plus documentaries by the time it ends. "Until the Last Drop" is a film about rivers and people, their relationship, and interconnectedness. It tells a story of despair but also of determination and hope. The film exposes how human activity is a leading cause of a growing freshwater crisis. However, it shows we can also be part of the solution and tells the inspiring story of how people fight until the last drop to protect rivers worldwide.
My current film – working title "Magda"- is of a very different kind, based on the main character's video diary. It tells her extraordinary journey while living with breast cancer. It is a moving and inspiring story of a woman who decided to live and took up the challenge of fighting the disease.
You were awarded several awards yourself. What does an award represent to you?
I always accept an award as a recognition for the work of my entire team, who helped to create the film. It is never my film or my award. It is always a team effort, and teamwork is the most rewarding aspect of my job. An award means that the film's story proved to be timely, its topic relevant, and, above all, that its execution was almost flawless! And I, of course, enjoy the red carpet a lot.
In your opinion, what makes a “good” documentary? Alas, what are you looking for in a winning entry?
For me, the power of a “good” documentary lies in compelling characters with charisma with whom the viewer can connect emotionally. You can have the most exciting story idea, but the film will inevitably flop if your characters are dull and unconvincing. It works the other way, too. Sometimes, the story is not the most engaging, but nevertheless, it is still important and deserves to be told. A good character will help to rescue a somewhat uninspiring narrative.
Do you have any tips production-wise for documentary filmmakers and potential entrants?
Ask yourself what kind of film you would like to watch – it is a good place to start and will likely lead you to the right topic for your documentary. Set a good time to start the development of your treatment and let your curiosity wander far and wide. Look for relevant subject information in the most unlikely sources, apart from the obvious ones. You will likely stumble across an unusual idea to make your points in the film and discover unique characters. Remember that less is more, and be disciplined with your focus. Always have a plan B. More than anything else, tell yourself that you will make a great film!
The prestigious US International Awards are thrilled to announce the official call for entries for the 2024 edition. As a platform for celebrating outstanding creativity and innovation in brand videos and documentaries, the US International Awards seek to honor exceptional storytellers, filmmakers, video creators, and creatives alike. The call for entries will run until February 16, 2024.
Film producers, agencies, client companies, and students are welcome to submit their creative work. Entrants can make submissions in over 100 categories within the main categories: Corporate Videos, Online & Social Media Videos, Documentaries & Reports, Independent Videos, Student Videos, and the additional Production Art & Craft categories.
Esteemed panels of judges are eager to witness unique perspectives and artistic brilliance and will evaluate the submissions based on their concept, objective, creative and technical excellence, and innovation.
The winners will be officially announced during an online Winner Announcement in June 2024. "We are excited to open the doors for entries for the 2024 US International Awards," said Alexander V. Kammel, Awards Director. "In a world where creativity knows no boundaries, these awards aim to spotlight those who have made extraordinary contributions in brand videos and documentaries."
All further information on the categories, entry fees and conditions of participation can be found at www.usinternationalawards.com.
About the US International Awards
The US International Awards honor the world’s best branded video productions and documentaries. The awards, formally named US International Film & Video Festival, have been taken over and re-branded in 2021 by Filmservice International, Europe’s biggest organizer of corporate film festivals. With the original festival having a fifty-five yearlong background within the industry of corporate videos and documentaries and the expertise of Filmservice International, the renewed US International Awards joyously start into this new era.
US International Awards
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