Issue: December 1, 2009


Doug Cheek - Owner/CEO
Richard Cormier - President
RingSide Creative
Oak Park, MI

Two years ago, RingSide Creative made a decision to transition from a “post facility” to an “integrated media studio,” adding print, interactive, music licensing and composing services to its list of offerings. In addition, the studio just opened a new Apple Color suite that’s designed to appeal to filmmakers who are coming to Michigan to take advantage of tax incentives.

STRENGTHS: Doug Cheek “Our strength [is] that we’ve changed and adjusted over the past couple of years, and it’s proven itself out pretty well. The marketplace is evolving to the point where…they are starting look at us more as a partner in terms of being able to bring good strong creative to the table. It’s a different relationship because you are moving upstream into the client’s business, whereas before, you we just in a vendor’s status. Now we start to look more like a partner.  I think the overriding strength for that sector of the business is our 25-plus years of experience in just adapting, changing and staying relevant.”

WEAKNESSES: Richard Cormier: “Our weaknesses are the perception of our client base and our overall baggage. I think the challenge for current or past post production owners is to make sure those things are not in the way of going forward. And I think the third thing that can get in the way is to not recognize that there is a new breed of players or entrants into the business that are playing on the same playing field. Especially regarding the digital platforms.”

Cheek: “Fifteen years ago, none of us were qualified to be a battle tested management team. I would submit a much different answer to that today. Anyone who is still surviving has become a much better manager, be it financially, operationally or otherwise, or they wouldn't be here right now. Twenty years ago, it was a lot easier for individuals without management skills to stay in business. It’s not that way today.”

OPPORTUNITIES: Cormier: “For me, there is one big opportunity: There is an appetite for content like never before. We had four TV channels, then cable, then VHS, then DVD, etc. Everyday, there is an appetite for content. And since we are in the content business, there is a whole lot more work everyday, so [the challenge is] to position your company, or expertise or assets, or what you’ve got, to take advantage of this tsunami demand for content. I think that is the single biggest opportunity in this business.

“From a post production standpoint, we’re the ideal player to take advantage of this high demand of content that needs to be shaped, organized, distributed and packaged probably.”

Cheek: “I agree with that, but to be broader. There is an amazing amount of chaos out there at every different level. No longer is anyone in control. Agencies are struggling because their clients are going around them. Production companies are admitting their sins of the past 25 years — of taking advantage of the system. You have companies, like ours, that are in a constant mode of reinvention because relevancy is a very amorphous thing in this marketplace. So for me, a big opportunity is in the chaos. It doesn’t change the fact that that content needs to be created, shaped, finished and delivered.”

THREATS: Cheek: “I look at it as evolution. If there are hundreds of thousands of YouTube videos, and viewers that accept that, then who am I to say it’s a threat? I don’t look at it that way. The world is going to evolve the way the world is going to evolve, and relevancy comes with recognizing the trends and trying to stay relevant to those trends. If someone wants to shoot something in high definition, you can do it with a Red camera or you can do it with a Flip cam. I would think that the idea of those being threats are coming from areas in the business which historically felt like they held a spot that wasn’t to be challenged. And I don’t think that way, there’s no room for that kind of thinking.

“The biggest threat of all is if we don’t recognize opportunities and that models can be built around some of the newer things that are happening. If you don’t believe that, then you are seriously threatened. 

“One other thought, I heard a quote while in New York: ‘In order to discover new worlds, one must lose sign of the shore for a very, very, very long time.’ And that’s kind of how I feel. And you have to be comfortable with that or you’re in trouble.

“Even the whole idea of thinking outside the box. There is no box anymore! There’s no outside the box, there’s no inside the box. If you find an opportunity and you don’t think you are up for it, you should find a way, very quickly, to be up for it.”

OUTLOOK FOR 2010:  Cormier: “It’s going to get worse for people who are not embracing the future. If they are digging their heels in the sand, it’s going to get a whole lot worse. I think the players that willingly embrace the future, new workflow, new methodology, will be successful in 2010.”

Cheek: “I don’t think there is anything more to worry about going forward into 2010 if you have the ability to let go of your belief that you are the keeper of quality, or quantity, or platform or technology. In the past, we always were, and that worked for a while, but that doesn’t work anymore. But, because there is so much opportunity, I think the future is bright.”