Video production companies finding business niche

Bill Shahan co-founded DreaMedia Productions in 2008.

by Renee Plaza
Special to Delaware Business Times

When the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce began looking for a new and more effective way to reach its 2,800 members, it turned to media production company Teleduction. In particular, it wanted to showcase its signature programs like Superstars in Business and Superstars in Education. Teleduction films the winning education programs and the winning businesses from the flagship programs.

“People get their messaging today in different ways,” said Cheryl Corn, senior vice president of communications at DSCC. “The more we can push out the story in short bites and captivating video, the more awareness we create. It makes our programs more entertaining and it gives our winners the recognition they deserve. The delivery is something that cannot be replicated in print.”

The trend in using video and social media for businesses is ever-increasing and evolving. According to a recent Cisco study, video will account for 69 percent of all consumer internet traffic by 2017.

The film industry in Delaware was virtually non-existent until around this time last summer when the state decided to start a film commission. The establishment of a Motion Picture and Television Development Commission that would work under the Department of Finance was approved by the state legislature and co-sponsored by Sen. Harris McDowell and Sen. Bryant Richardson. The purpose of this commission is to bring jobs and money to Delaware that will stimulate the economy in a new and exciting way.

“Right now a lot of films are made in California and New York City where the cost of living is just outrageous,” Sen. Richardson said. “So I can see Delaware as a place where studios and production companies could expand to and save a ton of money. This commission is the first step in letting everyone know that we’re here, that we exist.”

Two production companies in particular have emerged as leaders in accordance with this increasing need for jobs as well as a larger desire for film to be used for business and entertainment purposes. These companies are Teleduction Inc. and DreaMedia Productions. Both serve a wide variety of customers from the corporate end to non-profit organizations, to even companies as large as CBS and Netflix.

Sharon Baker co-founded Teleduction in the 1980s.
Sharon Baker co-founded Teleduction in the 1980s.

Beginning in the early 1980s Sharon Baker and her husband Frank revolutionized the film industry in Delaware. The two started in radio and soon realized that in order to remain relevant, they had to evolve. In addition to this, Sharon realized she had a serious interest in film. By 1982 after Baker had some film school experience, Teleduction, the Bakers’ radio production company had fully evolved into film and television. Since then Teleduction has become a production company that both creates and distributes critically acclaimed programs for broadcast, educational and business audiences alike.

The corporate projects given to Teleduction help fuel the nonprofit, non-commercial projects done using her nonprofit organization that she founded in 2002, Serviam Media. Sharon has always had a passion for social justice and storytelling and the combination of Teleduction, Serviam Media, and Content Delaware enable her to bring the two together. Teleduction houses commercial films while Serviam Media is more nonprofit based. Between Teleduction and Serviam Media a number of documentaries and educational videos have been created to help further social activism nationally and internationally.

Content Delaware is a nonprofit channel online created by Teleduction that allows professionally produced Delaware videos to be shown in one central place.

“We created Content Delaware to try to level the media playing field so that these organizations would have a high quality, competitive platform for reaching clients, volunteers and donors,” said Baker. With the creation of this platform, Sharon Baker and her company make it easier for nonprofit organizations to utilize the website as a development tool where their videos can be shared and posted.

Although social media has created more content and given more access to creative individuals, it has equally incited a bigger demand for work that is done well and organizations that are experienced in the art of storytelling, Baker added.

According to Baker, “When important stories need to be told, Teleduction is reserved as one of the best because of their experience, dedication, and award-winning previous works. When it comes down to it, Teleduction has thrived because of their ability to do more than just add flashy effects.”

“Clients use Teleduction because they have honed their process, utilize the same core group of people, and are able to effectively get to the essence of any story with heart and driven focus,” says Baker.

Another example of the state’s progression in the film industry is the founding of DreaMedia Productions, based in Wilmington. CEO Bill Shahan co-founded the production company in 2008 with the desire to create entertainment content and provide jobs specifically for creative people of Delaware.

Shahan said he seeks to provide work, generate revenue, and allow Delawareans to be creative in a way they haven’t been able to in the past. Shahan founded this company with the idea that people who desired to work in the film industry might be hampered by their Delaware location.

“There’s so much potential in the area, but there’s no consistency for it in this business,” said Shahan.

In the beginning, these entertainment jobs were made possible due to Dreamedia’s collaboration with big corporations over the creation of small advertisements and the recording of business events. It wasn’t until Shahan was hired for an anti-gun violence short for the Department of Corrections that he realized distribution is where the money lies. This short received national recognition and is one reason why DreaMedia is now in control of distribution for their projects as well. One of the production company’s biggest successes was the feature film shot in Dover in 2012, “God’s Amazing Grace,” made in connection with Calvary Baptist Church. It has since won more than 25 awards for excellence.

Since then, DreaMedia Productions has helped enhance the film industry standards of Delaware.

“I’ve watched what we started with and I’ve seen the evolution over time. Even guys that used to work for me have started their own companies and I couldn’t be happier for them,” said Shahan.

With the success DreaMedia Productions has experienced and the support of the legislature to continue filmmaking, they are giving back to the nonprofit organizations and corporate companies that helped them get their start. These include the Ronald McDonald House, YMCA, the large Buccini Group, among others.

Shahan said he believes that Delaware has something to offer the film industry and that this is only the beginning. Technology and the rise of social media have only furthered his cause by giving him a better chance of reaching people that can help him make the difference he wishes to make. Social media has been a great tool for connections to find actors to be in his shows and producers interested in making them a reality. Shahan and his 17-person team have been able to connect with various California industry professionals through sheer persistence and amazing dedication.

Shahan’s desire to put Delaware on the map has enabled him to obtain connections with some of the top companies in television and movies. He is currently working on a crime drama for Netflix and various cooking shows for Amazon and Hulu.

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