I’ve been working with Gabe Yeh and Matt Trettin from 0484CREATIVE for a couple years now and I must say… they are one of my all-time favorite agencies to partner with. 0484Creative is a studio based in Orange County that just kills it when it comes to video production and photography. What I appreciate most about working with Gabe and Matt is how they have all bases covered when it comes to anything they touch – they think about every detail so you don’t have to. I’m super excited to share this interview I had with Gabe so you guys can get a behind the scenes look at this awesome company built from hard work, by old friends.
AA: First of all, tell us a little bit about your company. What were you doing before this and what was the moment you and Matt decided to take the leap and start 0484Creative?
0484: Matt and I have been friends since we were about 12. We grew up in a small town north of Santa Barbara. In High School we took a fairly intense Graphic Design curriculum, 2 hours a day for 4 years, and learned all the basics of Photoshop, Digital Filmmaking etc.
Then I went to Cal State Long Beach for Film School and Matt studied Engineering at UC San Diego. During college I started doing freelance design as a means to make some extra money for sneakers and NBA tickets and such.
When we graduated in 2007, Matt was helping me with some of my freelance work – we only had about 1 and a half clients at the time – and then the opportunity came up for him and I to rent an office in downtown Long Beach alongside some other agencies and so, not knowing any better, we just sort of ran with it.
AA: What does 0484 stand for?
0484: April 1984 – Matt and I share the same birth month. We actually wish we had a better story behind the name. We keep intending to make one up.
Your entire company’s work ethic is insane. I’ve seen you guys on 12+ hour shoots where you barely stop to eat a slice of pizza. Then I hear you’re leaving for Tokyo the next day. How do you guys keep this type of endurance up? Do you eat? Do you sleep?
0484: I think it kind of goes back to where we came from. When we started this thing 8 years ago, we were really building it from scratch, from the ground up. And over the years, without any investors or loans or anything we just bootstrapped everything, found new clients, grew it organically.
So for us, we kind of naturally got used to putting in the amount of effort needed to always be working to get it to the next level.
To be honest, I get the most confidence from knowing what we’ve been able to pull off in the past. There have been weeks where we’ve filmed onsite and edited all night in hotel rooms, day after day after day, to make crazy deadlines. So now, no matter how hectic it gets, I always look back and feel confident because I know what we’re really capable of when push comes to shove.
AA: What does it take to work at 0484Creative? Like I mentioned above, it’s not just you and Matt who have this far from human work ethic. Every staff member I’ve seen you bring to a shoot is the same way – super positive attitude, always on their feet, immaculate professionalism. Where do you find these people? Or are you making them endure an intense boot camp of behavioral training before you bring them on board?
0484: I think one thing that separates us is that we’re all friends from before all of this. Of course it started with Matt and I, but really everyone we work with is a friend from back home or from college. Robert grew up with us. Ryan was Matt’s college roommate. Petra played intramural basketball with me at Long Beach.
And for us, especially because we travel so much and work in sometimes intense conditions, I think it helps make it work. When we’re traveling through Italy or getting to hangout with NFL players, it makes it fun because we’re all friends. And when we’re out standing in the middle of a corn field in Mexico filming motorcycles in 100º heat or freezing on the top of a mountain somewhere flying a drone, it makes it more bearable to know you’re with someone you like, and trust, and that you both will have a good story to tell later.
AA: I love the video you did for the Pirelli Calendar… what was it like to shoot some of the world’s most epic women like Adriana Lima and Gigi Hadid???? Did you get to hug them? I would’ve hugged them.
0484: That was a fun one. It was kind of last minute, I was down in the Gulf Shore near Florida when I heard about it so the next day I flew back to LA, had a bag of camera gear waiting for me at the airport, hopped back on a red eye to NYC and took a cab straight from JFK to the Pirelli offices in midtown to interview the girls.
AA: Describe one of the craziest experiences you and Matt have had while on location.
0484: That’s a tough one. We’ve had our share of surreal experiences. We’ve hung out with Randy Moss watching NASCAR races in Daytona. We’ve shut down bridges and chartered cargo planes working on campaign videos for Barton Perreira. We’ve filmed in hospitals and inside operating rooms all over the country working on commercials for Shriners Childrens Hospitals. Earlier this year in Sweden I filmed race cars drifting on a frozen lake from the inside of a helicopter.
AA: Can you tell me about a really tough/insane client request and how you guys handled it?
0484: In 2011 we flew to Colorado Springs and covered this race called the Pike Peak Hill Climb for a week for Ducati. We had never been or even heard of it before, and it’s a bit hard to describe but cars and bikes race to the top of this 14,000 foot mountain. They practice at dawn every day for a week and then the race is on Sunday. Without realizing what we were getting ourselves into, we agreed to film every day of the practice week and edit a daily recap video each afternoon.
Anyway, because of the logistics of the race week and the geography and project parameters etc we ended up waking up at 3AM everyday, filming until noon, editing until midnight and then repeating that schedule – with just a couple hours of sleep – for 5 or 6 consecutive days. It was even more grueling that it sounds but the funny thing is that the longform edit that we made that recapped that entire week ended up becoming a huge success. It was the first time we worked for Ducati and that video became the most watched video on their YouTube channel and we’ve been their go-to video team ever since. And furthermore it caught the attention of a lot of the motorcycle industry and opened doors for us to work with Cycle World Magazine and created a lot of other opportunities for us.
AA: I feel like it’s really easy to blow a budget out of the water when you’re working on a video project. What are some of the ways you prevent that from happening?
0484: There’s sort of 2 ends of spectrum when it comes to video production – there’s old school way, what I learned in Film School, with huge crews and 3-ton trucks filled with c-stands extra gear and permits and producers etc. And then nowadays you have the YouTube kid filming by himself on his iPhone or GoPro. We’ve always aimed to be somewhere in the middle. We are offering broadcast quality production with a crew of 4 or 5 guys – all willing to do 2 or 3 jobs on set at a time.
Managing budgets and setting client expectations is a huge part of the job. For us, I think it comes down to knowing what we want to spend money on and what we can skip. And of course there’s times when shoots cost more than we would like, but in most cases we prefer to eat those costs ourselves and not to stick the client with them. We’re willing to sacrifice margin if it’s going to mean a better looking end product for our reel or keeping a client happy and creating more opportunities for us in the future. For us, that’s a no brainer.
AA: I’m sure you can work with just about anyone, but who’s your favorite/unfavorite type of client? What are some of the things a client should know or do that will help make a project go smoothly versus not?
0484: You Tracy, and Minacs, are of course our favorite client 🙂 But in all seriousness, it’s great working with you guys because you let us know what the client wants, you trust us and give us space to work and creative freedom and you’re fun to hang out with once work is over.
I think our favorite types of clients are the ones where there’s a mutual trust and respect. In most cases I think our best client relationships are really the people who we end up having genuine friendships with outside of the work itself.
AA: What advice do you have for someone who wants to get into this industry?
0484: I think for this industry, or any other, the secret is to do research and find other successful people doing what you want to be doing and then try to copy, emulate and learn as much about them as you possibly can. Read their interviews, follow their social feeds, dissect their success and make a plan for your own career.
AA: What advice do you have for someone who wants to start their own business?
0484: It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. If you’re willing to put in the work, and weather the storms, the payoff is incredible.
Love these guys. Hope you enjoyed this interview with 0484CREATIVE. Leave a comment below if you have a question for Gabe or Matt. Or me. <3
All photos (except for the first) are provided by 0484CREATIVE.