Up until last year we still considered ourselves the new kids on the block—the arrogant young kids who thought they could take on the heavy hitters who have been staples in the Philadelphia film scene. And in many ways, we still are, but over the past twelve months something has changed. We’ve grown, not only as a company (we have gone from two to twelve staff members and opened a Chicago studio) but as artists. We openly admit that nine years into this that we are still figuring this thing out. We are a film company run by filmmakers. That is rare these days. We were never meant to be businessmen, we were meant to be creators, storytellers in love with the romantic notion that the story comes first, no matter what. We understand that we’re different than a lot of other production companies. We always have been and honestly, we like it that way.

For the first five years we were in business we avoided going head to head with the “big guys” because we felt we weren’t ready. We were two 25 year old kids playing dress up and going into countless capabilities presentations. You know the ones I mean. Where everyone shows up for the free lunch and doesn’t give a shit what you have to say. Meanwhile, my website has all of this exact same information and more if you bothered to look just once. I can still remember when a creative director looked at my my co-founder, Travis Capacete and me and winked when we were describing the capabilities of each one of our team members and said, “I used to have a production company too” when we told him we had more than just two full-time staff members back at the studio. He was insinuating that we were two producers that outsourced everything while selling smoke and mirrors. Did he want us to bring a soccer mom van full of employees from our office and parade them into the meeting just to prove there were more than two of us? I walked out of that meeting infuriated. I wasn’t sure if anyone would ever grasp the concept of a small, but adaptable in-house production team capable of doing everything under one roof, because they were so used to the old way of doing things where you need a team of 30 to do what to us was a job for three.

It hasn’t always been easy. We’ve come a long way since we would roll up with a Canon 7D, one lens and Zoom Mic. We’ve had growing pains, lost jobs and failed. But that’s what being an entrepreneur is all about. Eventually, you just figure it out, because that’s the only option. Eventually, you simply stop caring and start creating. We let our work speak for itself and we forged friendships with people in such an authentic and honest way that we completely avoided the muddy politically charged waters that has become the Philadelphia film scene. We were outsiders and if you wanted to work with us, great, we welcomed you with open arms. If not, then it wasn’t meant to be, but that wasn’t going to stop us from moving forward.

We worked hard not only to build a team, but a family and I would stack them up against any team on the east coast and I say that not because I handpicked the team, but because these are people who bought into what we were trying to build since day one. Our philosophy has always been, if you don’t know it, learn it. And I don’t just mean that – we live by that.  It’s why we have Producers who became sound engineers and editors who are DP’s. We want every employee to know every piece and part of every project. Because then, it’s theirs. They have as much ownership as the Director. It’s not a production assembly line or a factory cranking out projects to appease account reps. Each project is an Ozmandian moment behind the curtain into our company ethos.

We are about to enter our tenth year and we are finally being recognized for our work. Last year at the Louix Awards, we decided to make a statement. We opened the show with something so far out of left field that we made you look us in the eye and take notice and if you didn’t we were going to punch you in the face over and over until you realized it was us throwing the punches. We took home awards for everything from our film work and our graphic design and branding projects to fashion design. Yes, we designed an entire line of clothing. Why? Because we can. Because sometimes you wake up and decide to do something new. Something scary. Something so far out of your comfort zone that it forces you to succeed or crumble in the process. We can do that, because we are artists that don’t need an open PO to create.

I guess that’s why we’re still here ten years deep. We’ve watched as some of the production companies we’ve admired and fought against have crumbled and our former mentors and advisors are now coming to us seeking jobs. It’s a bit strange to be honest, but here we are. We learned a lot and we are still learning. We’re open and honest about that with our clients and that’s gone a long way. The scary part is, we still feel like we are in chapter one of our story. The scarier part is, we as authors of that story don’t really care who reads it. That’s not what drives us. We care about the work and our work keeps getting better. We get to collaborate with some of the most talented, intelligent human beings on the planet day in and day out and they honor us by entrusting us to carry their metaphorical torch in the form of their story. We don’t take that lightly and we never will. I hope that carries us to the next ten years.

If we’ve crossed paths in the past decade, I want to thank you. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for teaching me something. Each one of you has in some way, shape or form influenced our thoughts or actions at JTWO and I can’t tell you how much I have appreciated your input.