Phase II: Chi-City


By Conor Hare

There was a breath of fresh air that morning as I took in the 32 degree weather outside of O’ Hare Airport. I had left behind an entirely different life in Southern California to start a new chapter, a new experience, and at the time, an unknowingly new career that was ahead of me.

I struggled for the first month or so seeking out my next career move while second guessing to hang up my past career as a Hospitality Director. It wasn’t until I decided to take a long weekend home to my roots in Philadelphia that the germ of the Chicago office idea started to develop. I would frequent JTWO when I came back to Philadelphia for years as Travis and Justin have been long time friends and I always made sure to come antagonize the office with each visit. This time around, I was dreading my second hotel move in Chicago and was just about at wits end to cut the cord.

LISC Chicago - "Hoops In The Hood"

Client: LISC Chicago

We teamed up with LISC Chicago and State Farm to write and produce the Hoops in the Hood brand video for their 13th Annual City Wide Tournament in Downtown Chicago.


Travis, Justin and I stepped out for lunch one afternoon and they were asking me about the move and the new gig out in Chicago. I had to be honest and tell them it wasn’t what I had expected and I wanted out. Suddenly one of us jokingly said, “well let’s just open a Chicago office.” At that moment, on the corner of Chestnut and 4th, we all stopped in our tracks and looked at each other with wide eyes and large smiles.

As the Chicago office began to develop over the first couple months and we started to stomp our footprint in the Windy City, I met a very animated man by the name of LaVonte Stewart. He told me about his non-profit organization Lost Boyz Inc and how the Southside is misunderstood. During this encounter I could see that he was very invested in the kids that resided on the Southside of Chicago as he was once one of them. This began my interest in spreading the word of our Projects That Matter Initiative to help tell the story of the Southside Community.


From the award-winning team that brought you For Aaron: The Documentary comes the inspiring true story of The Lost Boyz of Chicago – a youth baseball league playing to reclaim their community from gang violence within one of the of the most violent neighborhoods in America.


Over the past year and a half in Chicago, we have made a point to work hand in hand with many non-profit organizations who tend to kids who are growing up on the Southside.

Since opening our office in 2018, we have done multiple projects that ultimately help bring awareness and support to over 20 communities in the South of Chicago. We have partnered with Laureus Sport for Good, State Farm, Local Initiative Support Corporation and We Raise Foundation to assist the kids residing in these communities with their voice that needs to be heard on a larger stage so the rest of the world can hear first hand from them and not just from the National News stations.


Up Next: Maria Cantu



Director Maria Cantu

Our newest Director, Maria Cantu, might just be our best yet (sorry, Justin)! A product of our [INC]ubator Project, Maria has burst onto the scene in the past twelve months directing and editing projects for brands and clients and the results have been nothing short of spectacular.


We sat down for a quick Q&A to see what makes her tick.

You recently won a Best in Show ADDY Award for your work on your short film, Barre None, what did that mean to you?

I had never been more proud than when Barre None won this award. I was so happy to be able to bring home the gold to my team, who I was so grateful to for helping me make this as beautiful as it is. The entire process of creating this video is something that I’ll cherish forever.

How did you end up at JTWO?

I needed to do a fake internship application for an assignment at Temple, so I looked up “Philadelphia film companies” on Google. Thirteen companies into my search, I clicked on “JTWO Films.” After a minute on the website I was thinking how cool it would be to work with them, and once I saw the pictures of puppies, I was sold. So, I decided to actually send in my application. It was the first and only internship I ever applied for… I never left.

Barre None

Directed by Maria Cantu
The [INC]ubator Project

In her short documentary, Maria tells the captivating and beautiful story of a young ballerina who is able to push through the harsh realities and overbearing pressures of the dancing world with unconditional love for the art.


What’s it been like jumping into the JTWO family and learning how to work with the team so quickly?

I think it was the best way for me to learn was to just get right into it. At first I was definitely out of my comfort zone in terms of the work process and knowledge of the film industry (my training is in news production), but I felt completely at home when it came to the atmosphere and the people here, which gave me the confidence to be creative in new ways.

What types of projects are your favorite to work on? Or gives you the most fulfillment?

Without hesitation, my favorite projects are the heartfelt stories with a positive message in the end. There’s so much work that goes into creating a video, so it always makes me feel good when I know my time is going to something that will put some love back into the world.


You have to fly out to a remote country to do a project. Who’s your crew?

I’m taking the whole family. Everyone here is great at different things and all of our heads together would make a project the best it could be.

Thoughts on dogs?

Nose juice. Frito feet. Sandpaper paws. Droopy Jowls. Sploot. … Look it up.

How do you see yourself as a female director/editor in a male-dominated field?

Honestly, it’s not something I notice on a daily basis, but this is only my first year in the business. As I look toward achieving success in the industry, a male-dominated field doesn’t intimidate me in the slightest. My work speaks for itself. Also, the guys here have supported me, believed in me and empowered me from the very start, which has made me feel like I can do anything. Remember this ladies, “The man is the head, but the woman is the neck. And she can turn the head any way she wants.” – My Big Fat Greek Wedding

You were born in the [INC]ubator Project and now spearhead entire projects. What do you make of your trajectory? And where do you go from here?

The only place to go is forward.