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Home » Featured Business for September 2023: 1577 Productions
Featured Business Sept 2023

Featured Business for September 2023: 1577 Productions

Based in Oklahoma City, 1577 Productions specializes in high quality commercial and documentary filmmaking.

Tell us how and why you started your business.

1577 Productions was founded in 2012 by David Tester. After obtaining a B.B.A. in Finance from the University of Central Oklahoma and spending three years as a Series 7 financial advisor, David decided to “go for it” and quit his successful career to pursue his passion of video production and filmmaking.

The name “1577” is inspired by the explorer Sir Francis Drake and the prayer he penned in the year 1577 before embarking to circumnavigate the globe. In the prayer, he wrote, “Disturb us, Lord when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have become true because we’ve dreamed too little, and when we arrive safely because we’ve traveled too close to the shore.”

With a focus and passion for documentary filmmaking, Christopher Hunt joined the company in 2016, and the two filmmakers own and operate 1577 Productions to this day. Christopher, a Native American (Cherokee) director, graduated from Middle Tennessee State University and began his career as a sound engineer in New York City. There, he worked alongside film composers, producing music for Dora the Explorer and various Nickelodeon television shows. Christopher’s passion for documentary filmmaking has created many opportunities for 1577, namely the feature length documentary “EDDIE: The Cost of Greatness,” released by Lionsgate Films, which told the story of Hall of Fame basketball coach Eddie Sutton. The film garnered national attention when it debuted on ESPN in the spring of 2020, leading ESPN’s Myron Medcalf to call it “one of the best sports documentaries he had ever seen.”

What services do you provide within the film/music industry?

1577 Productions’ core services focus on commercial video production and documentary filmmaking and include producing, script writing, location scouting, production scheduling, casting, budgeting, on-location production services (director, DP, camera op), editing, animation, color grading, sound design and media delivery.

How has your company grown to meet the needs of Oklahoma’s film and/or music industries over the last 3-5 years?

As 1577’s commercial and documentary business has grown, it has enabled the company to contract even more Oklahoma film professionals to assist with the various positions needed to make a production successful. Drawing on the wealth of talented filmmakers, 1577 has contracted Oklahomans for producer services, scriptwriting & storyboard creation, grip & lighting, DP & camera work, hair & makeup, gear rentals, editing & animation services, music composition, audio recording & design and various other roles.

What are the benefits of basing your company’s operations in Oklahoma?

Being based in Oklahoma has many benefits including affordability, quality of life for ourselves and our families, being centrally located when out of state travel is needed, access to different industries, talented crew and plenty of business development opportunities.

What would you consider your business’s greatest accomplishment to date?

David: Being in business for over a decade, doing what I love, providing for our families, and working with other talented filmmakers is a huge sense of accomplishment. A lot has happened since 1577 started, including a global pandemic. Any business owner can attest to the constant self doubt and fear of the unknown. Chris and I have always had a desire to prove that high quality filmmaking can be accomplished while living in Oklahoma, and every year, we pursue that feels like a win.

Chris: I think from a business perspective our greatest accomplishment so far is being trusted with stories that matter, from a variety of people and industries. Being able to create here in Oklahoma, to make films that are seen by global audiences is very important to me. So far, the stories that we have told all have their roots in Oklahoma, but have taken us across the country. Being able to be a part of peoples’ lives and significant events is not lost on me when filming.

Are there any recent successes your company would like to highlight related to work within the Oklahoma film and music industries?

We recently produced a documentary film with Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC) about the life and career of Academy Award winning producer Gray Frederickson who laid the foundation for companies like 1577 to exist in Oklahoma. Diving into his life and career and the impact he had for the film industry in Oklahoma was incredibly rewarding, and we hope it can be both educational and inspirational for others.

What are you working on now/next?

With two main focuses (commercial & documentary), 1577 constantly has projects at various stages in the process. In our commercial work, we are currently producing several projects for universities in the state and working with nonprofits to expand their reach and support.

On the documentary side, we are in production on several films including a feature length documentary about renowned dance instructor Jo Rowan. Jo built Oklahoma City University’s dance program into the nation’s preeminent program for dance education and professional preparation. Alongside Christopher, the film is being produced and co-directed by our longtime collaborator Wendy Garrett, a Tulsa based producer and filmmaker.

We are also very excited to be working with Prairie Surf Studios, editing a documentary based upon the father of proton therapy Robert Wilson. Wilson was a leading scientist with Manhattan Project, and his story is one of redemption, dedicating his life to cancer treatment and science for the good of man.

What is your goal/vision for the future of your company?

David: To steal a line from Gray Frederickson, work breeds work. As we continue to push ourselves to make great films, more and more opportunities will arise, locally and nationally. My hope is to figure out a sustainable model of filmmaking, including financing and distribution, that enables us to pursue stories we feel need to be told.

Chris: When I think of the future of the company, I guess I sort of think of the work I want to do, the people we collaborate with, and the audiences that we are trying to reach. So far, it has been quite a ride, and if I am being honest maybe we have out kicked our coverage a bit. That said, I think it is so important to not be satisfied with past work and continue to push things forward. Personally, I want to be better as a business owner and filmmaker. Bigger things are possible, and I believe we are in a uniquely positioned to achieve those things.

What advice do you have for others who are considering starting a film or music business in Oklahoma?

David: Consume as much education (formal or informal) as you can while building experience. Treat people well and leave your ego behind.

Christopher: Know that it is possible. You should have seen this place 20 years ago. As you start, celebrate the small victories. Try and work with people you like. Do your best on every job that comes through the door, whether you deem it “cool” or not.

What opportunities do you believe await Oklahoma’s film/music industry in the future?

Momentum definitely seems to be growing in the industry, but it’s ultimately going to be what we collectively make of it.

Each featured individual or business is given the provided questions to answer in their own voice. Other than formatting and grammar, the answers are personal to each featured voice, and are not provided by the Oklahoma Film + Music Office.

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