GBSTV alumni launch film production company 554 Collective

Kali Croke, co-a&e editor

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Starting a film production company only a few years after graduating high school seemed like a natural creation for the group of nine GBSTV graduates. After working close- ly with one another during their years in the television program at South, the group’s strong friendships ultimately prompted them to rejoin this summer and embark on their first business venture together.

Whether it be working on music vid- eos, filming promotional videos for T- shirt companies or aiding in the produc- tion of a feature film, the members of the company 554 Collective have been tak- ing their first steps into the professional world. For 2012 graduate Peter Lyngso, starting the company was an obvious decision after acknowledging the bond between the veteran members of the television program at South.

“554 Collective is a number of things, which is what is cool about it,” Lyng- so said. “It’s a club in that it’s a group of people with common goals, inter- ests and passions, but also a company where the group can benefit from each other’s skills. So much of filmmaking is collaborative and it just seemed natural to have a group of people who are al- ways there to help you out with what- ever task.”

Mark Ferguson, head of the television program at South, introduced the mem- bers to the production industry through his classes, where students learn to shoot and edit short films. Like Lyngso, Fergu- son saw the unique capabilities in each 554 Collective member as TV students.

“Everyone in [554] Collective is with-
out question exceptional artists, exceptionally good at what they do and passionate about what they do,” Ferguson said. “They all have very strong talents in cinematography and editing but offer different points of view and different per- spectives for each other.”

According to 2012 graduate Connor Smith, Ferguson’s TV program also had great influence on the company’s name.

“554 is the room number for the TV room at

Peter Lyngso

Photos from individual Facebook pages

South,” Smith said. “We owe a lot of our expe- riences to what we were doing [in high school]. I think it all comes back to where we met and where we [started] together, and now it’s a way for us to extend what we had at GBSTV to the pro- fessional world.”

Although the members of 554 Collective have worked together for many years in high school, it is sometimes challenging to separate their busi- ness relationships with their personal relation- ships, according to Lyngso.

“It’s strange because we’re all friends taking on this business venture together,” Lyngso said. “There’s a lot of pressure not to let the group down because you don’t want to have to nag one of your friends. It can get a little strange in that sense but it’s part of what creates the dynamic of working with people you’re close with.”

According to junior Janie Kahan, the only member of 554 Collective who has yet to gradu- ate, these close relationships make the company work well despite difficulties they face in working

professionally with friends.
“We all learn from each other,” Kahan said.

“It’s basically the go-to group. If I ever needed a film crew or someone to bounce ideas off of, I go to them. Just a group of people who can always be there for each other and rely on each other.”

2013 graduate John Paul O’Rourke agrees with Kahan about being a part of such a close and devoted group of friends and co-workers. According to O’Rourke, right now the members of 554 Collective are enjoying learning from and relying on each other’s skills and creativity as they continue

to make films together. “Nobody joined with pure

intentions to make money — that’s not what it is at all,” O’Rourke said. “It’s about a group of people you can call on whenever you want, and if one day that turns into a [le- gitimate] company, I think that would be awesome.”

According to Lyngso, in the near future the company will be taking the next big step in making their business more of- ficial.

“We’re going to try to estab- lish ourselves as a limited li- ability company, meaning we would be a professional busi- ness intended to make profit and pay taxes,” Lyngso said. “I think this legitimacy is the nat- ural next step to a more profes- sional level which is where we ultimately want to be.”

The company plans on tak- ing such measures sometime in the spring. For now, while

members of the company are currently attending separate schools, everyone is anxiously awaiting free time during breaks and over the summer to work on new projects as a group, according to Ka- han.

“We have lists and lists on our computers of ideas that each one of us want to do,” Kahan said. “We just need the time to do it. We might sepa- rate for a little because of work or school, but I always know in the future I will always have 554 Collective.”

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