Job Title: Producer, Company Owner
Along with partner Kitty Moon Emery, Scene Three Media Works co-owner Marc Ball is charged with developing a vision for the company and overseeing expansion into various media areas. He is involved in creating and facilitating the projects that the company produces.
Marc Ball cites the company's dedication to customer service as being a key to their success. “Our customers want to come back once we've worked with them. We genuinely want them to succeed. When we finish a project, we didn't let the client sit it on the shelf. We make them send it to whomever they were supposed to, and make them show it. We beat on them in a friendly way. We care about what happens to that product after we finish it. In a sense, we make an investment in our clients.” Ball also feels that the quality of the company's staff is essential to its success.
Advice for Someone Seeking This Job
“If I was just getting out of high school and I knew that I wanted to be in the film business, I would go to a television station and I would offer to be their janitor for the summer if they would let me go with the news crews,” says Ball. “Find someone who can make that decision; it's going to cost them to put you on their insurance. You're not going to make any money, but you're going to be around the business and you're going to learn about it … Then go to school and study. I'd suggest studying writing. There is no basis for doing anything in the world that doesn't start with being able to write well. Even if you're not that good at it, struggle through and learn to get an idea down on paper … Next I'd find somebody that would let me work for free, just to be around and watch. Then I'd take that experience to the next level and ask to run the vault or work as a production assistant, a position where I could impress somebody with my commitment, and at the same time be around the business. I'd try to do that while I was in school. Once you've got your degree, then not only do you have a degree, but you've been around the business and have some experience. Typically, and certainly at Scene Three, the people that get hired are the people that impress someone: ? think this person can do it.’ ? think we ought to give this person a shot.’ That's who gets the job: the person who has shown their commitment and zeal. At the same time, you have to be able to demonstrate that you're bright and intelligent. That's the kind of people that excel.”
Professional Profile: Marc Ball, Producer, Co-Owner, Scene Three Media Works
Interested in the arts from an early age, Marc Ball did not discover filmmaking until he was studying to be a music conductor at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, his hometown. “I dabbled in theater and really enjoyed it. I did a bit of writing. I played the piano and saxophone. I directed some choirs. That's what led me to theater. They had a musical they needed somebody to be in charge of music for.”
While working on theatrical projects, it occurred to Ball that television production utilized many of the same skills. Upon graduating with a bachelor's degree in music, he began pursuing work in the film business. Not wanting to relocate to New York or California, he found work at an advertising agency in Indiana. Within the agency, he formed a small audiovisual company to produce slides, audiotapes, and still photographs.
What do you like least about your job?
“The least enjoyable part of my job is the meetings. There is a lot of time spent on little decisions that, frankly, you could go either way and it wouldn't matter one-thousandth of a percent to the finished product.”—Marc Ball
What do you love most about your job?
“What I love the most about my job is seeing things come together in unusual ways. Or seeing people that I work with make things happen in afluid and smooth way.”—Marc Ball
Obsessed with the filmmaking aspect of the job, Ball worked into the night and early morning on projects. “In the morning, people would come in and I'd get a shower and go back to work. Maybe sleep some; sometimes I didn't sleep at all.” Before long, the film company had eclipsed the agency and the two parted. Ball went on to produce and direct commercials in the Chicago area before deciding to form his own production company.
Wanting to remain in the South, Ball considered several cities as home base for his company. Word of his search reached the ears of the bank president of Nashville City Bank, who began courting Ball to consider Nashville. “I didn't have two dollars, but for some reason he said, ‘We want you to move here.’” In 1974, just three years out of college, Ball opened Scene Three.
Shortly after forming the company, Ball became the national director of advertising for Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign, affording him the opportunity to shoot commercials, town meetings, and documentaries. While working on the campaign, Ball met Kitty Moon, who handled film production for the Republican Party. When the project ended, Ball invited Moon to become a partner in Scene Three. One of the pair's first clients was Tennessee's Department of Tourism, for which they produced the phenomenally successful “Elrod and Elvira” television spots.
“We created these very funny rural folks named Elrod and Elvira. They were in their 50s or 60s, living in the country. We had several things happen to them: a spaceship landed in their yard; a shark came after them. It became really, really well known throughout the state and kind of put us on the map; we became known by it. We didn't have any marketing; the work was our marketing. We just answered the phone.”
In the early 1980s, Ball got interested in video and became the first company in the area to expand into video postproduction. “You could come in and edit, and leave with your finished product. That was incredibly exciting to me. We would bring video people together with film people and try to use the best of both technologies.” A block of buildings was purchased to house the company's growing concern, including a former movie theater that was renovated into a television studio.
* “You gain what you risk.”—Marc Ball
* “You've got to be flexible in this business. You don't necessarily pick a single path and that's the one you go down.”—Marc Ball
Finding it inconvenient to rent equipment out of Atlanta or other cities, the company began acquiring cameras, dollies, cranes, trucks, lights, and other gear, out of necessity. The company continued to grow their commercial client base, while expanding into music video production. Ball directed projects for Garth Brooks, Billy Ray Cyrus, Amy Grant, Vince Gill, Goo Goo Dolls, George Jones, Toby Keith, Trisha Yearwood, and many others, totaling more than 200 to date. Ball also produced and directed A Day in the Life of Country Music for CBS, the series CeCe's Place, Celebrity Homes & Hideaways, Class of 2000, and Gospel Today.
Over the next several years, Scene Three Media Works expanded to become a digital media center, combining video and audio editing technologies. The company formed an alliance with television producer Mitchell Galin's On the Lam, Inc., to produce television programming.
Recently, Ball created and produced the film Thunder Theater for R. J. Reynolds, a traveling exhibition that toured NASCAR tracks, with a 50-foot screen and seating to accommodate an audience of 200 people. “It was on Winston Cup racing, shot in 65mm and projected in 70mm, like IM AX … We were at the races, in the racing pits. We rented a track and reenacted some of the close-ups that you couldn't get during a race. It all came together seamlessly and was just about as exciting a NASCAR experience as you can get.
“This company is just a big accident,” says Ball of his success, “but that's what drove it.”
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