By Sean Bowes
He knew that the job market was shaky when he graduated from college three years ago, but Todd Wiseman, Jr., a Freedom High alumnus, decided to roll the dice anyway, sticking to the old belief that if you do what you love and follow your dreams, success will follow.
A self-confessed video junkie since he first received a camcorder at eight-years-old, Wiseman teamed up with his college dorm mate, Milos Silber, after graduating from the New York University (NYU) School of Arts. While the duo knew that they wanted to work in the film industry, they decided that instead of taking the safer route by working their way up from the bottom at a large film production company or by selling their services freelancing, they would team up and start their own production company. After all, they already knew what they would call the business.
“The name ‘Hayden 5’ came from our time at NYU,” Wiseman explains. “We lived in Hayden Hall, and our rooms were on the fifth floor.”
According to Wiseman, the two men, both in their early 20s, already had collected a fair amount of quality footage for their portfolios during their time at college, Silber working as the cinematographer and Wiseman as the director. But, in college, they were able to take on clients’ projects for free. Now, they had to find a way for Hayden 5 to actually make money.
Already owning some expensive editing programs and high-end cameras, Wiseman says that all it took was a $1,500 investment from each of them and the business was born. They secured a small $500-per-month studio to work out of and hit the ground running looking for the first Hayden 5 clients. Dressing up in suits, hitting different networking events and searching through online job listings like Craigslist.com, Wiseman and Silber took on as many clients as they could, providing a high-quality product while undercutting the competition on price.
“It’s not like either one of use was married or had kids.” Wiseman says. “All we had to do was make enough money to eat and pay our bills. We kept our overhead low, worked for a lot cheaper than the competition and we poured our lives into this business.”
A report from CNNMoney.com stated that Hayden 5’s fees were sometimes five times cheaper than the competition, but with a product that was just as high in terms of quality.
Wiseman, whose family still resides in Tampa Palms, admits that, for him, it all started back in the Audio Visual room at Freedom High, where he helped put together the morning news.
“That’s where I was taught all the basics,” Wiseman said. “It’s where I learned lighting, editing and we did live broadcasting and different news segments. It was an awesome program.”
The skills that he picked up at Freedom, which were then polished at NYU, has molded the high-end film production group into a respected company which now shoots feature length films (including the indie film “Knucklehead,” starring Dennis Farina and Mark Feurstein), award-winning documentaries (“IMPROV ISLAND”), flashy MTV music videos and commercials that you may have seen, such as a Truth ad that warns teens about the dangers of smoking.
If it sounds like Wiseman and Silber are busy, you only know the half of it. Since starting Hayden 5 nearly three years ago, the company has branched out to create another business called “Man-With-A-Cam.” It’s a revolutionary idea in video production that works almost like a referral service or a temp agency, but strictly for cinematographers who have their own high-end cameras. Wiseman says the business started because Hayden 5 couldn’t staff enough employees to fly out to different locations around the country to cover different events for clients.
So, by starting ManWithACam. org, Wiseman and Silber are able to hire freelance videographers who live in any area to cover whatever event is taking place. According to the website, Man-With-A-Cam’s videographers are able to attend any event in the U.S. with as little as 24-hours notice.
“We only started it a few months ago,” says Wiseman, “But, it’s been pretty successful.”
Through Man-With-A-Cam, potential clients can hire a professional videographer, even if it’s last minute, to cover any event from concerts to weddings, all with the peace of mind that they will receive a high-definition video to capture the occasion. It’s a service that hasn’t existed in the U.S. until now.
In addition to the growth of Man-With-A-Cam, Wiseman and Silber are keeping busy with a tremendous amount of production work that keeps pouring in. The two recent graduates, who once worked out of their apartment, now work with up to 150 independent contractors on projects that include an upcoming documentary on baseball great Ty Cobbs – which ESPN has shown an interest in, an animated film version of the hit film “The Social Network,” as well as hip-hop and rock music videos for artists like the rock band Trapt and rapper Juelz Santana.
“When I was at Freedom, I would talk about my plans and none of this seemed like it would be real.” says Wiseman, “I would tell people I was going to study at a film school in New York, then start a film production business, but I don’t think too many people thought it was going to be real. I want the kids at Freedom and Wharton or anywhere to know that this is super achievable, you just need to be constantly creating.”