company is a virtual
film crew for companies
around the world.
It’s lights, camera,
success for this firm
By Hope Katz Gibbs
MICHAEL HULL NEEDED help. The producer and director for HP Media Solutions
had to schedule four video shoots for a documentary he was filming in India, and he
didn’t know where to start.
So Hull contacted Crews Control, a Silver
Spring, Maryland, company that represents
independent film crews from Alaska to
Zimbabwe. The firm connected him with
Dushyant Mehta of India Pictures, someone
they had worked with for years. The shoot
went off without a hitch.
“With the level of worldwide visibility we
were after, it was critical that we work with
a world-class organization,” Hull explains.
“Working in India is very challenging, but
Dushyant seemed to be plugged into the whole
country. One phone call, and we always had
what we needed.”
That’s the goal for Costco member Andrea
Keating, who founded Crews Control in 1988.
And that focus has put her firm on the fast
track with clients that include 3M, AARP,
Anheuser Busch, General Mills and Reebok,
to name a few.
Of course, keeping those high-end, sometimes demanding clients happy isn’t always
easy. Consider one of Crews Control’s more
“We got a call from Publishers Clearing
House giving us about 48 hours’ notice that
they needed us to help them execute a massive three-day shooting blitz,” Keating tells
The Connection. “Our cameramen taped
nearly 100 winners in a host of cities across
the country, and the footage was used as part
of a national advertising campaign. It was a
lot to organize, but it worked out pretty well.”
Indeed. Since Keating opened her lenses,
Name: Crews Control
Member at: Beltsville, Maryland,
Products/services: Video production
services worldwide via a network of
2,000 local camera crews
Contact: 12510 Prosperity Drive,
Suite 120, Silver Spring, Maryland
20904; 1-800-545-CREW (2739);
Comments about Costco: Crews
Control pays for a Costco membership
for all employees and their families. The
company also uses Costco’s merchant
her crews have taped everything from simple
in-house documentaries to complicated training films. Sometimes the shoots get downright high-profile.
“When it came time to tape singer/song-writer Wynonna Judd for a national news
release on asthma, they called on our crews
to do the on-location shoots in Nashville and
Boston,” Keating says, adding that other notables who have found their way in front of Crews
Control’s cameras include Neil Diamond,
Matchbox Twenty and Donald Trump.
Keating came up with the idea for Crews
Control while working at a creative agency in
Washington, D.C. “My local clients began
asking me to refer them to film crews in other
cities, and after a while a light went off in my
head,” she explains. “I knew that companies
like Coca-Cola and Kodak
were producing videos in cities
across the U.S. If I could locate
talented local crews in each of
those cities, I could save com-
panies up to 40 percent on
location production costs.”
And so she did. In 1994 she
signed her first crews, and she
took her service global two years
later. The business has been
growing steadily ever since.
The key to her success,
Keating says, is that she has a
S TEPHEN E. PULLIN
knack for connecting the right film crew with
the right assignments.
“Instead of just offering clients a laundry
list of film crews, I created an agency that
represents only the best crews in the business,” she says. “Then we handpick the right
crew for the right project, and that inspires
everyone to do their best work.”
In 2003, Keating noticed another gap in
“I heard from my clients that they needed
stock film footage of cities around the world,
but they had to pay per shot for limited use,
which was expensive and laborious—and that
didn’t make sense to me,” she says.
Using her relationships with numerous
film crews, Keating founded Reelcities, which
sells entire collections of royalty-free shots,
angles and pans of city landmarks that can be
used over and over again for about $500 a reel.
Keating recently founded yet another
firm, called TeamPeople, a media staffing venture. Her ambition, she says, is to always be
on the lookout for new opportunities.
“I love not being limited by boundaries
of time or geography,” says the 43-year-old
mother of three. “It’s a challenge to build a
company, but it’s incredibly cool to see an
idea grow into a business, and watch it grow.
I adore my job.” C
Hope Katz Gibbs is a freelance writer in