Production studio: ‘It opened our eyes to our own destiny’

From left: Chris Williams, Macy West and Matt West. (Courtesy MadBox)

From left: Chris Williams, Macy West and Matt West. (Courtesy MadBox)

After seven years as a post-production company, a local studio is broadening its focus beyond the final parts of the filmmaking process.

MadBox – formerly Mad Box Post – is now a full-service production house, expanding their services to include all aspects of creating video for television, feature films and advertising.

The transition was spurred in part by national press the studio received for several recent projects, including a 60-second short film about the McDonald’s Hamburglar and last year’s viral video of a Star Wars battle in Richmond.

Co-founder Chris Williams, who leads MadBox along with co-director Matt West and executive producer Macy West, said those projects showed what they were capable of with a film project from start to finish.

“It opened our eyes to our own destiny – taking control of how we do things creatively and systematically,” Williams said. “If we’re in charge of those processes as creative individuals as early as possible, the end-product just seems to be richer and better and more fulfilling.”

“We knew that was a direction we were going in,” Macy West added. “It was a matter of time with certain relationships we had and the work that we had.”

Around the time they began letting clients know this spring, the studio scored four TV commercials for the Virginia Lottery, collaborating with Richmond-based Barber Martin Agency, which it had worked with on a previous lottery ad campaign.

Those latest lottery spots began airing last month and were filmed at Goochland’s Dover Hall.

Totaling seven full-time employees, MadBox is housed at 9 W. Grace St., in the same building as frequent collaborator Red Amp Audio, which is run by Macy’s mother and stepfather. MadBox took the top floor of the nondescript building near the downtown YMCA after it was vacated by fellow studio Spang TV, which has set up shop in the city’s Northside.

Macy previously worked with Spang TV before joining her husband, a VCU grad, and Williams in 2013. The two directors founded MadBox in 2009 after years collaborating on film projects together. The three now share ownership of the company.

“None of us come from an advertising background or a commercial background,” Williams said. “We were filmmakers, theater – we come from a very collaborative, beginning-to-end background, and I think that’s what drives us: that kind of work.”

Their workload averages between 10 to 15 jobs at a time, and the studio claims about 30 active clients, including The Martin Agency, VCU and Allstate. In addition to TV ads, work includes film trailers and music videos.

Williams, who splits his time between Richmond and Charlotte, where the company maintains a second office, said MadBox’s evolution to a full-service agency was a necessity in an industry that continues to change.

“The post-production side of the business is going in-house a lot of places,” Williams said. “Agencies are doing it, companies are doing it, so in order to not become extinct, that has forced our hand to adapt, to make sure we stay relevant.”

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