Local video firm turning 20
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EAGLE COUNTY — Think about how your TV has changed over the past 20 years. Well, the technology and skills required to bring you that high-definition video have changed, too. Hayden Scott and his crew at Eef 4K Productions have changed with the times, too.
This year, the company celebrates its 20th anniversary, and Scott recently spent some email time discussing the company’s history and its future.
Vail Daily: What prompted you to start Eef productions? What need did you see that wasn’t being met? Also, please remind readers why the company is named Eef.
Hayden Scott: I met Jon “eef” Efraimson around 1994. I was racing powder 8s at the time with Franzie Fuchsberger and we needed a promo video to send out to potential sponsors. Jon created this outstanding video for us and, on the strength of it, we immediately got picked up by Red Bull and Paul Mitchell (as sponsors). Jon, as everyone remembers, was extremely talented but very frustrated at his existing video production job. Technology was changing to computer-based editing suites, yet he was still having to edit reel to reel.
I was running the Battle of the Ski Schools at the time, which I’d just sold to national cable TV and we needed local TV crew. So we saw how we could help each other and Eef Productions was born in the summer of 1996.
VD: Every business has its growing pains. What were some of the early bumps in the road for you? When did you finally think, “We might just make it with this venture.”?
HS: We got off to a cracking start with the Vail Valley Foundation and Vail Resorts as our two biggest clients. The foundation was just about to host the 1999 World Alpine Ski Championships, so we were tasked with all of their needs. Then, lo and behold, Vail Resorts went public and bought Keystone and Breckenridge, so our workload tripled. But in 2002, Jon was diagnosed with lung cancer having never smoked a cigarette in his life. He’d just gotten married to Lisa. You couldn’t have written a more tragic story. He was gone in six months.
VD: You’ve had to ride out a couple of economic downturns over the past 20 years. How did you manage those rough waters?
HS: After going through losing Jon, nothing much has fazed me. Our 2008 was indeed a shocker — I had two big clients go under and they nearly took me with them. My gross profit dropped by over 60 percent between ‘08 and ‘09. So I started following leads in Denver and picked up Western Union as a major client. Expanding my sales territory saved us.
VD: Video and other technology has changed significantly in the past 20 years. How difficult has it been to keep up with those changes? What do customers want?
HS: When we started the golden rule for the length of any video we created was eight minutes. Now its three to four minutes, tops. With social media taking up so much of our time, no one has the patience to sit through anything longer, no matter how compelling it is, and people are much more likely to watch a short video several times than a long video one time.
The other change is that with the cost of equipment coming down, there are more competitors trying their luck in the market. We’ve maintained our place on top by always delivering on time and always under budget.
VD: The future always holds the unexpected, but what changes over the next few years can you see coming? What are your plans to adapt to those changes?
HS: When high definition TV came out, we invested in the hottest new HD camera and rebranded as Eef HD. Now we’ve just done the same to upgrade to 4K ahead of our competitors. Basically, 4K is four times the definition of HD and the clarity is unreal. But we just heard the Rio Olympics opening ceremony is going to be shot in 8K!
Improvement in technology never stops, and we will keep investing in the very latest equipment. Aside from the quality of our shots and our creative ideas, it’s still all about how you treat people. My associates are my friends and so are most of my clients. Its been a very rewarding 20 years so far and I’d especially like to thank all of our local Eef 4K Productions clients here in the valley.
To learn more about Eef 4K Productions, go to http://www.eef4kproductions.tv.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, email@example.com and @scottnmiller.