Tuesday Crew Day: Jonathan Lacocque & Clara Lehmann

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Tuesday Crew Day: Jonathan Lacocque & Clara Lehmann

Where are you from, where are you located now, and what are your ties to WV?

Jonathan was born and raised in Chicago, IL. Clara was born and raised in Helvetia, WV, a small town settled by the Swiss in 1869. We created and founded Coat of Arms (www.coatofarmspost.com) in Chicago. After several years, we moved to Helvetia and operate a post-production company. We also have a small location in Chicago, where we return for meetings and Midwest-specific projects quite regularly. West Virginia is not only more affordable than Illinois, the rural lifestyle also offers more freedom and easy access to the outdoors and nature. We find raising our daughters in the mountains preferable to city life.

What was your first job in film production and what was the experience like?

Roughly eleven years ago, Jonathan started out as a Production Assistant for a Chicago production company filming a commercial. While the work was stressful and humbling, he loved being surrounded by creative people and felt inspired by the energy of the set. Specifically, Jonathan remembers being asked to quickly go and buy black “visqueen” to put over the windows. This was before smartphones had Internet access, so he called Clara to find out what the heck they wanted. Clara googled it for him, and he was able to quickly and efficiently pick up the plastic sheeting without holding up production. Perhaps, this simple story marks the beginning of our careers as filmmaking partners. During this first job, Jonathan made a good deal of connections, leading to more production-oriented work. He later directed, produced and edited for this same client.

Clara also started out in Chicago as a Production Assistant and an actor in a music video for The Academy Is. After years of experience as a PA, associate producer, and later producer, she eventually served as a freelance copywriter for a digital marketing agency and later for a Pittsburgh film studio. Her experiences on the music video set and in the agency made her realize how much she loved writing, finding a brand’s voice, and seeing her words transform into something visually compelling. Being a storyteller at heart, she ultimately found inspiration on the written page and producing projects as a creative lead.

Both Clara and Jonathan worked their way up the “ladder” and learned the ropes of film production. Around 2006, Jonathan was associate producing and started editing content as a way to save money on small-budget commercials and films. He fell in love with post-production and honed his craft until 2010 when he and Clara formed Coat of Arms. At that time, the economy had just been put through the wringer, the film and commercial industries were cautiously recovering, and layoffs continued among larger agencies and networks. With these times in mind, they developed a mission to keep overhead at a minimum and to reserve funds for the art and for the artists. Leaving her job first, Clara started building a client base for Coat of Arms until Jonathan joined her a few months later. They haven’t looked back since.

What was your last job and what were you responsible for?

Most recently, we’ve been working with WebMD on short documentaries about heroes in the health industry. We are responsible for the post-production of these videos, including editing, color, motion graphics, visual effects, music, and sound design. The videos will live on WebMD’s website and will air on CBS at the beginning of November. The message of each video is inspiring and educational. Simultaneously, we animated a short video for Google, as they encourage users to utilize its new Google Docs features. While the video is short, it is clean, sophisticated, and fun. Google Doc’s main page will host the video starting in mid-October.

Among many other projects, we just finished a short, animated film titled Death Loves Life, which we wrote, produced, and directed together. It is currently in the festival circuit and has shown at the LA International Shorts Festival and will show at the West Virginia International Film Festival on October 25 at 5:30p.m. in Charleston. We hope to see you there!

What advice would you give someone wanting to work in the film industry?

It’s hard to boil this down to any one thing, but the best advice may be to never give up. If you have a story to share, you should tell it. If you want to make films, work as hard as you can, for as long as it takes, to get to a point where you feel growth and success. It will always be difficult. You will fail time and time again. But if you can forge ahead no matter the difficulties, you will succeed. Sometimes, tenacity and stubbornness outweigh anything else.

That said, there are three characteristics we look for in a creative partner:

1. Be Kind. Our favorite people to collaborate with have a clear sense of morality and are generally good, positive people. They have clear values and are able to step back and see that pushing pixels isn’t as important as being a good, balanced person. If you continually adapt and work to maintain an ethical way of life, the world will repay you for kindness tenfold.

2. Be Social. If you want to be successful, work with as many people as you can. Learn from all of them. Don’t be afraid to put yourself in new social situations. You never know who you may connect with.

3. Take Risks. Finally, success often takes risks. Whether it is moving across country to a place you don’t know or leaving your job to start freelancing, you will never grow without some of the pains that come along with it. It will take change and real sacrifice to get where you want to go.