At the Mayfield home of Think Media Studios, Brian Glazen's employees are quick to crystallize their founder's reputation:
"Around here, he's known as the guy who can pull off the impossible," says marketing & sales VP Mary Hipp. "If something can't be done, Brian can do it."
Sitting across from a world map with pushpins identifying site locations for T.M.S. projects, Glazen admits that the impossible is what has always excited him. It's what keeps him coming to work every morning.
"I like to fix things," Glazen says. "If you tell me something can't be done, that's exactly what I'm gonna go do. And that's really the core of what a producer is."
Working at a media studio, producing often means liaising with powerful people, working nimbly on one's toes among competing entities. Sometimes it means telling Shaquille O'Neal that he's going to have to dump a 5-gallon bucket of water over his head one more time.
"Shaq looked at us and said, 'You get one pour,'" Glazen says as he chuckles, recalling shooting the first Cavs intro video that Think Media produced back in '09. It was the scene where Shaq emerges from Lake Erie to join his XL teammates. "We did the one pour and it didn't work. He started choking on the water ... he said we could have one more pour."
Glazen, born and raised in Cleveland, fled the Lake Erie shores in his early 20s to seek fame and fortune in Hollywood, which he promptly found. Due to tenacious networking, Glazen managed to work with industry luminaries on projects for HBO, Showtime, Fox ... no biggie.
But Cleveland's siren call was too seductive, and when it came time to start a family, Glazen knew where he belonged.
"I always knew I would come back," he says. "This place is home."
Though he worked for a spell at his father Alan's company, Glazen Creative, Brian soon wanted total creative control and set out to form Think Media Studios.
"The market for what we do has been more open-armed than I expected," Glazen says.
What they do is incredibly high-quality productions: Every time you see the Cavs' intro videos, or sleek corporate promos for CSU, Playhouse Square, Progressive or Smuckers, chances are it's a T.M.S production. The corporate projects have been the company's bread and butter, and that makes sense, because Glazen's personality is hardwired for meaningful, client-first relationships. But Glazen says he's "aggressively expanding."
The next horizon is original content. Last year, their second-ever feature film Fishing Without Nets took home Best Director honors at Sundance. They've received offers for two features in the next year, and they're pursuing documentary content as well.
"I see a lot more of that, but no less than the other," Glazen says, championing his staff's commitment to quality production from concept to the studio to the editing bays regardless of the project. As for Cleveland, he knows what it'll take to keep the positive filmmaking momentum going.
"We need to continue being an incredible place to shoot, with good, reliable crews; accessible, state-of-the-art gear; and people who are eager to have productions here. We've got most of those covered already."