Emily Schooley: Full Service Film and Video Production House Serving the Greater Toronto Area and Beyond

February 27, 2022

We’re a full service film and video production house serving the Greater Toronto Area and beyond. We specialize in fictional and factual story-driven content creation for online, mobile, tablet and broadcast markets.

When you work with us, you work with people who understand the value of communication, storytelling, and connection. The value of experience and expertise. In being seen and heard. Most importantly, the value of your time and money when you invest in video creation.

Our work in the film and television industry has taught us what successful productions need, at every size and budget. Everyone in front of our lens authentically shines, especially people who often feel nervous or shy in other situations.

We excel at telling stories in our clients’ unique voices: showcasing you at your best and inspiring your audience to respond.

Tell us about yourself?

My path to entrepreneurship and running my own media production company has been rather unique. For one thing, my background is in the performing arts rather than business: I trained as an actor, and I started working professionally in the film industry in 2010.

Alongside acting, I quickly discovered that I also had a talent for writing, producing, and directing film and theatre work, as I began to create my own women-led films alongside my work as a performer.

Between creating my own films and contributing behind the camera in various ways with other projects I was hired on, I often found myself wearing multiple hats simultaneously on productions. Working in this way has led to my ability to direct and produce simultaneously, which is a fusion of logistic and creative skillsets that not everyone can pull off successfully.

From there, a natural extension of using these key creative skills was to work as a freelancer in between my own creative gigs.

The freelancing path is what led me to found my company, and now I help create corporate and educational videos as a director-producer hyphenate for B2B and B2C clients.

I’m proud to say that we’ve worked on projects with clients ranging from busy solopreneurs right up to billion-dollar companies.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

“Buy a house before March 2020, and start lobbying your governments to de-commodify housing going forward.”

I honestly can’t believe how much more inflated housing prices have become over the pandemic. While I often work from home unless I am on set or in the studio, and I was working that way pre-pandemic, the amount of time I have spent inside my >700 sq ft downtown Toronto apartment has made me realize how deeply I need more space, and that I want to live somewhere with an actual yard.

Research on the housing market in Canada has made me realize how urgently we need to de-commodify housing globally. Right now, one in four homes is being bought by an investor or numbered corporation – this takes homes away from real people who need them.

I firmly believe that safe housing should be a human right, not something that only a select group of people profit off of. I also believe that we need to have laws in place that cap rental costs, tax second and subsequent home purchases, and otherwise deter investors from profiting off real estate.

Since the pandemic has made housing inequity such a visible issue, I believe that now is a great time to call on municipal, provincial, and federal governments to implement changes that will make sure everyone can be housed more fairly and affordably.

I didn’t pay a lot of attention to government lobbying while I was in my 20s, and now that I’m a bit older I wish I’d started sooner.

What problem does your business solve?

We help our clients successfully reach and retain their target audiences, with custom video content that authentically captures their unique voice and message.

What we do best is that we take the overwhelm and stress out of video production for our clients. Because we have a very customized approach to how we work, we can take on as much or as little of the production process as needed – right from writing scripts, to casting talent, to securing locations, to shooting, to editing, and beyond.

We make the production process fun and effortless when you work with us.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

I’d noticed that there weren’t a lot of commercial production houses at a mid-range budget price point that provided the same high calibre and level of services we do. And at the same time, I saw a really great niche for myself as a director-producer hybrid within that section of the market.

All of this is what led to me founding my company, and then building a core team of freelancers alongside myself, as our projects have continued to scale upward in size and scope.

At a higher level, I believe that media should be created sustainably, safely, and with minimal environmental impact. I believe that crews and cast should always be treated with respect, not like they’re replaceable automatons.

I also believe that people should be paid a living wage for their labour. So, behind the scenes, this is the type of work environment I do my best to foster, because I believe that both clients and collaborators should be treated equally well. Valuing others is a core part of company culture.

What is your magic sauce?

A lot of what sets our creative process apart is in the intuitive way we work, and how Emily approaches the creation of each project from a very balanced creative and logistical framework.

Her way of working as a director-producer hybrid cuts down on the number of meetings needed and decision-makers involved on projects, and helps clients save time and money, right from the start.

For clients who have a maximum budget to spend, we’re also able to offer custom solutions at different price points, so clients can get maximum value for their dollar.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

It may sound strange, but we are happy to let Laughing Cat Creative continue to run on the referrals that we get in. We have enough commercial business from returning clients, and/or new customers who have been referred to us by previous clients that loved our work.

We’re actually at a point where we don’t need to advertise our services, so we generally don’t. As a general outlook, we look forward to creating more content within the financial, educational, healthcare, marketing, and similar spaces we’ve been working in to date.

Alongside client projects, our founder Emily is pivoting back to creating original, women-led film and television content, under the umbrella of Laughing Cat Productions.

She is currently in development on a feature horror film and a one-hour genre series, as well as some short-form narrative content. She will be looking for investors and potential brand sponsorships to support the creation of these women-led projects.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

Honestly, COVID has been the largest challenge that we have faced to date. Production costs are up by about 30% across the board, due to testing, PPE, cleaning costs, etc.

There’s a number of new protocols that have to be followed to keep sets safe. Things take longer now. Not every client has been understanding of this, but thankfully most of ours have been.

How do people get involved/buy into your vision?

For anyone interested in hiring us to create awesome video content for you, please reach out to us via our website or via email, at [email protected].

If you are interested in supporting Emily’s creative film work, you can join her on Patreon for exclusive behind the scenes updates: https://www.patreon.com/EmilySchooley

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