“I wanted my company to be bigger than myself - to have its own identity, to be recognized and remembered. That’s why I chose to give myself an alias instead of just using my real name. It’s a great way to advertise and create a brand.” - Anthony Seratelli, DP/Director and Founder of Jersey Filmmaker.
Film production is undeniably a very rewarding industry to be in right now. Demand for commercial, narrative and social media videos are growing fast year after year, and it’s not only feasible to thrive off of making films, but also one of the coolest ways to express yourself artistically.
But more demand also means more competition, and as a filmmaker, it’s up to you to really put yourself out there. A major factor in securing shoots is word of mouth. If you have a good reputation, the word spreads and you get jobs. Another is having a constantly updated portfolio. Clients on the fence? They might check out your reel or Instagram.
Sometimes it’s beneficial to go a step further, and create an identity for yourself as a filmmaker or production house. Anthony Seratelli, commercial/narrative DP based in New Jersey, has done this like no other filmmaker. A former pro baseball player (Kansas City Royals & New York Mets), Anthony now owns his own production house Jersey Filmmaker, where he and his crew work back to back projects with constant shoots lined up. From T-shirt branding to YouTube videos to hashtags on Instagram, he shares how he’s turning his production house into an entire creative marketing brand.
From Pro Baseball to Filmmaking
“Video editing was something I discovered in my early 20s. My dad would often digitize photos and videos to make DVDs for Christmas or special occasions. I saw what he was doing and found it pretty fun, so I tried to one-up him for my sister’s college graduation party. I cut and edited a video that I captured on a point & shoot, presented it in front of about 100 people, and had everyone either laughing or crying. It captivated me how video could move people.”
“This was all just a hobby back then as I was working towards my career in professional baseball. After playing for the Kansas City Royals and the New York Mets, I moved to Japan to play for a team there for a season, when injury really started to prohibit me from pursuing this path. I tore my labrum in college but after surgery got a lot of good years out of my shoulder. But arthritis kicked in in my 30s and I now have little cartilage left so my bones start to grind together. This wasn’t something that just happened suddenly, but over time my cartilage had been grinding down to the point where it was extremely painful to throw a ball. I ended up with just 2 degrees of internal rotation left in my shoulder, so in 2016 I made the decision to retire from baseball.”
“Luckily, I’d been making videos even during my years playing baseball which turned into my new career after retirement. I knew baseball wasn’t going to last forever, so while I played professionally, I was studying at YouTube university on how to create videos, all while actually working on a few projects as a hobby. And by the time I officially retired, I had gained enough knowledge and was confident enough to go straight into filmmaking as my full time job.”
Creating My Brand
“I started my own production company, Jersey Filmmaker, while I was still playing baseball - just for projects that came up during the off-season. It was a good way to get myself out there while looking as official as possible without having to spend money upfront on advertising. Having an actual production company seemed more professional than using my own name, and I was still able to have control over my teams, projects, and creative directions.”
“As any production company, starting off was the biggest struggle. I already had some name and notoriety starting off thanks to my baseball career and connections, but even then I was working on a ton of projects for free or cheap early on just to add more videos to my reel. One of my first jobs was doing a promo video for my teammate who started his own gym. There was no crew - it was all super small and edited by me. My first paid job was making a trailer for a Babe Ruth documentary created by MLB Productions. The purpose of these was to build my portfolio and get my company’s name out there.”
“I wanted more ways to advertise myself though, so I went through other avenues to get the Jersey Filmmaker name out. One way was to start my own YouTube channel where I review cameras, gear, and anything video related. It’s essentially a library where people can see me share my filmmaking ideas and tips. Instagram is also a great tool. It’s hard to judge how much of my work actually comes from Instagram or social media, but I’ve definitely gotten a lot of crew out of it. If I’m going to be out somewhere on a shoot and I need local crew, I’ll post a request in my story and find a couple of guys who live in that area and hire them for the shoot. It’s a great way meet people and learn and share ideas with like-minded filmmakers.”
Tips For Branding
“People love seeing cool gear on Instagram, so posting behind-the-scenes photos is a great way to build your Instagram community. It shows you’re out there working with cool equipment, and filmmakers love seeing what other filmmakers are using to stay up to date. As much as I’d like to post creative content, gear is what has really stood out for me so far, so I do it get the Jersey Filmmaker brand out.”
“Exposure is critical. I want people to instantly recognize my brand the moment they see it and think of my company when a project comes up. So I give out T-shirts on set for my crews that I work with and fellow industry people. They have a big Jersey Filmmaker print right on the front, so when we wear the shirts on productions, it becomes recognizable. We look like more than just a group of filmmakers - we’re a brand.”
“We like to use high-end camera systems when producing content for clients. On a recent production for Bleacher Report with Christian Pulisic, we used a RED Raven with a Bolt 1000 sending wireless video to the clients’ monitor and my handheld director’s monitor. We work with a lot of athletes, brands and corporations as well (Fanatics, Gatorade, Walmart, Jet), and our shoots require us to be active all the time. Everything has to be wireless, lightweight and battery-powered. Which includes the Teradeks so we can feed the video signals to the appropriate monitors to be viewed.”
“We just finished producing a series for Fanatics, which is a sports memorabilia and apparel company. We just created a branded content series called Small Biz Stories, where we take athletes to local businesses in the cities that they play in and connect them with local business and learn about their histories. Athletes tend to be expensive to book, so we usually only have them for about 2 hours. It’s a 5 camera shoot with the 3 main cams on shoulder rigs, with Bolt 500s on each of them all going to my director’s monitor. Being able to use one monitor wirelessly like is the only way we are able to see exactly what we are capturing, keep mobile to weave through our locations and get all the shots we need in such a short time.”
“YouTube isn’t something everyone does, but it works for me. It’s a great platform for showing your work, personality and knowledge, and makes it easy for people to search for you. You can build a library of assets and send it to potential clients and partners. I try to find time for uploading more to Instagram and YouTube, but our workload has been heavy lately and I’m keeping busy with projects from morning to night. It’s hard to say if that’s all thanks to my branding strategies or not, but either way, I’m not complaining!”Check out more of Anthony Seratelli’s work at: