Not all film companies are super big and elaborate with hundreds of thousands of employees. Most of them are small and simple. As an owner of a business myself, I also happen to know many other business owners who don’t have super big businesses in this city either. Sadly, not many companies seem to last that long, but some of them do better than others. Much like Buck Productions. What was once a one-man show is now a 15-man production company featuring men and women with many abilities. Having been in the business for 25 years and hopefully many more, the company shows no sign of halting and has made many amazing productions. Recently, I spoke to Sean Buck and learned of his business as well as insider tips from one business owner to another. Given his experience and keeping the company alive so long, he provides hope to all of us doing small local businesses.
HNMAG: So it started as a one-man show, how did it develop into a production company?
Sean Buck: Out of fear and blind optimism. It was a series of opportunities and events, working hard, striking balances with creators, and being hyper focused on building something that you’re very passionate about.
HNMAG: How did you manage to keep on owning it all these years? Why did you never sell it to a bigger corporation?
Sean Buck: There’s been opportunities along the way. Ideally, Buck is not about size, it’s about protection of our culture. We are incredibly focused and proud of our work and the opportunities we are given because of the ownership. If the right partner were to approach as they have in the past, it would have to be one that knows that we’re beneficial, and know what it is that we’re continuously doing. And that is creating innovative and captivating content.
HNMAG: Where do you and your team get the resources to make all these shows?
Sean Buck: Over the years, we’ve created a plethora of incredible impressionable relationships with networks and connections with networks and OTG’s both North and South of the border. We’ve worked with ad agencies and clients directly, we’ve established trusting relationships with distributors, studios, funding for TV. I mean it’s one thing to say you CAN do ANYTHING, but it’s another thing to showcase and incredibly robust portfolio showcasing anything that is very diversified. That comes with a lot of hard work. We are constantly creating, innovating, executing content in a myriad. To be able to showcase all the portfolio work that you have from brand content to unscripted to scripted to features, it takes a lot of work. But what fuels us, and I say US, as the team of Buck productions is we’re hired for what we do. Passionate is a word that often gets used, and we are blessed in a sense to be able to do what it is that we want to do.
HNMAG: Given how many productions have come out, how did your employees juggle all the many different jobs?
Sean Buck: There’s two components to our work ethic, one is our core team, that’s working with me and touching a multitude of these projects. But then there’s outsourcing teams which are built around specific projects that allow us to scale accordingly. I always wanted to be a company as big as we are, to make a multitude of feature films. But never can a company be nimble enough, to work on something that’s truly innovative. Something that’s crossing the boundaries of storytelling, that is introducing new ways, executing it, and bringing it forward into the marketing race.
HNMAG: What are some of the biggest hurdles the company ever had and how did you overcome them?
Sean Buck: One of the biggest hurdles was gaining control and ownership of a company while I’m organically funding things. It’s been a challenge but on the flip side, it’s an incredible award. Also, as you can imagine, in 25 years, we as a company have weathered, experienced, and been exposed to an everchanging landscape that is content creation. We’ve watched technology be abandoned and embraced. So as a company, we remain constant in searching on how to improve our capabilities of storytelling and content creation. That’s with technology, that’s with content creation, the expertise, and the experience that we have. That helps with constantly being exposed to new partners, new opportunities, and new talent.
HNMAG: I understand you’ve never focused on money, but where did you secure funds to keep it going?
Sean Buck: Organic Growth. As you can imagine, business was started, ironically 25 years ago as a corporation. But that was technically a place for me to deposit my work as a PA. So after fetching coffee, working through studios, and dragging cables on set, Buck Productions was nothing more than a sole proprietorship. But I always wanted to build it into something much more. So I would organically reinvest profits from projects. The upside of executing a project, is building all the trust of clients and companies who you’ll be working with. I never got in this business by focusing on making as much money as possible. If money was the core focus of what I want to do, I would’ve chosen another profession. But, I wanted to build something on my own, and I wanted it to be a successful business. So I would organically invest and reinvest the profit of Buck Productions back into Buck Productions, focusing on this vision of expanding a very diversified portfolio. So, rather than just sit back and say, “Hey, let’s make this unscripted television show” or “Let’s just focus on commercials” or “Let’s just focus on feature films”, I believe the production company of tomorrow has to be diversified, has to engage in storytelling on a multitude of levels, and that’s what we’ve been focusing on for some time.
HNMAG: What advice would you give other businesses with minimal employees and resources?
Sean Buck: Overhead in vanity and no overhead insanity.