What’s it like building something out of nothing? Just ask Michel Stolnicki – our Chief Video Officer and the behind-the-scenes maestro of all things production! When the idea of Hiveclass originated we knew that in order to meet kids where they’re at we needed to create some amazing content that would capture their attention. Content is king – and Michel assembled the team, dreamed up the creative direction and has been leading the charge on what is essentially the bread and butter of Hiveclass. As a young company we’re always learning and growing, and same goes for the content that we produce – we experiment, learn and evolve to ensure we’re nurturing a product that exceeds the expectations of our clients. We’re obviously proud of our team and what they’ve created, but we’ll let Michel tell us the story and share his first-hand experience in his own words 🙂
HIVECLASS: Welcome Michel! We’re so excited to learn and share more about you and the creative side of Hiveclass. Before we dive in, tell us what sparked your interest in cinematography and what you love most about video production?
MICHEL STOLNICKI: Thanks for the lovely introduction – it’s a pleasure to share some of the work we do at Hiveclass and some about me too!
I’m a nineties kid, grew up when cable television was on the rise and every teenager was making mixtapes and wanted to get their hands on Hi8 cameras. As far back as I can remember I’ve been fascinated with the art of cinematography, from taking pictures in progression to playing around with time and space while making shorts.
Telling a story and making people feel emotions through images allowed me to step outside my bubble and see the other, the world, to understand human behavior and find the light. The lighting of a scene can determine the tone and mood. So even if the space isn’t ideal, you can use the light and your sense of touch to make adjustments to give it the feeling that was intended. The light will always make the difference in cinematography and cinematography will always be one of the most important components of making a film.
I love video production because it’s democratic. The personal computer and the internet gave rise to digital composition, digital recording, and now digital distribution. Video production maps out the stages from ideation to execution through delivery, providing steps from pre-production to production, through post-production. Nowadays, anyone can make a video on their mobile device but you have to know how to combine equipment, lighting, and composition to be able to create a coherent and engaging result with the raw materials produced during filming.
HC: What is your favorite part about the video content you produce for Hiveclass?
MS: My favorite part about the video content we produce at Hiveclass is the opportunity to make an impactful difference in the world. I’m interested in creating dialogue and bringing people together. Through education and sports, content has a farther reach and more effective outcome than a feature film or an episodic series on any given streamer.
HC: You joined the Hiveclass team from the very beginning – what personal growth have you experienced over the last two years? What’s it like watching the company grow and evolve?
MS: When I started working for Hiveclass it was around Thanksgiving 2020, my grandma had recently passed away and we were just hitting the second peak of Covid– we have come a long way since then. From a few folks working together on zoom to departments flourishing, team leaders, a mentorship program, and weekly management meetings. We have a rigorous approach with specific, quantifiable goals grounded in our purpose. Enhance rather than detract from people’s lives and we are most concerned with the integrity of our work above everything else. No matter how much we grow we will stay true to why Hiveclass was created in the first place.
Witnessing Hiveclass’ first steps and being part of its growth gives me a great sense of satisfaction. Seeing our strategies work from product innovation to performance, connecting every component at every stage of the journey so far has taught me great lessons that I will take on for the rest of my life.
Working with talent in business and forming a team of writers, producers, directors, videographers, editors and visual effects artists has been a blessing. The best part is we have a strong sense of culture complementing each other’s work while pushing each other forward.
Video production localizes and customizes all of its content and in different languages. We went from tens of videos a month to hundreds of videos a month. In 2022, we delivered over 900 Skill Drill Videos, and in 2023 we are planning to make 2700 Skill Drill videos with at least 24 different sport activities. Youth Sports has never been this accessible.
We are growing up and have big dreams at Hiveclass. Every kid should carry their favorite coach in their pocket and never have to stop practicing a sport or activity they enjoy and want to get better at.
HC: Video is a dominant format for content, as technology and trends change and advance, how do you and your team keep up? Why is it important for companies/brands to prioritize video content?
MS: A video shapes a viewer’s initial perception and opinion, affecting how they perceive both themselves and others. It’s essential to the development of individual, social, cultural, and global identity. Video production, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are merging as developers continue to expand what these technologies are capable of and their ability to create code improves over time.
In today’s multidimensional digital world, video is practically required. Consumers and businesses increasingly demand video content when they need to inform, instruct, browse for services or purchase goods. Companies of all sizes and in a variety of sectors have come to understand the advantages that video content offers, and this demand will only increase.
I’m no rockstar, just a person with experience that likes to keep busy ensuring that we deliver consistency and are constantly evolving. Our team values education, art and are culturally, socially involved with their communities. We are organically connected to other industries and professionals on an international scale. A team of plural folks who are sports obsessed, up for any challenge and taking advantage of technological tools available to us. We are storytellers accustomed to thinking outside the box, and with a track record of developing video production processes even further.
HC: We’ve done something pretty amazing by creating a process for producing video content – can you speak a little about your experience in building the production team in South America?
MS: We developed a unique production process with an emphasis on craftsmanship and relationship-driven collaboration. Unifying our strategies and innovating in technology, we methodized a workflow deploying local and remote teams all around the world producing high-impact videos at home and abroad for schools, libraries, and businesses.
South America made sense because Rio de Janeiro is my hometown and we were in the midst of a pandemic. With access to business capitals like São Paulo and Buenos Aires we were able to assemble a team who share similar perceptions and are interested in making a difference with the content they produce. South Americans excel in creative arts, advertising and cinema and once they saw the potential of Hiveclass they were ready to make the leap of faith and join our little big family.
HC: You’re an award-winning filmmaker and director – tell us about some of your favorite projects that you have worked on!
MS: This is always a hard question for me to answer. Every project is different and has their pros about them. It’s a privilege to be able to tell stories and be a filmmaker. They are all my favorites.
Working for major Hollywood productions at Netflix has taught me how to operate at a large scale, 250+ person crew working together to make a movie, however making the short films during my Masters in Fine Arts stand out more. With less than 10 people working together and to find recognition is something rare and special. From top to bottom, Stranded Fish, a story about improbable friendship, was the highlight of my career which made it to the Cannes Film Festival. Alex, Listen to your heart, a story about improbable love, was picked up by HBO and Standing8, a story about improbable health, won the Directors Guild of America Latino Award. Do you see a trend? I’m into stories that are improbable, about human connection, and this is my voice.
Thanks for the time and questions – see you all in the Hive.