Production firm Shatterglass earns small-business award

Production firm Shatterglass earns small-business award

CHAMPAIGN — Luke Boyce and Brett Hays say they have a great partnership.

Boyce, the creative director of Shatterglass Studios, admits he's not very organized and not a great networker.

Hays, on the other hand, is "extremely organized" and good at sales and building relationships, Boyce said.

For the last six years, they've been working together as co-owners of Shatterglass, a film and video production company that makes promotional videos and commercials.

Today the company is being honored by the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce as its Small Business of the Year.

In nominating Shatterglass for the award, Habeeb Habeeb, president of Benefit Planning Consultants, described it as "a creative agency of young filmmakers who pride themselves on understanding the intricacies of influential and meaningful new media, video production and film."

Shatterglass is the only independent production company in the area to offer a full soundstage, he said.

Plus, it's using the new Scarlet-X camera from RED Digital Cinema, which is being used to shoot some of the biggest productions in Hollywood.

Shatterglass moved this year to the former Surface 51 office at 309 S. Neil St., C. Its offices are adorned with movie posters, vintage toys and guitars, among other things.

In addition to creating a soundstage at the rear of the building, Shatterglass is developing a private screening room where clients can screen early drafts of projects. The room will have 18 seats from the Virginia Theater.

Boyce and Hays said their company really took off after Hays relocated to Champaign and Shatterglass moved to the M2 building in downtown Champaign in 2010.

Among their key projects: a promotional video made for Jacksonville Art Glass and a video touting the University of Illinois Alumni Association's "Illinois Connection" program.

They've also made numerous videos for Carle and have traveled to Brazil and Honduras for other projects.

Boyce, a self-proclaimed "cinephile" who usually watches two movies a night, said Shatterglass tries to approach commercial video "with a cinematic edge rather than a broadcasting edge."

He said Shatterglass aims to "tell a story" and "provide narrative content for people, not just on an informational level but on an emotional level."

Boyce said he approaches video projects as he would a documentary.

"We call them short films," he said.

Hays and Boyce share a number of common interests, including film, music and graphic design.

Boyce, 30, of Champaign grew up in Cissna Park, studied graphic design at Parkland College in Champaign and for six years performed in the pop band Regarding Angels.

"I've wanted to be a director since I was a little kid," he said. Boyce said he enjoyed making records, but liked filmmaking even more.

Hays, 31, of Champaign grew up in Rochester, studied graphic design at the UI and graduated in 2004. He returned to the Springfield area to work in sales and marketing, occasionally collaborating on film projects.

Scott Reichard, chairman of Benefit Planning Consultants, was interested in starting a multimedia company and brought the two together, they said.

For the first few years, the company struggled, with Boyce working from Champaign and Hays from Springfield.

Both credit their wives — Keri and Sheri, respectively — for supporting them in those early years. That support included not only income from their own jobs, but also respect for their husbands' creative vision.

Today, Hays and Boyce said about 60 percent of their business is promotional videos and the remainder are commercials and miscellaneous videos.

Shatterglass has a goal of $200,000 in revenue this year, Hays said.

Boyce and Hays have been active in film production, including "Sugar," "Leading Ladies," "Finding Virginia" and "The Drunk," which stars Tom Sizemore as a district attorney running for governor. Several won awards at film festivals.

Last year, the two created the Champaign-Urbana Film Society to promote filmmaking in the community. They're planning workshops and other events as ways of sharing information about aspects of filmmaking.

Hays, for his part, said he respects Boyce's opinions on Shatterglass projects.

"It's his vision. My job is to make his (vision) work. We never fight for creative vision," Hays said.

"I'm lucky," Boyce said. "You don't find many people with good business skills who have respect for the creative."

Boyce underscores his passion for the creative in his attire. On Tuesday, for example, he wore a purple sweater, purple sneakers, a bow tie and a cap worn backwards, a la Samuel L. Jackson.

"I try to stand out a little bit, to be unique," Boyce said. "I don't feel comfortable looking normal. I definitely feel more creative when I dress creatively."


Business profile

Name: Shatterglass Studios.

Business: Video and film production company.

Co-owners: Luke Boyce, creative director, and Brett Hays, producer.

Address: 309 S. Neil St., C.

Other staff: Three free-lancers, two interns.

Origin of name: Founders liked the imagery of "breaking through."

Recognition: Shatterglass won Telly Awards for cinematography and corporate image in 2011 for a Jacksonville Art Glass video and a Telly Award in 2012 for a retrospective on the 2011 Ebertfest.

Community: Boyce and Hays created the C-U Film Society in 2011. Boyce chairs the digital conversion subcommittee for the Art Theater Cooperative and hosts a film discussion series there.