Passion Projects

How a Riverside-based video marketing company expanded to film festivals around the continent

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What happens when you unite a handful of out-of-the-box thinkers who share a common goal of creating, inspiring, and impacting humanity for the greater good (while making a living, of course)? You get Animus Studios.

Eight years ago, co-founders Justin Andrews and Arty Goldstein were working together at other media agencies but knew they could channel their talents into something greater. “We wanted to launch something that was more true to our personalities,” says Justin. “We stepped out on a limb with no clients, but knew that our enthusiasm, passion, and focus would be a strong foundation.” Today, this merry duo has expanded to a band of content creators who work with a spectrum of clients to construct their narrative via documentary, animation, motion graphics, and scripted live action video. But the company’s passion morphed from focusing on profit to people, the majority of whom are right here in our backyard.

“It boils down to telling great stories,” says Justin. Client work, he says, “pays the bills” while also being “really fun,” but the small-yet-mighty company decided they wanted to produce more original work.

The Animus team supported Senior Editor Roy Power, a movie buff since childhood, when he set out to direct a short documentary entitled Memory Video, the story of an optimistic video-store owner in Philadelphia striving to keep the brick-and-mortar tradition alive amidst the rising popularity of streaming. “It’s a ten-minute doc and it got into Hot Docs in Toronto,” says Justin. “A bunch of us flew up to see it. It’s basically THE festival for documentaries.” Officially called the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, it is the largest documentary festival in North America. Memory Video also got into the Montclair Film Festival (New Jersey), Nantucket Film Festival, Philadelphia Independent Film Festival, and the Rhode Island International Film Festival.

Then, Animus editor and filmmaker Murphy McCann approached Justin one day and said she wanted to take on a project beyond her editor duties. “She wanted to do something from her perspective – a story about what it’s like to flirt if you’re a lesbian not knowing if the person you’re flirting with is a lesbian … I, personally, was really proud she did,” says Justin. The scripted short, Burning My Tongue, written and directed by Murphy, had its world premiere at the Provincetown International Film Festival in June.

“It’s pretty cool, and good to get that affirmation – to get a third party to recognize your work,” says Murphy, who said it took about a year-and-a-half from when the film was conceptualized to when it was ready to hit the big screen.

As Animus Studios expands their reach, so does their ability to push the envelope and tell the stories of even more compelling people and plots.