Spend time in the restored factory studio of the video production company founded by Dan Leung and Max Goldberg, and you quickly realize one thing: These former Drexel classmates still see the world as a giant, empty LEGOLAND, just waiting for their next construction.
Only, instead of using the famous stippled blocks, they build with high-definition digital cameras, banks of LED lights, video drones and an editing suite.
The drive to keep doing and creating led both men to choose the Film and Television program in Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. "One of the first classes you take, they put a camera in your hand and you’re making videos, like you’re a working professional," says Goldberg. Leung agrees that "you get hands-on — immediately."
“From my co-op experience, I learned that you can create something and run a business while doing what you love.”
Startup for the startups
Goldberg and Leung met on their first day at Drexel in 2010. They learned by doing, and their junior year co-ops put them inside successful production companies, cultivating ways to think about business and anticipate client needs.
The idea of building their own company began when friends in the Close School of Entrepreneurship needed promotional videos for their startups. The duo seized the opportunity to fulfill their senior project, earn some extra money and help fellow Dragons. Almost without realizing it, they had created a portfolio of engaging work, a network of happy clients, and a comfortable, creative partnership. By graduation, Goldberg and Leung had launched and incorporated Five Five Collective.
Instead of the making the usual newly-minted filmmaker pilgrimage to LA or New York, Goldberg and Leung opted to stay in Philadelphia and grow Five Five. They decided they preferred calling their own shots while telling stories that could help angel investors trust a new startup, students choose the right college, or museum employees learn new skills.
Another Dragon joins the team
By 2016, Anthony Marotta ’16, had also graduated from Westphal with a lot of experience under his belt, some of it with Five Five. He fit their entrepreneurial philosophy and unpretentious style and by 2017 he joined the Collective full-time.
On a typical shooting day Goldberg sits in a chair and helps an interview subject forget the forest of equipment and crew long enough to share insights and anecdotes. Leung hunkers down quietly behind a camera. And Marotta buzzes around in the role of producer until it’s time to "roll," whereupon he focuses intently on a handheld monitor.
Capturing sound and images, however, is only the beginning. Back in the studio, the real work begins. All three need to know multiple software programs for editing images, shaping soundscapes, and animating graphics and titles. Staying on top of new technology, hand-holding clients and financing are also mandatory for the healthy business.
The Campaign for Drexel creates an opportunity
Early in 2018, Five Five responded to an Office of Institutional Advancement request for proposals for videos to depict the impact of Drexel, in support of the University’s $750 million Campaign. The team had no idea that they were up against four other firms, all larger and more experienced.
But they nailed it. They understood the challenge perfectly and addressed every deliverable with precision and flair. Today, Five Five’s impact videos for The Campaign for Drexel are appearing at University events, on the Campaign's website, in emails and on social media posts.
At heart, Goldberg, Leung and Marotta live in a world of stories — stories that they design to help an audience walk in someone else’s shoes, understand an unmet need or make a major life decision. Five Five clients at the Close School and Temple University College of Liberal Arts have won prestigious awards for the videos they've made with the Collective, and their roster of clients keeps growing.
As Leung explains, "From my co-op experience, I learned that you can create something and run a business while doing what you love."
Their love of the medium is obvious in their productions. And if they can give back to the alma mater that launched them, it’s even sweeter.