The Design Business Show 182: Video Production Creation with Terrence Thames

Director : Melissa Burkheimer | April 25, 2022
Check out episode 182 of The Design Business Show with Terence Thames to learn all about video production + editing!

Terrence Thames is the CEO of Advanced Media Production Firm, LLC dba Cocoa Creative Agency. Terrence Thames is a man of faith, husband, father, and entrepreneur. Terrence has a passion for seeing others succeed in business and in life – especially people of color. Having grown up on the South Side of Chicago, Terrence was raised by his college-aged cousin in Iowa City at the age of 9 where he was exposed to a better life and more opportunities. At that time, Terrence became heavily involved in church, video production, journalism, and music.

Working professionally since the age of 17, Terrence launched his own creative agency in 2011 – Advanced Media Production Firm, LLC dba Cocoa Creative Agency.

Terrence is currently focused on family, faith, and wealth-building among minorities and their communities.

Here’s what we covered on the episode:

Terrence’s Start to Video Editing

  • How I’m currently in a business accelerator at Drake University in Des Moines, IA, for a new business I was to start, and how Terrence is a business advisor within the program, which is how we met
  • Terrence shares that he learned to edit videos at the age of 12 from a family friend and then started volunteering to edit videos for their church program at the time
  • When Terrence got older, he started doing more creative editing using Premiere and Final Cut, which really made things take off for him
  • After high school, Terrence started working at the University of Iowa in the athletics video department, where he was able to combine his love for sports, video production, and design
  • There are many approaches to production, but Terrence’s approach to editing has been taking standard video production from live events, cutting them up on a computer on a timeline, and then putting together a narrative with music to help convey a message
  • Terrence got to practice his skills through sporting events at the University of Iowa and even helped on some TV sports shows for coaches
  • When Terrence was volunteering for his church, their TV program was on the local public access station, where people could make anything for any purpose, so Terrence grew up around people who were creating art and things for community programs
  • You can use video editing and production to create so many different things, and we see more and more people get into editing or content creation because of the accessibility we have through social media and our phones
  • How a lot of people may not know they are editors even though they are engaging with content all the time and changing it into something else
  • Terrence explains that many games were covered by ABC, ESPN, or Fox Sports, but if someone didn’t show up to work, they would call the person for video production for the school and ask if they had any students to do different tasks for them, like running a camera so Terrence would take many of those opportunities
  • Terrence says its a really special thing when you’re able to combine your passions as he has with sports and editing video production
  • By freelancing and taking those opportunities, Terrence was able to build his resume with many bigger brands early on through proximity, and because he lived in a smaller town, he was able to get to anyone, which opened up even more opportunities

 Creating His Business + Getting Experience

  • In his heart, Terrence always knew he wanted to have a business, but he says he really wanted to have something on paper for tax purposes, so he was thinking about names and came up with Advanced Media Production Firm
  • Before making his business an LLC, he had it as a sole proprietorship with his local county and was working full-time while doing his business on the side
  • How Terrence moved to Des Moines and 2010 and in 2011 had his business filed as an LLC, which is when the business officially started – he didn’t have a business plan or very many clients but knew that if he was going to be freelancing or doing work for people he wanted to have it separated on paper as an entity
  • When building his brand, Terrence says it was a lot of manifestation, God opening up opportunities and using his personal experiences with brands as part of his business portfolio
  • Terrence made a website early on, and people started to call – sometimes, the small projects were for big brands, which he leveraged
  • Growing up, Terrence’s church did fundraisers by working concessions at the University of Iowa games – during the 4th quarter, they shut down the concessions, and Terrence was able to watch the last quarter of the football games on the jumbo tron – he told himself one day he was going to work for that video board team
  • The family friend that taught Terrence how to edit videos also did freelance camera on the sidelines for the University of Iowa, and so when Terrence got older, he asked her who she used to work for, but she only remembered the person’s first name
  • Terrence made a resume right out of high school and started calling the athletics department of Iowa University asking for this person until he finally got connected with them – he wanted the opportunity to work for them as a student even though he was going to community college
  • They agreed Terrence would be hired on as a miscellaneous professional – they taught him how to use their special cameras and had him come in a few hours a week to edit and film the Iowa women’s basketball team, which he did part-time while going to community college
  • Eventually, in 2012, Terrence started working at Drake University, where one of the things he oversaw was video production for athletics; in that position, he was looking for students to help with production, which gave them a lot of experience
  • Terrence says there is always an opportunity if you look for one to get experience
  • Content creation and editing were Terrence’s specialty, but he says he was always big on visuals and led with visuals by using video or photography as a primary part of the layout for design
  • How Terrence was able to easily navigate templates which helped him when he started doing more motion graphic design
  • In your professional space, Terrence says, there is a certain time where video production is key, there’s a certain time with graphic design and layout is key, and then there’s a time to integrate all those things

  Understanding Your Business to Build a Team + Price Model

  • How being a creative helped but only got Terrence so far; when he started doing more work, he didn’t have time to do everything – to grow, he needed to hire people who were better than him in certain spaces
  • Terrence shares that he loves to work on teams that do well and lift each other up
  • As an agency, they lead with video production; virtual productions, virtual events, live events, and filming other things with a narrative for storytelling
  • Secondarily, the agency does social media marketing campaigns, web development, and brand strategy
  • When Terrence first started, he was charging $500 for an early Wix website, $100 for graphic design because he had another job to rely on at the time, so he wasn’t charging in a way that would let him grow his business
  • Terrence has an office downtown, they have clients locally, regionally, and a couple nationally – his pricing model is better but could be improved because he realized they were charging under 150% in some areas compared to their counterparts
  • Now, if they do a small virtual event, they are charging a minimum of $3,500 – Terrence shares that the price is similar for a smaller hybrid or in-person event
  • Video production rates for onsite productions can range anywhere from a half-day, around $1,400+ if it’s a virtual production for a conference they are producing, it would be a minimum of $11,000 and could get up to $40,000 – $80,000 depending on all the elements going into it
  • For bigger projects, if some of the client elements reach beyond the agency’s capacity, Terrence says they partner with people who can help bring something alive for a client
  • Terrence explains that they try to hover around $125 – $175 / hr, and if it’s a long-term project, they do an assessment to determine what the pricing will be based on the number of hours estimated to go into the work
  • How the agency now has 7 – 8 full-time and part-time staff who are W-2 employees and 4 – 5 freelance that work for them regularly
  • A main theme for the agency Terrence says has been building out infrastructure, putting in standard operating procedures, and then doing the things that make them an actual viable business as opposed to ‘Terrence and the freelancers’ – they offer benefits because people have needs and concerns
  • How you need to keep reassessing your business to make sure everything is working in all areas – you have to think about your growth and what you should start, stop and continue
  • There are a lot of creatives out there who don’t think about what they need to do to become profitable, bring on investors or partners, or even sell their business – Terrence says you need to have an open mind and make sure you’re handling your pricing model correctly
  • A lot is going on in the creative space right now, there are a lot more people exercising their entrepreneurial mindset, and while Terrence thinks it’s important to be around other creatives, he says you need to make sure you understand the business side first
  • If you have an idea of how you want to grow your creative business, Terrence believes you have to go after what’s in your heart – there’s no one way to do anything; you can learn along the way
  • Making sure your business is in order first is important because you don’t want to be a struggling creative; you want to be flourishing and adding value to areas that you see you can solve a problem in as a creative
  • Terrence encourages people to expand their minds about how the business works, ask a lot of questions and be unafraid to live in your purpose
  • Connect with Terrence on Instagram or LinkedIn


Links mentioned:

Advanced Media Production Firm, LLC dba Cocoa Creative Agency

Connect with Terrence on Instagram 

Connect with Terrence on LinkedIn


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