President and Creative Director of ChopShop
Interview by Jennifer Kalban
What is your name and title?
Zach Lyons, President and Creative Director of ChopShop
What did you into the action sports industry?
I grew up skateboarding and snowboarding, so I have always had a passion for action sports. The creativity and self-expression that the sports, lifestyle and core of the industry are built on really appeal to me.
Before ChopShop what other companies and projects were you involved in? Before ChopShop – prior to seven years ago – I was a freelance editor working in LA and OC working on predominantly commercial and television projects.
How did you get started?
My last year of college I got an opportunity to explore film and video… I loved it. After school I took additional classes and found a way to gain experience by getting involved in the industry any way I could. After working with a couple of production companies near school in Colorado, I worked to develop connections in California and eventually started freelancing in Los Angeles. At that point I started to build a career for myself.
Tell us what your role is at ChopShop, why you decided to found ChopShop and how it all got started:
My role as Creative Director includes oversight of all creative duties for all projects at ChopShop. There is something I enjoy about every step of the process, so I try and get as hands on as possible, which can make for some late nights, but is really rewarding in the end. The collective vision behind ChopShop was to create a dynamic creative shop that worked with advertising agencies, non-endemics as well as action sports endemics. The thought was different projects, and different clients, keeps you and the creative fresh.
How many people are on the staff?
We have six people on staff in addition to my partner Ken Anderson and myself and we rely heavily on freelance talent.
Who are some of the clients you work with?
Our portfolio includes work for brands including Boost Mobile, FUEL TV, Nike, PacSun, Quiksilver, Red Bull, Sole Technology, Virgin Mobile; and advertising agencies - Team One’s client Lexus and O’Leary & Partners’ clients AAA, Kawasaki, Oroweat and Fantastic Sams.
You guys do everything from commercials to full-on TV specials for FUEL TV. Do you have crews that specialize in each division or is it all pretty similar?
We try to build a creative team that will meet the specific challenges of a project because there are definitely differences. So we use different talent depending on the job, but we do have a core group that we consistently rely on. We have actually been extremely fortunate in that we have been able work with some very talented people and in the end you are nothing without a great team that cares about the work as much as you do.
What do you like and dislike about the different kinds of projects you work on?
Long form content such as a ½ hour show or a documentary is rewarding because you can really bring a particular story line, subject or event to life– make the viewer feel like they are there. I also like really like short form content because it allows you to focus a lot of creative energy into a small amount of content. When you are constrained by length you’re forced to make tough decisions and you can devote a lot of resources to creating a final product that exceeds expectations.
Where do you see ChopShop in the next 2-5 years?
I see ChopShop continuing to expand and grow our client base, push our boundaries as far as we can and raise the bar on our output and creativity.
What projects do you have coming up in the near future?
It’s been a great year so far. We are just finishing up some fun stuff for PacSun and there are some other exciting projects coming up in the fall.
How has the economy affected your part of the industry?
We are very fortunate not to have been hit hard by the economy and have maintained a solid client base and work load.
What do you like and not like about working within the action sports industry?
People and Budgets. The people are great, but the budgets are sometimes tough.
What’s the best advice you have been given?
My grandfather always said, ‘just decide what you want and put yourself there’
What do you think about group Y and it’s events?
For me, group Y events have been just the great mix of information, people & drinks (which might actually be the secret to life) .