Maine Film Association Supporting Business Member Jynx Productions, based in Yarmouth, has generously supported the MFA since March 2018. We recently caught up with Jynx Productions CEO and Lead Editor Kathleen O'Heron to learn more about their shop and the work they're doing.
MFA: Tell us a bit about Jynx Productions
Kathleen: Jynx Productions is a local shop with a global audience. With about 20 broadcast segments in the works at any given time – all in varying phases of development – our producers and crews are constantly traveling throughout the U.S. filming stories, while our editors back at Jynx HQ are busy making sense of all that footage... all to ultimately give viewers a unique window on American life as we see it today.
MFA: Jynx Productions has been creatively and authentically sharing stories since 2005. What was your career path that led you to forming the company?
Kathleen: I began my career in television in New York as a freelance editor for ABC News and various production companies before moving to London when I became a staff editor at Bloomberg Television. But I was also very interested in managing, and worked my way up the corporate ladder. I ended up running the post department globally for Bloomberg, and moved back to New York.
While this corporate career in my early 30's was exciting, I started to miss the creative aspects of filmmaking, and was longing to make a change.
My husband, Johannes Wiebus, began working as a freelance producer for German broadcasters, and I realized there was a demand and a market for authentic storytelling for a European audience. Our combined skillset (producing and editing) meant we could just start out on our own. I wrote an initial business plan, and in 2005, left my corporate job to start Jynx Productions with Johannes.
We had fallen in love with the Portland area on weekend trips from New York. It seemed like a great place for a fresh start, and a wonderland for raising our kids. So we just went for it, and never looked back.
MFA: Why is it important to Jynx Productions to support the MFA and its work?
Kathleen: We love what we do. We love to connect with people who also love to produce TV. And, we’re happy to be a part of any organization that supports our industry here in Maine. I am an ardent champion of growing opportunities for women in production, all aspects of course, but in particular, I’d like to see more women holding the purse strings. Clearly, the MFA recognizes the gender gap in this industry, and I’m happy to see the the organization making strides to ensure ALL of our creative and production community has a place to connect, brainstorm, learn and WORK.
And Maine... come on... this state has so much to offer. Everywhere I go, I am imagining a film set.
MFA: What are some of your favorite pieces of work that Jynx has produced?
Kathleen: I’ll tell you one of my favorite projects first, but everything we do is a team effort and we have some really talented people on our staff, so I’ll let them offer their favorites too.
In April 2018, we wrapped a full-length documentary "Forever Young – The Quest for Eternal Life." This was a project that took us from the beaches of Colombia to remote islands in Japan, from Vancouver Island through Santa Monica and into the Arizona desert. You never know when you first start researching and pitching a project, how successful it will be after completion. How good are the characters? Will the storylines pan out? Will real, exciting stuff happen once our cameras are rolling? Well, 20 shoot days and two months of post-production later, we had our answer. In this case, almost everything came together. Luckily, the audience thought so, too. Our doc aired in a primetime slot on Sunday night on a major German network, and drew almost 2 million viewers, way above the average.
Shiela Froughy, Producer: The most impactful story that I worked on this year was the story about a student who survived the Parkland shooting. Even though what happened was very tragic and horrible, I was so impressed by the strength and the courage of these kids. Instead of letting this tragedy pass by, they were able to create a movement that touched millions of people. I remember standing in the crowd at the March For Our Lives demonstration in Washington DC, having goosebumps because I was so overwhelmed by the passion and the belief of these kids, really trying to change something and thinking to myself: "Wow, this is history in the making, and I'm able to be a part of it, just because of my job!"
Meredith Lobsinger, Staff Editor: My favorite story I worked on was “Volcano Gems," a mythbuster-type episode to figure out whether online reports about green gems raining down in Hawaii were true. There were, and still are, plenty of news stories covering the eruption of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, but when you're fortunate to spend time in the edit, pouring over incredible raw footage, the experience stays with you. Our photographer/protagonist in the story described the awe-inducing experience best when he said, "This is one of the only places in the world where you can see the process of destruction and creation in the exact same moment in time." I could say the same metaphor applies to the editing process! In the end, we didn't discover those elusive "flying green gems", but we came away with a piece filled with powerful and beautiful imagery."
MFA: What else do you want MFA Members and our broader audiences to learn about Jynx Productions?
Kathleen: Primarily, we produce doc-style segments for television. But that’s not all we do. We have also worked with all major Maine-based advertising and PR agencies, as well as corporate clients like Red Bull and the World Bank Group. As long as we get to tell an interesting story (and our calendar allows), there are not many projects we would say ”No” to.