If you were looking for an independently-owned video production company, complete with multiple cameras, sets, sound-editing equipment, a “green-screen” and the capacity to have your content aired through live-streaming or television broadcast, where would you go? Atlanta? Dallas? Kansas City?
Try Wichita. Nestled in a small commercial district southeast of downtown Wichita, KLTR (pronounced “culture”) Studios provides all these services. Owner Keenen Smith secured the location about three months ago, but he has studied and honed his skills in the field for over a year.
“My vision is to bring culture to the Midwest and to show that urban creators can be successful here,” says Smith. A native of Jackson, MS, Smith moved to Junction City, KS, at the prompting of his brother, who was stationed at Ft. Riley. While operating a small business there, Smith acquired a business mentor who encouraged him to pursue his video interests and introduced him to Wichita.
“Wichita is the perfect size market for the level where I’m funded now, but I have plans to expand to a national audience and I can do that from here, too,” he said.
A video production company takes someone else’s idea and brings it to life on film. Examples include “Think About It,” a talk show that addresses issues on the local political scene; “Soundcheck” where a panel reviews music and videos; and, in the current COVID-19 climate where church buildings are closed, support for churches to stream worship services on Facebook Live or on their own congregational websites. His work can be audio-only or audio/video format.
Smith is a strong believer in prayer and two things came together for him in what he considers a divine way to get his business started. He received a $1,000 donation from an angel investor and very soon afterward was able to purchase cameras, equipment and set materials at a deeply discounted rate.
“You have to pray, but you also have to hustle” Smith says, referencing how his equipment “blessing” came about.
For interested clients, the journey to a finished product begins with an appointment to discuss your concept. Together, they help formalize the client’s ideas, and figure out camera and equipment needed, set ideas, timeframe and cost.
“I let them know if any of their concepts are unrealistic, but I also do what I can to make it happen for them.”
In keeping with his faith, Smith won’t produce anything that isn’t community-friendly. He steers clear of vulgarity and R-rated content.
“The actual filming and editing almost always takes longer than people expect, but the added care is what delivers a product [the customer] can be happy with,” said Smith.
People usually want to see their production aired, so Smith offers to stream it on their platform or any of several with which he is connected: ROKU, Apple TV, Firestick, Chromecast and Channel 26-Wichita. “They own their work, but I get exclusive licensing while it’s on my feeds,” he said.
Smith identifies his core audience as Kansas residents between ages 24-32. He adds, “Not just people of color, I believe my productions can appeal to people of all races, education and income levels.” Smith wants to appeal to all but he admits a bias for underserved communities. “Video media is the dominant way of getting the message out to the masses,” he said.
In the future, look for KLTR to expand into news coverage. Smith has already been able to obtain rights to rebroadcast some news content, however, he’s looking forward to producing some news content of his own.
“I’d like to stream city council meetings and local news events that don’t get much coverage with the networks,” he said.
Anyone interested in pitching a possible production idea can contact Keenen Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.