Team Building Case Study: School of Humans, LC Crowley and Mark Apen featuring Ben Sollee, Chris Hardwick, Janeane Garofalo, Sarah Silverman and more
I have had the privilege of working with SCHOOL OF HUMANS, a branded entertainment studio here in Atlanta these past few months writing their marketing materials and working on their online presence as their publicist. In so doing, I've gotten to know all the guys (and token female) very well which has been fun because they're all very unique and extremely talented.
Here's their demo reel highlighting some of their work:
I realized this morning, LC Crowley and Mark Apen were perfect examples of great team builders which is why I want to share their bios with you to explain further. So, without further ado, meet LC, or Chad as he's known to friends, and Mark, just two of the amazing team which comprise SCHOOL OF HUMANS:
L. C. Crowley Co-Founder, Executive Producer / Director
L.C. Crowley is a writer, director and producer with over a decade of non-traditional storytelling experience in film, advertising and multimedia entertainment. A creative visionary with a knack for building successful companies with an artistic sensibility, L.C., or Chad as he is known to friends, is best known for his artistry and storytelling talent and nurturing of creative communities in music, writing and film.
L.C. began his professional life immersed in fine art, typography, photography and design while attending college and running a small design firm which he successfully sold a few years later. His interest in art, and artists like Carvaggio and Vermeer, influence his creativity to this day. After selling his design firm, L.C. became a creative consultant with J. Walter Thompson and McRae Communications where he learned the business and client side of the advertising industry before transitioning back to the creative side for good.
He was soon recruited by the renowned ad agency Luckie & Co in Birmingham, AL and soon rose to Associate Creative Director, where he was given wide creative control to write and direct a myriad of award-winning projects for blue chip brands including AT&T, Little Debbie, Mercedes Benz, and Blue Cross Blue Shield. As he and his team’s success grew, L.C. was instrumental in the formation of their new branded entertainment arm, Luckie Underground Productions, with the mandate to create entertainment pitches for current and new clients.
After accomplishing all he had set out to do there, L.C. returned to Atlanta to be closer to family and took a break to focus on writing screenplays and other scripted shows. When producers didn’t move fast enough with his projects, L.C. did what he does best; pulled together a team of qualified creative and business professionals to build a branded and original entertainment studio with the idea they would own and create their own shows.
Launching SCHOOL OF HUMANS in the converted Grocery on Home loft space in Grant Park in 2009, he and the company have continued to evolve and develop projects for film and TV, often times with brands baked into the narrative. Currently Executive Producer of Discovery Network’s “Stuff You Should Know” broadcast show among other projects, L.C. is fulfilling his secret dream of becoming a circus man as he juggles ideas, stories, people, and production on this smart, character-driven, comedically-sensed, quirky, scripted project.
In his spare time, L.C. enjoys exploring obscure museums with his wife and two children, eating olives and studies American Pre-War music from his home in Atlanta, GA.
And here's Mark Apen, another talented guy Chad brought into School of Humans team to help develop their production slate which is set to explode.
MARK APEN, Executive Producer / Head of Production:
Known for his diplomatic, calm professionalism under pressure, Mark is a well-respected producer, production manager and AD with over twenty years of experience in the Atlanta film and television industries. Mark is a member of the Georgia Production Partnership which provides a 30% tax incentive to film production in the State of Georgia. He also consults with a slate of companies on numerous nation-wide projects which keeps him in the market, relevant to crew, with a fresh Rolodex which keeps him abreast of what’s happening throughout the entertainment industry.
Mark joined SCHOOL OF HUMANS as Head of Production in 2010, seeing it as an opportunity to do something original, creative and non-traditional. It was a mutually beneficial decision, as his reputation and experience opens many doors for their full slate of network shows, co-productions and web series.
Prior to this, Mark was responsible for organizing, budgeting, scheduling and producing numerous productions ranging from commercials for such major networks and brands as ESPN, Electronic Arts, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Cadillac and Ford. An avid foodie and nature lover, Mark also worked on numerous episodes for such television shows as Food Network’s Feasting on Asphalt, a full season of Food Network’s Good Eats, and the fast-paced season finale of CBS’s The Amazing Race.
Mark studied Radio/TV/Film at the Journalism School at the University of Georgia, which he continues to support as an Executive in Residence, and speaks on storytelling as a former Southern Order of Storytellers member. Mark enjoys the 360 degree integrated storytelling across all web, broadcast and social media platforms SCHOOL OF HUMANS employs and brings his own unique story telling ability to every project.
Now if you're curious how they all came to work together, their unique story and work, keep reading because I'm about to tell you.:)
SCHOOL OF HUMANS was founded in 2009 as a ‘next generation’ storytelling entertainment company by L.C. Crowley, Marc Savoie and Brandon Barr after meeting for months over lunch and discovering a shared sense of rebellion against the ad industry’s status quo. Deciding to leave the traditional ad world behind them once and for all, Crowley came up with the idea to combine their storytelling and marketing prowess to create SCHOOL OF HUMANS and create entertainment properties they owned which people would actually want to watch.
The three principals’ advertising credits included designing and creating award-winning campaigns for cable and network television productions on ESPN, CBS, Food Network and Turner, as well as working on accounts for some of the world’s largest international companies such as Coca-Cola, GE, Toyota, American Airlines, Kodak, Mercedes Benz, Ford, Barclay’s Bank and AT&T.
Executive Producer/Director, Crowley; Managing Director, Savoie; and Head of Branded Content & Digital Media, Barr were joined by accomplished Producer Mark Apen, who consulted in the early stages until coming on board full-time as Executive Producer and Head of Production in 2011.
After the core team was established, Crowley and the humans decided to share a converted neighborhood grocery store in Grant Park with friend and art dealer Matt Arnett. This new hipster hangout and part time music speakeasy became known as “Grocery on Home” - and the launching point for the business.
In the course of six weeks, L.C.’s brother built out the first floor with a stage that soon became filled with artists, musicians, discussion groups and film screenings on a monthly basis. L.C., Marc, Brandon, Mark and a qualified team of freelance professionals brainstormed and worked on video, broadcast and web series productions for such clients as Coke, Toyota and the viral video juggernaut band OK Go, among others.
Renewing their creative juices at night in their in-house salon, a highlight was having genre bending vocalist and cellist Ben Sollee come in to perform which led SCHOOL OF HUMANS to create a music video with over eighty people involved in the artistry.
NPR and Atlanta InTown picked up the story, showcasing the co-owners and Grocery as a venue for artists.
As the SCHOOL OF HUMANS production roster grew, so did its team. Soon outgrowing the Grocery location, Matt took over the bookings. In 2010, the Humans moved into their current production facility in Decatur, Georgia adding Associate Producer, Mary Puchalski; Development Executive, Tom Lofthouse; and Media Strategist, Rick Shaughnessy in the process.
Music and creativity continues to play an integral part in their business. Barr describes their work as one part “band” – artists who like to make their own shows as they are currently doing with Discovery Networks on the first half-hour, scripted, non-fiction show, Stuff You Should Know featuring popular podcasters, Josh & Chuck of How Stuff Works. This project started out as a 26 episode broadcast micro-series which launched the Toyota web series and has grown into the full-length broadcast pilot inproduction due to its success.
SCHOOL OF HUMANS is also one part executive production label, connecting select entertainment properties and production partners with brand funding that helps underwrite those projects – as they have done with Funny by Nature, a branded online comedy series featuring such name comedians as Chris Hardwick, Janeane Garofalo, Sarah Silverman, Aisha Tyler, Jeff Ross, and others.
Another success was their work with WowWee on their Light Strike Arena laser tag game launch, bringing the online gaming experience to the real world through the company’s first branching YouTube animated video experience.
SCHOOL OF HUMANS is really good at taking their own ideas and making them marketable to both brands and networks. They make brands central characters in awesome entertainment — in a believable,organic way. Characters tweeting from the road, appearing at dealerships across the country, games on mobile, and other 360 degree story integration and transmedia immersion, they simply create assets around a show that are valuable to a brand because they are desired by their consumers.
They believe in marrying brand intent to riveting entertainment content by partnering with brands in the early stages of the creation process. But they don’t just place products, or create corporate mouthpieces that fail as entertainment. They stretch the boundaries and work with people who are willing to take risks and do something they haven’t done before in an entertaining, unique, clever and engaging manner.
As the barriers between advertising and content/media and the difference between the web and TV are coalescing into a single thing, SCHOOL OF HUMANS remains at the forefront in the ways in which stories can be told in this space and creating the next thing that can be.