To turn what you love into a career is the ultimate dream for many. Joel Mishcon, the founder and CEO of the London and Los Angeles-based Chrome Productions, did it at the age of 24. Almost twenty years later, the company he created is at the forefront of production, creating innovative digital, live and hybrid experiences as well as award-winning commercial work – all of which aims to live on the edge of what’s possible. Today, Chrome works with some of the biggest names around – Ford, TUI, Christie’s, Gucci, the FA and Standard Chartered. But to understand how a camera and an idea led to this moment in time, we need to rewind to the beginning.
“I was always an action sports fanatic. Because of it, I found myself travelling the world and managed to teach myself to film at the same time. After university, I bought a modest camera and travelled for three years across countries and mountains honing my skill and working in bars to pay the bills. I forced my way into the door of a prolific snowboard film production company in Canada and somehow ended up filming (and bunking) with my idols,” says Joel. He soon met two others, Gez Medinger and Robin Schmidt, with a similar experience to him - plus some editing skills – which led to Chrome’s genesis.
Chrome embarked on a rapid growth trajectory that took the company from producing ski and snowboard films to becoming the leading production partner for The Extreme Sports Channel, with commissions including the Gumball 3000 series – Around the World in 8 Days, and X-Box World Cup, the first ever live-broadcast of a computer game event, a format now widely recognised as E-Sports.
But when the 2008 recession hit and the Extreme Channel stopped commissioning almost overnight, Joel realized a change would be necessary to weather the fundamental shift about to take place in the industry. “We had lost our biggest TV client and we didn’t have enough relationships in the TV world to break into that clique. Music video budgets were starting to fall away too. The decline was steep and it was coming on quickly,” he remembers, adding “we looked around at what we do best to find where our focus should lie. At the time, brands were realising that they needed to not just create work for the internet, they needed commercial-grade films for the digital age. We felt that this could be our niche, but it would mean a full restructure and re-optimisation of our business model. So we decided to do just that. We stripped everything back and took all the skills learned from extreme sports, TV, music videos, commercials, and documentaries, and channelled them into creating high-production-value, branded work for the internet.”
Looking at Chrome’s current and past roster of clients across travel, luxury, automotive and more, it’s clear that the decision to pivot to branded digital content has been a huge success. “Chrome is very fortunate to have built amazing, long-standing relationships with some of the world's most interesting, adventurous, and pioneering brands. We have an in-house creative department and state-of-the-art post-production facilities under our roof, making our offering more comprehensive than most traditional production companies. We have built an organisation that’s just as comfortable creating day-to-day content as it is delivering major online, digital, social and TVC campaigns,” says Chrome’s creative director, Stephen Parker.
The Chrome team’s infectious excitement and passion for their work has been recognised on the awards circuit too, with Chrome having taken home a variety of accolades including Webbies, Lovies, International Motor Film Awards, Cannes Dolphins and Kinsale Sharks. There’s the Webby-award winning mini-series ‘Treasures From Chatsworth’ that intimately chronicled the history and collection of the Devonshire family across 14 episodes, while its production of Sotheby’s ‘Auction of the Future’, utilising new tech and techniques developed in lockdown, won ‘Best Live Experience (Branded)’ at the 2021 Webby Awards, coming out top from 13,500 entries across 70 countries.
Joel says: “While heritage brands like Ford or Christie’s may have a historic sensibility about them, they’re actually continuously innovating and evolving. We love working with them precisely because they fit the criteria of what we’re looking for in a client: an adventurous spirit. Clients that want to push boundaries and allow us the creative freedom to make it happen are where we’re best suited as a production partner.”
Chrome is applying the innovation that’s been with them from the start to the future of scripted and non-scripted entertainment projects – having opened an LA office and begun working with industry titan WME. “When I joined to lead Chrome’s US arm, the mission was to expand the offering to our brand clients, many of whom are located here, but also to bring the techniques we have honed in our commercial work back into entertainment” says Robert Chew, Chrome’s VP, North America. “What I didn’t expect was that so many of the storylines we have unearthed in our work with iconic brands would have such immediate crossover appeal in the entertainment space. No matter the project, Chrome is about storytelling and we’re best when telling honest, emotional human stories. So we’re focused on finding those stories that need to be told.”
One such project is the educational BecomingX, in partnership with Bear Grylls, telling the stories of some of the world’s most extraordinary people and dispelling myths around what it means to succeed.
None of the success - past, present, or future – would be possible without the tight-knit team behind Chrome. “One of the things I’m most proud of is the feeling of camaraderie among our team. Kindness is a huge part of who we are,” says Joel, adding “I think it really permeates through the way we approach all of our work.”