That Time I Was A Reporter

Greg Baldwin – Reporter.

Specifically: Greg Baldwin – FreshiDeas Reporter – Producer.

To this day, I still have no idea what that means.

Back in 2007, I did contracting work for a company out of Burbank called Freshi Flix. I think their roots initially began as a production house, but eventually pivoted to education, where they wanted to become the “ultimate destination for next gen filmmakers” (taken from their long-inactive Twitter account). My uncle was employed there, and he was able to get my foot in the door since I had recently completed my career as a teenage filmmaker and was close to their target demographic.

In particular, I was shooting and editing my own movies before editing software became common place on personal computers. This meant you had to fork over a small fortune and your firstborn child to acquire the proper software and equipment if you wanted to avoid the “one-take rule” of filmmaking. That is, because we were filming on tape still, you had only one try to get the take you wanted. If you messed up, then you’d have to rewind the tape and start over. Not exactly ideal. Some wonderful bloopers and alternate sequences were lost because of this.

Free editing software had actually been around for a few years, but it was typically junk. The early iterations of Windows Movie Maker were practically unusable. It wasn’t until the mid-2000s when WMM and iMovie became viable options for editing a video — and they were free. Today you can download any number of editors for free. Sometimes you get what you pay for, but the options are there.

Anyway, I began editing all of my childhood movies once WMM became stable enough to use. I even started to make new content as Internet video was becoming the cool new thing. The following video is a package I put together for Freshi in late 2007. The idea here was to have it uploaded to Freshi’s website (which was basically YouTube-lite) so it could serve as advice to their growing crop of young filmmakers. The piece is called Camera Catches All:

This was shot on a MiniDV video camera, edited on WMM, and the voiceover was recorded using a microphone that was probably purchased the same year The Whole Nine Yards came out (2000 for all of you movie buffs out there). The Freshi CEO absolutely loved it, going as far as to repeatedly quote the opening “what’s up, Freshi?” around the office. I guess they wanted more of these stories, because around the same time, the company sent me this ginormous box of business cards that proudly displayed my job title: FreshiDeas Reporter – Producer:

I have no clue if those numbers even went anywhere, and that was when the company was still in business.

Also: fax line.

To this day, I still have no idea what “FreshiDeas” actually were. In fact, I had no idea that this was my job title until I received that jumbo box of business cards.

One of the problems that the company would routinely experience were partially-realized ideas that they would pivot from soon thereafter. Appropriately, the aptly named FreshiDeas was one of them.

Maybe that was going to be the name of the series of videos they were hoping I’d produce with tips for young filmmakers? I remember I did actually reach out to a couple of my film buddies for an interview, but they were in Los Angeles while I was in San Diego and we just couldn’t get it to work. I suppose I could have continued to make videos based on my teenage filmmaking career, but for some reason I just didn’t. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that the concept of an audience was still new to the production of online video. Like, who would I be making a video for? Who’s going to be watching the videos? Those were questions that were still being figured out in 2007.

Unfortunately for Freshi, they perpetually struggled throughout the years to establish themselves. Time and money would be dedicated to this project or the next, but it would then be abandoned in favor of something else. In 2006-07, they produced a short series of videos called FreshiReel: How to Make Movies. Each 15-minute video was hosted by a pair of teenage filmmakers, and it walked the viewer through the basic fundamentals of making movies (storyboarding, scripting, setting up your shots, editing, etc.).

The series was produced, branded, packaged, and was all ready to go, but they never sold one single copy because the go-to-market strategy was non-existent. It was never even listed on Amazon because…reasons? All of that time and money wasted, not to mention the credit that I have in one of the episodes.

Freshi eventually went belly-up around 2018. One of the issues that routinely plagued Freshi was a lack of vision from leadership. In his sendoff letter, the CEO blamed everything except himself for Freshi’s failure. That, I think, tells you all you need to know.

It’s a shame because the idea itself of selling education and services to teenage filmmakers in 2005 was ahead of its time. Building a website where young filmmakers from around the world could meet, collaborate, and produce original content was right on par with what other revolutionary video platforms at the time were attempting to do. I would have LOVED something like that when I was 13, but it seems I was born a few years too early.

For a company that had a frickin’ eyeball as their logo, it’s ironic that an unfocused vision is what ultimately did them in.

But hey, for a short period of time, I was Greg Baldwin: Reporter/Producer. And I had a fax line. BOOM!