The Story of Make Hay Media:
It was about 7 o’clock at night, and the newsroom had just sent me out to cover some breaking news. Someone had been released from prison and was being placed into a neighbourhood, and I was supposed to go door to door and get reactions from people who lived in the area.
I remember sitting in my car, my Tim Horton's medium regular getting cold in the cup holder, and just staring at the clock probably for an hour, just hoping that something bigger would happen. A fire, an accident, something ⎯ I know that sounds awful ⎯ but I just wanted anything to get me away from this. As I sat there, my eyes went from door to door down the block, and all I could think was that behind each of those doors it was dinner time, or family time, or bedtime, and this “journalist” was going to come to their house to get some sort of reaction.
It was the kind of news day I dreaded throughout my career. Shallow and meaningless stories that to me felt like nothing more than a way to get people to tune in or click through to a website. Something driven more by shock and awe than by whether it actually gave people information they needed ⎯ if it was actually newsworthy.
That night I realized how empty I felt and knew I wanted out. I had to find a way to use my skills with a camera and my drive to share stories for something more.
So, I quit ⎯ almost a decade as a journalist ⎯ with no money in the bank and a family at home. I borrowed a small sum of money from someone I just met to buy some basic camera equipment and took over the dining room in my house. I didn’t know much about starting a company, but I knew I had the drive and focus to figure it out.
I started by calling people and businesses I knew, who I thought would want something at least a little more creative than what I considered a corporate video. I made a few promotional videos and a few local commercials, and the calls and emails started coming in. We quickly grew from me in my dining room to a team of four, who each elevated our work with their passion and skills.
Projects kept coming at us, and we would say yes to everything and make it work. We filmed projects across Canada and throughout North America, but something was missing.
We were creating good content and kept pushing our cinematography and editing skills. We were getting better and better at making "pretty pictures", but we decided that to better serve our clients and ourselves we needed to figure out a way to create more impact. So we set out to become better storytellers.
Turns out “story” isn’t just some fancy buzzword ⎯ it’s ingrained in our DNA. The actual science and research behind Narrative Persuasion and what goes into crafting a story from the ground up was fascinating. From there, we found the Muse Storytelling process, rooted in the science of story and designed by Emmy-Award-winning filmmakers. It was exactly what we were looking for from the day I quit my job.
Now, empowered by process ⎯ as well as our filmmaking skills ⎯ we travel the world fuelled by our curiosity and our desire to continually grow. By pushing ourselves to always be listening, we’re able to create films that help our clients better humanize their brands and make a difference in the world.
It's not only changed our work. It's changed how we see the world. And we're excited to share that journey with you.
Founder of Make Hay Media
Why Make Hay?
Have you ever heard the proverb “Make hay while the sun shines”
It dates back at least to Tudor England (1500’s), which is the first time it was recorded:
“Whan the sunne shinth make hay, whiche is to say,
Take time whan time comth, lest time steale away.”
It quickly turned from a proverb into a more common expression, but for us, the original sentiment drew us in.
Growing up with farmers in our lives, we learned the process of cultivating, planting and harvesting requires long days, it can be pretty thankless sometimes, and there is always a lot of sacrifice. So when we started looking at what kind of company we wanted to be there was a natural appeal to the philosophy of a honest, hard day’s work that was all about being a part of a bigger picture.
As we dove deeper, we learned there are a lot of similarities we could draw between the process of farming and what we do as storytellers.
When it comes to farming, prepping the field and knowing your soil is immensely important. You spend days getting ready, and then finally you plant the field. From there, the process becomes that of nurturing and raising your crops so that you get the most yield, then you do it all again, year after year.
At Make Hay, we believe the best stories are foraged for, not given to us. A story can only be as strong as your character. If we don’t spend the time learning everything we can about your business or cause, then we can’t find the strongest characters, and all that time and energy will lead to a story that won’t create the impact we set out to.
But, when we embrace the process, spend the time to find the right character with the strongest desire and nurture that story into what it deserves to be. That’s when a story can change the world.
So when we say we’re going to “Make Hay,” it means we’re going to put in that hard day’s work, and put everything we have into cultivating your story from the ground up, into something amazing.