Brad Chmielewski ’05
Animator. Editor. Storyteller.
This storyteller runs his own company, which produces Telly Award-winning videos for clients pitching everything from smarter wallets to wholesale wine.
Building a business in the online age requires more than product to sell. Consumers want to hear, quickly and concisely, what distinguishes your venture in the marketplace. That’s the bread and butter of LooseKeys — Brad Chmielewski’s 2011 brainchild that creates short explainer videos for companies.
Chmielewski parlayed his own expertise as a motion designer and teamed with three others, including Columbia College Chicago alums Ethan Barnowsky ’10 and Maeve Price ’02, to build upon a very trending idea in social media. Since setting up shop in Chicago, LooseKeys has produced Telly Award-winning videos for clients pitching everything from smarter wallets to wholesale wine.
Though catchy music and animated characters can snag the attention of online browsers, Chmielewski says the story’s the thing. “From the character design to the script, we try to tell a unique story for each client. The visuals can be good, but if the message is boring or has been told over and over, no one really cares. We want to give these companies we work with more than what they paid for.”
The client-focused, yet story-driven philosophy seems to be paying off. After getting his professional feet wet at Daily Planet Productions in Chicago, Chmielewski took to the freelance streets to woo new clients. Those happy clients now include Cars.com, the National Safety Council and a host of startup firms.
Enhancing After Effects
In a decidedly cutting-edge field, the foursome at LooseKeys works feverishly to keep up with the latest technology in animation software, motion graphics and sound design. But that learning on the fly goes back to Chmielewski’s days at Columbia.
“John Banks [former Columbia professor] was using After Effects in very abstract storytelling ways,” Chmielewski says. “It wasn’t just commercial branding with glowing type. He was pushing people into directions you don’t usually see.”
Maintaining Creative Space
As for the direction of LooseKeys, Chmielewski envisions building the client base creatively, possibly purchasing space for an expanding crew as the business grows. For now, he believes, the company is working smart by sharing a rented office in the city.
Since the foundation of Loose Keys, the company has gone on to work with Bitcoin, the Human Rights Campaign, rapper Machine Gun Kelly, and Blue Chip Marketing. The chance to add some dangerously creative minds to the mix, work with more agency clients and even take on bigger brands keep the creatives revved at LooseKeys.