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Business Profile: Video producer capitalizes on creativity

A typical week at work for Steve Twitchell is anything but typical.

The tasks at Steve Twitchell Production can include anything from making a historical video for The Callaway Bank, to producing a program on developmental disabilities for the Center for Human Services in Sedalia, to creating productions for defense contractor General Dynamics about computer-based programs for the war in Iraq.

“It’s really diverse in terms of the things that we’re doing, and it’s fun learning,” Twitchell said. “That was one of the things about college—I liked learning about a lot of different things, and it’s never really stopped.”

Twitchell got an early start in media production, making his first super 8 millimeter film at age 13. He began his audio-video production house in 1981.

The business introduced mid-Missouri to the first AVID digital non-linear video editing system and has compiled a vast library resource of over 27,000 pre-recorded sound effects—the largest in Missouri, Twitchell said.

Twitchell says he stays one step ahead of technology by mastering the latest industry editing and graphics software and by offering high-definition production technology to his clients.

“Basically, if it has something to do with audio or video production, we do it,” Twitchell said. “We do CD and DVD duplication. We also coordinate, write and produce radio spots, sound tracks and narration.”

What Twitchell especially enjoys about his business is the creative aspect of the work. Although he has paid his dues and worked as a production manager for radio stations and taught at the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism and Stephens College, Twitchell prefers not to shuffle papers and perform office work, instead opting to produce, edit and act with the talented performers he works with every day.

Twitchell’s acting and voice abilities were an integral component when producers enlisted his talent along with other performers from DèjáVoice, a division of Steve Twitchell Production, in the making of the film The Very First Noel. The animated Christmas special was released last December on DirecTV and also sold in major bookstores.

DèjáVoice provides same-day and overnight narration services and is a resource of voice and acting talent from performers, including Twitchell himself. Twitchell said he has won many awards over the years for his performances, including one bronze and two silver Telly awards, which honor outstanding local, regional, and cable TV commercials and programs, as well as video, film and Web productions.

Sixty percent of Twitchell’s customer base is out of market and comes from throughout the country. He has worked for a client list as diverse as State Farm Insurance, General Motors, the Keebler Cookie Co., and NASA. Twitchell also finds a refreshing change of pace in providing work for nonprofit organizations such as the Central Missouri Food Bank and the Missouri Baptist Convention.

Keeping his overhead low, Twitchell employs two other full-time workers along with the occasional part-time help of freelancers and his wife, Kelly, who has years of radio and TV experience. Twitchell believes that growing a company just to increase size and profits is not always in the best interest of the company, the owner, or the people who work there.

“A few years back I tried the old-fashioned, ‘OK, we gotta grow,’ but I was unhappy and it was a mistake,” Twitchell said. “The American dream may be to get bigger and bigger, but that’s not my dream. My goal is to find out what can I do, how can I do it really well, and how can I continue to do that for folks.”

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