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Video Entrepreneurs Make Slow, Sure Debut : Nitro Productions is expanding from doing mainly music tapes to producing industrial and training films.

August 09, 1993|ANNE MICHAUD

ANAHEIM — Tim Kiser and Tina Stull originally thought a modest investment of a few thousand dollars would be enough to establish an Orange County-based film studio in 1991.

But Tina, who graduated with degrees in business and economics from Westmont College in Montecito near Santa Barbara, quickly realized that if the pair wanted to make an impact, they had to be prepared to invest significant sums of money.

"We realized if we didn't invest, we would get stuck doing low-budget videos," she said. "We didn't want to be the king and queen of the low-budget video."

She rented a warehouse in Anaheim and invested more than $200,000 in Nitro Productions, which opened for business in July, 1991, as a 2,400-square-foot film studio complete with concert-style stage.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday August 10, 1993 Orange County Edition Business Part D Page 2 Column 2 Financial Desk 1 inches; 22 words Type of Material: Correction
O.C. Enterprise--The wrong byline appeared with a story Monday about Nitro Productions of Anaheim. It was written by Times correspondent Helaine Olen.

Tina and Tim married last year--and, of course, filmed their own wedding. They predict Nitro Productions will have its first profitable year in 1994 by following a strategy to move from music videos into corporate accounts, such as industrial and training films.

Nitro is working on an advertising video for Tyvek, a DuPont material used for automobile covers that is marketed by Shrin Corp. in Santa Ana.

"Nitro is an upcoming company in this particular area and they had some creative solutions," said Narendra Gupta, Shrin president. "The video will be a point-of-purchase information tool and will be used in auto parts stores, new-car dealerships, mass merchandisers and discount stores."

Tina Kiser, 28, handles the business side of Nitro Productions and Tim Kiser, 31, is responsible for the production end. His specialties include editing and writing storyboards, as well as a number of other film-related functions. When necessary, Nitro employs temporary hires, such as equipment assistants and lighting specialists.

Nitro can offer its services for hundreds of dollars less than comparable rentals of studios in Hollywood. The Nitro studio charges $500 a day with additional fees for the use of lights and cameras.

"There's really nothing in Orange County comparable to what they are doing," says rock publicist Brenda Knapp. "They have a nice facility and the concert room is a killer."

"It's an expensive thing for a band to do a video shoot," Knapp added. "At Nitro they can make a video (affordably) to introduce themselves and I would use it" to publicize the group.

Moreover, clients say that Nitro Productions is very flexible to work with.

"Being a young start-up company, they are more than willing to do what it takes. More established companies are more rigid," said Bob Norling of Penhall Corp., an Anaheim-based demolition firm that used Nitro last year to film a worker-safety video. "They were willing to go out and get dirty with some of our equipment."

Adds Knapp: "You can bring in your own producers and camera people. They aren't egotistical. You can do what you want."

But Tina Kiser said her fledgling facility has had more than its share of ups and downs.

"I didn't think it would be this tough to break in," she said. "I didn't realize how closed the industry is."

To get started, Nitro Productions sponsored a music contest and offered to make a free video for each of the top three bands. They attracted scores of entries and began to get their name circulated.

The band Social Distortion has been known to hold practice sessions in Nitro's studio and Filthy Lucre, a band led by the singer and drummer from L.A. Guns, taped a video there last year. In addition, Nitro earlier this year filmed the annual celebrity softball tournament for a drug treatment center, highlights of which appeared on the cable entertainment channel E! and ESPN.

However, Nitro is attempting to acquire more corporate clients and film fewer music videos because businesses generally pay higher fees and are often easier to work with.

"It's better money," Tim says. "And less headache," adds Tina. "It's hard to tell musicians that $300 won't get them a quality tape."

The Kisers continue to plow money back into the business and are planning to upgrade their studio's sound system within the next few months.

"We're really diversified now," said Tim Kiser. "We can offer everything from computer programming to camera rentals."

And if Nitro doesn't have a particular piece of equipment on the premises, it finds it easy enough to rent it as needed.

"We can't compete with a studio that's only a recording studio. We have $40,000 in (sound) equipment and they have hundreds of thousands of dollars in sound equipment. But we do subsidize with rentals all the time," Tina Kiser said.

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