Millions of frames, thousands of hours of editing, hundreds of cuts, and 10 years as a professional production house. Those are all milestones that Ironclad is remembering as they release their 10-year anniversary project and 2020 reel: Iron Sharpens Iron.
Ironclad touts itself as a digital cinema agency. But, getting started in the competitive cinematography industry without connections or name-brand gear, and only a strong passion for creativity requires an intense work ethic. It’s that level of hard work and dedication that Iron Sharpens Iron highlights.
Whether on social media or the big screen, filmmaking is glorified, because people focus more on the picturesque product than the journey to achieve it. “Everyone sees the mountain top, but they don’t see the climb up the mountain,” said Ironclad. “That’s really what we’re after: inspiring people, you can make great content, but you have to be willing to put in the work.”
Iron Sharpens Iron takes viewers behind the not-so-glamorous scenes of a film shoot, documenting the all-night editing sessions, the sprints with hundreds of pounds of cine gear, the shooting and reshooting to capture a single frame.
It also highlights the teamwork required to pull off such a polished production, a sentiment Ironclad incorporated into teasing the project by blurring the faces of those in the BTS shots. “Everyone truly does play an integral part. The whole team suffers. No one person is any more important than another.”
Next to drive and teamwork, gear plays a huge role in Ironclad’s rise to the top of their market. 10 years ago, they were using a lens they bought at Best Buy. However, Ironclad quickly learned the value of quality gear.
“This client needed a small team from Virginia Beach to do a shoot. They just wanted a b-unit for half a day. We rented a MoVI, we had a RED, we had a couple of in-house lenses. We really over delivered on this piece. They ended up keeping us for a second day. A couple months down the line, they had us be a b-cam for another shoot. From that, we got our in, and now we do one or two projects for them every year,” Ironclad said.
Now, Ironclad is extremely selective about the gear they use. They look for products and brands that are constantly evolving in the same way that Ironclad continues to grow. That’s why intuitive wireless functionality is paramount. Among the gear used to shoot Iron Sharpens Iron was Teradek’s new 3-axis wireless lens control system and SmallHD’s Cine 7 monitors.
“When we had the previous generation of RT, stuff, our minds were blown. It worked so great. Then Teradek made all of these little improvements we didn’t know we needed, like lens data overlays on our SmallHD monitors, lens map storage, and even an app to control it all. They really elevated the product,” Ironclad said.
Over the past 10 years, Ironclad has evolved immensely too. When asked what advice he would give to aspiring filmmakers, Ironclad said: “When the question is asked, ‘Who will go forth into the fray?’ you say, ‘Send me.’ Not only will you gain experience and knowledge, but people will want to have you around more often. Especially in this industry, you are your own billboard. Create a reputation of always being reliable and working hard.”