In 2019 and beyond we will be searching for the Big One, and we would like to invite all of you to join us. The article below will provide context to this journey and our plan to bring it to life.
The Origin Story
On April 15th 2016 we stood out on the rocks of the Oregon coast taking in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean and the last moments we would get to share with our best friend, business partner, and the most creative person we’ve ever known.
We ran to the edge of the bluff, breathing in the salty mist and staring into our future. As the waves rolled in, Kelly looked back and said, “It’s gonna be a big one.”
That became the most meaningful statement and moment of our lives.
In order to truly provide context here we need to back up a little bit. Three years prior in 2013, four of us set out to become filmmakers. We wanted to share unique stories about people on behalf of brands.
To our surprise the opportunities rolled in quickly and often, and a couple months later we found ourselves, cameras in hand, on the border of Texas and Mexico.
The assignment came from one financial institution merging with another; six hundred new employees needed to understand the parent company’s culture and commitment to community. So we tagged along on their next service trip to Penitas, TX where volunteers from the company would build a new house for a family in need.
We spent three weeks with the Calderon-Rojas family, and it was life-changing. None of us had ever experienced poverty at that level. The family of four lived in a one-room trailer without any common utilities, yet their spirits were not broken.
The mother, Maria, took five financial and English-speaking classes per week while raising her children, and the father, Juan, commuted from the southern tip of Texas to Tennessee, the closest job he could find.
On the last night of the trip Maria invited our entire crew over for a home-cooked meal. We attempted to politely decline, as they did not have food to give and our meals were already paid for. However, she demanded we eat at her table.
It was an emotional meal.
As the evening came to a close, we got the courage to ask her why. Why are you trying so hard? Commuting so far? Feeding total strangers when you have very little to eat yourself?
Her response to us was – “Chispa”, the Spanish word for spark. She said, “There is a spark inside me that wants to build a better life for me and my family.”
The idea resonated immediately, and Chispa quickly became an internal rallying cry. We had the spark to be entrepreneurs and storytellers, and we knew if we uncovered the Chispa in others that the short films would practically make themselves.
Our mission was clear: look for Chispa, uncover it, and spread it around the world.
As time went on our connection to humanity grew. And so did the company. We were really doing it, or so we thought, which takes us back to the Oregon coast in 2016.
The sneaker wave took Kelly and he was lost at sea. Our world changed forever.
The most intense moment of our young lives – we were all there gathered together unable to speak. But later we would find out that our thoughts were similar, “What just happened? What are we supposed to do next?”
Alongside the shock and pain, a sense of pride fell over us. Pride in the man Kelly was, our friendship, and all that we were able to accomplish together in such a short amount of time. The four of us worked our asses off to become professional storytellers, and we achieved that goal together (imagine if we had wasted our time!).
That day the idea of Chispa exploded and took on a much greater meaning. It went from a mission to a burning drive inside each of us to Search for the Big One.
In order to do that we knew we needed to build an aspirational home for creatives, a Chispa house. You will start to see those words paired together a lot more. Chispa House. It is our response to this search for the Big One. The more inspired creatives we can empower, the more inspired eyes we will have searching beside us.
What does that mean?
We are launching Chispa House: a brand, a visual storytelling company, a rocket ship, a search vehicle with the sole purpose of finding the Big One. Ideas will be big and aspirations even bigger.
What is the Big One?
We do not know yet. It may be a film, a partnership, an adventure, or something we have never heard of, but we will find it through great determination and partnerships. The journey will be our legacy; we will cherish the dirt under our feet.
Can you search for the Big One with us?
Of course, we cannot do this on our own. We have already partnered with many Fortune 500 companies, as well as our favorite small businesses to begin chipping away at this goal. It started with cultural films, short documentaries, and experiential events. See some here.
What about DTproductions?
DT stands for Dirtty Toe. It is our origin, fuel, and relentless pursuit of humanity storytelling. It is not going anywhere. DT will be the production company that breathes life into the dreams of Chispa House. The focus of DT will be empowering creatives across the country through steady paid work, funded passion projects, culture, and access to the best equipment. Without inspired creatives, there is nothing. Stay tuned for the launch of our film festival series to engage and display the creativity of this network.
Will you stay in Athens?
Forever. The local Athens community is our first love. We recently released a short film about some unknown aspects of the community that may inspire you, and we spent the last year showcasing over forty-five local businesses and entrepreneurs in our Instagram feed. Athens will house our creative post production studio and business administration.
Will you expand beyond Athens?
We already have. We are currently building out our Marketing and Development team in Atlanta. This group will help us spread Chispa and find partners to join us on the search for the Big One. Apply here.
We have also established a network of creatives in over thirty cities that we will continue to cultivate. We hope to empower over five-hundred creatives in 2019.
Lastly, we are hitting the road.
We do not know what the Big One is or where we will find it. In 2019, client work will send us around the world, but we will also deploy our own mobile Chispa House to meet inspired individuals and explore creative places. You never know what you may find until you get out and look.
When we started DTproductions, we were four 20-somethings with one borrowed camera and zero legitimate production experience. We had no business going into business, but we did anyway. Blinded by dreams and confident ignorance, we brushed aside reason and jumped into the studio together.
And then, to our surprise, all of you jumped in with us. Your support has helped our business to double in size for five years in a row. Your love has led to the realization of our dreams and the ability to provide for so many more.
With gratitude and excitement,
Cartter, Sam, Andrew and the Chispa House Crew.