I first had the pleasure of hearing about Cappelli Miles through a close friend of mine (his brother works there). I was very fortunate to get a chance to actually take a tour of their Eugene location prior to the interview with my friend’s brother, Joel Gerlach. Joel is one of the nicest people you’ll ever have the chance to meet. He is incredibly easy to get along with; it did not take very long for me, as an interviewer, to become fully introduced to everything and everyone in the building and feel very comfortable and genuinely welcomed in to their space.
So what is Cappelli Miles? According to their website (created by Joel Gerlach), and with the confirmation of Joel, himself, Cappelli Miles is a “full-service advertising agency, specializing in traditional and interactive digital media.” This company didn’t always specialize in digital media, however; the company used to not have any kind of production and would only serve as an advertising agency that used photography, billboards, graphic design, etc. I can tell that this is the sort of company that needs to constantly change with the times to meet the all the changing demands, and they have done exactly that thus far. Now, their Eugene location primarily focuses on the actual production of advertisements; whereas, their other location, stationed in Portland, looks into a lot of the “ad-buying” and using social media. Joel says that one location cannot survive solely without the other and that collaboration between the two is their key to success. Additionally, they are pushing for even more “cross-talk” between the two locations on even more projects.
Not only is Joel Gerlach the coolest person you’ll ever meet, he has also secured a very vital position at Cappelli Miles in ‘Broadcast Production’. However, Joel expressed an issue with that title, as it seemed to him to be too “archaic”. The title of ‘Content Producer’, he felt, summed up his position a little bit better and focusing on media production rather than broadcast production. Joel Gerlach will be the one to actually go out and do most of the filming needed for a project, but he also does a lot of animation ads as well. Blender animation software is his preference for animating. It’s free and he highly recommends it!
At this point in the interview, I’m thinking, “YES! Sign me up!” and of course I wanted to know how he was introduced into such a glorious field of work. Joel says it’s all about connections, really. In fact, he was given to inspiration to apply for Cappelli Miles through a nurse at the hospital where his child was being born. That nurse turned out to be the wife of one of the main crew members at the company. Joel Gerlach got the job immediately after applying because of how impressive he came across to the employers. Of course, he came from Los Angeles with a lot of experience which set him apart, but aside from that, he created a book with all of his projects, which included a reel of his work along with a printed out portfolio. Not only does he recommend doing exactly this, he also made the note to include projects that you are not as happy with and to just take screenshots of them. This way, he was better able to control how the project was seen by people hiring him. He was also very adamant about never under-selling oneself and, above all, always believing in oneself.
For what it’s worth, college did not serve as a very important step in attaining a job such as this. I am so very sorry to break this to all of you whom are desperately pushing through classes to get a degree. It is not so much that a degree is completely useless but it is rather unnecessary, says Joel. People who hire you are really only interested in what you’ve actually done (shown in a portfolio) as opposed to being flashed a fancy degree that shows nothing to the effect of competency as a worker in the field. Instead, Joel Gerlach urges you all to take the classes that you are most interested in and that will benefit you the most. If you plan on eventually being in business for yourself as a freelance artist, or anything related, take a few business classes as well and you will not regret it. One of Joel’s biggest regrets is needing a business background, not having one when he needed it, and thus having to learn everything the hard way. Additionally, in your down time, work on projects that you can later put into a portfolio. If a place like Cappelli Miles (advertising) interests you, then find someone you can market to, someone who needs promotion and all of this will serve as valuable experience. A field like this requires these kinds of extracurricular projects.
Joel Gerlach really does seem passionate about his work and he says he thrives in an environment, such as this, where each day holds something completely new. However, this work, just like any work, has its drawbacks. Joel warns that sometimes the people that hire you are not creative (hence why they hire you), but since they are paying for your services, they feel their opinion should count. They can go on to make several notes on your ideas, knit-picking a project that quite possibly started off amazing but then quickly turns into a project that not even the people who hire you like anymore, despite it all coming from their notes. Working for people can be a very frustrating barrier at times, but ultimately it always comes down to what makes them happy and, in turn, the work you put in will always be rewarding.
I came out of this interview with so much incredibly useful insight into not only what it’s like to work at Cappelli Miles but also knowing just what exactly it takes to be successful in a job that focuses heavily on creativity and media production.
All thanks, of course, to the one and only, Joel Gerlach from Cappelli Miles.