When I first checked out the video for Operation Eyesight Universal, the story not only tugged on my heartstrings, but I was impressed by the quality and simplicity of the message. I expected to find a huge team behind the message – not the young duo that forms Umbrella Pro.
Umbrella Pro is a Calgary-based multimedia production company. The name describes the all-encompassing nature of the duo’s product. “We offer the whole package which is shooting video, editing, adding custom music and motion graphics, and finally authoring a blu-ray or DVD,” Alana Thorburn-Watt explained. Alana, age 22, and her partner Levente Kovacs, 24, make up Umbrella Pro – along with their assistant, Erin Thorburn-Watt, 18.
Alana was born and raised in Calgary, while Levente moved to the city from Budapest, Hungary, at age 13. The pair met at ACAD, where they both studied in the Media Arts and Digital Technologies department. They both focused on video, animation, motion graphics, and photography. Levente also studied typography and Alana focused on electronic music composition.
A few years ago, the two started doing some freelance work together. “We did our first music video and landed a recurring gig, KOTD (King Of The Dot Entertainment), shooting rap battles,” said Alana. The partnership proved to be a success. “The great thing about working in Calgary is that there is a lot of of local talent: artists and musicians to collaborate with. We’re never lacking work, and there are always interesting projects and challenges that present themselves,” Alana said. “Calgary has an incredible network because we get most of our jobs through word of mouth and social media.” In November of 2010 Levente was able to quit his job as a bartender and Alana quit her position at a deli, and the two have been working as Umbrella Pro ever since.
The duo are working on a second video for Operation Eyesight. “[The first video] was our favourite project to work on because it had meaning and made us feel like we were making a difference in the world with our work. We learned that people in developing countries have eye health problems because they don’t have access to enough clean water.”
Alana loves the opportunity to work on a variety of different projects, “working together to build a vibrant community.” As well as creating videos for charities, Umbrella Pro has worked on music videos for local artists, including King Dylan, Sargeant & Comrade, and Eazy Mac. A video they created for Sargeant & Comrade’s song “Love Your Body” premiered at the Uptown Theatre before its temporary closure.
Occasionally, the pair have run into challenges – especially shooting with Calgary’s unpredictable weather. “For one music video we had at least 30 extras scheduled to shoot and outdoor locations picked out, but the day of the shoot it was a blizzard with temperatures below 30 degrees celsius. We had to improvise and shoot the whole video in one day, indoors.”
However, more often than not, the work is rewarding. They tackled a fun and exciting project of creating a multi-media mural with a group of First-Nations youth through Antyx Community Arts, and recently took on their most ambitious project ever – a pilot initiative called CAP talks for the Alberta Association of Colleges and Technical Institutes. The series is composed of over 100 video interviews with researchers at Alberta post-secondary institutions. “It was a special and interesting project because it was as if we got to meet these people and hear the stories of their lives and work,” said Alana.
“Having our own company means that we have the power to deliver our own message – what more could an artist want?”
To find out more about Umbrella Pro and check out some of their work, visit their website here.