2020 Knoxville ADDY Award Winners

We’ve officially reached Don Draper status… meaning we accepted some advertising awards with an Old Fashioned in hand.

Don Draper from Mad Men drinking and Old Fashioned

Each year, the American Advertising Federation (AAF) facilitates and hosts the ADDY Awards, the world’s largest advertising competition. The awards represent the true spirit of creative excellence by recognizing all forms of advertising from media of all types.

The Roaring ADDYs Logo

In February, the entire Big Slate Media team donned their greatest Gatsby attire and freshest flapper accessories to attend the AAF Knoxville 2020 Roaring ADDY Awards at the Mill & Mine in downtown Knoxville. This was the first year we entered work for consideration, and we were thrilled to receive awards for every project we submitted!

We are beyond thankful for the work we get to do with our incredible clients and the team we get to do it with. The ADDY Awards were a great reminder of that, as well as how amazing and supportive the local advertising community is in Knoxville.

Check out our award-winning work:


Choose Knoxville – Knoxville Chamber

Choose Knoxville – Knoxville Chamber, Bronze 2020 ADDY Award

Pit Crew

Pit Crew, Bronze 2020 ADDY Award

Knoxville Water Quality – Knoxville Utilities Board

Knoxville Water Quality – Knoxville Utilities Board, Bronze 2020 ADDY Award

Love is All You Need – Childhelp of East Tennessee

Love is All You Need – Childhelp of East Tennessee, Bronze 2020 ADDY Award

The Peaceful Side of the Smokies – Blount Partnership

Big Slate Media Team

Reflecting on 2019, A Message from Jonathan

I’ve been struggling with how to start this post because I want to be careful about how it comes across. We’ve had an amazing year, and I love sharing the success of this company, the team and our clients with anyone that will read it. But, more than anything, I want this update to be a testament of nothing more than God’s unfailing provision, guidance and blessing. He alone has brought us to where we are today and sustains us. Sooo… let me tell y’all a little bit about what He’s been up to this year. 🙂

Around this time last year, Sam Parker joined our team as a production intern. His quick wit, hard work and unfailing creativity quickly earned him a place as our Line-Producer. Around that time, we began searching for another production intern – enter Katelynn Oltrogge, 4’2”, blonde hair. Katelynn blew us away with her experience both on set and in the editing bay. Toward the end of last year, she joined our team full-time as a DP/Photographer/Editor. Throw in the mix my amazing mother, Linda. She has stepped in and graciously taken some of the accounting and bookkeeping off my back so that I can do the fun stuff. That brings our total to eight now (I’m of course including our office doggos Addie and Stamper).

Photo of the Big Slate office dogs, Addie and Stamper.As our team grew, so did the opportunities for creative, exciting and challenging work. During 2019, we carried the torch in producing the first-ever live drone stream to ESPN during the GEICO Bassmaster Classic. We shot our first 10 episode network project for HGTV, and if that wasn’t enough – landed projects with RedBull, Bell Helicopter, KUB and many other amazing businesses and non-profits. All of that is great, but even more impressively we kept nearly all of our existing clients.

While all that work was happening, I’m proud to say our team was also staying grounded in community service and industry growth. Jess was elected as President of the American Marketing Association where she leads a board in furthering the growth of the marketing industry in Knoxville. Lucas was appointed to the American Advertising Federation’s board as their Programming Chair and is bringing together people within that organization and outside of it to connect and grow.

KnoxMedia logoIn 2019, I was given the opportunity to start a new community-based organization called Knox Media. This was started in an effort to bring together the production folks in Knoxville to grow, connect and learn from each other. It’s been amazing to walk through the process of forming a board and hearing the wisdom of many of my mentors who have – for years – been building Knoxville into the fifth largest production city in the U.S. It’s truly humbling to lead this organization and bring this community together.

photo of three Big Wigs trophies on white backgroundOur team also received some incredible accolades this year. We took home the award for Knoxville’s Best Video/Film Production Company from the local American Advertising Federation chapter; additionally, Jess was awarded Best Social Media Specialist and Katelynn was awarded Best Intern (another reason we just HAD to snag her full time).

Photo from the Big Slate Media ribbon cuttingYou may recall at the end of 2018 we were still in my living room… Jan 1, 2019 we moved across the street into our newly constructed studio and office space. After we settled in (and found time to schedule it), we had an unbelievable double ribbon cutting with the Knoxville Chamber and Blount Partnership – two organizations we are so proud to be a part of! After I literally cried through my whole speech, we cut the ribbons and had a party. It was amazing to see so many clients, friends and family come out to support us! Our new studio space has afforded us so many opportunities for cool product shoots and interviews.

All in all, this past year as been surreal. God has shown up in a huge way and is leading us on an amazing journey. Every day, I get to wake up and do what I love surrounded by people I love. We set goals and blew them out of the water by August. I can’t wait to see what God has for us in 2020.


Jonathan Halley, President | Big Slate Media




Big Slate Media Team

Our Favorite Movies of the Decade – Straight from the Slate

Ah, the 2010s – a decade of binge-watching, dabbing, influencers and memes.

As this insane decade comes to a close, many are reflecting on the biggest and best in entertainment from the past 10 years. Some argue that it was prime time for television (with the likes of Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and the Handmaid’s Tale), but the 2010s were actually game-changing for moviemaking, and they yielded some incredible films and franchises (Marvel, anyone?).

Being in the video production industry, we’re obviously big movie-goers and critics. We also love sharing our unsolicited opinions on such things. So, here it is. Our favorite movies of the decade!

*Please note that these are simply our personal favorite movies of the 2010s and may not be widely considered technically perfect films. We’re not debating what should be or should not be labelled the “best” films of the decade. We don’t care if you hated La La Land or “didn’t get” Interstellar, KAREN.* 

Here are each of our top 10 favorite movies of the 2010s, in no particular order:

Jonathan’s Picks

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013) – Ben Stiller

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) – George Miller

The Big Short (2015) – Adam McKay

Django: Unchained (2012) – Quentin Tarantino 

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) – Martin Scorsese 

Toy Story 3 (2010) – Lee Unkrich

The Revenant (2015) – Alejandro González Iñárritu

Joker (2019) – Todd Phillips

The Social Network (2010) – David Fincher

Honorable Mentions: 

Nightcrawler (2014) – Dan Gilroy

The Lego Movie (2014) – Chris Miller and Phil Lord

Life of Pi (2012) – Ang Lee

Lucas’s Picks

Interstellar (2014) – Christopher Nolan

Inside Out (2015) – Pete Docter

Edge of Tomorrow (2014) – Doug Liman

Whiplash (2014) – Damien Chazelle

World War Z (2013) – Marc Forster

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) – Martin Scorsese

Logan (2017) – James Mangold

Arrival (2016) – Denis Velleneuve

La La Land (2016) – Damien Chazelle

Inception (2010) – Christopher Nolan

Honorable Mentions:

Django: Unchained (2012) – Quentin Tarantino

War Dogs (2016) – Todd Phillips

Split (2017) – M. Night Shyamalan

Jess’s Picks

Argo (2012) – Ben Affleck 

Django: Unchained (2012) – Quentin Tarantino 

Silver Linings Playbook (2012) – David O. Russell

Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011) – Glenn Ficarra and John Requa

Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) – Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) – Bryan Singer

Deadpool (2016) – Tim Miller 

Interstellar (2014) – Christoper Nolan 

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) – Martin Scorsese 

La La Land (2016) – Damien Chazelle

Honorable Mentions: 

The Social Network (2010) – David Fincher

The Post (2017) – Steven Spielberg

Easy A (2010) – Will Gluck

Sam’s Picks

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) – Taika Waititi

Wind River (2017) – Taylor Sheridan

The Nice Guys (2016) – Shane Black

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) – Martin Scorsese 

Moneyball (2011) – Bennett Miller

The Social Network (2010) – David Fincher

Ex Machina (2014) – Alex Garland 

John Wick (2014) – Chad Stahelski and David Leitch

Guardians of The Galaxy (2014) – James Gunn

Silver Linings Playbook (2012) – David O. Russell

Honorable Mentions: 

Demolition (2015) Jean-Marc Vallée

The Descendants (2011) Alexander Payne

About Time (2013) Richard Curtis


Katelynn’s Picks

Inception (2010) – Christopher Nolan

Dunkirk (2017) – Christopher Nolan

Lawless (2012) – John Hillcoat

Deadpool (2016) – Tim Miller

The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – Christopher Nolan

Annihilation (2018) – Alex Garland

Silver Linings Playbook (2012) – David O. Russell

Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood (2019) – Quentin Tarantino

Interstellar (2014) – Christopher Nolan

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – James Gunn

Honorable Mentions:

Shutter Island (2010) – Martin Scorsese

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) – David Fincher

The Judge (2014) – David Bobkin


Big Slate Media Team

5 Traits of a Solid Video Production Pro

Video production folks are an interesting breed, but what makes the best of the best? 

People in the production industry are, well, people! They have their own personalities, processes and quirks. However, there are some general characteristics that can really help a production professional stand out and achieve more. 

Whether you’re a videographer hoping to grow in this field or a company wanting to know traits of an ideal partner for your next video project, we’re here to lay out five essential traits that make for a solid production pro.


Screenshot from a Shoot To-Do list from TrelloIf you heard our latest episode of the Know Content podcast, we discussed effective pre-production processes and noted that creatives aren’t known for being the most organized people out there… 

But what’s interesting about video production peeps is that they constantly walk the line between organization and improvisation (we’ll discuss the latter in a bit). 

There’s a lot that goes into just one video shoot, and missing any of the important details can unravel even the greatest concepts. These project details can be anything from creating a thorough shot list, ensuring batteries are charged, or setting up the perfect lighting for a shot. Any one of these factors (and many more) can drastically affect the quality of a shoot or final video. 

If you struggle in this area, you’re not alone (hi, welcome to the club). Be sure to utilize some project management tools and production/equipment checklists to make sure you’re not missing any of the pertinent details and to streamline your production process.


Gif of man bending over to touch his toes on each side.

courtesy of trainhardliveclean.com

It happens to every video production team. 

Despite your successful location scouting and detailed shot list, you arrive on set to find it raining/loud/crowded, etc. Any number of elements can alter a shoot entirely, and if there’s a tight deadline you may not be able to reschedule.

It can be easy to let this negatively affect your attitude or halt production while you scramble; however, the best video pros know it’s best to just go with the flow. Expecting the unexpected is part of the job. 

Once you learn how to navigate unanticipated scenarios with quick problem-solving, you’ll be invaluable on set. You may even create some of your best work along the way!


Gif of fleix the cat clock ticking

courtesy of evanimation.net

This may seem obvious, but we feel it’s important to note. 

No one wants to work with someone who constantly shows up late, but this characteristic extends beyond just personal time management. 

Video projects are time consuming, and every minute counts. With everything that goes into pre-production, shoot days and post-production, it’s important to ensure you manage that time effectively to meet deadlines and stay on budget. This is especially true when you’re juggling multiple projects at once. 

Make sure you’re keeping track of your time to keep things rolling! We use Harvest, which integrates with a range of project management software. 


A white wall with the phrase "Get the Creativity Flowing" painted on it.

Not everyone can be a great video production professional.

Sure, anyone can learn the right software and purchase high-quality equipment, but a solid production pro has a creative eye that can’t always be taught. Out-of-the-box storytelling and unique composition can take any video to the next level. 

If you’re in video production, don’t take a cookie-cutter content approach with your clients. Express your value and stand out from the rest with a creative mindset and unique deliverables.


A photo of BSM teammate Katelynn smiling at camera while shooting on anSony FS700 camera.

Our amazing DP/Camera Operator/Photographer, Katelynn, in action!

This may be last on the list, but it’s truly the most important. If you don’t love what you do, you can’t do it well. 

Passion is especially necessary in creative industries, and it truly yields the best, most fulfilling work. 

The BSM team attends the STORY conference in Nashville each year, and something we learned there is the true meaning of “passion.” Based on its latin root passio, the word means “to suffer for.” This means you can find and fuel your passion by evaluating what you’re willing to suffer for and recognizing your suffering when NOT doing something. 

Our president Jonathan discovered his passion for aerial videography and founded an entire production company around it! Since then, he has continued to build a team with the same drive to create amazing content (like this incredibly well-written blog post).

The power of passion is truly unmatched and is the foundation of success in any industry.



Big Slate Media Team

Joker & Other Frightening Movies Made By Funny People – Straight from the Slate Series


Originally, in honor of #SpookySZN, I was tasked with writing a review of the newest “not comic book movie, comic book movie,” about the not Jared Leto, not Heath Ledger, not Batman-fighting (technically), failed sadistic comedian played by Johnny Cash and written by the guy that produced A Star is Born (2018) and directed by the guy that wrote The Hangover franchise. Of course, I’m talking about Joker, written and directed by Todd Phillips. 

For this review, I’m going to keep it short. I liked the movie. I thought Hookedon Phonics did an amazing job showing the transformation of such a well-known, deeply disturbing character, and gave a performance that should definitely be nominated for an Academy Award. After the perfect performance that Heath Ledger gave in The Dark Knight, it would be hard for anyone to take over as The Joker. Because of that, I thought it was wise of Phoenix to pull a Rick Barnes and wait for someone else to fail miserably at the job, after the loss of an all-time great, then slide in and prove that someone else can actually do a good job in that role. In terms of the movie’s legacy, I think it will do for comic book movies what The Jungle Book (2016) did for Disney movies: it will usher in a new way of making them, whether that’s good or bad, and allow directors to put their own spin on classic stories and characters while making a metric buttload of money.

Photo from the movie Joke of the Joker making a face of anguish with his full clown makeup

photo courtesy of www.inverse.com

The moments and images from Joker that I’ve been thinking about the most aren’t the ones that made the audience gasp or shield their eyes from the gore and blood, it’s the moments that were genuinely funny and that made me laugh (Disclaimer: I’m not one of those guys that security ushered out after literally LOLing while watching The Joker murder people). There are moments in Joker that are purposefully very funny. Most people have been talking about how violent the film is and how it will spark riots and acts of hate, but all I could think about were the funny moments. 

Sure, it might just be some good ole-fashioned comic relief, like watching a little person struggle to reach a lock on a door while trying to leave The Joker’s murder scene, but it’s still hilarious. It’s scenes like these that show that juxtaposition can be a filmmaker’s most powerful tool, and prove that comedies and horror movies are two sides of the same coin. This is the reason why Todd Phillips was a perfect person to direct this movie. Phillips wrote and directed The Hangover movies as well as the “frat pack” classic Old School. The latter is essentially a comedic version of Fight Club that features Vince Vaughn in the “Tyler Durden” role, which further proves Phillips’s ability to take a story and change the tone completely while peppering in bits of both humor and suspense (YOU’RE MY BOY BLUE!!).

The more I thought about reviewing Joker, the more I thought about other movies and other directors that have subverted the scary movie genre and blended it with comedy and vice versa. Joker is just the latest example of a writer/director displaying their amphibious filmmaking skills. In just the past several years (sure an argument could be made that Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin mastered the scary/comedy crossover by showing death-defying stunts that made audiences question if they should laugh or cower in fear 90 years ago, but that’s a different essay entirely, you nerds) we’ve seen multiple directors perfectly blend the two genres, or make a complete crossover to one genre while still throwing in a dash of the other. In honor of Joker and #SpookySZN I’ve provided a list of directors who have either blended comedy and horror or successfully crossed over and made movies that fall under both genres respectively:

*Disclaimer: I kept Quentin Tarantino off this list because he’s a genre on his own


Goddard wrote the screenplay for Cloverfield, World War Z, and The Martian. He’s only directed two movies, but both of these movies are what earns his spot on this list. When the trailer for The Cabin In The Woods came out in 2011, I immediately said, “Nope, I’m good.” I’m a wimp when it comes to scary movies and don’t particularly seek them out. But after a friend saw it and told me it was “different” and swore I’d actually like it, I hesitantly agreed to see it. And I gotta say I loved it. I want to call it a “spoof” on scary movies, but that doesn’t seem to do it justice. It is the perfect blend of horror and comedy and is extremely entertaining. 

The next movie that Goddard wrote and directed is 2018’s Bad Times at The El Royale. It’s another perfectly written mystery movie that freaks you out, but leaves you wanting more out of its charismatic characters and nostalgic setting. I should mention that everyone’s favorite Greek God from Australia, Chris Hemsworth, is in both of these movies. I think his insanely good looks and perfect body cloud people from seeing his legit acting chops. Bad Times is a perfect mix of his stellar abs and stellar acting. Hemsworth is a great metaphor for Goddard’s ability to draw you in with one thing, then bodyslam you with something entirely different.

courtesy of tenor.com


If you Google “best horror movie directors” James Wan is No 3. Wan directed Saw, The Conjuring, and Insidious – on top of writing and/or producing three more movies in the Insidious franchise and roughly 80 more Saw movies. The reason he’s on this list is because from 2004-2015 he was undoubtedly the king of horror. 

However, his reign ended in 2015 because that’s the year he switched over and directed the seventh installment in the Fast and Furious franchise, aptly named Furious 7. I will assertively state that Furious 7 is the third best movie in the franchise, which says a lot considering the franchise has made over $5 billion and includes seven other movies (not including Hobbes & Shaw). Wan really doubled down on his action-comedy franchise directing skills when he directed Aquaman in 2018. Say what you want about Aquaman, but it’s the best movie in the DC Universe that isn’t called Wonderwoman. Aquaman cashed in on the comic book sense of humor and hokiness, while still featuring some good scares and suspense (Wan could easily turn The Trench scene into a horror DC spinoff).

One could argue that you don’t have to be a particularly outstanding director to make a successful movie in either of these franchises. However, as I stated, they are the second and third best movies in their respective franchises. But what might be even more impressive is that Aquaman and Furious 7 are the highest grossing movies within their respective franchises.


Aster has written and directed only two feature length films. However, both of his movies were among the most talked about and critically acclaimed movies of the years they were released. His first movie, Hereditary, received an 89 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and an 87 percent on Metacritic. I typically never pay attention to either of those scores. However, after literally pissing my pants out of fear after just watching the trailer, I decided this movie wasn’t for me and have yet to look back. So, for you horror fans out there, you should probably check it out and wear some Depend Adult Diapers. 

Aster’s second movie, one that I actually saw, was 2019’s bizarre horror/thriller/romcom/travel movie Midsommar. The movie revolves around a group of American grad students who travel to Sweden to take part in a midsummer festival at their friend’s small village. Already, it’s a great premise. It’s a fish-out-of-water story that’s more of an “annoying little ass American guppies that just want to do drugs out of water at a Swedish bear colony where the bears act like nice welcoming Swedes but they’re actually super into death” story. You know the one. 

photo courtesy of inverse.com

But what’s most riveting and innovative is that because Midsommar takes place in Sweden in the summer, the entire movie is in daylight. Aster finds a way to use this bright setting, which is typically the opposite in horror movies, to show the audience even more than they’d typically bargain for. He proves that scary things don’t only happen at night when the lights are off. Although this movie is deeply demented and unsettling, you feel like you, too, are tripping on shrooms because you are laughing at some of the darkest moments and looking at other viewers saying, “you’re seeing this too, right?!” It’s got romance, it’s got some genuinely funny dialogue, and it’s got bizarre moments that are unlike anything I’ve ever seen on a screen. I hate scary movies, but I loved this one.


I almost don’t have to write anything about Jordan Peele to prove my point that he’s great at using horror and humor. Get Out and Us made everyone say, “Holy shit, half of Key and Peele is really really scary.” In the past two years, he’s upped his creativity, kept some humor, and dropped an atomic bomb of horror on us. He established himself as a comedian, then right when we got comfortable, he scared the shit out of us. And for that, he gets even more fake points that I just now came up with.

Now all I have to ask is: When is Seth Rogen coming out with a horror film?


Big Slate Media Team

Best Video Production Company – Knoxville Big Wigs

We feel like the biggest wigs of all after the 2019 Knoxville American Advertising Federation Big Wig Awards.

Our team was incredibly honored to take home THREE Big Wig Awards this year, including Knoxville’s Best Video/Film Production Company. Additionally, our own Jess Gutman was awarded Best Social Media Specialist, and our newest team member Katelynn Oltrogge was awarded Best Intern.

Jess and Katelynn accept our award for Best Video Production Company at the Big Wigs.

Jess and Katelynn accept our award for Best Video Production Company at the Big Wigs.

This tenth-annual affair was a fun chance to connect with other advertising/marketing pros and celebrate the awesome people KILLING IT in our industry and community. The Big Wigs recognize behind-the-scenes advertising ninjas that flat out get. it. done. Printing companies, TV reps, radio reps, media buyers and more are awarded for taking their craft to the next level each year.

Nominations for the AAF Big Wig Awards are accepted from the public, and the top nominees become finalists. Winners are determined by popular vote, and this was the biggest year of voting numbers in Big Wigs history!

We are truly so thankful for this recognition and are grateful for the work we get to do every day with our amazing clients and partners. On behalf of our whole team, thank you so much to everyone who nominated and voted for us! All are welcome to swing by our office to bask in the glory of our new conference room trophies.

photo of three Big Wigs trophies on white background

AAF-Knoxville is the local chapter of the American Advertising Federation (AAF). They work to protect and promote the well-being of advertising through a unique, nationally coordinated grassroots network of advertisers, agencies, media companies, local advertising clubs and college chapters. We love being part of this organization and highly recommend getting involved.

P.S. Congratulations to our many friends/partners who were also recognized with Big Wigs this year! You can check out the full list of winners here.


Big Slate Media Team

Schmoozapalooza Spring 2019 Drone Giveaway Winner!



We had an awesome time at the Knoxville Chamber’s Spring Schmoozapalooza Boardwalk on March 12! More than 700 local businesspeople came to the Knoxville Expo Center to hang out with more than 100 exhibiting businesses – including us!

Thanks so much to everyone who came by our booth to chat! We had a great time catching up with old friends, making new ones and learning about other businesses in our community. We were also conveniently placed right across from one of our incredible clients – 3to99! Check out this company overview video we did for them:


We always have a great time with our friends at the Knoxville Chamber. They put on a ton of great networking and professional development events for local business professionals. We’ve really enjoyed producing some event and overview videos for them. Check this one out: 


Want to make some videos like these with us? Give us a shout!

Big Slate Media Team

A Year in the Making: Update from Jonathan

I’m a little late to publish this, but I wanted to share a little bit about the past year for us. As many of you know, 2018 was an incredible year of growth for Big Slate Media. As a young company, we started off the year crawling (ya know, like a baby) and now, we’ve learned to run – full sprint!

Brimstone Paragon 2018

When I originally purchased the company in 2017, we were a digital marketing company doing exactly what you’d expect: websites, SEO, AdWords and of course, video. That’s what we branded ourselves as, and that’s what our clients expected from us… or so we thought.

Within the first quarter of 2018, just about all of that changed. In taking a hard look at the market and listening to the needs of our clients, one thing was clear. Content is the missing piece for almost every marketing plan.

There are plenty of talented strategists, PR companies, and visionary marketers out there (especially in Knoxville), but who’s doing the dirty work? Who’s making the content they are strategizing? We were. We just didn’t know it.

After looking at our books and list of projects, it was clear. We are a content creation agency. The first and only one in Knoxville as far as I know. Over 80% of our business was video production, copywriting, and content management. THIS is what our clients need from us. #pivot

Q2-4 were insane. We broke sales records month after month, produced beautiful, creative and high-quality content and started relationships with some amazing clients. Saying we’ve been blessed is an understatement.

Having been involved in a dozen or so startups, I’m no stranger to the perils of owning a small business. However, I’ve not been a part of one with this much growth this fast. To keep the ship pointed in the right direction during the rising seas, it took immense dedication from the crew. Lucas and Jess, along with our network of freelancers, have put in early mornings, late nights and busy weekends. Additionally, we’ve all grown in our skill sets greatly by watching after hours YouTube videos, online classes and being mentored by generous sages of the industry. Growing pains are a real thing, but this team has pushed through them with unbelievable perseverance and joy. We could not be where we are today with this incredible team!

In October of 2018, the time came to start looking for an office space and room to grow (beyond my living room). ProMedia had recently sold their building to a friend and I fell in love with their beautiful 2500 square-foot cyc studio near Maryville. This sparked a vision for a collaborative, affordable studio space for content creators of all types. A place for not only photographers but for people to self create for YouTube or other platforms without having to purchase a bunch of gear. A place where they could just come in, and hit record.

After a month of trying to wheel and deal and come up with a way to justify buying a 7500 square-foot building, God made it clear that it just wasn’t what he had planned.

One night, in late November, I had made peace with the fact that the building wasn’t going to happen and that God had something better in mind. Literally, the very next day, I learned the warehouse across the street from our current home office had been bought. After talking with the new owner and hearing the details, it was amazingly clear that this was the next step. So, in December 2018, we began construction on an 1800 square-foot studio and office space. Creating the creator studio I had envisioned and new offices with plenty of room to grow.

During this growth, we discovered a deeper appreciation for Knoxville and the mindset of the creator community here. There’s a feeling of collaboration and optimism here within the production community that just doesn’t exist in a lot of places. To help further this, we decided to bring this community together through starting an organization called KnoxMedia, which recently had its first mixer with more than 70 people in attendance.

Late in 2018, I began meeting with local production companies in hopes to bridge the gap between the one-man freelancer and the area giants like Jupiter Entertainment, North South and of course, Discovery. Many people don’t know that Knoxville is the 5th largest production city in the U.S. By bringing these people together, we strengthen the collective power of the industry in our city and promote the collaborative mindset that sets our city apart.

2018 was an incredible year for us and I can’t thank our team, clients and partners enough for their trust and support. We’re already kicking butt in 2019 and I just know we’re going to continue making incredible content and growing our team.


Jonathan Halley, President | Big Slate Media

Big Slate Media Team

5 Free Project Management Tools for Small Teams (a.k.a. What Keeps Us Sane-ish)

As 2018 comes to a close, many of us are writing out New Year’s resolutions to prepare for a strong start to 2019.

Many small businesses have the same resolution – to improve internal processes and project management. Working on a small team, while offering many benefits, provides some challenges when it comes to managing projects. Team members must wear many hats, and it can be hard to keep track of tasks and details.

We have felt those struggles, and as we continue to grow our processes are refined to keep projects running smoothly. That doesn’t come without some help. Here are some of the free project management tools that we use to help keep us on track, and we hope they can help you achieve your goals for the new year!


courtesy of Slack.com

Contrary to the name, this app is not for SLACK-ers.

Slack is a place for your entire team to collaborate and communicate effectively. The workspace is set up in channels – dedicated places for organized conversations, integrated file sharing, and even video/voice calls. In addition to internal team members, you can share channels with companies and businesses you regularly work with –  clients, vendors, and partners – to bring all the right people into the same *virtual* room. Slack also integrates with over 1,500 apps, including Google Drive and Salesforce, allowing for seamless integration into your current workflow.

Teamwork Projects

courtesy of Teamwork.com

Juggling a ton of projects at once and having trouble keeping everything organized? Teamwork could be a solution for you.

Teamwork Projects has everything you need to track a project from start to finish. You can assign tasks (or sub-tasks) to different team members, track progress and time spent, and organize your all your projects in one dashboard.


courtesy of Trello.com

If you want a visually-appealing, fun place to manage your projects, say “Hello” to Trello!

Trello’s boards, lists, and cards allow you to organize and prioritize all your projects in a flexible way. You can dive into all the project details by adding comments, attachments, task checklists, and more. One of the coolest features is the ability to click and drag cards from one list to another, so you can move it through a sales funnel or editorial calendar. The possibilities are endless!


courtesy of Wunderlist.com

Sometimes you just need a little reminder. Wunderlist houses all your necessary “To-Do” lists, both professional and personal.

With Wunderlist, you can organize related lists into folders, set deadlines and reminders, assign to-dos, and even turn actionable emails into tasks by simply forwarding to Wunderlist. This provides a simple way to keep your entire team on track for specific projects or internal deadlines.

G Suite

This may seem like a no-brainer, but Google provides a great, easy platform for project management and collaboration with G Suite

Utilize Google Sheets to create dynamic project plans and allow team members to update their progress. Create shared Google Calendars to keep everyone up to do date with deadlines and reminders. Securely store and manage your project documents on a Team Drive or collaborate on documents including project proposals or reports in Google Docs.


Using one or all of these tools could prove a vital addition to any small team in any industry. For us, these tools allow for more creative brainstorming and production time! Let’s collaborate on one of these platforms soon!

Here’s to better project management and continued business growth in 2019!

Big Slate Media Team

A 6 Step Plan to Event Management Social Media Success

Our event clients generally have one thing in common: they have a lot on their plates. Events take time, energy, and there is usually a smorgasbord of moving pieces. Many times, we have filled the role of creating engaging social media content and then managing these social avenues for the duration of the event. Social media is such a useful tool for your events. It affords an exciting build-up, live interaction with customers, a platform for effective promotional deliverability, meaningful follow-up with your audience, and educating insights.

Our events come in all shapes and sizes, but the approach is always the same. No matter the size of your event, here are 6 steps to make sure your social media brings life and money to it. And all of these steps are useful whether you are spending money on social media ads or just running an organic campaign for your event.

(According to 857 event managers)

Oh, wait, before you get there…

Before you ever set foot on the social terrain, till the fields first. Figure out your audience and what social media platforms to use. Your audience is unique, so define it. Then, find out where those customers are. How are you engaging with them now? If you’re not, find out where they are. Possibly research other events similar to yours and explore how those events reach their audience. Once you’ve smoothed out the soil, then you’re ready to strategize.


[Pre-event Steps]

STEP 1: Timeline and Budget

A good place to start is with the timeline. We recommend a couple weeks to a month before the event, but honestly, the earlier the better. It’s ok if you are posting before then obviously, this will just be the real diving board that springs your hype train into action. The length and frequency of your event may change this as well.

Then, how much are you willing to spend? Speakers, performers, caterers, venues and staff are all important, but getting people there is how you will make money, so set a budget. When it comes to boosting posts for events – which we always recommend – the more you spend the more you reach. A budget with wiggle room is a healthy budget. In the end, you get what you give.


STEP 2: The Set-Up

This step will help you so much in the long run. It’s like leg day. Don’t skip it. Get your social avenues ready. With Facebook and Instagram, make sure you set up Facebook Pixel and Business Manager. These will help you see tracked results. Set up the main page on platforms you will advertise on with fluidity. Each page should look virtually the same unless they have different goals. You want people on LinkedIn to be able to visit the Facebook page and not feel lost. Check ticket and website links, descriptions of events, important details, etc.

Another crucial part of this set-up is getting drafted posts ready for any emergencies you might have. Have a rainout post ready, a time change post ready, any other emergency plans, and definitely, definitely, definitely set up an instant reply in the direct message field. Lead people to your website for the main hub of info. This will cut down on time spent answering mundane “what time are you open” questions. The “Set-Up” step is commonly overlooked, but I promise, it will keep you from ripping hair out later.


STEP 3: Generate and Organize Content

This is where you get to use those creativity skills. Make some written content ready to publish. Think of unique ways to interact with users via polls, promotions or a fun video. This is the time to create any content, including pictures and videos that you might need. Make a mark next to the ones you think are exceptional and consider boosting those. When you have all this, put it in one, organized place, like Google Drive, Dropbox or a hard drive.

The written content needs to be kept somewhere safe for STEP 4, but physically creating it is where you make your money. Good, quality content is a must in any marketing effort, but especially in social media. Social media is the pilgrimage of short attention spans, so make your content good and true to your brand. Some of the best content we’ve found builds attention through giveaways. Everyone loves free stuff. Need post ideas?


STEP 4: Schedule

Pronounced “shed-jewel,” this is paired nicely with STEP 3. After you have organized photos, videos, gifs, etc. that you will use, schedule the posts you know you will have for your entire campaign. This is optional if you have the manpower necessary to do it on the spot or week-to-week, but we have found that when you can hash it out in a few hours, you are more likely to be creative than if you had to cram three new posts in at 9 AM one morning.

We have created our own Google doc that we put the copy in, a link to the picture or video for that post, a time stamp, and the amount we will boost it for. This is the most streamlined solution we have found. We can copy and paste it over to the platforms in an hour or two. It also allows us to be transparent with clients, getting to show them every post before any take place. This can be mundane work, but it pays off when you don’t have to post day-to-day. Here are some awesome scheduling apps.


[During-event Steps]

STEP 5: Engage

There is no such thing as off-time in social media management during events. Interaction with customers during events can be just as important for your brand as anything else. It’s a wonderful avenue for timely updates, news on the event, or calls to a specific part of the event. This can be one of the biggest hassles for an event manager as well.

Every major social platform now has ways to generate live content, which is a huge added bonus for events that use social. You can update people creatively, and it’s a sure-fire way to draw attention to something. Everyone who likes your page or follows you will get a mobile notification about you going live. This is something that is commonly overlooked, but we love offering it to clients as a unique engagement point.

Last, it’s important to be checking the comments on your posts daily and filtering negative comments, responding to poor reviews, and getting excited with people. This type of engagement is what could separate you from the competition. People love when brands interact with them. Wendy’s twitter account is the perfect example. They started interacting with comments often and grew in popularity tremendously. But, you probably shouldn’t roast people as much as them…

STEP 6: Analyze and Correct

We keep an extremely close eye on the accounts we manage. Treat it like your baby. Each day we are looking at interactions and comments, pinpointing hot areas of engagement both with content and geographically. These highly important analytics can help you narrow down the good versus the bad content and also expose under-marketed groups in your strategy. If you use Facebook, integrating Facebook Pixel can be a great way to denote how clicks are getting from Facebook to your site.

From a timeliness standpoint, we operate at a weekly report and then post-event report. This allows Facebook’s algorithm with ads and general posts to take effect each week before we make adjustments and after the event, we can make notes on what to change for the next year. Make notes. If you are like us, you won’t remember all of it without having it written down.



Some event managers like to take on the task of social media and feel they have the capability to do it well. That’s awesome. Some understand the value of social media in marketing their event but are simply too busy to give it the attention it deserves. So, they outsource it to an agency or someone on their team. That’s awesome too. Bottom line is that social media can boost an event tremendously. It can be the Big Mac sauce that draws people in, or it can be the thorn in your side that never gets the attention it should.

If you choose to take on the task at hand for your event, recognize the vast opportunity it has to bring valuable customers to you and positively impact your brand. If you feel overwhelmed by the idea, that’s why companies like us exist. We love taking on new challenges and showing event managers what social media can do for them. It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s important, and it’s the real “foot-soldier” type work we love to do. Give us a call and we’ll help grow your event! – 865.291.0005

Check out one of our event social media clients – The Charlotte Fair

A story from social media coverage at Brimstone Paragon

Our Social Media Services

Big Slate Media Team