Business

Young Creatives grow advertising, wedding videos, short films into a business

'We cut costs by doing it ourselves'

Rob Miley Jr. (from left) directs as Juan Gomez films Nick Rafacz and M.E.Dx, both of Iowa City, in a fight scene for a
Rob Miley Jr. (from left) directs as Juan Gomez films Nick Rafacz and M.E.Dx, both of Iowa City, in a fight scene for a music video of M.E.Dx’s single “Problem Child” at Los Primos Boxing Club in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, January 26, 2021. Miley and Gomez are the co-owners of Cedar Rapids-based Young Creatives, which provides videography and photography services. (Cliff Jette/Freelance)
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“We actually started this business in a dorm room,” Robert Miley Jr. recalled one morning this past week.

“Our goal is to inspire. There’s not a lot of people that look like me and look like Juan who start a video production business in Iowa.”

Miley — he more often goes as “Riley” — and business partner Juan Gomez, both 25, met in 2013 at a college party.

Gomez was working toward a theater arts degree at Coe College and Miley, who grew up in Cedar Rapids, had walked away from a football scholarship at St. Ambrose University in Davenport.

“I don’t think I want to play football anymore, and if I’m not playing football my family can’t pay for college,” Miley said of his situation at the time.

But he had an idea for a music video, and Gomez had the skills and tools.

“A musician who makes music and is actually good?” Gomez recalled of their meeting. “Hey, I shoot music videos.”

Gomez, a Chicago native, began filming music videos free of charge while still in high school.

“I was a beginner,” he recalled.

“I understood I didn’t know much behind the camera.”

Something clicked during that first video shoot, leading to more videos for area musicians. The pair branched out, producing some online ads and wedding videos.

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They launched Young Creatives in 2018 — a major project was organizing the Sandfest music festivals at Sandlot Sports in Cedar Rapids, held in 2018 and 2019.

Since then, Young Creatives has produced TV spots and online videos for such clients as Gianna’s Italian Beef and Siebke Hoyt Jewelers — the latter set for this spring’s wedding season.

“We did this without a business plan,” working in Gomez’s dormitory room for six months, Miley said.

They now work in their apartments.

“The best training is actually doing it,” Miley said of Young Creatives’ first years. “There’d be schedule mix-ups where we forgot to be at a shoot because we didn’t have a joint calendar.

“It’s little stuff like that that had us thinking, ‘Man, maybe we need an assistant.’”

But it’s still pretty much a two-person operation. Young Creatives has no physical address, but that’s become a selling point.

“You have an option for this quality, and we don’t change you $5,000,” Miley said. “We have lawyers and accountants, but we don’t have a guy in a suit.

“If we can, we cut costs by doing it ourselves.”

Young Creatives finds locations and hires actors and technical support such as makeup artists. Without a permanent studio, the company has rented homes and Air BnBs for shoots.

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At a shoot, “I’m more the director, the people person, you might say,” Miley said. “And he’s the cinematographer.”

The partners work with clients to maximize the impact of an online ad or TV spot.

“You can have a commercial that looks like it should be on Hulu or TV right now, and it’s not going to cost you an arm and a leg,” Miley said.

“We work with client on a total promotional campaign to make sure the product is successful — or else, why are they spending money on a music video?”

Nurturing the area’s creative community is a big part of Young Creatives, and its partners are gratified by the work they’ve done with young local artists and actors.

“We’ve had people that aren’t even actors, and they’re starting IMDB pages,” said Miley, referring to the website tracking movie and video productions.

“We know you can do this.”

“It grew from healthy competition, and I think that’s nice,” Gomez said.

“We’ve definitely seen an increase in creatives of all types in the area. We inspired people to just do it, and that’s what it’s about.”

The firm’s website, weareyoungcreatives.com, is devoted largely to its clothing line — another creative field — but ads, music videos and other work are posted in its Facebook and YouTube pages.

The most recent production, “Wake Up,” addresses 2020’s political and social-justice issues.

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The COVID-19 pandemic cost Young Creatives its production contract with the Cedar Rapids River Kings of the Indoor Football League, a planned third Sandfest and some wedding work, as well as disrupting other plans.

But with in-person contact minimized, potential clients came calling.

“There were a lot of companies that hadn’t thought about the digital space, and now they are,” Miley said.

The pair hope to release a couple longer-form films this year.

One, a “vampire drama” written by Gomez, will depend on a return trip to England, COVID permitting. The project began with a 2018 trip for location work.

“I was a vampire in that one,” Miley said. “Had an accent and everything.

“We’re releasing a variety of short films, just to gain notoriety. The plan would be to get someone who’s a producer to see the project and get us a budget.”

Whatever the uncertainties and disruptions of the coming year, the Young Creatives plan to build on their experience and relationships with other local artists.

“I’ve sacrificed going out to the bar for this, I’ve sacrificed, probably, seeing my mom as much as I should,” Miley said.

“Keep an eye out for us,” Gomez added. “If you have an interest in acting, modeling, photography, we’re always looking for people to come on set with us. We can gladly show you how.”

Know a Corridor business that could make an intriguing “My Biz” feature? Let us know via michaelchevy.castranova@thegazette.com.

At a glance

• Owners: Robert Miley Jr., Juan Gomez

• Business: Young Creatives

• Address: No physical address

• Phone: (319) 774-9683

• Website: weareyoungcreatives.com

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