While in Grade 3, the Burlington, Ont. native borrowed his dad’s Sony Handycam and started filming his friends’ skateboarding exploits. The skateboarding films continued well into high school and led Grubisa to seek a career in filmmaking.
After a brief stint working as a camera assistant on feature films and commercial shoots, Grubisa and his life partner, Aleks Lason, co-founded Chrilleks Productions in 2011—a digital media house that creates videos for clients such as Canadian Tire and Red Bull from offices in Toronto and Los Angeles.
“I owe a lot to skateboarding because if you don’t get the trick first try, you just have to keep trying and trying,” he says. “I think that the work ethic started at a very young age, saying that if you want something, you can go and get it.”
Grubisa and Lason, both 27, met in Sheridan College where the two were in the Media Arts program. After graduating in 2011, they worked in the film industry for about a year before deciding “hey, we should start something.”
Though working in the film industry as a camera assistant on feature films and commercial shoots for clients such as IKEA and Home Depot was a great learning experience, Grubisa felt like a cog in a machine. “It wasn’t like I got the client. I helped grab the batteries for the camera on the shoot.”
But running a company—Grubisa handles the creative while Lason is the vice-president and executive in charge of production— “takes a lot more responsibility and it’s a lot more gratifying.”
Grubisa says Chrilleks is one in a handful of companies that focuses on content for social media platforms. “There’s a lot of people still doing commercials and 30 second promos and stuff like that.” But, “30 seconds feels a little bit like an eternity for us.”
Chrilleks (a combination of Chris and Aleks) demonstrated its short video chops, when it shot, cut and edited 114 social media videos in six weeks for Canadian Tire’s digital catalogue. Covering everything from Cusinarts and Keurigs to all things automotive, the promotional videos also appeared on Canadian Tire’s Facebook and YouTube pages.
The company is now wrapping up a series of tire testing videos that are only seven to 15 seconds in length for the retailer’s Instagram account.
“Snackable content is what we like to call it,” he says, noting the short social media videos help marketers reach millennials who don’t watch 30 second spots on TV.
For Red Bull’s BC One breakdance competition, Grubisa filmed a dancer at 12 Toronto locations in one day. Using match frames and transitions, the end result showed the dancer in the same spot, while the backgrounds changed. Three days later, the spots were released across Red Bull’s many social media platforms.
Grubisa says Chrilleks provides clients social media packages that enable them to use content on a wide variety of channels in creative ways. He says Chrilleks has to remain versatile as the rules for social media video content are constantly changing.
“It makes us think on our feet twice as fast because you have to keep building that content, you have to keep thinking [about] what’s new and original as well as move with the platform guidelines.”
Meanwhile, the lack of sleep he’s getting is worth it, “because look at what we’re doing. We’re doing what we love.”
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