We had the good fortune of connecting with Kenzo Le, Founder of Crimson Edge, a creative collective & film production company, and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kenzo, how is your business distinct from others? What are your focuses, and how does your company contribute to the community?
We wanted Crimson Edge to be more than just a film production company that cranks out music videos, commercials, and for-hire work en masse. With our founding members coming from diverse immigrant backgrounds, we understand the power and responsibility we have as artists to make a difference. Our impact goals are much different from those who have it comfortable from the start. We recognize the importance of empowering underrepresented voices, like the Latinx, Asian-American, LGBTQ, Black communities, and more. We push to bring these voices to the surface through the content we create. Sin Reno is a Latinx fairytale short film told through the perspective of a young girl, starring real families from our community. It was written by Sandra Ordiano, one of our founders, regarding an issue that meant a lot to her and her family. We tackled the topic of immigration and the current political climate while keeping it contained in a digestible film format. The best reward was when our message resonated with the public audience. A 16 year old viewer who stumbled on Sin Reino took her time to personally reach out to say that it had connected with her deeply. She too lives with the fear of losing an immigrant parent, and she felt emboldened after viewing our film. Moments like these are the reason why we create. We want to inspire change around the world through the impact of cinema. On the other hand, The Root of Kindness is a branded short film commercial for Lady Gaga’s Haus Laboratories –spotlighting transgendered teens through a light-hearted positive message. We wrote, pitched, and brought the vision to reality. Haus Labs is a makeup brand, so delivering such a message through an entertaining and unconventional format got us excited. Viewers don’t want to be preached to; the best messages are absorbed via immersive storytelling. Currently, we are actively seeking and reaching out to local underrepresented artists, creatives, and writers who share the same passion with a unique voice. We aim to sponsor them with a production grant and turn their ideas into reality. Being able to achieve this has been very fulfilling, and our work is never done!
How has your growth and journey been for your business, and where are you now?
It has been a long road for Crimson Edge, but one that has been very worthwhile. We started from nothing, but we were fortunate enough to be surrounded by humble, talented friends who were willing to build and grow with us from the ground up. A big hurdle was getting our first clients and artists to take a leap of faith, believe in our vision, and give us the opportunity to empower theirs. It takes many cold emails, pitches, and rejections, but all of that becomes fuel to our fire. It just took one artist to believe in us. From there, we used that momentum to leverage our future opportunities. Each project was a stepping stone to the next. We went from $500-2000 budgets (essentially pro-bono), to $8000, to $20,000 within a span of under 2 months. Only a year later, we are now in development for 500K-2M budget feature films. This would not be possible without our humble beginnings, sacrifices, and relentless grind. Many filmmakers want to have their own production company, and it’s easy to start one and say you have one. The true test is maintaining the discipline and endurance you need to nurture your team to become truly great. People will roll their eyes at you, but you have to laser-lock on your long term vision from the very beginning and fly towards it with all your strength. We told ourselves that we want to innovate, create change, and be a prominent voice in the coming years. So we do it.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Derek Nguyen, our founding director and dear friend, deserves the warmest shoutout in the world. Behind the polished & crafted videos he has delivered us, Derek is an incredible artist, humble spirit, and hardworking soul who truly shows you the grind it takes to go from the bottom up. With no film school experience or initial connections, he has paved his own path, amassing an impressive portfolio within less than half a year, other emerging directors would be envious of. I remember our very first shoot with Derek, chasing the sunset through neighborhoods in a nostalgic music video for Will Jay. Less than 12 hours later, we were coasting around Little Saigon in Orange County shooting his branded short film highlighting Vietnamese heritage, a piece that hits close to home for me. The passion that Derek puts into every single project is unwavering and something to take note of. Within such a short amount of time, he has created complex, woven, core pieces in our portfolio including commercial work for Lamborghini, offering a unique angle of storytelling. Derek has always pushed me and our company to be our best through all the ups and downs. He’s one of the main reasons why we are still going strong today. He’s an amazing supportive human to have around, and overall a force to be reckoned with.