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Ten Years of Crucial

Storytelling. It’s what we’ve been doing for ten years now, so it’s about time we tell you our story! Over the years we've produced many award winning campaigns, have seen our work gain millions of online views and have also undergone some hardships and growing pains that helped get us to where we are today. So join us for a journey back in time and see how the pieces started to fall together and led to ten years of Crucial.



The Start


In 2009, our creative director, Blair Vermette was working at CBC when he got a chance to meet a child prodigy photographer. His name was Joey Lawrence and he had been featured on "The Hour". At a mere 17 years old he had shot a Forbes magazine cover, the publicity images for the movie "Twilight," an album cover for 50 Cent and more.


Joey’s unbelievable talent and love for anthropology made one thing clear to Blair – his story needed a voice. He quickly got to work and put together a trailer about Joey’s life that he intended to pitch to TV networks.


Crucial Coming Together



Flash forward a few months, Lee Harris (co-founder) was working with his father’s production and distribution company, Canamedia. Lee had an eye for TV concepts and documentaries that would go on to become a great success. Every year he would look at hundreds of promos produced by some of the top production houses in the world, looking for hidden gems along the way.


One day when he was sifting through various trailers Canamedia had received when he stumbled upon Blair’s Joey Lawrence promo. It was the best piece of work he had EVER laid his eyes on. It was nothing short of emotive, inspiring and it gave him goosebumps! He knew there was something there and immediately brought Blair in to discuss partnering up. He wanted to bring the promo to Cannes for MIPCOM, the TV industry's largest international market to raise the funding required to make the film.


While trying to sort out the logistics for the documentary, Lee was able to find a number of channels to back the project. It was then that they went on to developing and shooting the film.


The film premise was as so: Joey would return to Ethiopia one year after spending time in the Omo Valley photographing various tribal men and women. His goal was to find these same people and give them a life size print of their photo. This was certainly something that had never been attempted before.


The film, “Faces of a Vanishing World” was completed and went on to be broadcasted in 160 different countries around the world in multiple languages. National Geographic, Discovery, Ovation, TBS, CBC Radio Canada and Travel+Escape were just a few of the many channels that picked it up.


It was during the making of that film that Blair and Lee saw eye to eye creatively and realized that they both had strengths that complement one another. In November of 2009, Crucial Pictures was formed!


Shift From Traditional to New Media


Lee (left) and Blair (right) at the Toronto International Film Festival

Lee and Blair premiered the film in both Toronto and New York and it was at the Toronto premiere that Crucial uncovered an opportunity that would change the course of their history.

The head of PR for Campbell's Canada happened to see the premiere of the film and was super inspired by it. She thought Crucial would be a great candidate to tell a corporate social responsibility story that was very important to them at the time – a project to help address the issue of hunger both domestically and internationally.


This would be their foray into the world of advertising but one with a focus on the story and done in a documentary style. Today, this type of advertising is known as “branded content” and is widely used. Though they may not have invented this style of advertising, they’d like to think that they helped in pioneering it. The short film Crucial produced for Campbell's became one of their biggest social media success stories to date.


After this Crucial was approached by many other brands, PR firms and Advertising agencies to help them in producing powerful stories.


Present Day Crucial



Ten years of Crucial led to working with impressive companies with innovative ideas who want to share it with the world. Crucial has become one of the leading storytelling content agencies in North America. So where are they at in their story? They’ll most likely tell you that they’re just getting started. After all, who ever gets sick of a great story?


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