Bourbon Street brings home big-city video production

John Bourbonais and his wife LeAnne Carrouth have built a facility with equipment to match studios in New York or Los Angeles.

Bourbon Street High Definition Video Production

1753 Eighth Street, Suite C2

www.bsphd.com

Produces 100 videos a year

Annual growth: 10-15 percent

As Colorado Springs struggles to resuscitate its tourism industry following the Waldo Canyon fire, Bourbon Street High Definition Video Production has volunteered to produce a marketing video for the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“We’re heavily invested in this community,” said John Bourbonais, who co-owns the business with his wife LeAnne Carrouth. “This is a way for us to give back.”

What they’re giving back will be no thrown-together school project. Bourbon Street is a fully-equipped video production house, complete with some equipment unavailable elsewhere in the state or maybe even anywhere between here and Los Angeles.

“This is modeled after a production house you’d see in San Francisco or New York,” Bourbonais said as he gestured to the high ceilings, colorful wall paint, wood beams and tall metal doors that outfit the inside of an unassuming building near Eighth Street and Cheyenne Boulevard. “Only it’s bigger. Real estate is cheaper in Colorado.”

Bourbonais grew up in Wisconsin and ended up in Colorado Springs after he finished college in 1991. He was looking for a place where he could volunteer full-time that wouldn’t make him go through a lengthy application process. He found the Bijou House.

He eventually worked his way to the U.S. Olympic Committee, where he became a production manager and oversaw one of the first five HD production facilities in the country. He shot his first high-definition video at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney.

With that experience under his belt, Bourbonais decided to see whether he could make it in Hollywood.

“I was actually dating LeAnne at the time,” he said. “The plan was, I would go out there and wash dishes for a year. I’d give it a year.”

He started working within two days of arriving, Carrouth said. His experience in high-definition video made him very employable in a world where HD was just starting to become popular. He did some HD programming for ESPN. He also helped shoot a “not-so-remarkable remake of Carrie.” And he worked on a Disney film called Going to the Mat.

“Studios were just getting their feet wet with this technology, and I was kind of an HD consultant,” he said.

Bourbonais taught them a few things and he also learned about the full production process. On crews of 80 to 150 people, there was no down time, he said.

“Hollywood is a machine,” Bourbonais said. “You keep going. If you have to wait around for 10 minutes, it literally costs $1,000.”

He learned a lot about efficiency from that experience, and it shows in his work today. Bourbon Street is one of very few production houses in Colorado with a 3-ton grip truck, he said. And he takes the whole truck out to most of his projects, even the smaller ones that don’t need big lights or advanced camera and sound technology.

“It’s very unpopular for a company like ours to own this much gear,” he said. “But I like to have it. I never want to wish I had something.”

His team doesn’t have to build anything to move grip equipment around, which saves about a half-hour a day.

“In a 10-hour day, we’ve just given the client 5 percent more shooting time,” he said.

Bourbon Street is the only production house in Colorado that has an Arri “Alexa” Motion Picture Camera, Bourbonais says. That’s the same camera used to film Mad Men and The Avengers.

Bourbonais is a self-proclaimed tech lover. He’s always looking for the next best technology and he’s always working to stay ahead of trends. He was the first person in Colorado to buy a Sony HD video camera in 2004.

He bought it after moving progressively back to Colorado Springs after his time in L.A.

“There are 100 channels,” he said. “You probably went through all of them last night — twice — and picked the least offensive thing. There are people involved in all of that unremarkable programming. I was looking for something more meaningful.”

Before returning to Colorado, he took a job filming and documenting a group of teachers coming up with a new school curriculum on a sailboat.

And then he came back to Colorado.

“Who wouldn’t want to live in Colorado Springs?” Carrouth said. “It’s beautiful.”

Once here, Bourbonais realized with every project he worked on that the organizations lacked pre-production — planning.

That’s when he decided to move from a career as a videographer to building a full-service production facility. Carrouth writes, directs and manages a lot of those logistics. Bourbonais still focuses most of his energy on filming. The business has two other employees and regularly works with a handful of other contractors.

Bourbon Street produces about 100 videos a year ranging from 30-second commercials to five-minute promotional videos and half-hour television programs. Major clients include several of the Olympic sports’ national governing bodies, Colorado College and other local businesses. Bourbon Street also works with visiting out-of-town production teams.

The company grows an average of 10 to 15 percent a year, Bourbonais said.

There’s a lot more opportunity coming up, Carrouth said. They are looking at some possible work in China. Bourbonais is excited about recent legislation that created tax breaks for film production in Colorado and he expects it to spur some independent film activity in which Bourbon Street could get involved