There's a lot more to creating unique and edgy content than keeping a camera fixed to your face. From eating scrumptious tacos and filming rock-busting, high-horsepower off-road race trucks in Baja, Mexico to cruising the scenic Rubicon Trail in the Sierra Nevada creating content for some of the motorsport industry's biggest names, it's all in a week's work if you're Matt Martelli, the creative director and CEO of one of the fastest growing media companies on the U.S. West Coast, Mad Media.
Mad Media is the company behind some of the action sports industry’s most viral videos as well as the rejuvenation of the iconic Mint 400 desert race outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. When asked what his role is within the company, Martelli explained that on top of running the company’s day-to-day operations, he wears many other hats as well, all of which keep him constantly stimulated and challenged.
While Martelli credits many of his friends and colleagues for both his creative and professional inspirations, he mentioned by name several influential educators that were key in helping him discover during his younger years that there was a way to be creative and make money. The busy CEO explained that he often draws influences from music, art, food, his travels, and from life experiences. Like other creatives, Martelli seems to be on a constant lookout for opportunities that are both stimulation and help him grow as a creative and an entrepreneur.
“I firmly believe that if you are creative, there are no boundaries,” said Martelli. “You’re not just creative at one thing. That applies to influences as well.”
Martelli's social media accounts are some of my favorite to follow. In a way, his followers get to live vicariously through his adventures, and he does a good job at keeping his accounts updated — something that isn't always easy to do when you're busy and constantly on the go.
Favorite Project to Date
Earlier in the year, I shared an article about a drone being taken out of the sky by an adrenaline-fueled youngster. Martelli said that the XP1K series, which proved to be both challenging and rewarding, put him in a situation where the company was pushing the limits of what could be done in regards to the stunts that were performed by the talented UTV driver, as well as when it came to deciding on the right way to share the visceral experience via cinematography.
The creative businessman pointed out that when Mad Media has created something, that it becomes a part of the cultural timeline of automotive history, and that in itself seems to keep him motivated: “The idea is to create something that a person from any walk of life can look at and go ‘Holy shit! That was bad ass! I want some more!’ It's like people are roaming around longing for good content, and when they get it they are stoked. Then they gotta wait for the next piece of good content. I mean, what, can’t we have more Anthony Bourdain-level shows? I think it’s totally possible if creative people take control.”
Martelli explained that he and his brother have a simple goal: to take the best drivers in the world, put them in wildest vehicles in the most spectacular locations on the planet, and blow people’s minds.
Advice for Up-and-Coming Creatives
Martelli stressed that creatives looking to make their mark start by focusing on making great content. “You don’t need the latest greatest equipment; That can be a crutch,” he said. “Become a good photographer, cinematographer, graphic designer, or creative first. The world doesn’t need more crappy content, there is a lot out there.”
He recommends finding something you're passionate about and creating great content around that. He went on to add that if it’s money you’re after, it will come if you work hard at what you’re passionate about. Martelli said that businesses and consumers alike want quality. They want to be entertained. They want to be thrilled.
Martelli urges other creatives to never stop trying new things, explaining that it’s been his experience that experimentation always creates new ideas. And those new ideas keep Martelli and Mad Media fresh and at the top of their game.
Martelli said he doesn’t like to hold still. Between working on the planning, marketing, and logistics of next year’s Mint 400 off-road desert race, several major television commercials, an upcoming television show, and other digital pieces, he still manages to find time for friends and family. It's something that almost seems impossible with such a full plate.
Martelli's drive and the professional results that Mad Media consistently spits out helps to keep me motivated in moving forward with my own projects. Perhaps there's something in that Mexican water that keeps him trucking along. For now, we can just assume it's drive and ambition that keeps creatives like Martelli in business.