Grand Rapids-based Wolfer Productions
is an award-winning documentary film company. It has made films in fifteen countries, focusing on stories about women's rights, humanitarian and religious issues, and the plight of orphans.
One of its documentaries, "Adopting Haiti,"
released January 2011 on Hulu.com, has been shown at film festivals and humanitarian events around the world, winning the San Diego indie fest "Best Documentary" and a silver "Telly Award."
Interestingly enough, the founder of the production company, Tim Wolfer, says, "I never had a client in Grand Rapids yet."
Wolfer works out of the downtown co-working facility The Factory and has a team of five talented contractors who provide background research, music, graphics and editing.
Having traveled throughout the United States and various parts of the world to capture film footage of humanitarian efforts, Wolfer says he has learned how to be prepared for unexpected travel. His basement serves as a staging area where everything he needs for a quick get-away is packed up and ready for him to leave on the drop of dime: "I have it set up where we can be anywhere in the world in 24 hours. Everything is pre-packed, all customs information and travel documents are ready."
His most recent adventure took him to the Philippines following the recent typhoon. After unsuccessfully pitching his services to various organizations providing aid, he bought a plane ticket and decided to go on his own.
After landing in the Philippines he quickly was hired as a freelancer and recouped his expenses. At the same time, he took advantage of the experience and filmed the rescue and aid efforts which he is making into a documentary.
"I shot a film there about the food drops and flew with the helicopter pilots," Wolfer says. He recalls walking up to the pilots with his camera in hand and asking, "Can I hop on the chopper?" He says the pilots flew throughout the Philippines to remote villages to drop bags of rice.
Wolfer started his business five years ago, but it is only the last two years that he has been full-time. Although he has the capability to make any type of documentary, his primary customers are humanitarian and religious organizations. His goal is to accurately represent the lives and the feelings of the people he is filming: "We try to connect with people. Get them comfortable versus scripting it out."
Wolfer's goal is be able to hire 3-4 full time people in the next five years. He feels this would be the perfect size for the business, still allowing him to enjoy the adventures but not be bogged down as a full-time manager.
To learn more about Wolfer Productions, go here.
The link to the trailer for his Haiti documentary is here.
Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor