Always seeing something, never seeing nothing
— Walter De Mulder, photographer
In Greek mythology lived a giant with a hundred eyes. It was pretty hard to get anything past him, because he always kept a few eyes open, even when he slept. His name was Argos (or Argus) Panoptes, which means “all-seeing.” While pictures of this big fellow covered with eyes may be a bit unsettling, there is nothing unsettling about his namesake here in Boise — Argos Productions.
“My original idea was to call the company ‘Ton of Stuff Productions,’ but there was a valid worry we would look unfocused. We found Argos and loved the idea of the many eyes,” says Co-owner and Managing Director Jeston Cole Lewis. “It represents the notion of how a story could be told from multiple sides, whether that be camera angles or personal perspectives.”
The mythological all-seeing Argos, who could observe and focus in all directions, resonated immediately with Erica Deshner Cornwall, the other Co-owner and the team’s Creative Director and Chief Operations Officer. Mythology was her favorite class in school, and there was no need to look any further for an identifying brand. “I felt like it explained how I got to this place in my life. It was that easy.”
The two of them met back in 2015 while working a gig at the Morrison Center as techs for the “42nd Street” tour. They soon realized they could take their individual skills and complementary experience to create something unique in the Boise community. And so Argos Productions was born in June 2017. Jeston works the administration side, while Erica is the face and creative force of the company. “We both bring a keen creative mind. I bring a more analytical mind, and Erica brings a lot of experience in abstract art and a wealth of connections locally,” Jeston said. “I bring experience with sound, and Erica brings an intimate understanding of lighting.”
Once you meet either of them, you can easily see the energy and excitement they bring to their approach to each project. Like others in the video production field, their backgrounds and diverse experiences cannot be easily journaled. No two paths are the same in this crazy profession. But it does create a unique and valuable perspective for clients seeking personalized video services to tell their stories. What Jeston and Erica do have in common is an inner dual-drive for more/better.
Jeston grew up in the Bay Area and went to college at Stony Brook University on Long Island in New York, where he studied music and theater. While he didn’t make it to the bright lights of Broadway, he did take just about every technical class he could find on how to put together a variety of productions. He built sets, worked with rigging, set lights and dived into audio. He did camera work, volunteered at music festivals, ran live events and even worked as an audio tech for Carnival Cruise. “I’ve always enjoyed the behind-the-scenes aspect of creation, especially movies. When I was younger, I would watch all the DVD special features (especially the extended editions of ‘Lord of the Rings’). I love understanding how people make things. I find it fascinating.”
Erica, meanwhile, grew up in Central Montana — Great Falls and the even smaller Ulm and Fort Benton. Her “college journey,” as she calls it, included the University of Idaho, U of Montana and then Boise State University where she graduated with a degree in Interdisciplinary Art Studio Studies. Along the way, she took digital cinematography classes, video editing, dance, theater and even computer science. She’s worked numerous lighting gigs over the years and worked at three local television stations in Boise, as well as numerous other production jobs and camerawork as an independent contractor. You can also add two years as Technical Director of the Idaho International Film Festival to that busy list. Her personal rewards come from the challenges of creating effective videos and events and all the emotions that are revealed through good storytelling. “Every single project and task related to video makes me happy — and sad. It is my best friend … second to my still camera.”
Here at Argos Productions, we tell stories. We tell the stories of a community. We tell loud grand stories, and we tell quiet personal stories. We’ve told the stories of a local library, and we’ve shot documentaries in Spain. We’ve told the stories of a performing arts camp in California, Huntington’s Disease Society of America and My Idaho Friends. We worked on a biopic of a twitch gamer, and we worked with Atlas Obscura’s Eclipse Event in Eastern Oregon. We tell stories — big or small, live or canned.
“We excel at live events. We also excel at working with nonprofits,” says Jeston. “They are typically underserved when they’re at a smaller stage of growth and need someone who is willing to grow with them. We’ve found partnerships like that on multiple fronts.” The team has produced small offsite meetings, and they’ve put together large launch events and sales meetings with more than 2,000 participants.
At the moment, corporate audio-visual events are driving the bus, but the storytelling road in front of Argos is wide open. Current projects include a promotional video about Boise’s skateboarding and snowboarding community (‘Rhodes to Bogus’), as well as a couple music videos for an artist in Arizona.
“Every day, I feel grateful to be building this business with Erica in the way we want to build it and how it represents the ideals that live within us,” Jeston said.
“I see the world differently,” Erica said. “Little things catch my eye, overlooked humans spark my curiosity, and there is beauty all around us. If I can capture it, then everyone can enjoy it. I love a good story.”
THE ROAD AHEAD
Looking ahead, Argos Productions wants to do more than tell community stories. Jeston and Erica want to build community, not just participate in it. They want Argos to be a pillar of that community, and one of the ways they want to build that is through this blog by creating a community resource. “I think this will be a digital community center, a place where people will come for reliable information concerning the endeavors they find themselves pursuing, whether they are filmmakers, small business owners, or event personnel, or maybe they’re all of those things at once,” Jeston said.
“As small business owners, we understand what it’s like to struggle through the ups and downs of building something from the ground up. People will get a glimpse into how and why we do the things we do and how we think we can help.” Filmmakers will find a resource on how to hone their craft. Small business owners can look here to learn how to utilize video to its fullest extent. And event planners can come here to get help on how to pull off a successful, smooth production.
It’s going to be fun. Join us.