Turning Passion into Profit
Based in Aarhus, Drenday is a video production duo specialised in poetic storytelling. Their works are intimate narratives, rich in colour and nerve, and they dare to experiment and push their partners forward. This interview dives into the story of how Drenday grew from a self-taught passion project into a functioning business, as well as how their style has developed over the years.
Mathias Jensen, Creative Director at Les Deux (left) in Conversation with Søren & Simon of Drenday (right)
Tell us the story of how Drenday was started, and how you got to where you are today.
Drenday was created in the slipstream of the rise of social media. We wanted to create a platform for our own visual exploration of the world. A platform where we could let our creative interests manifest themselves, for the sake of our own development.
In the beginning, we did not have any outspoken ambition to turn this venture into an actual business, but we quickly gathered considerable praise for the material that we created. Companies and individuals showed interest in our work, and we managed to leverage this to leap into producing content commercially.
We think that the most important factor in the success of Drenday, is that we have never compromised on our product. Through our entire journey, we have constantly focused on maintaining the passion and nerve, that makes art exciting. To create something that motivates yourself, rather than determining business models and strategy, etc.
In general – find what motivates you, then people will follow.
For us, Drenday has become more than a company. It has become a mantra, or a filter, that we attempt to apply to every aspect of our work. It is in our DNA to strive towards creating material that gives something to the viewer. We have to. To be noticed in this business, authenticity is crucial.
The level of competition in the creative field is overwhelming. Increasing demand for content, as well as lower barriers of entry, has led to a significant rise in hopeful young entrepreneurs entering the market. To accommodate this, we have been very selective in our choice of partners and the material we created. We have always aimed high. Curating your associations is a powerful tool, and even though it took us a long time to establish a functioning partner base, it has helped us stick out.
Lastly, a big part of our journey has been the progress of our friend- and partnership. We have shared the ups and downs and worked together towards a common goal. Being a young startup is fragile, and you never know when you are going to encounter the next obstacle. However, this fragility fosters a sense of unity that is completely unique. You are always willing to go the extra mile. To push yourself. We have experienced that we are strongest when the odds are against us and disagreed the most when times were good.
Explain the pros and cons of being self-taught in your industry
Being self-taught generally cultivates a certain degree of pragmatism. The learning process is defined by trial and error, and curiosity is the driving factor. You have a willingness to try – and to fail. This is the important part. The more often you fail, the quicker you learn what works for you, and how to make it work the next time. Furthermore, technology and the creative field is always moving, making it extremely hard for the educational institutions to keep up. A lot of times, these places are grounded in outdated methods and theories, that no longer align with industry standards. Cutting out the unnecessary hours spent on outdated solutions is highly efficient. Additionally, if you are in control of your own learning, you are free to decide your palette. You choose the scope of your toolset, as well as the depth. You are in charge, and that gives you an incredible flexibility.
Even though we thrive in this state of dynamic learning, we acknowledge that some obstacles would have been easier to overcome with a more conventional background. This could come down to theory and having a set of models and structures to apply to given challenge. Our frustrations are often a matter of obliviousness. We encounter a new problem and lack the knowledge to remove it. However, we have been very successful in leveraging our network and making use of people, who knows more than we do.
In the end, we believe that no matter which path you choose – conventional or self-taught, you will end up in the same place. The only difference is the path. Different people thrive under different circumstances and choosing is up to the individual. Nonetheless, the internet is full of tools and courses for the self-teachers, and it is only going in one direction. We are definitely going to see a greater diversity within all creative fields, and that is going to have a positive effect on the industry as a whole.
You clearly have a very distinct style of working with your partners. How would you describe this style?
Given the industry we work within, our personality seeps through every aspect of our process. We have a very personal and intimate style in our films, which is often reflected in the way we work with our partners. We value the relationship and the bond we form with our partners and strive to keep our communication informal and approachable.
It is highly important for us that people recognize this element in our films. We create our aesthetic and narratives in close dialogue with our partners, making sure that the message is as authentic as possible. We seek out the extravagant and try to encourage our partners to embrace it. Being a bit extreme often improves the result.
Over the years our productions have clearly matured and become more refined, but our focus has always been on the essence of the narrative. Finding the nerve. For our partners, this has often been daunting, but very few have regretted the decision.
Has this style been consistent since the beginning?
Looking back at our development, it is clear that we have progressed both creatively and strategically. We have been able to stay within a state of constant learning. From our surrounding, as well as our mistakes. However, we have been very adamant with our style since the beginning. When people approach us for a job, they want a Drenday production. They buy into us, as much as the product, and that is the way we want to run our company.
What is in store for Drenday in the future?
In the beginning of this year, we opened a new office in the center of Aarhus. It has long been our ambition to establish a new creative hub for artists and entrepreneurial spirits. A community across companies, where we can share and develop our collective pool of skills. The goal is to create a place where people can express themselves, create a community and grow along with other companies and freelancers. Additionally, the location of the office gets us closer in proximity to our partners and enables us to invite them up for a coffee, work-related or not.
Drenday and Les Deux have worked together for a couple of years now. What has been the most interesting aspect of this partnership and which project are you most proud of?
We have had the pleasure to be introduced to Les Deux at a very exciting point in their growth. They were determined to evolve their visual profile and provided us with a foundation to do so. This mutual benefit became a key factor in cultivating a long-lasting relationship. In collaboration, we created a method and a language that works, and Les Deux have been extremely welcoming, even to our more challenging ideas and concepts.
Additionally, we truly appreciate the hospitality and friendliness of the Les Deux team. Through our countless projects and travels, we have created a familiar bond, that makes us want to return. They have managed to develop a highly transparent organization, where you feel welcome and listened to, and that is truly rare in this industry.
Over the years, we have created some immensely exciting projects. We are proud of them all, but the Spring/Summer film we shot in Menton, France, clearly stands out. The city was radiant, setting a stunning stage in all of its pastel hues, and the model embodied the protagonist of the story perfectly. Everything clicked. We were given full creative freedom in the conception of this film, and this is the type of mutual confidence and faith, is what makes our partnership successful