His college degree was so unique, he had to craft it himself,
Chris Christensen, creative director for Real Growth Media, a media company owned by Realty Growth Inc., said when he went to college at St. Cloud State University he built his own degree.
He graduated in 2008 with an elective studies degree, but it was essentially a film degree with mass communications, business and TV production classes included in the mix.
“By junior year I knew I wanted to do contemporary video production, instead of going down a film studies path and making movies,” Christensen said.
After college, he didn’t see many growth opportunities in St. Cloud so he relocated to Rochester and took a job with Hobby World TV, a firm which had 10 online TV channels.
They lasted three years, Christensen said. Then came the economic crash and, paired together with the booming popularity of YouTube, which “killed independent online TV, I think,” he said.
He decided to launch his own business called Wondercloud Media. His first job was accompanying a Rochester band called Author on a national tour shooting tour videos.
“It made me a better artist,” Christensen said, “and creator, to see the country and realize we’re all alike.”
For 10 years, he freelanced with Wondercloud and worked primarily with clients in southern Minnesota and the Twin Cities. Among his notable freelance clients is Mayo Clinic.
“It all kind of comes back to my documentary history, making documentaries,” he said. “I love capturing stories and telling stories as opposed to making a commercial. People want to hear stories and truths. They don’t want to get served an advertisement.”
Finding himself at a career crossroads, Christensen realized he’d maxed out what he could do in the community of Rochester with Wondercloud Media. It’s then he connected with RGI Inc. co-owner Bucky Beeman, and together they discussed Beeman’s idea for Real Growth Media.
A media company operating under a corporate umbrella is what the two visionaries wanted to create, and create it they did. “We had a few meetings and everything fell into place,” he said of collaborating with Beeman. “We all thought the idea was great and we worked it out. Here I am.”
Christensen said his draw to Real Growth Media, and RGI, was a compulsion he felt to be a part of a team. After freelancing for most of his career, he longed for that team element RGI offered.
“Having your own business is great, but at the end of the day it’s just you and your work,” Christensen said. “That was fulfilling to me for a long time, but then I wanted a team. Being here for the last eight months I feel like more than part of a team. I’m part of a family.”
“The culture created here is so positive,” he said, “and they hire positive people. That’s the part I knew would be possible but I didn’t know it would be so awesome. It creates better work, better content, better productivity when you have a place you’re excited to go to every morning.”
What he values most about the team element is that his comrades are open to experimentation. They have essentially built a machine for creating content, Christensen said, and are focused now on creating even better content with that same machine.
“We’re learning what viewers want to see,” he said. “We’re getting better at creating good content. We’re running social media, and a YouTube channel, but we are a business too.”
The challenge inherent with their task is to create entertaining, educational content, he said.
“We’re always thinking of content,” Christensen said. “Trying to find a good balance between quantity and quality is a big thing here. That’s a departure from where I was, where quality was the primary goal.”
One favored project for him is called “Buyers, Buildings and Businesses,” which is a web series about the progression of a business. Season One featured the journey of Ashley Moberg of Real Deals and their rapid growth from renting to building her dream building. Christensen likens it to an HGTV show but with a commercial real estate focus rather than a residential story being told.
“If we keep pushing, we can create good content about commercial real estate,” he said. “It has that HGTV vibe to it that people are going to want to watch.”
“Being a part of this team is awesome,” he went on. “A big part of my decision to come here was seeing the passion they have here. The team at Realty Growth Inc. gets as excited about real estate as I do about video production and content creation, so it makes for a great relationship.”
Christensen said he loves starting his creative process with nothing, and creating content.
“It’s a piece of art, is how I see it,” he said. “I’m pointing my camera and turning it into something that someone is going to sit down and watch and learn something from.”
To see some of Chris’s work you can find it at some of the following places online.