Chris Layhe & CLAi Creating Amazing Film & Video Productions
Hi and thanks for visiting the CLAi website. we are in the final throes of finishing off the revised site, so there should be less mistakes but just as much mess! 🙂
CLAi - A DIFFERENT VIDEO PRODUCTION COMPANY
CLAI ARE A film and VIDEO PRODUCTION COMPANY IN THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA WHO HAVE BEEN MAKING INNOVATIVE AND EFFECTIVE VIDEOS, FILMS, BROADCAST TV AND INTERNET VIDEO SINCE WE WERE FOUNDED IN LONDON IN 1984.
We pride ourselves on creating consistently outstanding productions – programs that motivate, entertain and drive viewers to action, whatever the project complexity or budget.
Of course, every agency says this, each claims to be the best film and video production company in town. But in reality we are far from being the same: skill, experience, raw creativity, the ability to listen and understand, equipment capability, and the quality of the contract personnel we all rely on varies as enormously as final budgets and client satisfaction.
But CLAi are… well, we are just a little strange – we view the business side of production a little uniquely and we do things a little differently from the other guys. We choose to operate at the highest end of the production company spectrum in terms of quality and creativity but to remain extremely affordable, putting profit a distant second to making great films and videos that excite and motivate.
We also suffer from a strange desire to be honest and transparent to our clients and partners. Part of that is what you are reading…
This web site hasn’t been written by an agency or a web design company and filled with snappy marketing phrases. I’m Chris Layhe, founder of CLAi, and I’ve put fingers to keys to write everything you will read here – with the goal of giving you lots of information about ourselves, the industry and the roles and techniques that are needed to create great videos and film projects… for better or worse! So many of the pages are in the first person and may read like blogs.
The other side of this transparency is being straight about who we are – like most production and facilities companies we are a small boutique agency not a 50 employee giant. But unlike most we take this position for a reason, and we have both a physical production studio and a mass of top flight equipment – which we explain in the About Us section,
IF I HAD TO PICK CLAi's BEST TWO QUALITIES? THE COMMITMENT AND AND THE PASSION WE BRING TO EVERY PROJECT.
It’s being prepared to put every project and it’s success ahead of earnings and egos, doing whatever it takes to make it work with a passion for storytelling through images and sound that burns as strongly after decades in the business as it did when an eighteen year old Chris Layhe picked up his first camera back in England… it’s sitting in front of an edit system at 4am to get everything just so – again, without ever missing a deadline or going over an agreed budget.
SOME OF OUR WORK
It’s easy to talk the talk, but at the end of the day it is only what is seen on the screen that tells the story.
These are a few of the film and video projects that CLAi have created or worked on… and there are lots more on our portfolio page.
And these are our little show reels: production, color grading and cinematography…
So what makes CLAi so unique?
video production companies are like schoolgirls - they all want to appear to stand out from the crowd while actually hiding happily in the middle of the herd. CLAi revel in being the black sheep, being different in our ideas, our workflow and our interaction with clients... because being truly unique in any creative enterprise is always a good thing.
It comes down to just five elements that we bring to the table - EXPERIENCE, EXCELLENCE, CREATIVITY, EXPERTISE and COMMON SENSE...
REAL WORLD EXPERIENCE, there is no substitute for it. We are eclectic and accomplished. We come from the worlds of broadcast documentary, corporate video, commercials, indie film, music and the arts – on both sides of the camera and microphone.
We are bound by a common commitment to creativity, quality and accepting nothing short of excellence. Our three decades of experience allow us a depth of expertise that takes the risk out of the film and video production equation. Large or small, ultra-low budgets or mega-funded, we’ve pretty much seen and done it all before… and Chris is always happy to talk about any potential project and bring that experience to suggesting the right solution.
JUST AHEAD OF THE CURVE, we are creatives who suffer from a touch of tech geekiness, using the latest technologies well before they become mainstream is a given. CLAi have always been early adopters of software and technologies, but only when it will boost quality, increase flexibility, open up new possibilities for the projects we work on, or simply give clients a better deal. Chris was a Bay Area leader in using 4k and 6k RED camera digital cinema systems as both a shooter and as one of the first post-production specialists to design and operate a viable camera to screen workflow… one of many technical and creative firsts for the company.
But expertise doesn’t stop with knowing the technology inside out, it demands a mastery of the disciplines needed to get the most out of the hardware and software, and best apply it to the story you are telling. We achieve this by practice, of course, and by taking on small “test” projects where we can have time to play without high expectations – and where we can involve industry newbies in making these so they get a chance to learn on the job too. Chris also passes on his expertise, as a mentor to a history of assistants, staging hands-on workshops for other industry professionals and as a guest lecturer at Colleges across the Bay… helping to grow the next generation of filmmakers.
CREATIVITY is so critical to turning any idea into a wickedly good final program, but it’s not something that you can easily put into words without sounding totally full of yourself – and, of course, the English side of the company would faint at the prospect of talking about his personal accomplishments… it’s just not done!
That’s one of the reasons we put quite a number of both film and video client testimonials into this web site – because they provide the reality of working with us. We also include just a few of the awards that our peers have given in recognizing our work, and feature a bunch of programs and films that we have produced as CLAi or that Chris has helped to create as an independent specialist… that way you get to make your own informed decision!
CLAi don’t actually accept that words like “COMPROMISE”, “GOOD ENOUGH”, “LATE” and “OVER BUDGET” exist. It’s not word blindness, just a belief that if it is worth doing something then it is worth doing it as well as humanly possible. Cutting corners is fine on a Ducati hitting a fast bend at 100mph but it’s never acceptable on a video or film, it’s why we believe excellence should never be a goal to work towards, it should be the reason to do the work. Of course, real life sometimes has other ideas, and then it’s acceptable to bend the rules a little and aim to make the best lemonade possible out of those lemons!
It’s a philosophy that wins lots of praise for the projects CLAi touch, from our peers and our clients’ clients – and that translates into films that win award after award, and corporate programs that get the job, sell the service and raise the funds. Which makes us all very happy!
EXPERIENCE, EXCELLENCE, CREATIVITY and EXPERTISE all sound very cool and trendy, but they don’t account for what is perhaps the most important aspect in making any project a success… common sense. One of our favorite film quotes is “A man’s gotta know his limitations” from Dirty Harry, such a simple phrase that we all too often forget when it comes to production, budget and time.
It takes common sense, confidence and street smarts to realize that there is a problem on a project or a shoot, identify the cause and be able to come up with a solution on the spot and put it into action. So CLAi spend a lot of pre-production time – even on just post-production projects – designing the right workflows that avoid potential disasters, save money and give the best quality before anyone gets too far in to change direction…
It’s part of the service CLAi provide to clients, and one of the reasons why we try to never say “No” to any request, even on the craziest phone call, is that we try to evolve an answer that will work. Sometimes that means finding and then passing the job on to someone else, or making a budget work for a project by cutting our rates, or sticking to a quote or deadline promise regardless of what might change. I guess it’s a Santa Cruz hippy thing, but Chris had a lot of help from a lot of people in achieving his goals and so giving back just makes sense…
You can contact Chris Layhe and CLAi in several ways, any day of the week:
Use this automated email form and please do give us as much detail as possible so we can get back to you quickly and make some sort of sense!
Or take a chance on deciphering Chris’ Manchester accent and call us on 650.-762.-5241