Wasn’t it just yesterday that Creative Network Studios celebrated its September 16, 1989 Grand Opening, hosted then Governor Jim Martin, flanked by his security force, welcomed the Special Effects Department from Ghostbusters greeted by huge search lights and wind machines from Hollywood Rentals, (now Illumination Dynamics), oohed and awed when a dramatically lit and cautiously-landed helicopter, courtesy of stunt pilot Chress Horne arrived, applauded models dressed in home town designer Alexander Julian fashion descending a grand Hollywood-esque staircase designed and built by Ralph Woolaston? All reflected in a freshly shined studio floor buffed by one proud Herman Ison, having barely risen from his knees in time to head off the Governor, who at that very moment was walking into the Chairman’s (floor shiner’s son) office where his own freshly buffed self was stepping out of the shower and into a potential scandalous political bath. Fortunately the elder Ison’s social tap dancing skills ran interference and that facetious Friday marked the beginning of a Charlotte-based entertainment entity that has proven to be a high rise in the skyline of the North Carolina world of production. One week later Hurricane Hugo would forever change that landscape by removing many of its 300-year old Oaks and Magnolia trees, while unearthing the persevering spirit of this enduring city.
Like the rebuilding of Charlotte, our opening gala was hand-built by the sweat and grit of cherished and talented people who have come and gone, but remain a phone call or Facebook click away. Artists like Richard Israel, an import photographer from England, who had toured with Vidal Sassoon for years, prior to making his way to 4202 Barringer Drive, where he humbly mowed our grass, painted studio cyc walls, learned to hang and sand sheet rock, and unveiled many memorable images thru his 35mm camera lens, prompting Charles’ constant management technique of asking “What’s Richard doing now?”
The laughter of many selfless people like Leigh Ann Yandle-Perry and Cindee Joye lingers. These two personalities whose makeup and design skills combined with an undeniable work ethic as assistants to Charles and me, made creating ads for clients such as Belk Department Stores and European Vogue, commercials for Lane Furniture and White Castle, videos for Diet Coke and CBS Winter Olympics, television specials with Olympic gymnasts and World Class Ice Skaters, or the America’s Awards for Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, and myriad others, more than commercial successes, but grin-inspiring memories logged in the laudable library of Creative Network Studios. Humor me please while I name a few . . .
The history and success of CNS is built on the skill sets of the likes of Artist and Set Designer Mack Green; Artist and Special Effects Master Jeff Hamrick; Editor and Jack-of-all-trades Jay Rich; Academy Award Composer Dee Barton, Graphic Artist and Web Designer Drew Auld, the consummate 3-piece suited Accountant Morris Williams; Editor James Horn, Studio Managers Mike Hudson and Keith Green; Gaffers Bob Schaner, Terry Bishop and Fritz Goforth; Set Builder and Cameraman Ditto Dalcher; Audioman Charles Holliman; Camera Assist Never-Had-A-Headache Rodger Painter, Set Builders Ryan Pressley and Tim Mills; Equipment Guru Jim Holliday; Sales Extraordinaire Heather Coggins, Alison Clark, Kevin Boyd, Stephanie Wheeler and Katherine Edwards, Lighting and Generator Giver-of -Self Kevin Stolpe; Assistants and On-camera personalities Tracy Bergstrom, Dani Biali, Rebubbles Atkinson, Caroline Beacham, Caroline Fox-Penland, Judson Heinricher, Fabianna Rife, Kelly Ranson, Alex Jameson, Aynsley Wade, Laine Amortegui, Katie Xie, Elissa Riley-Slater, Chelsea Kimrey, Tera Forister Lamarre; Twin to me Susan Hill; Girl Friday and daily sunshine Carey Lynn Mcnaught; PR heartbeat turned sportscaster Shannon Speacht McSorley; Writer-gone-Hollywood Colby Jensen; Horse Whisperer Michelle Billings; Home Manager-gone-Big-time-Hotel Sales Joyce Owens; DP-beyond-compare Michael Underwood, Born-to-do-Vegas Graphic Designer Wade Austin; On-air personalities Amanda Pennekamp Bluestein; Cyrus Frakes-King; Caitlan Upton and Crystal Garrett; Makeup and Quick wit Scott Arnold; keeper of the clean Misty Messick; Bookkeeping godsend Karen Goss Grainger; Movie online mogul Phil Smoot; interns too numerous to list; and our ever-believing-in-us parents, Marvin and Gretna (Torlone) Morgan and Herman and Jenny Ison.
Throughout the years there have been exceptional individuals who have put their money where their belief is, either to fund an entitlement television sponsorship or to support our company’s expansion into movies, developing a Vegas Entertainment Network or conquering the challenges of a fluctuating economy. Martin Sprock, extremely successful franchising genius in his own right, saw the appeal of the producing skills and facilities of Creative Network Studios, and the depth of Charles Ison’s filmmaking background and contacts. The shared passion for entertainment combined with the financial successes of both have not only extended the production reach of CNS, but has presented many opportunities to incorporate CNS’ branding skills, online production capabilities and writing techniques, with Martin’s business acumen and entrepreneurial enthusiasm for filmmaking. And no doubt, our world of entertainment and networking in the world of racing recognizes the selflessness and friendship of Bruton Smith who has taken us in as his own and shared his sense of business and awesome shadow of influence.
Recently Jen Smith, our longtime Art Director and Graphic Artist, convinced me to update our own company logo as well as expand our website. I fought changing our look, but these past 25 years have taught me to listen to those who have invested their lives into CNS. The film camera iris-inspired new red icon and the stretched wording was created to work both on-screen as well as in print. It is with great pride I hand out my new card that reflects Jen’s extraordinary branding skills. And it was Jen who introduced the digital and visual skills of Ben Edwards and Devin Kelley who have made their own little cyber world overhead.
And last, but only because words come much too abundantly to express our appreciation to one of Charles’ own Ohio hometown productions and self-sacrificing originals; Nathan Wheeler, who deserves the Oscar for Best Supporting Everything. Many a tagline, storyline and pickup line have been created, shared and inspired by this gem of the natural talent goldmine. He is a constant reminder that humor makes the day shorter, the challenge lighter and the rewards multiplied. I’d give Nathan my last Janwich (personal experimental recipes) without hesitation, knowing we’d both starve since he wouldn’t take it. That’s just the kind of person he is. Ironically, Nathan embodies the characteristics of so many of the people who have molded Creative Network Studios into an entertainment force within her wonderful wanderlust walls and beyond, over these past 25 years.
So, when you enter the glass doors of Creative Network Studios and notice the hand-rubbed gold overlay walls, or sit on the eclectic furniture and remark on the mix of textures chosen by each of us who like to step outside the rules and into the world of exceeding expectations, may you feel truly welcome. Many creative souls have invested their talents into developing the special feeling clients and visitors have remarked upon when received/accosted by both human and canine greeters (Aw, Mercedes), that live and breathe life into our creative space. Our gratitude is extended to every individual, both clients and employees, who’ve made the past 25 years so remarkable, and we hope we’ve done the same for you.
Now that you’ve met us online, we’d love to have the opportunity to meet you in person. Call at your convenience to discuss allowing us to give our creative input to expanding your business while having a great time in the process. We welcome characters. After all, each one of us at CNS is one!
Our thanks is also extended to Larry Sprinkle and other local news celebrities who covered our Grand Opening September 16, 1989. Please take a few minutes to see the attached clips from that memorable night when our CREATIVE started networking.