In the wake of a constantly changing and evolving technological culture, much of the future of filmmaking lies in the hands of a new generation of innovators. Contibutor Janelle Domek interviews four up and coming local filmmakers to answer the question: what’s next?
The second installation in our four-part series on up and coming local talent introduces Sofia Kerpan, co-founder of girl-gang production company Verluxe. If you missed part 1, profiling award-winning animator Carter Boyce, don’t worry, you can still check it out here.
Born and raised on Chicago’s northwest side, Sofia Kerpan has been making a name for herself and her city through production company Verluxe, a project she started in 2013 with co-founders Danielle Alston and Eva Dubovoy. Sofia, a recent graduate of Columbia College Chicago, has been making films since she discovered the power of visual storytelling in high school. Her love of the trade inspired her to attend Boston University for Film & Television, although she ultimately transferred to Columbia College Chicago to pursue a degree in Cinema Arts and Sciences. It was at Boston University that she met Danielle, a fellow filmmaker and Chicago transplant. In her own words, the pair “bonded over how miserable we both were” in Boston and immediately moved in together after moving back to the midwest, making an otherwise unfortunate experience worthwhile.
Prior to meeting Sofia, Danielle had created a company called Young Wonder with Eva Dubovoy and another friend. Despite the promise and possibility of being young business owners, the transition from Young Wonder to Verluxe went south as the third owner of Young Wonder sued Danielle, Eva, and Sofia for the company. Reflecting back on that time in her life, Sofia says:
“I definitely learned a lot from that experience, getting sued at 20. To this day, we think about that experience and try to solve our problems civilly and not take things too seriously. We deal with conflicts much better now.”
The girls have since mastered the collaborative process: Sofia acts as the primary editor and designer, Danielle directs and shoots (when they don’t hire a professional DP), and Eva is the primary account manager, although she directs and edits as well. Since starting fresh with Verluxe, Sofia and her co-founders have seen great success in Chicago, particularly through creating music videos for members of rap collective SaveMoney.
According to Sofia, “breaking into the scene wasn’t really a challenge because we knew a lot of people who were aspiring musicians from high school.” Sofia attended Lane Tech College Prep with her friend Preston, now known as Towkio in SaveMoney, while Danielle went to school with Vic Mensa, a founding artist in the collective. An early music video Verluxe created with SaveMoney was for Vic Mensa’s “Orange Soda,” one of his very first videos as a solo artist after his previous band, Kids These Days, split in 2013.
The Verluxe girls’ connections grew into a vast network, allowing them to work with people like Chance the Rapper, Schoolboy Q, and Common. Sofia’s favorite client to work with so far has been an artist who goes by the name Khori4, whose music video for “Guilty Love” was created by Verluxe. Despite the fun and relaxed vibe of many of the music videos they create, Sofia explains that in order to stay professional, “we try to have everything including animation and effects planned out to a T before we execute a film. Filmmaking is very hectic and last minute; there’s a lot of changes that happen when you’re not expecting them, but that’s the beauty of filmmaking.”
In recent months, Verluxe has been transforming from a production company into an all-encompassing content agency. Sofia says, “we ultimately plan to expand into the realm of event production,” and explains that the experience of an event is “the best way to get people on board with you.” Verluxe’s most recent event was a launch party for “Renegade,” the 10th issue of VRLX Mag, a visual diary of the girls’ memories and experiences since they started the project in July of 2013. In 2014, they decided to take the magazine to print. The girls have since thrown three VRLX Mag launch parties, a Valentine’s Day party, a Halloween party, and an event called Verluxe Dollhouse as part of Leo Burnett’s Blank Canvas campaign. The Dollhouse was a curated event where the girls of Verluxe hand-picked artists and displayed their artwork inside and outside of a life-size dollhouse. The event not only helped foster recognition for Verluxe, but allowed exposure for their chosen artists—many of whom went on to intern at Leo Burnett.
In the coming months, Sofia and her co-founders are focusing on their transition into operating bi-coastally. Eva recently moved to Los Angeles, and Danielle plans to move to New York City. Sofia hopes that rather than tear the girls apart, the move will help Verluxe expand its clientele. She explains that although Verluxe has awarded her countless opportunities and experiences, the most important opportunity the company has awarded her is being able to work with Danielle and Eva: “Working with my friends is an amazing opportunity, not many people can do that.” Although unsure of exactly where she is heading, Sofia is excited to see where things go as she transitions into post-grad life.
To learn more about Sofia’s work with Verluxe, check out the company’s website.
The third installation of this four-part Facets Exclusive series will introduce Judy Suh, a multi-disciplinary artist and filmmaker who graduated from Northwestern University.
Author: Janelle Domek studies Animation and Digital Cinema at DePaul University’s College of Computing and Digital Media. She was the Programs Assistant Intern at Facets this fall and now interns at Radar Studios. Click here to check out her website!