Saturday, January 28, 2023

Chick-fil-a to filmmaker: How one W&M student jump-started his own business at 20

Isaac Davis is the owner of Identity Production Studios, which he began in 2011 when he was in middle school. (WYDaily/Courtesy Isaac Davis)
Isaac Davis is the owner of Identity Production Studios, which he began in 2011 when he was in middle school. (WYDaily/Courtesy Isaac Davis)

When Isaac Davis, 20, was in middle school, he did something most students could only dream of — he started his own film production company.

“I told people that I truly believed there was no reason not to start now,” he said. “If it’s something you love, why not. It truly is about sticking to your gut, sticking to your dreams and going for it.”

Davis, now a junior at William & Mary studying film, has almost finished his first year as a profitable business, having registered as an LLC and getting his business license in 2017.

The company, Identity Production Studios, boasts a team entirely composed of young and ambitious businessmen. 

One of those is Identity Production Studios Vice President Hassaan Abdus-Saboor, 26, who saw joining a small budding company as a way to continue his love of film.

Davis and Abdus-Saboor first met when they were working together four years ago at a local Chick-fil-a. When the two were introduced to each other by a manager, Abdus-Saboor said they immediately connected about their dreams and aspirations.

“I was greatly encouraged by the possibility to inspire people through bringing together creative individuals to work together on great works of film art. … To be able to inspire the audience, leaving them feeling motivated and renewed, has been one of the biggest motivators and points of enjoyment for me,” Abdus-Saboor said.

But for a team of professionals all under the age of 30, Davis admits that making the dream come true isn’t always easy. It took nearly six years for the company to become official, but even with all of the right legal documents and the strongest support, it all comes down to getting clients to take a group of young individuals seriously.

The company’s first short film, “Endurance,” tells the story of a  runner pushing his limits. (WYDaily/Courtesy Isaac Davis)

“I think in every situation, your age, even though it shouldn’t, plays a huge factor,” Davis said. “It should be about the quality of your work that defines you. But when you sit in front of a client as a group of 20-year-olds, it’s hard to convince them that we can do this job and do it well.”

The company has done various projects for  businesses around Greater Williamsburg, Davis said. But now the team wants to flex its artistic muscle and has branched into making short films, and earlier this week the company released the “Endurance,” the first episode of the four-part series.

The film, which was written, directed and produced by Identity Production Studios, tells the story of a runner with a coach who keeps pushing him to do more, Davis said.

Each of the short films in the series will have a similar theme: an individual struggling with their identity and passion.

To help finance the films, the company has started a GoFundMe campaign with the goal of raising $20,000.

“Endurance” was released on a number of platforms and marketed through the company’s social media accounts with a key goal in mind: getting eyes on the screen.

“One of our biggest challenges has been defining our target market and marketing for that target,” Abdus-Saboor said. “We are so passionate in what we do, it can be hard to narrow things down at times to focus on key areas.”

Identity Production Studios’ ultimate goal is to create feature films, and Davis said the release of “Endurance” is the first step in achieving that dream.

The film “Endurance” is available on Vimeo and Youtube. (WYDaily/Courtesy Isaac Davis)

To do this, the company has a long way to go, but Davis knows how far he and his team have come already.

“Right now it seems like a struggle, but we know that in 10, 15, 20 years, we’re all going to be at the Academy Awards, laughing and looking back at all the work we’ve done,” Davis said.

A lot of the ideas for their film stories come from their own lives, Davis said.

The next installment of the series, “Criminal Silence,” will “focus on a young college student who struggles to find his place among the norms of society,” according to the company’s website.

The film is dedicated to John Van Bergen, a friend of Davis who died this past year.

As the team progresses through the project, Davis tries to keep his focus on his goals.

“A lot of people will ask me, ‘Why in the world are you doing all of this?’” he said. “And I tell them that in this world, we are so attuned to doing things without a purpose, we don’t know how to react when there is one. We hear ‘follow your dreams, follow your passions,’ but my team and I are out here showing what that looks like in real life.”

Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doironhttp://wydaily.com
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at alexa@localvoicemedia.com.

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