It’s a partnership that started 20 years ago and still going strong today. Producer-director Michelle Ortega and producer-editor Jason LaBatt have filmed hundreds of videos together and won a number of awards along the way. In 2009, they launched their own video production group, North Beach Digital, and produced their first documentary, Adult Beginner Ballet. This husband-and-wife team is a perfect match for Ripplemakers—as LaBatt once shared to the Heart of Gold International Film Festival, stories that are“clear, concise and inspirational” are what he prefers to work on. It’s a view that Ortega shares and promotes, along with diversity in media. Clearly, it’s a partnership that works.
How did you get started?
We both started learning video production at SF State and began by making independent educational videos. The director/friend who worked with us on those videos ended up hiring us down the road to work at Macy’s in video production. I also worked at LIVE 105 while in college and videotaped several of their concerts.
When did you start your work partnership with Jason LaBatt?
Jason and I have been producing videos together since our college days in ’92 at San Francisco State University, where we met in the Broadcast Electronic Arts and Communication Department. “How to Live with The Roommate From Hell” and “RA Training,” were the first independent productions that we created and then sold to colleges and universities nationwide. The videos did really well and Jason and I had a great time working together.
What is it like working together?
We share a similar sense of humor and we balance each other. I’m more of the motivator/creative producer and like to do rough cut edits and Jason (who also has a strong producing background) is technically proficient in everything from editing to operating a camera. Sometimes we have conflicts about ideas and challenge each other, but ultimately we come to a place where we agree on the choices.
Watch Michelle and Jason’s Ripple documentary short entitled “The DanceWright Project” here.