INTERNET SUCCESS STORY: MILK & HONEY; FILMS
by Elizabeth Barr
It’s not surprising that, in our increasingly wired world, more and more
small businesses in Los Angeles are relying on the Internet to conduct
business. In addition to offering such “simple” tools as e-mail and
search engines, the web is also home to more advanced technologies like
Quick Time VR, DSL (digital subscriber line) lines and FTP (file
transfer protocol) sites, all of which offer accessible, inexpensive
ways to increase productivity and improve the bottom line.
Hollywood-based Milk & Honey Production Services, a division of Milk &
Honey Films, has been at the forefront of maximizing new Internet and
digital technologies to grow its business. With a production services
division orchestrating feature film, commercial and music video projects
through offices in Prague, Montreal-Toronto, Mexico City and Moscow,
Milk & Honey depends on its Internet system the way most companies do
their phones and fax machines.
Formed three years ago by executive producers Howard Woffinden, Greg
Gold and Tomas Krejci, Milk & Honey was one of the first production
companies to establish a dedicated computer and Internet system to
significantly reduce costs and schedules; facilitate long distance
collaboration; and make possible projects that could not have been
As Woffinden recalls, the decision to use the Internet was inescapable.
“When we opened our first two offices in Hollywood and Prague, we
realized how prohibitively expensive it would be to communicate by phone
and fax. The Internet was the most cost effective alternative.”
Making a virtue of necessity, Woffinden and his colleagues quickly
discovered how beneficial the Internet could be to their business. With
each new project, they found they could save clients time and money by
e-mailing essential documents–such as project bids, blueprints and
photos–from Prague to Los Angeles with a less than 24-hour turnaround.
The process proved so successful that Milk & Honey used it as a model to
open their additional overseas offices.
Along the way, Woffinden has become something of an expert in the always
challenging task of setting up Internet service overseas. “There was a
real push for mobile phones in Prague after the Berlin Wall came down,”
he says, “so initially we had trouble finding secure telephone lines.”
A similar situation arose the following year in Mexico, where an
unreliable phone system resulted in sudden and frequent disconnections.
In both cases, Woffinden shopped around and found that AOL offered the
most dependable international service. In addition to the convencience
of having each office use the same provider, AOL also allowed complex
files to be transported within the network without becoming corrupted.
Woffinden has also learned how to find the most suitable image transfer
technology for the company’s needs. To send 3D images, for instance,
Milk & Honey uses PhotoVista, a software program they picked up at the
annual Internet World convention. Like Apple’s Quick Time, it can
create a seamless 360 degree panorama out of a series of photographs,
but at a twelfth of the cost.
Recently, Milk & Honey switched to DSL lines, which, unlike ISDN lines,
allow the company to expand and condense its bandwidth at a moments
notice simply by putting in a request with the server. In this way,
they can grow without having to invest in new equipment. Milk & Honey
has also begun utilizing FTP sites, which offer a more viable method of
supplying clients with large pieces of data.
Although keeping up with advances in digital technology can be
cumbersome, not to mention expensive, Woffinden has no doubts about the
value of the investment. “We launched Milk & Honey just as the web was
beginning to explode, so we were in the right place at the right time to
make it work for the company. In fact, I don’t know that we could have
thrived and grown the way we have without using the Internet.”