Precocious Producers: A Media Company Gains Momentum


Todd Wiseman Jr. and Milos Silber, the creators and founders of Hayden 5. (Jackson Galan/The Observer)

“We would shoot anything,” said Todd Wiseman, co-founder and executive producer at Hayden 5 Media in New York City, “except porn.”

Wiseman and his college roommate Milos Silber started their media production company in between classes at Tisch’s graduate film program. “We wanted to be always creating,” Silber said. “We did school projects and side projects. And after graduation, we were faced with two options: do someone else’s thing”—meaning, work as a production assistant, production intern, or production peon at an established company—“or do our own thing”—meaning, produce.

These two options present themselves to every college graduate and, in this light, the obvious choice is the one that Siber and Wiseman eventually made. But the line between employer and employee is not so distinct: “Now that we work for ourselves, we have 150 bosses,” Wiseman said, “They’re called clients.”

The question, then, is who do you serve? The answer, for the fledgling Hayden 5, was anybody. They shot low-budget commercials, workplace training videos, a Bar Mitzvah; anything they could do for friends or family or scrounge from Craigslist. “We hustled,” Siber said.

What kept the duo from stagnating was their ability to make every penny count. Given a $5,000 budget, they’d produce a work of $10,000 quality. “We were able to do this,” Siber said, “because we worked with our friends, people who would put in a complete effort. We also had established relationships with vendors and useful people around town. This allowed us to stretch every dollar.”

Implicit in this approach is the maintenance of a low overhead, especially as the company was starting out. “We were working out of two shoeboxes on Canal street,” Wiseman said. “But we had access to a big studio. We would impress clients with the very professional space, then squeeze back into our office and get to work.”

Now, the company operates out of a 3,000 sq/ft loft on 27th Street and Broadway. The place is all lights, cameras and wires. A team of employees and interns move about. In one corner, antique couches and armchairs surround a coffee table, constituting a meeting room. The break room’s a fire escape and there’s a keggerator.

After three years, the company has been financially successful because of its productions for businesses like SlimFast, Trojan and Dan-E, which makes a supplement for “the 4 out of 5 women who are not completely satisfied with their desire for intimacy.” Yet Siber and Wisemen each went to film school because of a passion for movies; Siber is drawn to documentary, Wiseman, to epic action. They want to make what Wiseman calls “big work,” and, to do so, require big money. Hayden 5’s goal is to become a production company on par with the familiar Hollywood studios.

As my interview with the pair came to a close, Wiseman cordially asked me if I was a journalism major. No, I told him, I study English and want to be a writer—short stories, novels, poetry, maybe *ahem* a screenplay or two. I said that I was writing about his company because I was interested in how an artist makes money. “Well,” he replied, “you might have to write a few newspaper articles.”