If you've ever worked in sales, you're very familiar with the phrase "Coffee's for closers!". Coined by Alec Baldwin in the iconic movie, Glengarry Glen Ross, that phrase has become a living mantra for anyone fighting to close the deal. Enjoy.
In a perfect world, coffee may be enough of a reward for a job well done, but let's face it, we don't live in a perfect world. Thankfully, there's whiskey. The ultimate symbol of celebration, achievement, and mastery. When was the last time you celebrated a massive achievement by toasting lattes? Yeah, we don't remember either. That's why we've updated this phrase for modern times. Now, put that coffee down and pick that whiskey up. You're a closer, and you deserve it.
These unisex crew tees are made from a lightweight poly-cotton blend and made to last as long as your career. Pick one up here and remember your ABC's - Always be Closing!
This bike, this squirrel, and that helmet are all about Freedom.
A while back, we heard a new store was opening in downtown Raleigh. Devolve Moto. A store with some of the most badass stuff to be found. The idea behind this store gave us a lot of inspiration to make a design for all the bikers out there. The real heroes tearing up the open road. After long hours and much bourbon, we knew what we had to do.
And this is where another one of our favorite movies comes in...
Easy Rider is a classic movie. Hands down. So we thought, "why not create a design loosely based around this movie." In reality, we just loved the idea of a squirrel on a motorcycle. This way we could pay homage to a great movie as well as Raleigh's unofficial mascot, the squirrel. And that’s how the idea for The Easy Rider Squirrel was born.
"I don't think it's nice, you laughin'. You see, my mule don't like people laughing. He gets the crazy idea you're laughin' at him. Now if you apologize, like I know you're going to, I might convince him that you really didn't mean it." - The Man with No Name
One look at how badass and awesome The Man with No Name is and you'll see why we wanted to pay him homage with one of our designs. This epic character, brought to life by Clint Eastwood, was the inspiration for our design, The Squirrel with No name.
We landed on the squirrel idea because living in The City of Oaks, not a day passes that we don't encounter one every day. Bringing together our favorite place to live with our favorite trilogy of movies. It was perfect. The decision to put him on a dog came about because we couldn't put the squirrel on a horse, the size ration was way off and how awesome is the idea of your neighborhood squirrel taking the reigns of man's best friend?!
It's the "Most Wonderful Time Of The Year"! Well, at least according to Andy Williams on every radio station imaginable. The holidays have a different meaning for everyone. For some it's about giving, for others it's about receiving. And for others, it's about Chinese food and a movie. No matter who you are or what you're doing over the holidays, there is always time to get comfortable with friends and family, grab a hot (bourbon) drink and watch a Christmas classic. Here's our 5 favorite holiday flicks to get you through the season. Enjoy!
5. DIE HARD (1988)
It's Christmas time in L.A., and there's an employee party in progress on the 30th floor of the Nakatomi Corporation building. The revelry comes to a violent end when the partygoers are taken hostage by a group of terrorists headed by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), who plan to steal the 600 million dollars locked in Nakatomi's high-tech safe. In truth, Gruber and his henchmen are only pretending to be politically motivated to throw the authorities off track; also in truth, Gruber has no intention of allowing anyone to get out of the building alive. Meanwhile, New York cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) has come to L.A. to visit his estranged wife, Holly (Bonnie Bedelia), who happens to be one of the hostages. Disregarding the orders of the authorities surrounding the building, McClane, who fears nothing (except heights), takes on the villains, armed with one handgun and plenty of chutzpah.
Our Consensus: There's been a lot of controversy as to whether or not this is really a "Christmas Movie". Let's put that to rest. It is. Stop arguing, just deal with it. Some say John McClane is the only reason Christmas even happens today. If it weren't for him, it would be totally German, like Krampus. The only war on Christmas we believe in was won in 1988 by America's hero, John McClane.
4. GREMLINS (1984)
Seeking a unique gift for his son an erstwhile inventor (Hoyt Axton) purchases a cute, fuzzy little "Mogwai" from a Chinatown shopkeeper's (Keye Luke) grandson (John Louie), who dispenses the above-mentioned warning before closing the deal. Meanwhile, young bank clerk Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan) must suffer such antagonists as rich-bitch Mrs. Deagle (Polly Holliday) and priggish Gerald (Judge Reinhold) while pursuing his romance with Kate (Phoebe Cates). These and a variety of other plot strands are tied together when the lovable mogwai (named Gizmo) is exposed to bright light and gotten wet. In short order, the town is invaded by nasty, predatory Gremlins, who lay waste to everything in sight as Billy and Kate try to contain the destruction.
Our Consensus: This movie is absolutely ridiculous. But let's be clear, if you didn't open up your biggest gift each year hoping just a little bit that it was a Mogwai, then we straight up don't trust you.
3. HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS (1995)
Claudia Larson (Holly Hunter) usually approaches family reunions with a certain trepidation, but as she prepares to fly from her home in Chicago to her parent's place in Baltimore for Thanksgiving, she is more apprehensive than usual. Claudia has just lost her job, she's not feeling at all well, and her teenage daughter, Kitt (Claire Danes), who is staying behind, informs Claudia on the way to the airport that she plans to use the weekend to lose her virginity with her boyfriend.
Our Consensus: If you're a living person with a family, this hits home. Has there ever been a more accurate portrayal of the stress and frustration of a family holiday? From the second that Claudia arrives home, the movie plays out like every son or daughters worst holiday nightmare. Most importantly...the infamous turkey scene. Everyone has wanted this to happen to at least one relative at one point or another. A realistic, instant classic.
2. HOME ALONE (1990)
Home Alone is the highly successful and beloved family comedy about a young boy named Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) who is accidentally left behind when his family takes off for a vacation in France over the holiday season. Once he realizes they've left him home alone, he learns to fend for himself and, eventually has to protect his house against two bumbling burglars (Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern) who are planning to rob every house in Kevin's suburban Chicago neighborhood.
Our Consensus: This movie is every kids dream. Who hasn't dreamed of ditching (or being ditched by) your family for a weekend of a little "King of The Castle". Of course, a PG Pesci makes this movie even more amazing, but it's a pre-heroin Macauly Caulkin's performance that makes this a bonafide childhood favorite. Now keep reading, ya dirty rascal!
1. RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER (1964)
This stop-motion animagic version of the classic Christmas tale adds a bit of a twist when Rudolph encounters an abominable snowman. This was made for TV and features Burl Ives as the narrator.
WE LOVE THIS MOVIE SO MUCH, WE'VE PROVIDED THE FULL LENGTH FILM BELOW
Our Consensus: Yeah, we're serious. We love everything about this from the insane re-imagination of the plot line to the grainy and awkward stop-motion animation. We can't really explain how important this movie was to us growing up. Burl Ives was like our jolly, round, cigar smoking grandfather. This classic immediately brings you back to a simpler time in your life. You might even want to slip on an adult onesie for this one..it just feels right.
Chris and Toni Wheaton tell stories for a living. As owners of Heart Stone Films and Portico Pictures, these local filmmakers are on a mission to connect people through the art of storytelling. If you’ve seen their work, you know how passionate and talented they are. While we’ve known Chris for years, we recently met his wife, business partner, and the veteran filmmaker in the family, Toni. We sat down with Chris (Toni was unable to make it, as they are expecting a son in the near future!) to get a behind the scenes look at their story for our latest installment of Raleigh Hustles Hard.
Toni and Chris met in high school through their parents. At the time, Toni had already begun filmmaking. Growing up, she would accompany her parents on mission trips around the world, documenting the trip and creating short films to send back home. With her passion and talent growing, Toni had to decide whether to attend film school and develop her skills or jump right into the business and learn on the go. Like most entrepreneurs, she chose the latter. Instead of film school, Toni stayed in Raleigh where she and Chris reconnected during college. At the time, Toni was shooting and editing full time for Barton Creek Weddings and Chris was selling mortgages. After a couple of years, opportunity knocked. The owner was looking to transition out of wedding videography, and offered Toni a chance to buy the company. With Toni’s talent and passion, Chris’s business experience, and a shared entrepreneurial spirit, they were in.
They married in January 2008, and in October, closed the deal on Barton Creek Weddings, which would eventually become Heart Stone Films. Even with acquiring the equipment and some key existing relationships, developing their own identity within the company was a huge hurdle. “The previous owner had a very successful business at the time, and a lot of people knew the name Barton Creek. As 22 and 23 year olds, establishing credibility with veterans in the industry was a priority.” Business was slow at first but the timing was serendipitous. Around this time, social media was becoming a key platform for businesses, but was being grossly underutilized in their industry. Chris and Toni saw this as an opportunity to create awareness for Heart Stone Films. “Before, you would just send people a DVD of the wedding, but now we had a platform to start posting videos and getting a lot more attention.”
Early on, Toni was responsible for the filmmaking and Chris managed the business side of the company. “What I knew how to do was look at the business and jump right into sales, marketing, and development.” But for Chris, the love for filmmaking came quickly. “I kind of learned the filmmaking side of it on the job and after a couple of months I fell in love with the creative and artistic side of it.” After three or four years, Heart Stone Films grew past the threshold of what two people could handle. With over fifty weddings a year, Toni and Chris began training and deploying teams to shoot, edit, and deliver a final product. “We didn’t necessarily increase the number of weddings, but it lessened the burden on everyone in a big way.”
Chris says that the run and gun atmosphere of wedding videography sharpened their skills a lot and really helped them to transition to the commercial world. It was actually a direct catalyst for what would come next. “We always had this mentality when shooting weddings, that you never know who is watching, and you never know who will see the final product, so if we give everything we have, this will lead to something more. In 2013, we had a client who owned a sports travel company. We did this ridiculous same day edit, where we shot and edited a 4-minute short film the day of and played it at their wedding reception.” He loved it and hired Chris and Toni soon after. He sent them to cover the Kentucky Derby, Daytona 500, Superbowl, and The Masters, which Chris credits as his favorite experience as a filmmaker. “That spawned Portico Pictures, our commercial brand. We wanted to pursue the commercial world in the same way we did with weddings, but with a unique brand and identity outside of Heart Stone Films.”
Portico Pictures, which was founded in early 2013, gets its name from portico or “covered porch”. Chris tells me, “It’s a place where people gather together to tell and hear stories. It’s a sense of community between creative people. That’s the relationship we want with both our clients and team.” Chris and Toni hired their first full time employee in late 2014. After handling the load as a duo for so many years, they have a deep appreciation and respect for their team, which is a five-person mix of full and part time employees, contractors, and interns. “We’re close with our employees and we care about them as individuals. Work isn’t everything to us, so we want them to know that we support and care about them beyond the work that they do.” Nobody at Portico Pictures / Heart Stone Films is formally trained, but you would never know. They are all multi talented, with skill-sets ranging from shooting to sound mixing to editing, making interchangeability between projects, seamless.
Chris shared some exciting news about their vision for the future. “We want to expand our team and office space, and convert it into essentially an extension of our brand. We have this big dream of creating a hub for creative(s) to come together. We hope to have a soundstage for video production and photography as well as co-working spaces for collaboration with other companies. They see Raleigh as the perfect community to bring their dream to life. “Being in Raleigh is huge for our business because there’s so much going on. There’s this new wave of young small businesses with cool brands that people want to get on board with. I love seeing innovative businesses get big but still being able to reach out and sit down with the owner.” We totally agree.