When Mike Champlin ’91 (film and video) needed a name for his video production company, he turned to an 1897 play.
“I wanted the focus to be on the product and on the client, not on me, as the production company,” says Champlin about DeBergerac Productions. The name “DeBergerac” comes from the play Cyrano de Bergerac, written by Edmond Rostand. In the play, the younger Christian asks the older and more eloquent Cyrano to ghostwrite letters to the woman he loves, Roxane. Cyrano denies that he has written the letters to his death, even though Roxane figures it out.
Champlin’s behind-the-scenes mindset is one of the principal mentalities for the company. While the play is fictitious, he says the message is important. “As Cyrano was both a poet and a swordsman, the work we do should be at its best and yet look almost effortless to create. Cyrano worked and created as we do—with panache.”
Based in Fairport, N.Y., and officially incorporated in 2010, DeBergerac has grown from a small, in-home project to a company that is responsible for numerous documentaries and promotional videos, as well as the restoration of old films. Its clients include individuals and businesses, such as Eastman Kodak Co., the George Eastman House, the Farash Foundation and Golisano Children’s Hospital. DeBergerac has also worked with Reckitt Benckiser, a British company, which owns brands such as French’s mustard.
Champlin assumes the role of producer, and his business partner, Brian Steblen ’89 (audiovisual communications), serves as director and cinematographer. Champlin’s wife, Joy Parker ’92 (film and video) works for the Rochester PBS station WXXI but also acts as DeBergerac’s social media consultant.
The trio’s careers had crossed paths before the inception of DeBergerac, and they have résumés that reflect a broad base of experience in photography, film, video production and post-production. Steblen cites experience working in public broadcasting as one of the strongest influencing factors behind DeBergerac’s passion for its projects and its clients.
That passion can be seen in “In the Pink,” a music video DeBergerac shot for Highland Hospital in Rochester. The video won second place out of 130 nationwide entries in Medline’s Pink Glove Dance competition and helped to raise $5,000 for breast cancer research.
DeBergerac also produced The Colorama, a documentary about Kodak’s massive Colorama, 18-by-60-foot photographs that were displayed in Grand Central Station for 40 years.
“Preserving history is also an important part of DeBergerac’s business,” says Champlin.
Unlike the fictional Cyrano de Bergerac, the DeBergerac crew’s client-first attitude and hard work have not gone unrecognized. They have 10 Telly Awards to their credit, including four announced this summer. “We want everything we work on to be great,” says Steblen. “Even if it’s our client that gets the applause.”