(Wavelength #4) From Launching AstroLab Studios to Meeting Drake's OVO Owl Inspiration

Wavelength #4: Blast off with Adam Weitner, Founder of AstroLab Studios and music producer, Space pun addict
Photo-interviewer: Jacqueline Lee

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Who: Adam Weitner, 34, founder of AstroLabs Studio
Style: Making creator's dreams come true (Also a big fan of space and exploring the unknown)
His roots: Burlington, where he started from barely passing high school and doing construction
Quirk: Not a dad but makes dad jokes. AstroLabs Studios' website is filled with amazing space puns.
His Wavelength: Encouraging creators to stop questioning whether they can or cannot do something and just fucking do it.
What's the New Wave to you: "It's people feeling empowered to tell stories and not worry about the production."

Let’s say you’ve never been in a studio before, and you have an idea of what you want to create. You’re not sure how to make it happen and you want to trust the pros, but they seem to be pushing for what they think you should be rather than your actual vision.

That’s something that’ll never happen at AstroLabs studio.

We welcome people who never shot in a studio before. They aren’t going to be laughed on, they’re going to feel like they belong and their dreams can come true.

Adam is a fan of all things space and he started Astrolab Studios despite the naysayers who didn’t think space had anything to do with the studio. Before AstroLab, he started off doing social media for marketing agencies where he’d have to turn boardrooms into on-demand studios. With all the time it took to do shoots in an office space, Adam realized there’s a need for actual on-demand studios in Toronto. Despite the head scratches from the people around him and the voice in his head saying, What the fuck would you know about running a studio, he focused on what he did know rather than what he didn’t. He also made the smart decision to surround himself with people that do know more than him, particularly his studio manager Jeff Hanley, who has played a HUGE role in helping him bring this crazy idea to life. 

On February 16th, 2016, Astrolabs Studio lifted off into reality. 

Now he’s worked with Warner Brothers, Nike, SickKids and helped countless emerging musicians and filmmakers make their vision come to life. Adam describes his entire career in the music and film industry as a passion project.

I’m lucky to be exposed to all these undiscovered artists with great messages. There’s always something different, music I’ve never heard of before or thought of listening to that then gets stuck in my head.

Pre-launch beginnings: The first 180
 

In high school, Adam did the bare minimum to pass and got Ds in almost everything. The only classes he ever did well in was English and woodshop. Back then he was just a kid with ADD who didn’t know what he wanted to do. When he graduated, he actually thought he wanted to be a firefighter.

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He talked to as many firefighters as he could around his hometown in Burlington but unfortunately, the job was a lot of sitting around which Adam could NOT do. He loves being active, so he ended up doing construction for a few years before figuring out what to do. Eventually, Adam talked to a neighbour who was in PR and became intrigued. He did some research and applied for a PR program in Algonquin college in Ottawa that was almost exclusively post-grad. It was a complete 180 from high school and he did extremely well.

I went from party guy to dedicated student. I started being early to class instead of late, handing in my assignments early, it transformed me in a person.

After he graduated and started working for creative agencies, he was producing a lot of social content for big brands who would rather spend their budget on something other than social. He saw the need for an on-demand studio that would make life so much easier for people like him, but he had no time to turn it into reality. However, agency life was demanding as hell and the few moments of spare time he had not working was spent recovering from his crazy hours.

I wanted to create a space where creators can come in for an hour or two, walk in with their people and not need a ton of money to do it.
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Space travel represents exploration and learning new things. This is an environment where people can test, tinker, and trying out the unknown.

Fun fact: AstroLab Studios is full of space-themed artwork, handpicked by him and his studio manager Jeff Hanley, some of which are colour coded to be blue and orange (AstroLab's official colours - also the colour of his eyes and hair). 

Launching AstroLab: Partnerships in Space

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AstroLab Studios is a dream come true to Adam. He’s been able to work with some of his biggest idols as well as bring up grassroots artists just getting started. The studio has been transformed into a full out range with sand and a fire pit, turned into a sky full of clouds and used as a canvas for painted dancers to leave their mark. Guests includes DeMar DeRozan from the Raptors, Warner Brothers and the owl that inspired Drake’s label OVO.

Adam still remembers being told this legendary bird was in Studio 2. He walked into the room, peeked around the doorway and there it was. It was sitting with its face away from him but it’s head spun straight at Adam and started hissing. The handler said it was fine and it was just warning him, but Adam honestly wasn’t too sure. Besides that badass owl, Adam loves being witness to all the behind the scenes of the creative projects that take place in the studio.

Whenever there’s a shoot here, you can feel the creative energy in the air. There’s an awesome creative vibe and the juices come flowing every time.

AstroLab Studio works with a lot of up and coming artists, from independent musicians to film students. They’ve hosted five of Toronto film school’s final projects. Adam remembers one film where there were mirrors built into the walls and doors, and every time the main character thought he could get out, he’d be trapped.

I just had an artist here today called In the City who came to us for a music video. We want to be able to bring their dream to life without blowing their budget.

Although Adam loves working with every artist that comes in, he also has his own project with his studio manager he’s working on. It’s a short horror film about a group of college friends who go back to their old cottage after one of the friends from the group commits suicide.

To Infinity and Beyond: The Right Mindset

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Adam’s working with celebrities and big brands now, but he used to struggle with some serious self doubts. He’s literally thought to himself before, I don’t know shit, what do I know about running a studio, but he never let those thoughts get to him. His advice: Tell your ego to shut the fuck up, and don’t worry about what other people think. Nobody’s paying attention and nobody notices your little mistakes, it’s something you put on yourself. If you act confident, people will believe it. Just go on what you know, take a chance and trust it.

Stop throwing barriers up and questioning whether you can or cannot do something. Everything is an iteration, just create and don’t worry about it being perfect. Just go do it.

Adam is looking forward to launching Astrolab Studio even further, and growing alongside up and coming artists!

Check them out: https://www.instagram.com/astrolabstudios/

Toronto New Wave