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Jason Burks - Retrospec Films

Jason Burks owns Retrospec Films in Broken Arrow, a business he dreamed up while still in high school.
Jason Burks - Retrospec Films

Jason Burks - Retrospec Films

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Retrospec Films

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Show 1649: Jason Burks - Retrospec Films
Air Date: December 4, 2016



Rob McClendon: At 32 years old, this next entrepreneur is one of the youngest film directors and cinematographers in the business. Jason Burks is the owner of Retrospec Films in Broken Arrow, a business that he dreamed up while he was still in high school. Joining us now to tell us more about Retrospec is our very own Courtney Maye.

Courtney Maye: Well, Rob, for Burks it all started in his computer technology class at Broken Arrow high school. Because of this class he began competing in Business Professionals of America events and discovered he had a special talent. And at just 17 years old he started his own company.

Courtney Maye: A 17-year-old’s dream is now 12,000 square feet of reality. Jason Burks is the owner of Retrospec Films in Broken Arrow, a production company he created as a senior in high school.

Jason Burks: I spent the last hour of each school day, working on building a video company, and the idea was that someday this might be something realistic. It showed me a way that I could start developing a skill set and a career that didn’t end when I graduated high school. It was something that I might be able to turn into an actual job. And so it gave me a lot more purpose. And it gave me a passion. I was excited.

Courtney: Burks decided to forego college, and he immediately entered the workforce.

Burks: I was out meeting with clients, really low budget stuff, but I was learning how to understand marketing objectives, learn how to deal with customers, learn how to take notes. I was writing all the scripts. Then I’d go shoot everything. Then I’d bring it back and edit it. That’s what I do; it’s just at a much larger scale.

Courtney: As a kid straight out of high school, Burks had to grow up fast so potential clients would take him serious. He mastered the art of not only marketing his company, but marketing himself.

Burks: I’ve always tried to be so sharp that they would just have to go, “I don’t know, he knows a lot more about it than I do, so I’m gonna trust him.” And I think that would be the objective that I had to overcome or whatever it was, was sitting around and going how can I make sure that I’m so sharp, I’m so on time, I’m dressed professional and being as good at marketing and marketing concepts and sales concepts as I was at being a filmmaker.

Courtney: Fast forward 14 years, and Burks is no longer a one-man band. Producing more than 800 television commercials for regional and national brands, Retrospec Films is the largest production company of its kind in the Oklahoma.

Burks: There’s guys doing post-production around the clock editing, pulling in footage, ingesting it, figuring out the story. There’s guys that are doing visual effects. They’re going on compositing, coloring. We’ve got a producer who’s sitting around making phone calls, casting talent, looking at all that jazz, finding locations, taking photos. And then there’s me, who, I mostly, I’m writing, I’m shooting and directing. And then I feel like in the evenings I’m trying to figure out how to run the company.

Courtney: Burks’ company has taken him all over the world. He is competing with top companies in L.A. and New York. And he’s doing it with an Oklahoma cost of living.

Burks: This is my home. I know people here, and that means something to me. There’s been a lot of opportunity, there’s just opportunity here, and you don’t find that everywhere. We’ve generated talent in this area, and yet we’re not in this super high cost of living area of the country, and so that just kind of plays to it. I mean we have never, we have never not been booked ever. I mean we’ve always been booked out probably three to six months for like eight years. I don’t think very many people in business could even ever say that. And I think being in Oklahoma plays a part of that.

Courtney: But for Burks it’s more than a business. It’s an opportunity to tell a story that hasn’t been told and create content that generates emotion.

Burks: We say creating things worth watching, that’s what we always say. And that’s true. We also say things like telling stories the way they should be told. And so for us, the passion really has always been telling a story or a message in a way that’s engaging, that’s emotional, that’s exciting, that’s motivating, that causes some movement, causes some tears, causes some energy. That’s what it’s always been about.

(Nat break of reel).

Burks: I think I get inspired by other good work. I like to go to the movies and see stuff and let it challenge me. I like to see things that I don’t think we can do because then I want to figure out how we can do it.

Courtney Maye: Retrospec is continuously growing and adding job opportunities to the Tulsa area with multiple positions open now. And Burks said he is looking for special people who have the same motivation he has.

Rob McClendon: So I’m kind of curious, where does the name Retrospec come from?

Courtney: Well, Burks wanted something that had special meaning. And in film, anything that you are watching has been shot in the past. So that’s where retro came from. And then he says that the word, speck, in broadcasting, is often used for spec lighting which means harsh lighting. So he felt it was the perfect name for his production company.

Rob: All right. Thank you so much, Courtney.

Courtney: You’re welcome, Rob.

Rob: Now, if you would like to hear first-hand Jason’s perspective on how he has gotten where he is, we do have his full presentation at this year’s annual CareerTech Summer Conference streaming on our website at