Why RW2 is in the Heartland
The Midwest is a global hub for commercial video production. Not only is Kansas City the perfect traveling midpoint, but it is also a hub for talented creators, beautiful locations, and affordable products.
Along with being a traveling headquarters for production, Kansas City is an ideal setting for our studio HQ because of its Midwestern hospitality, affordability, and close-knit community of collaborative creators. There is impressive talent here because we have the infrastructure and capacity to exceed the expectations of any project. For this reason, the founders of RW2 have intentionally chosen to stay local and grow here to share their success with their community.
“In my career, I would see all these great artists come up and work with us, and then they would move to the coasts,” Judy Rush, founder of RealFake post-production and partner of RW2, said. “Now, I see people intentionally move to Kansas City. They are choosing us.”
A History of Media Production in Kansas City, MO
Kansas City (KCMO) has renowned alumni of content production. For example, Walt Disney opened his first studio in Kansas City in 1921. Besides Disney, many other stars were produced here, such as:
- Paul Rudd, an actor, screenwriter, comedian, and producer best known for his acting in Anchorman, Clueless, Ant-man, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I Love You, Man, and The 40-Year-Old Virgin. He studied theatre at the University of Kansas.
- Don Cheadle is a KCMO-born academy award-nominated actor best known for his role in the film Hotel Rwanda and as Tony Stark’s right-hand man in Marvel’s Iron Man franchise.
- Jason Sudeikis is an actor, comedian, writer, and producer. He has written for Saturday Night Live and is known for his roles in Horrible Bosses and We’re the Millers. He got his start performing at comedy clubs in Kansas City, Missouri.
- Janelle Monáe is a Kansas City, KS-born, 8-time Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, rapper, actress, record producer, and model.
Kansas City is home to the first-ever AMC theatre, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in August 2020. AMC celebrated this by offering tickets for 15 cents, the cost per ticket when the single-screen theatre opened its doors in 1920. AMC Theatres is a pioneer in the industry, building the world’s first multiplex and megaplex and even being the first theatre chain to add cup holder armrests to their chairs. RW2 Photographer, Matt Mooney, has worked with AMC to create mouthwatering commercial video productions. Netflix also filmed the third and fourth seasons of Queer Eye in Kansas City. According to MovieMaker magazine, KCMO sits at number 21 for Best Places to Live and Work in 2021. Kansas City is charming, “But the biggest draw may be the people: The city boasts more than 700 working crew.”
Why Filming in Kansas City Beats L.A., NYC, and Chicago
Kansas City is a prime content production destination. The city’s arts and talent live up to cities like Los Angeles, New York City, and Chicago but retain a humble Midwestern charm.
KCMO has all the culture, amenities, and sports teams that come with being a regional hub, but it's also connected to its roots as a 4-seasons Midwestern city located right in the rural heart of the country. KC stands out because it’s an affordable place to live that punches above its weight, producing quality arts similar to Chicago and Denver. The city has the infrastructure of casting, crew, services, locations, and other capabilities to make high-quality, efficient productions.
A year after the Covid-19 pandemic began, KCMO’s Crossroads Art District is determined to remain a significant neighborhood for viewing art. Twenty years ago, the district started to host a monthly First Fridays event. The area’s shops, restaurants, bars, streets, and most importantly, galleries host locals and visitors alike wanting to celebrate creators.
Lyndon and Lindsey Wade, known as The Wade Brothers, along with their mother Judy Rush, founded RW2, a video production company, and are recognized preservationists in Kansas City. The family has been buying buildings that need revitalization in the Crossroads since 1999 to house the large amount of space required for their work.
According to the KCFilm location database, there are over 400 filming locations nearby, many of which don’t require permits. Some of these locations include
- Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art opened in 1933. The free-to-enter museum contains 34.500 pieces of contemporary and historical artworks from around the world, and as such, boasts the most impressive collections in the World. In 2007, Time Magazine named the Bloch building #1 in The 10 Best (New and Upcoming) Architectural Marvels.
- Union Station opened in 1914 as the second union station in the country, after Indianapolis. It has been the filming location of HBO’s Truman, NBC’s American Ninja Warrior, and Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures. RW2 worked with Union Station to create a living history.
- Powell Gardens is a 970-acre botanical garden in Kingsville, MO, full of lush, rolling hills and windswept meadows. It features 6,000 varieties of plants and 225,000 plants in seasonal displays. Set on 12 acres, the Heartland Harvest Garden is the country’s most extensive edible landscape.
- Liberty Memorial at National WWI Museum overlooks the city underneath which lies a field of commemorative poppies.
- Country Club Plaza, an open-air mall developed in the 1920s and modeled after Seville, Spain
- The Historic River Market District
All-in-One Content Production Company Catering to Clients Worldwide
In 2020, RW2 added two new divisions, arthouse + Wildchild, offering artist sourcing, motion control, and an international artist collective staffed with producers ready to bring your vision to life. Aside from producing live-action, still photography, and social content, RW2 provides post-production, retouching, CGI/VFX, and other video production services.
The artist collective branch of RW2, arthouse, allows brands to commission artists to develop ideas into images, videos, and social content that tell a story. These artists collaborate and provide expertise in all disciplines while expert producers on staff facilitate every aspect of production.
Wildchild, RW2’s newest subdivision, focuses on an unparalleled post-production offering. They harness a team of editorial, compositing, and VFX geniuses that work locally and worldwide. Wildchild’s dedication to storytelling has earned it a reputation as one of New York City’s most sought-after sources for high-quality post-production.
Content Creation for Brands
Creative content production is a critical skill for marketing. It helps to build a brand’s identity, increase sales, and gain recognition with a broad audience.
For example, in 2021, RW2 developed an astronomical advertisement for Wendy’s that involved planning and building a UFO from scratch in one week in the studio. The ad is witty and gravitational. RW2 also produced the Footballers campaign for Adidas. The project, shot by RW2 artists The Wade Brothers, featured prominent soccer stars Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi, and Paul Pogba.
Other notable commissions that RW2 helped create include:
- Several still photography, live-action, and 360° campaigns for Garmin shot by arthouse artists Kevin Schowengerdt, Jesse Whitaker, and The Wade Brothers.
- Helzberg Diamonds featuring Patrick Mahomes
- AllSaints, directed by Kell Mitchell
- Bacardi Untameable featuring post-production by RealFake
- Adidas featuring live-action and still photography shot by The Wade Brothers
Kansas City is the Underdog for Budget-Friendly Commercial Productions
When it comes to commercial production, Kansas City is underrated. Lindsey Wade, one of the founders of RW2 Productions and The Wade Brothers, says, "If you're in a big market, you're literally just working to live. I can own a house and take a vacation in the same year. You can bootstrap a business here, and you're seeing that in culinary, in fashion and in art."
Not only is the Midwest a supportive, livable place where production runs peacefully, but Kansas City is the ultimate big city with a small-town feel. Though Kansas City often is overlooked when scouting locations and agencies for global productions, RW2 is a powerhouse of creativity with resources to execute projects from start to finish… all under one roof.