So it makes sense that the Mill Valley resident would be at the forefront of the current drone-fueled aerial filmmaking boom, building his Blu Sky Films into a fast-growing maker of spectacular real estate marketing films for clients that include Pacific Union, Sotheby’s and Vanguard Properties.
The Inverness/Point Reyes area native created Blu Sky Films on a lark two-and-a-half years ago while vacationing in Fort Bragg with his family, just after leaving a now-defunct company called FanMouth.
Staying at the Beachcomber Motel, Kuzmanich sent his DJI Phantom 2 drone up in the sky around sunset, hovering over the property and surrounding cliffs and beach to spectacular effect. As he sat in the lobby later editing his footage, someone approached him to check it out. Before he knew it, Kuzmanich was chatting the manager and getting an offer for the footage, which remains on the hotel’s home page.
“All from a vacation – just taking a break from the grind,” he says. “A lot of what’s happened in my life has been happenstance.”
Kuzmanich later showed the footage to one of his neighbors, Scott Kalmbach from Pacific Union, and he got connected into the real estate scene, helping them “turn home browsers into home buyers,” he says.
Although he’d received fantastic feedback for his aerial films, Kuzmanich had too many balls in the air at the time to make Blu Sky Films his primary venture. Actually, a glance at the background of the self-professed “serial entrepreneur” reveals he seems to always have plenty of creative, innovative ventures on his plate.
Kuzmanich graduated from the University of Denver in 1994 and his first job out of college was self-employed, as he marketed and sold his own film, Bay Area Graffiti, a 30-minute documentary he made about the robust graffiti scene in the Bay Area, a scene in which he was heavily involved.
“The statute of limitations has passed,” he says with a laugh.
To sell the film, he created a website to promote it and sell copies of the video. But while the film itself made enough money to pay the bills for a bit, it was the website that set the stage for his career.
“Back then in 1993-94, if you had a website, people would just contact you and ask you to make them a website,” Kuzmanich says. “You could literally count the number of big web properties on one hand back then, so I got contacted a lot.”
He took some of the work and “talked myself out of a few jobs” with companies that would go one to become massive successes. He then moved to Los Angeles and worked for a company called AD2.com, serving as an interactive creative director for seven years with clients like Disney, Audi, Bose, the Los Angeles Kings and Sony Pictures.
“We were getting a lot of marketing work from Hollywood,” he says.
Kuzmanich then decided to head out on his own, launching Britton Creative, an interactive design and development firm in LA whose clients included Lionsgate, Fisker Automotive, Nintendo and Ecko. He did that for four years and noticed that Hollywood spending on marketing was starting to dwindle. As has often been the case, Kuzmanich was already well into his next chapter when he shut down Britton Creative, having co-Invented, designed, patented and sold a wireless payment system for the restaurant industry called CheckMate.
In the midst of building CheckMate, Kuzmanich moved back to the Bay Area, realizing that proximity to Silicon Valley would be best to maximize the product’s opportunities. He and his partner Fleming Trane sold in 2012 to TableSafe in 2012.
Since then, Kuzmanich has helped the founders of the K12OER Collaborative in their quest to fund the creation of educational resources focusing on Mathematics and English Language Arts in public schools. He helped the organization create its brand and designed and developed its online presence. He also helped the founder of InTheWeeds.biz, a web based software company in the restaurant management space, by creating an engaging app to secure initial funding and cement partner relationships.
Serving as the company’s de facto creative director, Kuzmanich started to devote more and more hours to Blu Sky Films, eventually realizing that he no longer wanted it to be a side venture. In 2014, he gained international attention when he shot an aerial video of a marriage proposal on Ocean Beach in San Francisco, a video that was posted to Yahoo, Aol and The Telegraph, among others.
As soon as Kuzmanich made Blu Sky Films his primary focus, it took off, and he is growing the firm, hiring more videographers, adding more marketing services and eyeing possible expansion. But while the Bay Area is littered with companies with little revenue who are interested primarily in developing audience and attaining economies of scale, Kuzmanich is taking it slow.
“We’re funding the company with the revenue it’s generating, nothing too aggressive,” he says. “The revenue is paying for the growth – it’s very exciting.”
The 411: More info on Blue Sky Films.