Missoula production studio looks to grow services, add jobs

A local production studio housed in downtown Missoula is looking to grow its offerings and expand its reach, creating products that promote Montana and the companies that call it home.

Synema Studios, based on Higgins Avenue adjacent to Missoula Community Access Television, currently claims six local employees and five who work remotely.

But over the coming years, according to CFO Michael Morgan, Synema plans to create as many as 18 new jobs and push into new markets with its digital productions.

“One of the major projects we worked on last year and part of this year was a development project we won through the Montana Film Office,” said Morgan. “We go out to the parks and local areas around Missoula and the state and do educational shows on geology. That’s been our focus for the first part of the year.”

But Synema is pushing for external projects and is approaching area companies for growth. It recently worked with Quilty Box, a local service that provides sewing and crafting projects by mail and online to subscribers.

Morgan said Synema shot a promotional video for Quilty Box and developed its YouTube Channel. It also worked with the Missoula Chamber of Commerce to raise its profile on Google.

“The next phase of that would be to help companies rebrand with an online presence with either YouTube content or commercials that we can shoot for them and help them get Missoula out further into the world through shared online content,” said Morgan. “As we grow over time, we’ll try to win more external projects to keep that pipeline full of future work.”

On Thursday, the Missoula County  commissioners signed a resolution authorizing the Missoula Economic Partnership to submit a job creation grant on behalf of Synema to the Montana Department of Commerce.

The Big Sky Trust Fund Grant reimburses upstart companies for the cost of creating new jobs, so long as they meet certain wage requirements. Wages offered by Synema range from more than $14 an hour to more than $18.50, according to MEP.

“We’re right next door to MCAT, so there’s a lot of synergies where we’re located today,” said Morgan. “We work with MCAT to share resources and space and bounce around ideas. But as we grow and look to the future, we’re wanting to stay where we are and expand into other space as it becomes available.”

MCAT is expected to move into the new Missoula Public Library once it opens.