This month it’s my turn to pick out the next Octodea meeting location, time, and date. The email went out yesterday: we’re meeting May 17, and in honor of Cinco do Mayo we’ll go to Riviera Maya in Bay View, a hip neighborhood just south of downtown Milwaukee.
I first heard about Octodea from co-founding member Ron Faiola, a videographer and producer. We met through my husband John, who’d known him since their younger days in the music scene. In a conversation one night, Ron and I discovered we’re both in the same business.
“You should come to the next Octodea meeting,” he said. “I’ll tell Joe about you and have him send you an invitation.”
He went on to tell me that the group was formed in 2003 when he and some colleagues—Joe, Pat, Scott, and Dave, along with a few others—banded together as a partnership of creative professionals who refer each other to clients and bring each other in on the projects they’re working on.
The word Octodea comes from parts of other words that were combined to create it. Members are independent graphic designers, product development and branding experts, Web developers, writers, editors, videographers, photographers, directors, and producers working in print, multimedia, and business theater. Dave has taken to nicknaming the group “Octodemons.”
We discuss a topic at each meeting. March, it was social media. Last month, we were interviewed by a college student writing a paper on entrepreneurship. All of us have been in business for ourselves for a long time, and it took a while to remember why we started what we started all those years ago.
This month our topic is the new AMC show “The Pitch,” a competition that pits one ad agency against another. In the first episode, the client is Subway; in the second, it’s Waste Management. By the time May 17 gets here, a few more episodes will have aired, so we’ll have a lot to talk about.
We always do. Last month, after we got that slow start talking about ourselves, things picked up and became more fluid. After the student thanked us, the discussion broke into three or four smaller conversations. At one point I looked up and felt a vibration, an energy, a brightness that only comes from people who love what they do.
It is. And I do.
Ron came in January but hasn’t been back since, with good reason. A few years ago he shot and produced a documentary called “Fish Fry Night Milwaukee,” showcasing the city’s fervent love for the Friday night tradition. While out shooting “Fish Fry,” he discovered that the supper club is alive and well too, so he shot and produced his film “Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old Fashioned Experience.”
Then Ron went to Chicago and got himself a book deal for Wisconsin Supper Clubs. He had to excuse himself from Octodea while he traveled around the state interviewing supper club owners and patrons. And eating things like Monte Cristo sandwiches on French toast, and Cajun Alligator. When last I emailed him, he was visiting supper clubs “#44 & 45 of 50!” so he should be home any time now, if he isn’t already.
See you soon, Octodemons.