Vibrant Spaces Sprucing Up Downtown Norfolk

You may have heard about a “little” program called Vibrant Spaces recently. It might have been in Alt Daily…or maybe Inside Business. Or maybe you’ve even visited the website created by our friends over at Grow Interactive!

Drew Grow Interactive

Vibrant Spaces is an exciting new project by the Downtown Norfolk Council designed to upgrade storefronts and inspire creative proposals to bring in businesses reminiscent of cool scenes like Nashville or San Francisco.

Nashville Imogene and Willie


San Fran Hudson Grace

So if you’ve been dying for Downtown Norfolk to get a new indoor bowling alley, now’s your chance to submit a proposal! If you’re selected, you could receive $20,000 and half off rent for TWO YEARS!! Think we need a new outdoors store? Submit your proposal! Ready to bring us a new Asian-Latin fusion restaurant? Check this out!

A total of SIX proposals will be chosen to inhabit a unique variety of space offerings. We should know, we’ve been to all of them! Jpixx worked with Grow and DNC to capture detailed shots of all of the spaces, and we also filmed the DNC Meeting where Drew Ungvarsky presented the details of the presentation (video to come). Be sure to check out the website to see the photos!

Photographer at Vibrant Spaces

Vibrant spaces is also looking to spruce up existing storefronts by offering to match up to $10,000 for business renovations (should your idea be selected). Want a new sign? Perfect! Inspired by home improvement shows and ready to smash that front wall for a giant window concept? Smash away, my friend.* Make it big! Make it bold! Make it vibrant!

Applications close July 8, so get over there and make your dream a reality.

*Jpixx is not responsible for any demolition or reckless behavior inspired by this post. PLEASE contact DNC and read up on guidelines before going cray cray on your business. Matching grants will only be provided to vibrant ideas selected by the Council.


Your NEW VPA Board Member

Stop everything! News alert: we’re so excited to announce that Jon Abrahams, Director and Co-Owner of Jpixx, is the newest board member of the Virginia Production Alliance’s Hampton Roads Chapter!

Jon Abrahams Pose

After being a member of the Alliance for many years and also creating this awesome promo,

Jon is thrilled to be joining a great group of board members. Leading the board is Chairman Tom White, who best explained what the mission of the VPA is:

“The Virginia Production Alliance exists to inspire professional development in our student filmmakers, provide advocacy for film production in Richmond and to encourage the collaboration and networking of Virginia’s most creative minds in film and television.”

Chairman Tom White

After more than a decade in film, Jon looks forward to joining this collaborative effort to inspire a new generation of filmmakers right in our backyard.

Finally, we were tickled pink by White’s touching words about our group and fearless leader.

“I believe that Jon Abrahams and Jpixx are a perfect example of the talented collaborators the VPA is looking to bring together,” White said. “Jon has been a representative of our film community, a teacher to many, and a friend to all. I’m proud and honored to have him serve as a sitting member on this year’s board.”

The VPA has big plans for this year, so stay tuned to our blog and the VPA Hampton Roads Facebook Page to find out more!

Dining and Dashing Around Downtown Norfolk

To say we’ve been busy the last couple of weeks would be the understatement of the year. From film festivals….

Northern Virginia Film Fest

to softball and cornhole tournaments…

Softball Cornhole Tournament

to a return to our beloved Norfolk

World Trade Norfolkwe’ve been quite busy. Most recently, we’ve been working with the Downtown Norfolk Council to capture the essence of the city and the places that draw so many crowds each year.

We’ve already been to the World Trade Center, Dominion Enterprises, Sushi King,

Norfolk Sushi King

the Tap Room

Tap Room Norfolk

(where Nate took a bit of a tumble)

Nate Injury

and the Barrel Room.

Barrel Room Models

And we still have more places to see!

Whether you’re strolling down Granby or checking out the local arts district, there’s so many reasons to visit Norfolk. Find out why Skye Zentz loves the city here!

“The Tide” Music Video Is Now Available!

It’s been a long wait but now, it’s finally here! Head to to see the full Jpixx/Skye Zentz collaborative music video for “The Tide.”

This ode to Norfolk reflects more than a year’s worth of dedication from our director Jon Abrahams, artist Skye Zentz and more than 300 local participants.

Thanks to the Daily Press and Mike Holtzclaw for their continued coverage on our video and the awesome review!

Guest Blog: Winnings and Weddings with Michael Ransdell

I’m an intense baseball fan. No I’m an insane baseball fan.

This may seem odd because I live in Kansas City, Missouri, home of the Kansas City Royals. The same Royals who before last year’s run to the American League Championship hadn’t sniffed the MLB Playoffs in 29 agonizing seasons. But it was the same love for the game, the city of Kansas City and filmmaking that brought Jon Abrahams into my life.

In 2012, I attended the Masters in Motion filmmaking conference in Austin with my wife Melissa. We met a lot of wonderful folks, but there was something different about Jon. He carried a camera around everywhere and insisted we spell out “KC” with our bodies in photos— we were hooked. We left the conference feeling like we’d gained a member of the family.

Kansas City

Christmas was approaching in 2013, the Royals had finished the season with a respectable 86 wins and hope was in the air in Kansas City. We’ve had hope before – “We Believe” was actually a slogan at one time for the Royals. Sure hope was in the air, but nobody was circling dates in their October calendars.

As a wedding filmmaker I get inquires all the time, but this one peaked my interest more than most. A bride name Bridget called me and said she was having a same-sex ceremony on the Eastern Shore in Virginia. The date…October 11th, 2014. I immediately thought of my friend Jon being in Virginia Beach and how great that would be shooting with him! I booked the wedding.

I don’t think it was until my second or third chat with Jon about the wedding day that he said something joking like “The Royals better not be in the playoffs or I’ll have to bail on you.” Laughter filled my inner thoughts, The Royals…playoffs, The Royals don’t make the playoffs. If you’re a fan of the Yankees or Cardinals this is something you might consider, but as a Royals fan you can’t even really let yourself dream of a playoff game at Kauffman Stadium; it’s just too heartbreaking.

Of course, The Royals would go on to make the playoffs in 2014. I was able to attend the legendary Wild Card Game with The Oakland A’s and the clinching Game 3 of the ALDS with the Angels. Then it was off to Norfolk. I think I apologized to Jon about 100 times for getting him involved with this wedding; I knew if he hadn’t agreed to this he’d probably be up in Baltimore for the American League Championship Series. As a good friend though he stuck by me and we shot a beautiful emotion-filled wedding with Bridget and Lindsay.

Eastern Shore Wedding

Jon and I had a small cabin close to the wedding venue (pretty much in the middle of nowhere) cell service was sketchy and finding a tavern that would have the game on wasn’t gonna happen. So we crossed our fingers and we were blessed with DirecTV in our cabin. After the rehearsal dinner we crashed through the door and huddled around a 13-inch Sceptre Flat Screen TV…it was magnificent. As Alex Gordon blasted a Home Run to take the lead in Game One we jumped around the room like little kids on Christmas morning.

DirecTV Excitement

Game 2 would be on the actual day of the wedding so our focus was completely on Bridget and Lindsay and their wonderful family. Watching a retired police officer and a lifelong Navy man both get emotional as they talked about their love for their daughters and their wish for their happiness was enough to get this new dad weeping along with them.

The Royals won game 2 but the game became an afterthought to the day. When you have a passion for what you’re shooting or the people you’re shooting, the film always has another layer to it. That was absolutely true about Bridget and Lindsay, but beyond that I think Jon and I were on a baseball fan high as well. How could we not see the world in new ways? Our beloved, suffering baseball team was actually good, we’d closed our eyes the night before dreaming about a Championship and it could actually happen.

KC Royals

Surround yourself with people you love and work for people you respect and the world will reward you. As we know the Royals would go on to win the American League Championship and go to Game 7 of the World Series, but fall 90-feet short of their ultimate goal. In similar fashion, I entered our work on Bridget and Lindsay’s wedding film in Photo District News’ Top Knots competition. We didn’t win First Place, but One Tree Studios was still honored for the film and published in their magazine.

The journey to second-place felt a lot like first-place.

Virginia Eastern Shore

Michael Ransdell is the Lead Filmmaker and co-owner at One Tree Studios and Owner/Director of Photography at Blue Coffee Pictures in Kansas City, Mo. He spent 12-years at The Kansas City Star as a Photojournalist covering Major League Baseball and the NFL before starting his own companies.

Wrapping Up Sea Level

What an incredible weekend at the 8th Annual Sea Level Singer-Songwriter Festival! We kicked it off at the Roper Center with Sarah Jarosz, and Jon even got a picture with her afterward.


The next day, we were back in Downtown Norfolk for the kickoff to First Fridays. Hundreds of people gathered for hours of fun from local merchants including balloons, face painting and balloon animals.

5575.001Face Painting Sea Level Downtown Vendor Sea Level Downtown Sea Level

The next day was a big day for us! Finally, the moment we’d all been waiting for – the launch of the music video for Skye Zentz’ song “The Tide.” Jon spent many long hours editing the video down to the wire and we couldn’t have been happier about the response.

The launch party at O’Connor’s Brewing Co. was a major success thanks to all the awesome vendors and artists who helped out. We had a booth from Kitsch,  DJP and MrT, Shara Wertz (on face paint), 757 Makerspace, The Scene and a giant art area with Amanda Page Stephens. Skye even took part in the face painting fun!

Watermark.011Amy Jpixx

We also had great performances from Little Pants and Ian Randall Thornton!

Ian Randall Thornton

Finally, we closed off the night with the Emerging Artist Contest. The event showcased some truly amazing talent, right here in Hampton Roads!

Emerging Artist Sea Level Singer

If you weren’t able to make it out this year, be sure to follow us on Facebook for updates on next year’s event and videos from 2015!

Special thanks to:

Sea Level Festival Returns for Another Year

It feels like we just wrapped up the 2014 Sea Level Singer/Songwriter Festival and the Emerging Artists Contest, and here we are again for another year! The 8th Annual Festival, benefitting Tidewater Arts Outreach is back with an awesome lineup! You can keep up with all the latest photos and videos right on the 2015 page.

Tidewater Arts Outreach

It all starts Thursday, April 2 kicking off at FM Restaurant with Paul Norfleet, followed by Matt Vollmer at Gershwin’s, Jacob Vanko at Grilled Cheese Bistro and ending with headliner Sarah Jarosz. The first three events are free and you can buy tickets to Sarah Jarosz right here.Sarah Jarosz

On Friday, the fun continues with more free events! Come celebrate the kick off to First Fridays from 5 – 8:30 p.m. in the Norfolk Arts District. Admire the intricate instruments, pose with animals at the petting zoo and take home a tshirt and balloon animal. Afterward, visit the Parlor on Granby for a Local Artists Showcase.

Music Audience

Wrap up the Festival on Saturday starting at the School of Rock at 11 a.m. for a Jesse Chong Workshop: Tech Gear for the Solo Artist. Then, join us over beers (or soft drinks) at O’Connor Brewing Co. for the WE ARE NFK LAUNCH PARTY. We’ve got several musical acts lined up, ending with Skye Zentz and the Jpixx collaborated music video premiere. It’s free and family friendly; why wouldn’t you be there?!

Next, scoot yourself over to the Emerging Artist Showcase at 7 p.m. at the Hackney Theater. Tickets are just $10 in advance or $15 at the door – buy yours here!

Logan Layman

It all ends at Charlie’s Cafe at 10 p.m. with a free show of Who We Are Not.

We can’t wait to enjoy all the festivities and hope to see you out! For more updates, check out the Sea Level page on our website. And be sure to follow us on Twitter for live updates throughout the festival.

“The Tide” Music Video Launches

It’s been quite a year creating the music video for Skye Zentz’ song “The Tide.” Through the efforts of so many people, we have been able to capture the heart of Norfolk with scenes all over the city. From Nauticus to the Norfolk Botanical Garden, we’ve seen it all. Now, we want to share the video with you at the official launch party this Saturday from 2-5 p.m. at O’Connor Brewing Co.

Norfolk Sailors

Come enjoy a wide range of family activities with face painting from 2-3 p.m., outdoor art with Amanda Page from 3-4 p.m., and so much more! There will even be a photo booth called “Little Norfolk, Big Me” featuring a miniature replica of Norfolk (you can be Godzilla! Just don’t actually smash the models, ok?).

The event will also feature acts from Little Pants and Ian Randall Thornton, local bands that will blow you away with their talent. You can also hang out with PBS Kids at their van with dozens of toys and giveaways!

Skye Zentz Kitschables

And did we mention Skye Zentz will be performing?! Gather around as she teaches you the moves to her new song and dance along to the music video premiere! There’s so much going on at the launch party, just one of the pieces of the 8th Annual Sea Level Singer/Songwriter Festival benefitting Tidewater Arts Outreach. Hope to see you there!

Back from SXSW: A Few Lessons Learned

Hi everyone, it’s Lis – you know, the Jpixx producer walking around staging areas constantly checking her watch. I’m back from South by Southwest (SXSW) and thought I’d share all the little tidbits I picked up during my first visit to Austin.

  1. Bring business cards. It sounds like a no brainer but there were a few attendees who hadn’t brought theirs. Our Jpixx business cards are specially designed with a scene from one of our productions, offering up great conversation starters about what we do.
  2. Don’t be afraid to leave a session. It’s well known in New York that if a subway car is empty, it’s empty for a reason. The same generally applied to sessions I attended – whether they’re dry or irrelevant to your interests, don’t be afraid to duck out. There’s always another session going on somewhere else!
    Boyhood Post Production

    This was something you didn’t want to leave. Boyhood Post Production Panel!!

  3. Keep an eye on your belongings. Oh the irony that I’d have my wallet stolen in friendly Austin and not while abroad or living in NYC. Loss of credit cards aside, it was being ID-less that got me in the most trouble.
  4. Attend the parties. Everyone is running around so much at SXSW that the best time to truly get to know someone is at the parties. Sign up for as many as you can on Eventbrite and other platforms to make sure you can get in. And always bring an ID – kind of puts a damper on things when you don’t have one (see #3).
  5. Visit the lounges. This is another great place to meet new people! We visited the filmmakers lounge several times where, not only did Jon receive a massage, but we also met several people in the industry over drinks.Massage Chair Filmmaker
  6. Wear comfy shoes. Not shoes that you bought two days before thinking they’d be comfy but really need breaking in. comfy. shoes. It’s a lot of walking and you don’t want to scare the girl giving you a pedicure when you get home.
  7. Make a plan of attack for each day. Each morning I’d take about a half hour at breakfast to go through the sessions I’d starred in the SXSW Go app and write down an hour-by-hour schedule, including the parties and films to end each night. It was such a relief for this Type A personality to know what I’d be doing at any time.
  8. Talk to people everywhere you go. Attend mentor sessions with people who are advanced in your field. Bring business cards to your hotel/hostel breakfast. Ask the guy beside you in line what part of the film industry he’s in. It’s truly amazing where you’ll find those gems. SXSW
  9. Get a hotel. This advice is debatable but I would strongly advise against getting a hostel. The cost really isn’t that different after the taxes and fees are tacked on, and the Capital Metro transportation is pretty reliable. Imagine waking up in a nice luxurious bed with your own bathroom. Now picture waking up in a bunkbed with three other guys in the room. Yep. I did get a great haircut from an awesome San Francisco stylist, though!
  10. Eat the tacos! Seriously, going to Austin and not trying the Tex Mex is like going to New York and not eating a real bagel. My body was 50 percent taco by the time I left Austin but I had no regrets whatsoever.
    Food trucks

    SouthBites – home of wonderful local food trucks

Amazingly enough, even without an ID, I still made it through airport security and back to Virginia Beach. Full updates can be found by scrolling through our Twitter feed!

Guest Blog: Behind the Scenes with Skye Zentz

Aloha, friends of Jpixx!

I’m Skye Zentz, and if you haven’t already caught the news, I’m the Norfolk singer songwriter behind Jpixx’s upcoming Music Video, “The Tide”. It has been such a fun (and epic) journey working on this project with Jon and the Jpixx crew! I can’t wait to share this tremendously colorful, Norfolk embracing video with you at our Launch party on April 4th at O’Connor Brewing Co.- but since we’re still a few weeks out, let me give you a sneak peek of what you can expect from “The Tide”!

Skye Ukelele

The shooting for this video was EXTENSIVE- we filmed scenes in more than 20 different iconic Norfolk locations-everywhere from Ocean View to the Norfolk Zoo. It was very important to all of us that we had footage from every corner of Norfolk- so we made a point of taking our time, going places that we’d never been before, talking to strangers and getting them to sing and dance with us! We really had a blast everywhere we went, and that had everything to do with our high energy crew, and the exceptional people of Norfolk.

Skye Kitschables

In the video, you’ll spot some celebrity cameos from local TV and radio stations, the drum majors of the NSU marching band, and one super cool appearance from the mayor himself. You’ll see a real live Navy homecoming, some snazzy hula hoopers, butterflies and a bagel juggler. It really wasn’t hard to make Norfolk look cool because that coolness was apparent just about everywhere we went.

One of my favorite moments happened at our shoot in front of the Norfolk Pagoda Restaurant when I had to walk through a multi-circle formation of over a dozen bicycles riding in opposite directions. Living on the edge!!

Skye Bikes

Also, I had to keep my hair the same color and length for the entire 4.5 month process of filming. This was crazy for me, as I tend to be a bit of a hair chameleon! Needless to say, I dyed my hair literally the day after we wrapped my scenes!

I hope this gives you a fun preview of the video and that you’ll come out and celebrate its release with us. I’ll be writing another guest blog a little later this month, to give you more details about our We are NFK Launch Party and Video Premiere. So Stay Tuned! For now, check out our Facebook event:

And here’s a fun Behind the Scenes video we filmed in June of last year!