Getting to Know Virginia Cooney of Rambler
Cooney has been GPN’s Colombian partner since 2010. As you may know, GPN represents only one production company per country and Cooney (and Rambler) did not start out as this company. However, her persistence in becoming a member of GPN paid off and she’s been a part of the family for almost a decade.
Cooney had been hearing about GPN and Harry for several years during the time when she was working for a production service company prior to founding her own company, Rambler. She was told that GPN held the ticket to getting the big American productions to Colombia. She cold called Harry, who told her that Colombia was already represented, and she still continued to pursue him over the years. Eventually the company GPN was representing in Colombia folded, creating space for a new company to step in. Upon receiving this news, Cooney immediately flew to L.A., met with Harry and GPN began backing her. It’s been a fruitful relationship from then on.
Cooney, a brave and adventurous spirit from the USA, studied film at NYU. As with so much of life, there are unexpected opportunities in the strangest of places. This is how Cooney ended up in Colombia in 2008 and has been there ever since. While doing a mosaic of internships and production work in NYC, she was brought to Colombia to film. While she was there, these projects ended up falling through and at the same time, the world was in an uncertain state. She decided to stay (just for a bit) and see what life had to offer.
She began learning Spanish and thought she would stay for another six months or so. The six months turned into five years during which she worked for a production service company. She decided early on to surround herself with the very best people in business so that she could learn from them first hand. This paid off because it is with these co-workers that she ventured out with and started Rambler in 2014. As a team, they had a great reputation, business was good and they wanted to be able to best serve their clients by having the ability to make all the decisions. The same team is still together today, doing what they do best and doing it happily- as their own company.
When she first started Rambler she went back and forth between the States and Colombia monthly to acquire new projects, network and let people know who she was and what she was doing in Colombia. GPN had moved with her and was now backing Rambler.
Being an American in Colombia was excellent for her and for business. It was easy to get the trust of new clients because she was American, spoke Spanish, was well connected in Colombia, had a fantastic team and was a member of GPN. Rambler was quickly successful and they had a major Coca-Cola campaign within months.
They continue to flourish and have had some pretty unique shooting experiences. Cooney describes Rambler as a full production service company. They are able to offer post production, voice overs and table top. Their bread and butter is commercials followed by segments of long format, portions of movies and several episodes for a series. They could and would love to do full features or a full series, but it hasn’t worked out that way, yet.
Cooney recalls the most incredible and one of the biggest productions they did was a live concert for Apple, who did a piece on Latin musicians which took place in Bogota, and they hired Rambler to film it. It was so big that they had to use every single piece of film equipment they had, plus all of the cameras in Columbia and basically had the entire film industry in Colombia working on it because it was shot live. It was a completely different experience because no one in her company really did live work. It was also a totally new way of working in terms of size, complexity and budget. She remembers it as a phenomenal experience and one in which they really stretched their own limits.
Due to Colombia being a coffee region, many coffee commercials are filmed there. Rambler took another job for Coca-Cola shooting a coffee related product for the Japanese market. Japan sent about 50 people to Columbia- and only two of these people were able to speak either English or Spanish. There were translators but quite a bit of time was spent trying to figure out what was going on. For Cooney, it was one of her most memorable productions. She talked about the cultural differences of a film set between Japan and Columbia. In Japan, they are used to a clear script, a clear frame and they approach lighting differently. The Colombians often had to fall back, observe and learn, which in the end they were all appreciative of. She described it as a bit of a circus but an equally awesome experience.
Rambler has clients from all over the world that come to Columbia to film. They are diverse enough to be able to handle projects on a last minute basis, have a pool of talent in Colombia and a company that, like GPN, is family. Cooney describes herself and her colleagues as workaholics, giving 200% all the time. If a client has a need, they always there to back them up and help out. They want to see their clients grow and want to give them the experience they wish to have. This philosophy tends to keep people close and happy. Each member of the Rambler team shares this attitude, enabling them to work well together.
Colombia has a reputation of being dangerous and corrupt, but this no longer holds true. Colombia has cleaned itself up in the past decades and with Cooney in the driver’s seat, a production in Colombia can be an incredible and highly professional experience. Have a look at Rambler’s work here.
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