Filmmaker, 1440 Film Co.

Mike Pfeifer

Mike Pfeifer

“Speak to the heart to encourage the mind.”

This is the mantra of Mike Pfeifer, the owner of 1440 Film Co. The Wilmington-based video production firm has been in business for just over a year but has already completed projects for the American Heart Association, the Ronald McDonald House and the University of Delaware.

Pfeifer arrived in Delaware during his freshman year at Christiana High School, to move closer to a job his father had gotten at the nearby Chrysler plant. He received his degree in Community and Organization Leadership at the University of Delaware, which became useful with the technical aspects of running a business.

The business degree was a strategic decision for Pfeifer when considering his career. “Growing up I always had a camera around my neck. I would talk my teachers into letting me do a video for a project because I hated writing. It didn’t hit me until I graduated from UD that it was a viable skillset and people would actually pay me to do something I enjoy doing,” Pfeifer said. “I never thought in a million years I’d be able to do this for a living.”

Delaware has provided a great balance for Pfeifer. “I love the quality of life I get living and working here in Delaware. We can be at the beaches or the mountains in about an hour. I do a little bit of traveling for shoots, but most of my work is here in Delaware,” Pfeifer said. He doesn’t hesitate when considering the alternatives. “Sure I could go to New York and hunt down some of the bigger agencies but I’m perfectly happy telling the stories of the people and brands in our state.”

Last year was intense for Pfeifer — building the business, managing both the creative and logistics for complex shoots and doing the networking required to make them happen. On top of that, he is a dad to a 2-year-old daughter. “I get to drop my daughter off in the morning and kiss her goodnight at bedtime which is the most important thing to me.”

    For Pfeifer, strategic networking has been critical to 1440’s strong start. “There are also incredible resources for making connections to the larger businesses in the state — Delaware State Chamber, Delaware Decision Makers run by Dave Tiberi, Leadership Delaware led by Terry Strine, and the new Delaware Small Business Administration- they have a great speed networking event that has gotten me connections to a number of banks. I’ve gotten major national clients through this kind of networking,” Pfeifer said.

    He credits Delaware for this access, “I don’t know if other states operate like that, but you hear this time and time again with Delaware being so small, and if you put in the time, all of those things are possible here.”

    “I love the quality of life I get living and working here in Delaware. We can be at the beaches or the mountains in about an hour.”

    Connections are also key in helping him match the right teams to the projects that come in, many of them diverse and hyper-focused on a certain style. “Making large production work here is primarily relationship-based. I am responsible for most of the creative development, but I am surrounded by a really talented group of people in this area,” Pfeifer said.

    “Filmmaking is the greatest team sport there is. I have a sports background — you can only do so much yourself, and only carry [yourself] so far.”

    1440 was not just a random number for Pfeifer, it was something he spent a lot of time crafting, until he was sure he had the right fit. “Names are challenging and every dot-com is taken. You want the name to be meaningful and represent you in some way.” In brainstorming a unique name Pfeifer focused on lacrosse, as it has always been a big part of his life and something he and his father shared.

    “14 was one of my numbers, 40 was his. He passed away from cancer five years ago.” When looking into the use of the number “1440” for his business, Pfeifer discovered that there are 1440 minutes in each day. “I knew it was right — that it is about making minutes count.”

    Making an impact and speaking to the heart to encourage the mind is the core mission that drives all of 1440’s work. “In any career, people want to do things that make a difference. Sure I could sell 10 million batteries for Duracell but I would much rather make an impact somewhere.” So Pfeifer started Project Give Back, where a percentage of every project goes in a pot. At the end of the year, that money is used to fund a pro bono piece designed to do something meaningful.

    Project Give Back for 2019 made a big impact. Focusing on Teen Sharp, a Delaware non-profit that helps underrepresented students get into college, Pfeifer decided to film the students opening their college acceptance letters. “We shot it at DeTV’s studio. We put them under the lights and then surprised them by bringing out their parents from behind the curtain to talk about what all of their efforts meant to them. That despite whatever the letter says, they are still champions.

    Pfeifer then takes a deep breath recalling the moment. “Then we brought out one of their Teen Sharp mentors, who had worked with them for 5 years. And then, right after all of that, we had a representative from one of the colleges on the phone. We hand the phone over to the students and it’s someone from the university telling them ‘we would love to have you.’ And everyone there just melts. It was such a powerful moment. And now Teen Sharp has… they have lightning in a bottle,” Pfeifer said.

    “They have the most rewarding thing I’ve ever shot. If I could do one project like that a year, for the remainder of my career, that would be a success for me.”