West Hartford may not traditionally be associated with the TV industry, but that never stopped Tim Horgan, who has been operating award-winning Bluefoot Entertainment in town for nearly a decade.
Horgan started Bluefoot Entertainment in Nov. 2003, in just one room on the second floor of 977 Farmington Ave. The company has been at the same location ever since, and now occupies about half of the building producing high end promotions, teases, and documentaries for ESPN and other clients.
Horgan is a West Hartford native, a Conard graduate who grew up a few blocks from the Center on Riggs Ave. He spent a decade working for ESPN in Bristol as a photographer, producer, editor, and then as a freelancer for the sports network. Tired of the freelance routine, Horgan decided he had enough friends and followers to strike out on his own.
"This building was open, and it was right on the rise up of West Hartford," he said. "It was good timing, with restaurants opening, and the Center was starting to thrive," said Horgan. Having so many great dining options available "helps our clients," he said.
"Being in the middle of both Boston and New York, finding work is not a problem," said Horgan. He said that these days there is so much work "right in your backyard" with many shows moving out of New York into Connecticut.
Although the clients may be based locally, Horgan does travel extensively for shoots. He estimates that he spends two or three months a year on the road, but that's less than he used to do. He recently returned from Miami where Bluefoot collaborated on ESPN's coverage of the BCS Championship game.
"You get to meet interesting people, go to interesting places, that's for sure," Horgan said. Bluefoot is working on a project for the Ryder Cup, and Horgan is looking forward to a trip to Muirfield in April.
Bluefoot Entertainment specializes in high-end, high-definition, production and post-production projects. ESPN is the company's largest client, and Bluefoot has worked on many projects for SportsCenter as well as the BCS Championship, Major League Baseball, National Football League, X Games, NASCAR, NCAA football and basketball, and ESPN's feature-driven magazine show E:60.
New Balance is also a major client, and Bluefoot has produced many of the athletic company's marketing and promotional videos, Horgan said.
Bluefoot is presently working on "opening sequences, essays, bumps, and promos" for Back9Network, a new Hartford-based 24-hour golf lifestyle and entertainment network which is launching later this year.
Bluefoot's cutting-edge offices are filled with awards, including seven national Emmys – obvious symbols of the company's success, but all earned through hard work. It takes hours, days, or even weeks to produce one short piece, Horgan said.
A 15 to 20 minute feature might take a month of solid work to produce.
The 2 minute-17 second BCS "main tease" took three weeks, including six 15-hour days shooting in Miami. In all, the company submitted 15 or 20 different pieces to air during the Alabama vs. Notre Dame game, including the opening sequence, "Miami."
Horgan said he is proudest of some of his feature work. "The Man Behind the Red Bandana," about a Boston College lacrosse player credited with saving many lives in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, is one of his favorites. The piece, which can be seen here, won an Emmy in 2012.
Last week Bluefoot producer Dave Lynch, who lives in Farmington, and ESPN's Max Brodsky finished up a 5 1/2 minute feature about Terry Francona's new book, which aired on SportsCenter.
"For the most part, we're storytellers," Horgan said.
Bluefoot employs seven full time employees in West Hartford, including Daniel Horgan, Tim's brother. His father, former Hartford Courant columnist Denis Horgan, has also worked with the company.
Other employees include Lynch, Matt McCormick, Jason Sánchez Rosa, and Nicole Pugliese.
Post production work is all done in the West Hartford editing studios, but the company hires an array of freelancers for shoots throughout the country. Although Horgan will direct shoots himself, he said he hires the "big names" to do the camera work.
Keeping it all in the family, Horgan shares one of Bluefoot's Emmys with his wife, Hillary Horgan, a producer for ESPN's E:60. The couple currently lives in Avon with their 6-month-old son.
As for the origin of the name "Bluefoot," the company's website said Horgan chose it after a trip to the Galapagos Islands, home of the native "Bluefooted Booby." The website states that the name "reflects the company’s light-hearted approach to life and work and speaks to the creativity that we take most seriously."