And the Emmy goes to…

Zooppa is always so excited to share news about the amazing things creators in our community are doing. We recently learned about an extraordinary recognition that one of our Peggy filmmakers achieved. Julia Thorndike, member of Think Media Studios since 2013, won an Emmy for her concept and direction of “As One” a 2018-2019 Intro Video for the Cleveland Cavaliers! Intro Videos are shown on the big screen in the arena’s before the game starts, to introduce the team and get the crown hyped. We caught up with Julia and asked her what this incredible award means to her.

What’s your background, how’d you get into filmmaking?
“I have a BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art. When I graduated from college I really didn’t know I was headed towards a career in filmmaking. I actually started out planning to go into Textile Design. Through a series of twists and turns, I found an interest in storytelling and I joined the team at a production company in Cleveland OH (Think Media Studios) in 2013. I basically got my film school training here. Im blessed to work with some very talented and knowledgeable people who have really nurtured me in my career growth.”

How did you get this gig with the Cleveland Cavaliers? What was your role on the project?
“Think Media Studios has had a long standing partnership with the Cleveland Cavaliers and for about the past 10 years we’ve collaborated with them on their game intro videos. This is the second year in a row that one of my concepts have been chosen. So, I was behind the initial creative and also directed it. I believe I’m the first woman to direct one of these game intro videos for the Cavs.’ 

Why this particular project is exciting?
“Obviously any chance you get to work with professional athletes can be really exciting. But the thing I like most about creating these openers are the creative challenges. Professional athletes often have very strict/busy schedules and they are certainly things they will or won’t do on camera. So, it sort of gives you some parameters to build off of. I don’t mind that though because I sometimes think I work best when I’m faced with a problem to solve. In this case, we didn’t have a ton of time to shoot and had some restrictions on our location. So I had to find a way to create something dynamic within those parameters and started thinking about how we could create interesting effects in post. That’s where the idea for the transparent color overlays came in. We had each player do a series of basketball moves (defense poses, shooting etc.) and then layered them up in post to create a sort of 3D look. I’m really pleased with how it came together.”

How’d you get put on a path to win an Emmy?  
“I didn’t set out to win an Emmy with this project; It’s honestly something I never could have dreamed up. “What?! I’m directing videos for an NBA team that thousands of people will see… and I’m going to win an Emmy for it?!” I try to focus as much creative energy as I can on each project I do and make it the best it can be. But… I’m really happy it ended up the way it did.”

What’s the coolest thing about this story?
“I think it’s pretty neat that the director and producer on this project were both women. I don’t often say or think that while on other jobs because “hey this is normal, women totally rock and of course they should run the show.”  But it really comes to the forefront on this one for me. We’re working on a set with not only a ton of male crew, but also directing 7 ft. tall professional male athletes. It feels pretty empowering. Another fun fact… I was 5 months pregnant when we shot this, so I will admit I felt like a badass. Making videos and making babies. ????”

What does this win mean for you? For your career?
“I try not to get my hopes too high about awards. I always think “well if I win that will be great, but I’m just happy I got to make something cool.” I’m pretty thrilled about this though. I’m really happy with how this project came out, so to know other people like it too, feels really good. Also, I grew up in a household of big sports fans (especially Cleveland sports) so the fact that I won this for a Cavaliers video makes this win even closer to my heart.”

How did you feel when you won?
“It was so fun to hear my name called and I loved getting to accept this award with my team. These projects are such group efforts in every sense. There’s so much camaraderie between everyone on set, so it was really special to go on that stage together.”

Thank you Julia for sharing your story! To learn more about Peggy, head on over to and sign up to be a Peggy supporter!

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