///Telling Stories

Telling Stories

Sara and Brian Sullivan of Second Story Productions, a video production company where the story matters.

Brian and Sara Sullivan, Second Story Productions

Who: Brian and Sara Sullivan.

Where: Mercer Neighborhood.

Business: The Sullivans are the principals of Second Story Productions, a boutique communications company that provides video solutions for government, corporate, and non-profit entities. They recently relocated their formerly home-based business to the Tower East building in the Van Aken district.

Company mission:

Sara: “We are really interested in the story behind the work that we do. The story and the message are the focal points. It’s an honor to tell someone else’s story, and it’s our job to listen first.”

What I love about my work:

Sara:  “We love that every day, the work is different. We interview CEOs and we go to homeless campsites. We film in factories and in hospitals. That variety has been very fulfilling professionally and personally.”

Brian: “Learning about different professions and people, and the stories they have to tell is a lot of fun. Our creative process with our clients is very collaborative; we enjoy listening to other people’s ideas and seeing where the project can go. Sometimes it turns out to be totally different and even better than you thought it was going to be.”

Personal background: Brian is a graduate of Shaker Heights High School who grew up “in the shadow of the Tower East building,” as he puts it. He received his undergraduate degree in communications from Hunter College in Manhattan, where he then worked in television and film before moving to the D.C. area to work with the Kennedy Center Honors television program and at NBC. After moving back to the Cleveland area, he worked for Rockwell Automation as a media producer.

Sara lived in Shaker until the age of 13 and attended Hawken School. After graduating from Barnard College with a major in psychology and minor in English, she was a teacher in McLean, Virginia and at Hawken. She then achieved a master’s in clinical counseling from Cleveland State University. “My background is not in production, but in people. Those are the skills I bring to the work we do.”

The couple met at a party in the Mercer area in 1986, and have been together ever since. They co-founded Second Story Productions in 2005. “Most of the important things in our lives have happened right here in Shaker,” says Brian. “Growing up here, meeting each other, getting married at St. Dominic Church, buying a home, having kids, and starting our business.”

On working and living in Shaker Heights:

Sara: “Shaker has always felt like home to us. We were seeking jobs in this area because of the quality of the housing, the cost of living, and the cultural and educational opportunities. As we had children, all of the things that were important to us about Shaker really rose to the surface – whether that’s skating or sledding at Thornton Park, the ice cream trucks, the sidewalks – it’s a beautiful place to live. And the proximity to everything is great.”

Brian: “We are very excited to be a part of the Van Aken District redevelopment. We are looking to capture the synergy of the Tower East building, to increase our visibility in the community, and to grow the business even further. Our kids are still young, so being only five minutes away from home and being able to pick them up from school or see a game was a big factor in our decision. (Daughters Anna and Bess are 14 and 13, respectively.) I think it will also be a nice experience for our employees to be a part of this walkable district, to be able to walk to lunch or shopping or to a client meeting.

Sara: “We really view Shaker as a great home base for our business. We work throughout Northeast Ohio and nationally. Our new space offers the opportunity for clients to meet with us on our turf and to show off Shaker. We can see all the way to downtown from our office, which is very inspiring. This building has called to Bria since childhood.”


Brian and Sara Sullivan
Suite 801, 20600 Chagrin Boulevard, Shaker Heights, OH 44122
(216) 292-5946

Originally published in Shaker Life, Summer 2015.
2017-08-23T17:09:25+00:00Work Live Shaker|