New-Gen Filipino Entrepreneurs: Workin' Hard, Ping-Pongin' Harder with Dean Vargas & Motion Pantry

New-Gen Filipino Entrepreneurs is a feature series that will spotlight young Filipino-Canadian entrepreneurs, and their respective businesses in Toronto. Explore and be inspired by these Filipino go-getters in our community! The Kapisanan community might be familiar with Dean Vargas as someone who was/is involved in  spoken word and theatre crews in Toronto. Now his feature project takes main stage: Motion Pantry, a media and motion graphics production company located at 401 Richmond W. in downtown Toronto. Their slogan: "We work hard, we play ping pong harder."


Dean Vargas, director, editor, motion graphics at Motion Pantry

Multi-media. That can cover just about anything nowadays. What does Motion Pantry specialize in?

Full service film and video production and motion graphics. Basically end-to-end video for advertising, from concept to completion.

How did you get your start?

After film school, I freelanced in indie film and advertising, doing a bit of everything, and a lot of compositing with After Effects.  I grinded it out slowly and steadily on the freelance tip for years, edited at Rogers, then worked as MultiMedia Producer for the Globe and Mail's Advertising Department while still freelancing. As the freelance demands grew, I branched out solo to start Motion Pantry. And we've grown to five staff in just over a year with a nice roster of Agency clients.

What is Motion Pantry?

Who is in your team?

Finding and teaming with the right people is key to creating a healthy, fun work-culture that our industry partners enjoy being around. We have a small, tight team. In the studio, there are five of us on a regular basis, plus one four-legged mascot, KodaBear.

We crew up as needed on a per project basis, from a growing pool of freelancers. This really helps us adapt to the creative and technical needs of each project. My community the 401 Richmond building is also pretty dope. I share office space with Beehive Design and Spot Frank (web design). We're neighbours with 401 Music, Evolved Entertainment, Puppy Machine, Reel Asian Film Fest, Trinity Square Video and a bunch of other wicked companies. We support each others' businesses and bring each other in on projects whenever we can. We work long hours and play our music loud. Our ping-pong-boardroom also gets lots of action.

Share your favourite project and tell us why it stands out to you.

My favourite project is the one we're focusing on right now - our main website and supporting promo videos. (We've never done any promo till now, cuz we've been too busy with clients to make anything for ourselves.) This project is my favourite because we have to define our creative values and what makes us unique in a very competitive field. In order to do this, we have to understand why we are in this field in the first place, and what we want to get out of it, both on a personal level and as a company. So we're investing the time to make fun videos for ourselves instead of for clients. These videos include a series profiling local artists - Visual, Musical, Culinary, Martial and more. I love hearing artists' stories, so this is pretty inspirational stuff for me.

Describe a non-work related endeavour that you're enjoying presently.

Lifestyle balance - building a startup is so consuming, my biggest challenge is to make time for fitness, my relationship and having a normal social life. Lately the extra help at the studio has really helped me find more balance and more sleep.

Stop motion or CGI?

Stop motion combined with CG. That's our shit.

What's your favourite font right now and why? (half kidding)

Raceway - it's vintage, bold, not too random yet not too clean.

You're also a multi-discplinary artist. Please tell us more about other projects you've taken part in.

I've written and performed a lot of spoken word in the past. I wrote a short play with Fu-Gen Theatre and also showed that play through Carlos Bulosan Theatre. I've also had the honor of acting on stage in readings and full productions. I've done fight choreography and performed martial arts for indie film, and ran workshops on Filipino Martial Arts.

How has your Filipino-Canadian identity shaped your craft(s)?

Filipino history and class struggles are big reoccurring themes in my short films (Tubig for a Small World and Sayaw) and in my upcoming doc about the Canadian Medical Mission Society. I look for opportunities to celebrate my ethnic roots and pay homage to Filipinos who have paved the way for future generations. There are so many rich stories that have yet to be told, and that only Filipino-Canadians can tell. Even within the community of Filipino-Canadian artists I know, there's so much talent and style to tell these stories across different media. It's exciting to see what comes next from any of us at any given time.

dean vargas director. editor. motion design 401 richmond st w. suite 396 toronto on M5V 3A8  tel:416.971.8396


Check out Motion Pantry in these social media platforms:

tumblr (most active & current) || web (will be live in a couple weeks) || vimeo (has a bunch of their work) || twitter (they have a pretty active industry following!)

Be inspired!