In Secret Location: Three Mystkateers

An interview in the dark…

This week we have a special treat, Three former grads of the Web Design program, and now all three working for Secret Location.


Sharing in a secret location… ssssh.

Journey to Secret Location:

Erin Ackerman:
– Graduated the web-design program 3 years ago
– Worked for a studio named Lollipop Media (
– Noora – non traditional meeting – 1 year later hired. (“New boards” get more info)
– year and half at Secret Location

Joel Relliquette
– Also went to school with Erin, same situation, met Noora
– But reached out to Noora

Melody Tam
– Illustration at Sheridan, technical and scientific illustration
– web design, at Sheridan, 1 year later, after Erin and Joel graduated
– Was freelancing then hired by Secret Location.

Secret Location background:
With offices in Toronto and Los Angeles, Secret Location is a “content studio for emerging platforms”. This includes working with major television networks to bring and transform the television experience to an online experience and to engage audience via social media. The studio have won many awards including an Emmy for Sleepy Hallow VR experience.


“Each person has a role; but the outcome is as a team.” Joel

Basic process
Post board up to debrief
Do not take from, specific person or intend to take form design. We look around us.
– Story telling plays a major contribution.
– First project can be unusual – Melody game – played game to gather information.

Typical day
Always busy… later hours

  • no meeting Wednesdays
  • creative check-in
  • therapy – less technical
  • Designers show your portfolio

Check this out at 5:30 Friday Presentation on whatever topic you want. Could be a design, website, book, movie or you could teach a new app.

Work/life balance is non-existent, but the initiative – is fun and games, to teach a work life balance. This helps to create better creative. Remember you need to still be productive and work.

Developers like when designers work first with the code. Conceptualized design show competence in design and critical thinking.

Big agency —there are people that do specific creative.

Things to explore:
Immersive experience motion graphics projects:
After Effects
Cinema 14
Blender 3D
Flash and AE

How to adapt
Sapient Nitro?
Remember soft skills friends / hard skills culture.

Noora’s philosophy working downtown:
– It is nice to be in a location that allow you to look outside
– In studio most of the time, stepping out to shop, or go for a walk.

Most Difficult Project

  • hardest is creative block
  • technical can be the hard part, trying to wrap head around it.
  • When you want to take a nap.

Do you pitch ideas?

-We do pitch, given Secret Location Creative Task objectives.
-This is when brainstorming occurs.


Mainly work with television networks. Bitten (about Werewolf + Vampires) askes to provide content that extends the story online and added to the story, became part of the digital property.

The Sheridan Web Design final assignment
Pick a topic you know and love.

Melody – Home Defence Green West
Joel – Genetic designer babies
Erin – Ice Cream


  • Melody Podcasts – This American Life
  • Joel was asked to get back to work, get back to work.
  • Erin is all over the place- prefers meditation and food.

Pete – Secret Location speaker

Secret Location-Is a small to medium agency

Options after grad show, stay in touch

Last bit of advice:

Keep every project assignment fictitious

Dividends v. inspiration

Story Board your work, agencies like to see process.
Ask yourself what do you like about your projects.
Erin: Be your own art director.
Finished projects – have Grey Boards visible.

What an interesting Pro Topics class this weeks three guest speakers, it was an interesting experience to conduct a Q&A over Skype; technology is amazing. This was a first for me; I had experience with hello conference calls before but not when it includes video. With that said, what Erin, Joel and Melody provided vital information of what to expect during our program, what is expected of us when contacting agencies, what they look for in a potential candidates and to give them advice on process. It was good to meet Erin, Joel and Melody… It’s too bad that we did not meet Noora.
I found the guest speakers to be very interesting people and look forward to networking with them in the future.

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