Integrating Story & Business: Alumni Company Spotlight

In Alumni Profiles, Featured by John LaCrosse

(Pictured: The Zen Garden team filming a documentary in the Dominican Republic, set to be released in December.)

— By Hannah Dorss —

People will pay to have their stories told. Alex and Christiana Lash at Zen Garden Productions realized that fundamental truth early on in their college career at John Paul the Great Catholic University, and have been employed ever since. Their production company operates on the visceral level–the level of drive, emotional experience, passion, and story. Everything that Alex, Christiana, and their company partner, Patrick Mercaldo, do is precisely because of their passion for people and story. Their website sums it up well, ”We believe that it’s not what you do that makes a business successful; it’s why you do it…and that’s why we get up in the morning. To tell your WHY. Your STORY.”

Zen Garden Productions, a full service production company based in San Diego, started out doing creative marketing via visual media. In fact, because so many clients wanted their stories told, Alex and his wife Christiana, who met while students at JPCatholic, found themselves doing paid gigs before they even had a company. They make highlight reels, promo videos, animation and graphics, and even do photography for their various clients. Their resume includes videos for a variety of businesses, schools, and nonprofits, as well as a music video, PSA, and short film. No matter what services rendered, maintaining the integrity of their clients’ company and vision is very important to the team at Zen Garden.

At Zen Garden Productions, Alex, Christiana, and Patrick combine the business and film skills they learned at JPCatholic with their creative drive. Alex shared that their first big project was a documentary in the Dominican Republic, where the Arlington Diocese has a mission in the town of Banica.  Zen Gardens partnered with the Diocese to produce a documentary about the life and work of the Arlington priests in Banica. Alex and his crew were on set for three weeks in the Dominican Republic, trying to capture what life is really like in one of the poorest areas of the Western Hemisphere. From that time onward, they were in business.

Alex Lash gives some insight into his decision to found the company, saying, “It became clear to me quickly that especially as a sophomore in college, no one was going to pay me to make a movie about what I wanted. But people are very willing to pay for videos about their events, their company, their particular story, to hopefully bring them business.”  Zen Garden Productions has, by focusing on telling stories of their clients, found a needed niche in the production market. The company, born and incubated out of JPCatholic, where Alex is currently earning his MBA in Film Producing, continues to thrive in sunny SoCal.