Pierre-Louis transforms dreams into reality


Editor’s Note: This October, we will celebrate our 30th class of 40 Under Forty honorees. Each week in 2022, The Business Journal of Tri-Cities Tennessee/Virginia will highlight one of our 2021 40 Under Forty honorees leading up to the announcement of our milestone class this fall.

There is a longstanding argument about whether entrepreneurs are born or made. The way Rodolphe Pierre-Louis sees it, he was born with an entrepreneurial spirit.

Before he even knew what entrepreneurship was, he was selling magazines door to door and bringing gum to school to sell to his classmates with a slight markup.

“It just feels like the most natural thing I should be doing,” Pierre-Louis said. “I don’t think I’d be very good at a regular job, I’m just wired different.”

Pierre-Louis also fell in love with filmmaking when he was a kid. From the time he was 10 years old, he wanted to make movies. On the surface, it seems like Pierre-Louis has twin passions, but when you dig deeper, making films and building a business both require him to take an idea in his head and making it tangible.

“This is the feeling that I chase all the time,” he said.

Pierre-Louis is the CEO of ActionVFX, and odds are pretty good you’ve seen his work. The company produces visual effects that have appeared in films and television shows, including Jumanji, Stranger Things and Arrow. With one of the largest libraries of visual effects assets in the world, the Johnson City-based company is already a major player in entertainment and has plans to further expand into the video game sector.

What ActionVFX has been able to accomplish thus far is even more amazing when you consider that Pierre-Louis is largely self-taught when it comes to film. After he graduated from high school, Pierre-Louis immersed himself in YouTube and began to study the art of creating visual effects. He is fond of saying his mentors were the mistakes he made and anyone in the industry he could track down through Google or YouTube who was kind enough to give him advice.

From a business standpoint, Pierre-Louis has had a few standout mentors locally who have helped him launch and grow ActionVFX. He said Tommy Greer has been a huge help with the financial aspect of his business while Dave McAuley has helped mentor him from a leadership standpoint.

“Every once in a while I have something rough going on, and I need some advice from someone who is wiser than I am and has been through it,” Pierre-Louis said. “There are definitely a few people locally that have helped make my career and this company better than it could have been.”

In turn, Pierre-Louis has helped strengthen the region he calls home. He has been intentional about keeping locally trained digital media talent in our community, many of them from ETSU’s digital media program. He also offers his advice and expertise to aspiring entrepreneurs through FoundersForge, doing everything he can to help them see their ideas come to fruition.

Next week we will profile Justin Reaves of the Greene County Election Commission. If you would like to nominate someone for inclusion in the 2022 class of 40 Under Forty, visit 40under.com and follow the instructions.

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