I left University with a 2:1 BA Hons in Media Production. During my degree I began doing freelance work for friends and friends of friends at the place where I worked. I did this under the production company banner name of Standby Productions, with the 1st project going out in 2003, I think. I also made a load of skateboard videos under that name too, before I even got to University.
When I left Uni I worked in bars etc to earn enough money to go travelling around the world, which I did with 3 friends from University for 14 months. It was an absolutely incredible experience and I would highly recommend it. On my return to the UK I began searching for jobs in the Media industry, something that I found extremely difficult, as there never really seemed to be any jobs available and everyone kept telling me it’s who you know and not necessarily what you know. I had my own camera gear and home edit suite, so began producing some more projects on a freelance basis, just by speaking to as many people and possible and then telling them that they should have a video made for their company, haha!
If I have one piece of advice it would be to talk to as many people as possible and keep everyone on your side as you never know when they might be able to help you – and tell people what your interests are and what you’d like to do, you never know who they might know! This was certainly the case for me. I remember going on a random trip to Liverpool with some mates and found out there was a job going at a friend’s girlfriends agency. I applied and got the job, where I then worked for about 4 years. I started as an editor and studied all the freelance cameramen we used to gain the confidence I needed to shoot to a professional standard. I then began to push to let me shoot the videos we were producing. Eventually I began to shoot pretty much all the videos for the company and also edit them. As I grew into the role I began to go out on pitches and work on quotations, etc.
The company I worked for was a side of the video industry that I knew very little about whilst at University – it was always categorised as ‘Corporate Video’ a term I detest. I was very focused on TV, especially the BBC whilst I was at university with an ambition to see my work on TV, but I found jobs very difficult to come by and couldn’t afford to work for free as a runner etc. – although I know this is a way that works to get in the industry, as my friends did just that and now work in broadcast. With my original Uni ambitions in mind I applied to the BBC whilst Media City was being developed and waited, and waited and waited for them to come calling, I had got through the three application processes.
After 4 years at the corporate agency, I needed a new challenge and having experienced the ‘business/corporate’ world, I felt it was an area I knew, but also an area where I could hopefully change things. I decided to start Standby Productions as a real business and set up a Limited company. I had a customer who kind of guaranteed about 12 months of work, which gave me the confidence to make the step – a decision I dwelled on for about 6 months no less!!
With the help of my Dad, on the finance and business side (basically looking after dreaded spreadsheets of numbers!), the business began on the 11th April 2011. I sat at home in my spare room at my iMac and began to create Standby Productions as a brand – at 11am that very day I had a call from the BBC offering me a job. It was a good job too as an Editor with producer roles attached to it, with a decent salary too. I turned around and looked on my spare bed at all the kit I had just invested in and said I’d have to call them back. It really put my head in a spin that’s for sure!
Well, here I am 3 years later and Standby Productions Ltd is busier than ever, with a great start to 2014. I turned down the BBC and I have never looked back. I have a full-time Assistant Director working for me and in the past we’ve had other staff too, we have a great little edit suite in Didsbury, Manchester and we’re currently hiring for an Entry Level Producer role.
I guess you could say we make Corporate Videos (and we often get asked for them), but I refuse to let that hinder our creativity – we try to push ‘Company Films’ to their creative limits and work very hard to make our films the best, most creative they possibly can be.
This has now led us to producing three TV Commercials, which I directed, meaning I could tick off my main ambition – to see my work on TV!