London. I have a strange relationship with this city though, I absolutely love to hate it but I honestly don’t know where else I could be that would offer as much as this place. I like to think its just temporary and I’ll be gone when I’m 30 but who knows…
I always struggle with figuring out exactly what it is I do, over the past 18 months I’ve worked as a director, a producer, a presenter, an actor, a camera operator, a camera assistant, an editor, a colourist and a technician. I like the idea of coming under some sort of storyteller category so I’ll go with Documentary Filmmaker – that may change next week!
Did you go to University?
No, I went travelling for 5 years instead – its actually funny you ask ‘cause I’m directing a documentary at the moment titled ‘Should I go to Uni?’
Do you think this choice affected your future prospects?
Right now I’m in a far better place than I ever could have imagined I’d get to by this age, and honestly I don’t think I’d be here if I went to university. That doesn’t mean I don’t agree with it though and I definitely don’t want to discourage people from going. I was fortunate enough to have parents that believed in me and when I told my mum I was going to work in a fish factory in Norway 5 years after leaving school, still with no skills and qualifications she was kinda cool with it, I think! But by spending all this time travelling around the world, constantly getting out of my comfort zone and being exposed to different cultures and ways of life definitely gave me the people skills that have put me where I am today. On the flip side though, the team of people I do almost all my work with have all been to university and got great things out of it.
Did you come back from your travels with a clear-cut path of what you wanted to do?
I think nothing has a clear cut path, I’ve had huge ideas of what I want to do and where I want to get to but everything changes so rapidly in the world we live in that I never get stuck on one idea of “where I’ll be in 5 years time” for longer than about 5 minutes! A great quote I read in an interview the other day was “if you’ve got to the end and its exactly how you imagined it, you weren’t listening enough along the way” our lives are filled with opportunities that present themselves on a daily basis, its always worth being open to new ideas even if they don’t fit into your end goal.
What was your first job and did you enjoy it?
My first job was milking cows on a farm that mostly employed people with downs syndrome. It was amazing, everyone was always happy and from a very young age I got to see where a lot of my food came from. I take this for granted and its a huge shame a lot of people aren’t aware of this.
What pressures do you think many twenty-something’s are faced with?
I think social media really messes with a lot of young people’s heads. They see girls on Instagram with millions of followers for having a ‘desirable’ body or YouTubers making stupid amounts of money for being rude to people. How’s this stuff meant to be inspiring? Those aren’t dreams with any value that young people should be striving for. I also think there’s a lot of pressure to figure out your calling or passion or something you want to develop into a career that you would enjoy doing, I’m 26 and still don’t really how its gonna go for me but through trial and error and making mistakes I’m slowly learning what makes me happy and what doesn’t.
Can you explain what Where’s Kong is?
Wheres Kong is a production company I started with two friends.
How did the idea for Where’s Kong come about/originate?
We were all working in and around video but getting paid crap money for long hours, we wanted to have something that belonged to us where we could work for ourselves.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when setting up Where’s Kong?
The hardest thing initially for me was quitting my regular job not knowing if I’d actually make any money at all to cover my rent and outgoings. But I’ve come to learn that when you HAVE to make it work, you make it work. The biggest challenge is getting the clients, I enjoy making videos and I really don’t enjoy cold emailing people relentlessly but unfortunately that’s a pretty necessary element to having your own company!
What were the initial steps you took in starting it up?
I’d saved a bit of money over the years, I wasn’t really sure what for and this seemed like a good thing to put it into. I invested most of it in kit, also set back 3 months worth of living costs to give myself some breathing room after quitting my job and during this time I developed my skills massively too. We then built a showreel so we had something that explained what we could do.
Who did you seek advice from and who really helped you in the early stages?
Hmmm I don’t think we asked anyone for advice we sort of just thought we’d wing it! My cousin Ruby came to a few of the first meetings and had some really useful stuff to say having previously owned her own magazine, we’d really like to have her more involved in the company further down the line as she’s so great at what she does but we’re not quite big time enough to be employing people yet!
Do you doubt yourself?
I doubt myself all the time! Usually when I’m hungover or working too hard and forget to take time out to breath and see a bit clearer. Its easy to compare yourself to other people and feel crap when you don’t excel to their level straight away but I always try to think about where I was this time last year or even 6 months ago, its important to recognise and be grateful for any new skills, contacts or just general career progression you acquire on a regular basis.
How do you market yourself?
Almost every bit of work I get now is word of mouth, that helps with social media as its easy for people to pass on portfolio to others but now I have an established product everyone I come into contact with is usually up for helping me out through recommendations.
What do you wish you had known then that you know now?
Haha everyone likes the idea of having the skills they’ve learnt when they were at school or whatever but to be honest learning is the most exciting thing for me so I don’t really wish I’d known any of the stuff I know now. When I make something new and figure out a new technique or process I get this crazy feeling of excitement and I’m pretty sure that’s what keeps me going! Actually I probably would have told myself not to worry about stuff looking perfect, I worked this out but in the beginning I got pretty fixed on trying to make beautiful looking videos. This doesn’t happen when you’re starting out, it’s more important to just churn out experimental projects and get to grips with the tools you’re using.
Apart from a few bits of broken equipment, nothing too major-quitting my job was the biggest risk so far and it paid off massively. It’s probably about time I put some more stuff on the line to be honest! When things fail though they generate a different outcome to the one intended, I strongly believe it’s always a better outcome. My projects often take massive dips due to various circumstances but the outcomes are always far greater than what I initially intend for.
What advice would you give other twenty-something’s who are thinking of setting up their own venture in this industry?
Your 20’s are the most exciting time for trying stuff out, you probably don’t have a family depending on you or a mortgage yet so you can experiment, get stuff wrong, learn new skills and generally just try to figure life out. As far as working in the video industry, degree or no degree everyone starts at the bottom. Whether it’s kit rental or running or something else you have to learn these jobs so you’re still able to do them or at least understand them when you’re running the show. The cliché of ‘who you know now what you know’ is very much how this industry operates, don’t let this put you off it can work in your favour. Selling yourself is only a matter of being confident and being nice, a good reputation goes a long way. Building a good team around you of similar likeminded people is extremely important, I’ve drifted away from quite a few friendships but found myself far more motivated and focused when spending time with people who have similar interests to me.
What do you think the next steps are for Where’s Kong?
We’d like Where’s Kong to grow but also for us to operate and get paid for our personal projects under this name. At the moment the work we get through this company is just to pay the rent. The dream will be when people want to buy the stuff we film in our spare time!
What has been your best moment as a result of Where’s Kong?
Our best moment so far, was when we had an epic weekend last summer in Dorset and then Cornwall shooting two different documentaries. Everything worked out better than we could have expected and looked amazing, we had a pretty insane amount of gear, drones, steady cams etc and I definitely thought if I could make days like this happen everyday and be paid for it I’d be living a seriously good life!