I would like to take you back to 2012 - My production/editing business is thriving. After looking around, I am lucky enough to find an amazing location on Broadwick Street W1 and move on the 1st April. What had been sold to me by my friend Alex who is working for the building's owner as a shared space, is way... way... better. As it turned out, this cavernous space (the size of a tennis court) is empty except for two & half days a week when Alex works from the desk right behind mine. Moving to Broadwick street, a few steps away from groovy Carnaby Street is a major coup: my clients love it, for most of them it's a day's work out of the office accompanied by fresh pastries and an endless stream of fresh coffee. For me, the office/studio it is the ultimate validation: Some people drive a fast car, I have an office in the West End. Over the next two years the odd freelancer is hired, I even drag my friend Rebecca to come in and help me develop the business as well as co-writing feature documentaries (in time, the two of us will become business partners...) Those couple of years are really fun and incredibly creative.
Sink Or Swim
Cut to 2014 - The owner of the building decides that it was time for him to use the space and gives me notice. Two of my biggest clients leave their jobs one after the other. Finally, Rebecca, a successful actress in her own right, tells me that this side of the industry isn't really for her - fair enough - my ship is sicking... This Is my Titanic (It's a bit melodramatic - wait!) A life jacket is thrown my way. David Smith who runs a sound studio around the corner, is also looking for a new space - so, on a chilly November's afternoon, we visit 3 Percy Street at the end of Charlotte Street and Tottenham Court Road. and immediately we agree that he will take responsibility of the lease & the street facing rooms, I would sub-rent the space at the back. Perfect.
Snakes & ladder
November 2016 - I am sitting in my living room amongst storage-boxes with stacks of hard drives full with hundreds of projects produced on spec. What happened? Is this a two steps forward three steps back situation? For all of you out-there running your own business or thinking about taking a leap into the unknown - the reality of working in the West End means that productions need to be non-stop to keep afloat. Running a small production agency is relentless. Pitching, editing, delivering, cleaning, hiring... invoicing argh. After losing my best clients and collaborator, I found myself in the proverbial hamster-wheel slowly letting go of the things that keep me alive: filming & editing - sleeping properly.
I have to concede defeat. I didn't make it. I failed.
Wait a minute! - I haven't failed, I only have a bruised ego, it's time to dust-myself-off and keep going.
- I know now what it takes to being based in the West End and call myself an agency.
- I know now what projects are worth doing (creatively and financially) and those which are not.
- I've learnt that running a small outfit is not for me at the moment.
- The West End isn't going anywhere. My clients don't care where I am based. Their only concerned are about getting the best films delivered on time and on budget.
With less overheads and the constant need to turn projects (let's not forget that I am not a salesman) I am now determined to make the documentaries I want to make out of my head and onto the screen, And I am telling You I Am Not Going.