This article was written by Natasha Preskey

Adam Lawson and Jackson Hogan, both 22, graduated from university summer 2014 determined to turn their passion for film into a day job. One year later, their film business, Grizzly Visuals, is thriving with both Adam and Jackson working behind the camera full-time. We spoke to Adam about how to make films and pay the rent. Don’t forget you can also make a start in the world of film by applying for our amazing opportunity to create a short film with the BFI and O2…deadline is fast approaching!

How did you get your film business off the ground, and how much experience did you have starting out?
I’d been making films just for fun since I was about 15, things like filming festivals and doing odd bits of freelance work. For example, my old school commissioned me to make their prospectus video while I was studying for degree in film studies at Kent University. After that, I secured another job with a school filming some live theatre, and I asked my friend Jackson (also on my course) to help out. We really enjoyed working on it together and so we decided we wanted to try and make a living from our film work.


How did you find more work? Did you have to do anything else to finance yourselves while you got set up?
Jackson and I decided to move to London together after we left uni and I started working at a call centre to pay the rent. Video is far more accessible now, you don’t need to be dependent on an agency anymore. Loads of bands, artists and small business owners want film work done to a professional standard and, to be honest, we’ve found most of our work by responding to ads on Gumtree.

After about six months, I left my job at the call centre to work on the business full-time. It hasn’t been easy and there have been months where we haven’t quite made enough but we’re getting by and it’s cool to be independent and doing your own thing to make money.

How can young filmmakers promote themselves and prove to potential clients that they’re up to the job?
I just took all the film work I’d made for fun in the past and turned it into a demo reel, which I later attached to a website which we could show to potential clients. The more work we’ve done, the more we’ve had to show to potential clients.


Did you feel nervous about charging people at first? How do you decide your rates?
I still feel nervous about doing it! It still feels really weird because it’s something I do because I love it. When you’re working closely with clients on a project they kind of become your friends and you can feel bad about charging them. It took me a while to break out of the idea of just seeing payment in terms of hourly rates.

You’ve got to remember that even if a daily amount sounds a lot it’s actually paying for all of the training or experience someone has had to get to that point and it takes into account the fact that work can be irregular at times. It’s not just for the hours you’re there working. You have to really look at a different way of valuing yourself that’s very different to any other job.

Have there been any other challenges along the way?
There have been times when our cameras broken the day before an important shoot and we haven’t been able to afford to cancel the shoot. But anyone who’s starting out and doesn’t want to shell out for equipment can usually rent a camera. I didn’t think many rental houses would want to trust a 21-year-old with expensive kit, but I think they are lot less strict and formal than they used to be!


Do you have any advice for other young people who want to make money from film?
I think just do it! Just shoot things wherever you can, for example, if your friend has a band, ask if you can film them. Then you can turn that work into a demo reel and just go from there.

What would be your dream commission?
We make a lot of music videos now and I’d love to work with Lianne La Havas. I haven’t seen her video for Unstoppable and I don’t want to. I’m just going to pretend she hasn’t got one yet and that I’m just waiting for the call!

Fancy making your own film with O2 and the BFI? Check out how you can get involved here.

If you liked this article, take a look at…

Duncan started in the film industry as a runner and is now a VFX Coordinator…

We interviewed Will, a BBC Executive Producer – read his advice here…

How to get into TV Production…

How to break into the film industry…