I’ve been self-employed for over sixteen years now, and over that time I’ve clocked up a fair amount of experience working in the entertainment industry
April 1997 – January 1999
Whilst at college, I worked part time for Stage Electrics in the hire department preparing hire equipment and learning about all aspects of professional lighting.
January 1999 – June 2004
Stage Electrics were talking about the possibility of no longer using ‘casual’ employees, and I decided it would be a good time to find a new job a bit closer to home. I applied to Batmink Ltd in Glastonbury, and was taken on part-time, working around my college hours. Although Batmink was a much smaller company, it gave me the opportunity to get much more involved with intelligent lighting which interested me.
In the summer of 2000, equipped with 3 decent A-Levels, I applied to go to university, not entirely convinced of my choice of course. At the last minute I decided uni wasn’t the way I wanted to go and deferred for a year.
One of the Directors at Batmink told me there was plenty of work out there for a freelance lighting designer, and that he had several contacts who would be interested. I made the decision to become self-employed, and set about looking for work, continuing to work for Batmink as and when required.
When I started working at Batmink, the company’s Directors had just set up a new division of the company called Themes Inc., specialising in manufacturing and subsequently hiring out themed sets and props for parties and corporate events. This was to become another source of diverse work and I spent a large amount of time working for Themes, decorating themed events all over the country and eventually spending time working in the sales office, designing themed sets for clients.
Away from Themes and Batmink, my client list was expanding, including Sound & Lighting Installers, Production companies, and Event Management companies. I worked as a lighting designer on exciting and diverse projects including several large Radio Roadshows, Awards Shows, Corporate Parties, Nightclubs, and much more.
June 2004 to date
I became interested in the field of Motion Graphics having seen it’s use in show openers and bumpers on the big Radio Roadshows & Award Shows. Use of video within the entertainment industry was growing rapidly and was increasingly becoming an integral part of lighting with the growth of LED technology and the development of moving lights capable of projecting video.
I spent around a year leading up to June 2004 learning how to use motion graphics software and researching graphics techniques and trends.
The lighting design work had started to lose it’s appeal, and I found the travelling tedious. I had gone as far as I could within Batmink and Themes, and decided it was time for a radical change.
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Video display equipment was everywhere, but only the big corporates with massive budgets could afford decent content. Those without a big budget would often make do with dull Powerpoint presentations produced when time permitted.
I decided there was a definite gap in the market, making professional motion graphics available to a wider audience, and knew that I would be in a good position to start, with my numerous contacts in the entertainment industry and the low overheads of being a freelancer, based in the countryside!
I took the plunge and bought some powerful PCs and the best versions of the leading Motion Graphics software and started calling up my contacts!
It’s been over ten years since I started, and my expectations have been exceeded by an excellent client base providing me with plenty of work in all sectors of the entertainment industry. My work can be seen in over 500 bars and clubs around the UK and overseas, and end users for my corporate work has included some of the UK biggest companies. My range of Themed DVDs have also taken on a life of their own, being distributed all over Europe by my distributor, Mixmash.
2007 saw me relocating to Manchester and growth has continued since, year on year, even during the recession.
In 2009 I created ‘Club Candy TV‘ – a unique concept in club visuals featuring real filmed dancers at a constant speed allowing VJs to synchronise them with music playing in a nightclub. Club Candy TV Volume 1 has proved popular, and volume 2 is in the pipeline for 2012.
In 2010 I started to break into the music industry market, producing promotional ‘viral’ videos for Fierce Angel Records, and subsequently a number of other labels.
2011 saw my first building projection mapping project – visuals designed to interact with the physical features of a building on which they are projected – at Bohemia Nightclub in Brighton.
In 2012 I produced my first full music video entirely from scratch with no input from the client or other designers which was a significant milestone for me, and led to several more music video commissions. I exhibited my off-the-shelf products at the BPM DJ trade show for the first time which proved very beneficial, both in terms of sales, and from getting to meet customers in person and find out how they were using my products.
2013 was another record year for business. In the autumn I worked on two enormous conference jobs simultaneously which was a real test of my skill and project management skills! One conference involved producing content to be displayed on a massive 360 degree projection screen which formed the walls of the conference room (seven times bigger than 1080p HD video).
The year was topped off nicely with my New Year Countdown visuals appearing on Gary Barlow’s New Year concert which was broadcast live on BBC1 to an audience of 10.2m viewers in the lead-up to midnight.
In 2014 I focused my efforts on my “off the shelf” products, adding two new products to the range and actively marketing the whole range through social media. This was backed up with a magazine advertising campaign, a larger stand at the BPM DJ show, and attendance of the Mastermix open day which all resulted in a huge overall increase in sales. It was also my 10th year in business as a Motion Graphics Designer which was marked with an interview/profile editorial piece in Pro Mobile magazine.
I was thrilled to be asked to produce a music video for Freemasons, who I’ve long been a fan of. They supplied me with footage of the singer and gave me ‘carte blanche’ to produce a video to fit with the song. I also released two new visuals products in 2015, and clocked up some more filming and compositing experience producing a promo video for an aerial performance duo.
2016 saw another ‘first’ for me, as I produced a music video for Fierce Angel Records entirely from scratch myself, including the filming. I launched an exciting new business called Text in Motion, working in partnership with my brother Ross which has got off to a fantastic start. I also launched three new products – the VDJ Toolkit Volumes 3 and 4, and Christmas Beats. I’ve also gained more experience in character animation, both 2D and 3D which is something I’ve always shied away from in the past.
Last updated January 2017