|An example of Progressive Pictures work…|
Evan Burgess interviewed local film maker Jamie Blackburn, who specialises in aerial film using his camera drone…
EAB: Was it easy going self employed?
JB: It’s something I’ve always thought about but no, it was a tricky decision which involved lots of research and number crunching. Ultimately though if you want to pursue an ambition you know you’ll have to work hard and take some risks, so I decided to go for it.
EAB: Your work with a drone is just a part of your repertoire, but how much does it separate you from other film makers who use more ordinary equipment?
JB: I think being a filmmaker & photographer with access to a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) is quite a unique way of working in the industry. It’s a difficult course to gain permission from the CAA to operate commercially so despite the technology becoming more available it’s still quite a specialist service. However I don’t just look to use it for my own projects and separate myself from other more conventional filmmakers, but rather provide everyone with the opportunity and access to include aerial work in their projects, whether it’s for a production company, event organisers, construction and surveying or archaeologists etc.
EAB: How did you present your plan to the Prince’s Trust? Did they give you anything valuable apart from money?
JB: Working with The Prince’s Trust has been fantastic. I signed on with their Enterprise Programme where I completed a course in the basics of running a business and was then assigned a personal tutor to help develop a solid business plan over the following 6 months. Once the plan had been approved I then gave a (more friendly) dragons den style pitch to a panel of business specialists and entrepreneurs. It was a bit nerve-wracking giving the presentation but I had a lot of confidence in my plan and particularly the figures and I also included some of my short films to make the whole thing more engaging. In the end they liked me and my business plan and I was successful in getting a low interest start-up loan. As well as this I now have access to a Prince’s Trust mentor for the next 2 years to give me any advice or guidance should I need it, as well as internal access to the wider Trust network.
EAB: How much time have your jobs taken you?
JB: On average an aerial photography shoot will take between 2 and 4 hours and filming a bit longer, but it depends entirely on what’s being shot and where. My conventional film work usually takes between 1 and 2 days but again this can vary. In the summer I spent 3 days filming for Lamborghini in the Scottish Highlands and then in December I’m filming in the French Alps for 2 weeks so each project is fairly unique. I also offer a retouch service for photography and editing for film so projects can continue for several days after the shoot.
EAB: Do you have other interests in film like screen writing and working with full length movies?
JB: I’ve been filmmaking for over 15 years now and doing it professionally since 2007 so over that time I’ve had a go at most aspects of film production. For my degree my specialist area was editing and this is also what I’ve worked professionally in for the most amount of time but I also have a keen interest in cinematography and the use of camera angles and lighting to help boost the impact of a scene. One day I would love to develop my own feature film but at the moment I’m really interested in creative marketing so I’m happy developing my short web-based promotional work and doing the scripting, shooting and editing for each project. However from time to time larger projects do require hiring in additional freelance specialists for certain aspects of the production.
EAB: What is the best way of drumming up interest from clients?
JB: Quite a lot of clients are developed through word of mouth and other contacts and networks, however a good marketing strategy includes a descent website and hassling anyone and everyone via email and phone. In the visual industries it’s also really important to be able to demonstrate examples of your work through portfolios and showreels. I try to put together a new showreel every couple of years to demonstrate the current styles and techniques as well as the clients I’ve worked with. My latest aerial showreel can be found here; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlcGTi7ZTzA
EAB: Where can people find your work?