It might be the early stages of the new year, but at Coldhouse we’re still in our first formal year of trading. We spent a couple of years planning and preparing, taking the time to make sure that everything was right for when we flicked the switch and put ourselves out there. As with every new venture, there was a mixed bag of excitement but also apprehension. Our first year has panned out to be more exciting and successful than we ever anticipated, and we’ve been working with a number of brands and clients as well as on a number of ‘passion projects’ and feature films. As things have developed much has changed, and we’ve put together a few thoughts on things we’ve learnt along the way, mixed in with a couple of pretty pictures and films from the last 6 months or so.
1. Age is irrelevant – It’s your skills and experiences that matter.
We used to get really hooked up on worrying about being young. We had this bizarre feeling that no one would want to hire a couple of 20 something year olds to oversee their project. If the last few years have shown anything it’s that this isn’t true at all. Trust was placed not because of time served, but because of proof of ability. We’ve spoken to people of all ages who always seem scared of calling themselves a pro, or worrying about contacting a potential client because they fear rejection due to a lack of self worth. At the end of the day these are all excuses, as to a brand it’s super obvious what you can or can’t do. It’s about how you pitch it.
2. It’s all about the prep – Proof vs Promise.
When we first started out we spent hours mulling over the prospect of convincing people that we were good enough. Chase Jarvis wrote that the proof of a portfolio is worth so much more than the promise of a resume. We learnt that people don’t really care about what you say you can do, it’s all about what you can really do.
3. There’s no such thing as ‘9 to 5’.
This one didn’t really come as a surprise, and was more of a decision than a set in stone rule. The reasons vary, but we never really clock off. We’re always at the end of the phone if someone calls, and we spend a (probably unhealthy) number of nights burning the midnight oil. More often that not the line between work and play is blurred, and it’s become so hard to distinguish between the two that we’ve stopped trying. To make things work in this industry it has to be about so much more than just the job. You have to be up for working around the clock, honing skills in your spare time or down moments, and willing to suck it up when the bag feels heavy or the the drone hits a tree and subsequently, the ground.
4. Your colleagues, crew, friends and athletes are your biggest asset.
When you start making films you often have to be the sound guy, the cameraman, the director, the editor etc. This is great, because you learn both how to do a variety of jobs, but also what it’s like to work in each role. This means that when the cameraman needs to do ‘just one more take’ you can sympathise. There comes a time where you have to step back and put trust in others. It’s incredibly important to pick who you work with on a daily basis carefully, as (especially when working in adventure film) you’re going to spend a large proportion of your life with these people. We have a fairly strict unwritten rule of only working with people that we’d hang out with socially, and as a result the line between work and play gets blurred again.
5. Cameras, sliders and drones are just tools.
You’re only as good as your ideas and their execution. We are complete advocates of the ‘story is king’ philosophy, but if you can match the quality of your story with the pictures that tell it then you’re guaranteed to be on to a winner. We’ve gotten pretty good at chasing mountain bikers with RC helicopters and running around with steadicams on Arctic sea ice, but they are no substitute for a naturally engaging story.
6. The day you think you’re too good to work for free is the day you plateau.
We started out doing this for free; carrying bags on other people’s shoots, looking after locked off wide’s and generally dog’s bodying. This is no bad thing. We were always watching, observing and learning, and it’s made us what we are. Experimenting with ideas and techniques is a healthy and important thing to do, but learning from the best is the quickest way to make progress and we’ve never forgotten this. We know that we’ll never feel like we’ve reached the point where we’re ‘too good’ to work for free. There is always someone better who can teach you something, and collaborative projects are some of the purest out there. At the end of the day it’s important to remember why you do what you do. If you’d still do it if you won the lottery, then getting paid is really just the icing on the cake.
7. The road is long, and sometimes it’s bumpy.
It’s taken five years of prep to get to where we are now. During that time we travelled the world, met some incredible people, became friends with our heroes and learnt a lot about what we’ve now turned in to a career and lifestyle. But with the smooth comes the rough. For most of those years we were broke, tired and sometimes homeless. Van dwelling nomadic vagabonds who spent every penny on lenses and timelapse controllers, but we don’t regret or resent a second of it. We’re aiming high, so we feel like we have a long way to go, but we’re deeply proud of what we’ve achieved so far. Thanks to everyone that’s helped shape Coldhouse in to what it is now, and what it will eventually become. Here’s to the next few.