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How One Video Production Agency Survived and Thrived during COVID

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Jack Leigh Eight Engines

We talked to Jack Leigh of Eight Engines about video production that can make one noticed and this is what he said about it.

First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times? 

Jack Leigh: We’re all good, thank you, we’ve been yet lucky!

Tell us about you, your career, how you joined Eight Engines.

Jack Leigh: I’ve been a filmmaker for 12 years now. I began my career working in feature films and high-end TV on the likes of Fast and Furious 6, ’71, Get Santa, Last Tango in Halifax, Peaky Blinders, Utopia, X+Y, as well as a huge range of high-end commercials. After a few years of working relentlessly, I got a little burnt out with the film industry. I took a job as an Assistant Producer at a documentary company, and before I knew it, I was on a Kenyan military base producing interactive videos and documentaries to support NGO staff in conflict zones. 

Tim Baxter was the Director of Photography on the project, we got on very well, and when we returned to England, we started working together professionally. Tim founded and Eight Engines, and before long, he asked me to come on board as an equal partner, and 5 years later, here we are! 

The company has changed a lot over the years, but we’ve produced work we’re really proud of ranging from two Royal Television Society Award-winning dramas to shooting huge multi-camera productions of West End Shows, from making documentaries in the Arctic Circle to producing commercial and marketing content for the likes of Tangerine, Help for Heroes, Spec Savers, Stage Coach, The Royal Shakespeare Company, The World Health Organization, and The Old Vic Theatre. 

How does Eight Engines innovate? 

Jack Leigh: We try and think of ways to innovate all the time. One of the recent ways we have become innovators is with a project we’ve launched called Cut Through The Noise. Essentially, during the pandemic, everyone turned to video content as a way to communicate, which was ace; the issue was it was all shoot on old webcams, so the footage looked terrible, and it wasn’t encouraging an audience to watch it. When people came to us to try and increase the quality of these videos, we found they didn’t have a budget for a full video production shoot, so we looked at what they wanted to do and why they couldn’t afford it. 

Essentially everything in video production is charged by the day you rent the kit for a day, you rent the crew for a day, and you rent the location for a day. But a lot of the people that were coming to us didn’t need a day. They only wanted to make a couple of short videos that could be shot in an hour. We decided to start renting locations, setting up all the kit and crew then allowing SMEs to hire hour-long slots throughout the day. This way, most of the costs were split between many different people so we could reduce our fees without reducing the quality.

Because we set up all of the equipment before anyone steps foot in the room, we can shoot the videos without anyone coming into contact with one another, so it’s very COVID secure. 

This has gone down brilliantly!

How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?

Jack Leigh: Well of course as a video production company we have to go to a location to film so back in March we lost a lot of work and some really large projects we had been looking forward to. This definitely set us back. 

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?

Jack Leigh: We did have some difficult choices to make. We had to tighten our belts, but we put our heads down and worked incredibly hard, and now we’re really happy with the place we are at. We have the team back (we’re even looking at expanding), and we’re busy, which is great! 

We did learn a lot of lessons; the key thing I learnt is that business is a people game. You need to support and look for support outside of your own company. Companies like Tangerine, Conspicuous Marketing, Carbon Theatre, Aqueous Digital and many more have been fantastic at helping us get through this, both by working together and just having people talk to who were going through the same thing. We’re very lucky to live in Manchester, a place with a phenomenal business community.

How do you deal with stress and anxiety?

Jack Leigh: As I say, I found that talking to other people who were going through something similar was great

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

Jack Leigh: Sure, there are other video production companies operating in Manchester, but it’s been a hard time for the industry as a whole, so I don’t like to look at them as competitors. There’s a lot of work to go around, particularly with everyone embracing video now. We’re going to keep on doing what we’ve always done, be honest, produce good work, and make the process as straightforward as possible for our clients.

Your final thoughts?

Jack Leigh: I feel like the last year will have permanently altered the world and the way we do business. I think digital is going to play a much bigger part in business communications moving forward and that there are some really exciting opportunities for the companies who are ready to adapt

Your website?

www.eightengines.com

www.eightengines.com/reel

We are a team of writers passionate about innovation and entrepreneur lifestyle. We are devoted to providing you the best insight into innovation trends and startups.

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