Toby Cameron (BA (hons) Documentary Film & TV class of 2008). Has spent the last 12 years building his business; On Par Productions. Located in Cardiff Bay, Toby and his team create TV adverts, documentaries and branded content for a wide spectrum of brands and businesses.
Toby kindly invited us to his stylish offices where we spoke to him about life as an entrepreneur and what makes a great production.
Hey Toby! Tell us about On Par Productions.
I started On Par quite soon after University, I didn't feel like I had the skill set to work for someone else and I just wanted to keep making films. So I was very fortunate to be able to buy a camera and other equipment and just start making things, then the company sort of evolved from that.
12 years later and we haven't actually become a huge company, we're quite small but we like being a small company as we all get to get involved and do different things. We've gone from making short promos for gigs to making TV commercials, which has taken a long time but it's been a really great learning process and I wouldn't change it for the world.
What does being an entrepreneur mean to you?
It means being in control of what you to day-to-day and picking and choosing who you work for client wise. It also means I can work with a great team, I'm in the fortunate position where I can create an amazing team around me - there's nothing better!
People constantly tell me what a great team I have, and when they go off and make content I'm so proud of their amazing work that I could never create on my own. It feels more like a family business even though we're not related! Everyone is treated like an adult and is respected, no big decisions are made without everyone's input here.
Because at the start of On Par I did all the aspects of film making; directing, editing, sound, grading, producing - everything, I've realised it's helped me to become a really good manager. It doesn't mean I get it right all of the time and sometimes I need reminding of how long things will take but it means I have a good understanding of being a good manager.
What do you love about being self-employed?
I love being my own boss, I love working for myself. I love it because I'm in control of my own destiny, I'm in control of the different sort of projects I do and I'm also in control of the hours I do. I also just love making stuff and am passionate about telling stories whether it's commercially or on a smaller scale. I can't imagine ever working for someone else!
What are some of the challenges of being self-employed?
At times being an entrepreneur has been very lonely. Especially when you're worried about money coming in, to pay salaries and bills etc. But you often have to take the rough with the smooth, there are so many benefits too.
It has been tough over the years, but I've given shares of the business to my team to almost share the burden slightly of running a business by yourself. Not necessarily financial stress but more so we can all discuss the business in detail together and make important decisions from a united front.
Being self employed can be lonely and effect your mental health but building the right team around to be able to support you and work with you really helps.
What makes a great project for you?
For us, a great project is something that hopefully will make a difference where we can use as many of our story telling skills as possible and it'll look and sound great.
When we started 12 years ago, we had a vision to create films that looked and sounded great but also made a difference and had great story. It seems crazy now that even 12 years on that our ethos remains the same and is something we always strive to.