… it’s right here.
My mentor Terry always said “Nothing but the best for the workers” and he meant it. He treated us well and paid us well for our level of ability.
I’ve tried to maintain that perspective throughout my career.
I recently had a new client muse “You seem like you are socially liberal but might be a fiscal conservative”. I answered “I like value and I love people”.
I’ve struggled over the years to define who I am as a professional videographer. I originally thought of myself as a freelancer (and frankly I probably was…) but in the intervening years as I started to more fully develop my skill set and took on a more holistic approach to visual production I struggled with definitions:
- am I a social capitalist?
- a social activist?
- a socially-conscious service provider?
Just recently I settled on Ethical Entrepreneur. In all my business dealings I try very hard to maintain dignity for myself and for all involved. I have endeavoured to give voice to the voiceless and to raise awareness of issues that are flying just under the radar of most people.
I have tried to bring a human face to issues.
For the past 15 years since I left media college I have worked to develop what I refer to as Character Driven Storytelling.
I have found that what viewers relate to most in visual media is other people that they can relate to or empathize with.
As much as I like to joke about not playing well with others, I take great pride in putting together a team and watching them all do what they do at an expert level.
Like my mentor Terry before me, I try to pay my people well – in most cases better than the industry rate. This typically means that I get the people I want on location when it comes time to go to camera. In a city like Vancouver where so many crews are found on Craigslist hours prior to a shoot, I pride myself on my real social network – the people I know personally or through people I trust.
One of the proudest moments for me on every gig is handing over a cheque to the people who I hire. Spending money is never an easy thing, especially in these days of ever-tightening wallets, but good people are always worth the money.
One of my all time favourite quotes from my favourite movie of all time, Das Boot:
Captain (Jürgen Prochnow): “You have to have good men. Good men, all of them.”
I built my businesses from nothing.
Something very bad happened to me and one of my friends back in 1995.
I decided right there that I was going to do something meaningful with my life.
Life handed me lemons so I opened a lemonade stand.
In 1999, I started Gearhead Visual Productions in Winnipeg, Manitoba with $500. I made a decent living providing documentary visual support as camera operator and editor on international social justice documentaries and self-produced many workplace safety and health videos back when WPS&H wasn’t particularly glamourous. I learned then that investing in your business is a good thing. At least 50% of my revenue went back into the business back in those days.
What it took me many more years to learn is that it isn’t the gear that makes a great story…
It’s the people.
Even the name of my first business gives away my naiveté around that fact – I focused on the gear, not the people even though I knew the value of good talent.
Upon moving to Vancouver, BC I rebranded to Road Dog Media in homage to something my good friend and colleague Earl Greyeyes used to call me when I’d show up 800 kms away from my former home base in Winnipeg with a vehicle full of over $100k in video production gear having driven treacherous highways on the Canadian Prairies in winter with harrowing stories of near-death experiences…
“Shaun you old road dog, you!”
I am The Road Dog.
I celebrate the people that allow me to do what I love to do.
And I pay the ones who help me do the work with pride.
Thanks for reading!