Graduate Development Scholarship helps Ben launch Firestone Video Production

Matty Rayson and Luke Jones

Fingers and Fringe production team

Ben Smith launched his video production company, Firestone Video, after graduating from Film and Media Studies at the University of Sunderland. Ben applied for a Futures Fund, Graduate Development Scholarship, which offers financial support to Sunderland students up to one year after graduation. Ben tols us how he came to apply for the Graduate Development Scholarship. "Upon starting my Video Production Company, Firestone Video, I was instantly faced with a crucial problem, the price of the expensive kit needed to produce quality work. As I looked into ways of acquiring the money I came across The Enterprise Place and the Futures Fund. I was among the incredibly lucky few who were awarded the funding in order to grow my business. Receiving this money has enhanced my business enormously and gave me the ability to begin trading almost immediately."

Ben explained how he used the support he received to kick start his business: “The Futures Fund got me the essential things to get the business started, I had to choose my kit wisely in order to make the most out of the money and ensure I had a great base in which to build off, as the fund could not pay for all my needs but could get me everything I needed to create revenue. Because of this I was extremely savvy with where I got the equipment and waited for the right price, this meant that I could get a BlackMagic Cinema Camera, DJI Ronin, Tripods and Audio Equipment, giving me enough to supply any company with a great quality video."

The support of the Futures Fund proved game changing for Ben, "Since receiving my equipment my company has gone from a pipe dream to a real limited company that has had a turnover of around £5000 in the first two months. Some of our clients already knew about us and were easy to win over, however others we had to go out and find ourselves. Our current best piece of work was for a car dealership named McDougal & Breen, we had to battle against other, far more established production companies in order to win their business. This was an exhilarating experience as it was the first time I properly felt like a business owner and I was so happy when we got the job. Using the cinema quality equipment I was able to purchase with the scholarship, and a bit of creativity I managed to convince the dealership that we were the best option for them, and this gave me the confidence to go on and do the same with other new clients, which is exactly what I did.

Ben told us how he has developed his business and client base: "From the NHS to PR/ Marketing companies Firestone Video
is slowly but surely building up a solid client base, and making itself known in the North East. Because of our professional kit/ abilities and our friendly attitude, our clients have been left extremely happy and with no desires to go elsewhere. This is a huge advantage for us as every time we get a client we aim to be their only choice for video from that point onwards, which means as we steadily build more and more clients we want to keep loyal our clients that believed in us from the beginning. Within the next few months I expect to see a spike in video work for us, as we are currently putting a lot of energy into acquiring new clients.
Recently I have been pitching to Gateshead College and have started a video partnership with a few companies including McBryde & Co and Cynergy, both of which have a lot of clients who often need all sorts of videos."

Ben said. "I am loving running my own business so much and it has been a huge opportunity for me to grow as a videographer and a person. I am achieving things thanks to the Futures Fund that I never thought I would be able to this early on in my career, and I am beyond thankful for the experience it has given me. Having the opportunity to do this has developed my entrepreneurial skills  and enabled me to use my talents for filmmaking and people skills. I can strive to achieve great things in Firestone Videos future."

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