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James Whybrow & Dan Bolland - Somnio Productions

 Somnio Productions

Our enterprise project

Our enterprise skills

In our final year at University, we were both searching for a motivating career in areas that stimulated and reflected our passions. Having undertaken internships in various fields, neither of us had yet felt a spark. Brief conversations about film and business became in depth discussions before we eventually knew that starting a film production company was the only real option. We realised that this was the only way to ensure artistic autonomy behind the camera, and that it would provide us with invaluable business lessons and knowledge. The inevitable challenge excited us!

In setting up our company, we were driven by a belief that many corporate videos and adverts lacked a creative narrative element, and that motion pictures were amongst the most accessible and universal art forms of the current economy. The ‘DLSR revolution’ has made filmmaking more affordable than ever before, and we aim to use this new technology to revolutionise the way in which stories can be told on screen. Having differing degrees (James: Law, Dan: Creative Writing), we acknowledged the desirable array of skills we have as a team.

We have taken care and time in setting up our business, by arranging our internal infrastructure so that we are prepared for the hurdles and the requirements of the job. We sought advice from legal, accounting and financial experts, and have called in favours from our respective networks in order to ensure that we are able to move forward as effectively as possible. We have also offered our services without charge to different clients, so we can build a show-reel that demonstrates our abilities and impress our future clients.

At university you get out what you put in and that is certainly true of starting your own company. The way in which university exposes you to such a broad range of people, disciplines, and interests is also hugely relevant because the business world is equally diverse, and communication is definitely the name of the game!

However, there is an emotional landscape in owning a business that is much harder to prepare for. Learning to strike a balance between being pushy and tough, knowing when to take risks and forcing yourself to levels of work that limit sleeping, are things you quickly develop when thrown into the deep end.

In terms of skill development, we have learnt to think quickly and flexibly. At university you have a set time to write an essay on a set question-it is simply a case of organisation. This remains exceptionally important, but video shoots are fluid and highly changeable environments. So whilst detailed planning is crucial, it is often necessary to find quick, workable solutions to problems as they arise. This is achieved with a mixture of intuition and a strong working knowledge of the craft; the latter is very similar to the way you learn at university whilst the former, we think, comes from passion for what you do.



Our enterprise support

Our enterprise reflections & visions

After graduating, we were very impressed with the specific and quality nature of the support available. in the early stages of our company development, we met with Richard Groves (Enterprise and Research Development Officer) and Robert Batterbee (Theatre Department) . Richard guided us in directions we could turn to grow our company, and Robert advised on us festivals and networking events - thanks to his experience in video production and enterprise. Both examined our business plan, and were able to draw on their experiences to offer sound advice. Above all we were hugely grateful for the way in which they treated us like professionals. They have also both been available to answer any questions or queries since then.

Building a company from nothing requires an enormous amount of commitment and self-determination. Having said that, it is incredibly important to draw on any experience or resources available in order to survive. Warwick has been an incredibly supportive mentor to us so far, and events like Global Entrepreneurial Week let you know that you are not alone - with a strong network of support shoring you up should you need it. They also offer a great opportunity to meet like-minded students and individuals passionate about their enterprise projects, which is integral to network building, and also generating new ideas.

The main thing we've learnt is that you need to be committed and energetic. You can work as hard as you like but setting up a business is a marathon not a sprint. Patience, long-term dedication, and a product you are proud to flaunt are crucial to success. We will always be learning, every shoot we do teaches us something new, but it is important to recognise we are willing to commit to this business - potentially for life.

We could not recommend entrepreneurship enough. It is a big risk, and you need to call in all the favours you can, but the day-to-day pay off is tremendous and exciting. Knowing that every second of your time is being spent in the pursuit of something that means everything to you do is rare and hopefully ultimately rewarding.

In the next 3-6 months we hope to begin trading in earnest. We have debts to clear and cash flow to satisfy. Once we have secured our costs and are meeting our targets we can seek expansion and our goal of making short-films.

Our ultimate ambition is to one-day produce feature films. If people enjoy them, connect with them and find some escapism there - that will be enough impact for us.