Deciding where to expand our production company into the UK was a tough decision. There is a certain expectation on the part of a great many customers that any team of creatives should be based in either Soho or East London, so would we be taking a risk by locating our business in Kent?
Locating in London comes at a considerable cost. You immediately place yourself in a highly competitive pool of similar but established businesses and this is compounded by the pressure to generate new business daily to pay very high rent and rates.
Before expanding out of Germany we’d initially decided to base our UK office in East London but some nagging voice in the back of our heads told us to be different, buck the trend and see if we could exert a little influence and create an alternative creative hub outside of the capital.
Another stereotyped, but genuine expectation on the part of many customers is that a creative agency or company will work out of some renovated turn of the century building – converted mills and factories, that sort of thing. Kent has a very limited supply of these types of buildings and on the whole it is a county bursting at the seams with 1970s pseudo-Brutalism, brown-bricked office blocks that suck any creative juice right out of you as you enter the door. We spent the best part of a year desperately seeking an inspiring, light and creative place to work and by chance stumbled upon the Historic Dockyard in Chatham. It’s an enclosed ‘citadelic’ haven in a once prosperous waterside town that’s on the cusp of a desperately needed regeneration to drag it out of its rather sad looking 1970s shoes. The Dockyard is a delightful, walled time-trip where cobbled streets are lit by the original street lanterns and the sound of maritime bells ringing punctuates the bustle of students of the University of Kent’s school of Fine Art and Music who congregate before studies. It is ram packed with historic buildings, inspiring spaces and open space. Aside from the many tourist attractions and university buildings lay a handful of spaces managed for office rentals and it’s here we felt we could be inspired, enjoy the waterside environment and begin to grow our business. More importantly we really felt confident people will enjoy working here and new customers will love to visit us.
One caveat of choosing to work outside of East London though, is the pool of available freelance talent is no longer as richly abundant as it is for us in Hamburg or it would be in London. If we take on an editor or animator they’d need to be either local, willing to live locally or willing to travel each day. Will this be a problem for us? Only time will tell.
The smallest part of any project we do is on set and we’ve had no problem finding new production crew. Most filming is limited to a few days and locations are rarely in the same area twice so finding crew isn’t an issue because we’re all very used to travelling for work. What still needs development however, is a pool of talented and creative individuals who will be willing to come on-board and be part of a new hub outside of London – namely in Kent. Just try searching any of the databases of editors, animators and compositors out there and see how many live in or are available to work in Kent – not many I tell you! Hopefully, given the ever increasing cost of operating in London and the gradually expanding volume of creative talent in Kent we will see other media companies bucking the trend and moving outwards. Who knows, maybe in 15 years Chatham will be the new Shoreditch?
If you work in the film, tv and commercial video industry and want to hook up over drinks get in touch. We’d be really happy to make some new friends!
Contact Christian or Stuart at Bareska Creative Films