Last month I started an interview series with the incredible women behind L&L Film Productions, a Brisbane based film company that prides itself “on [their]ability to capture the real, and beautiful, and tell its story.” In Part 1 we discussed the founders’, Lauren and Tish, background and their current projects that are bringing a voice to untold stories. In Part 2, we discuss the business aspect of their company as well as their difficulties starting out.
What was the most difficult part of starting a production company?
Lauren: We had a really hard time finding a team that was as passionate about the work as we are. Because we don’t focus on dramas or feature films we are going against the grain a bit, and we found it difficult to attract people to our kind of work. We love working with organizations and small businesses to help them thrive and we didn’t want to change out mission just because we had difficulty finding a team of passionate people. We wanted a team, not a crew. A few months ago we were worried that we were being too picky, but now we have a team of 6 people who love what we are creating.
Tish: I went to Cannes this year and I met this producer from Adelaide. I was telling her about how we wanted a team of people who had the same vision as us, were just as passionate as us, and were on board for an entire project, not a job and she assured me that it was possible. She confided that it took her production company 5 years but now they have 8 people that work together on everything.
How about finances? How did you handle starting a company from the ground up?
Tish: We understand that we are just starting out and we are currently at a place of beg, borrow, and steal. Of course some of our jobs have a budget behind them, but we are more interested in paying our team for their work and time rather than making a profit ourselves.
Lauren: We love doing projects to help our community even if it is not financially viable. For example, there is a café that we love going to and they had their one-year birthday party a few months ago. We told them that we wanted to film it. We love them, and we wanted to say, “hey small business, we are a small business too, and we want to help you with our skills.” We did another video for them a few weeks ago, and they agreed to pay us in coffee. Now what we can do is take clients to this café and say “its on us,” which just takes us to the next level. For us, it is all about building relationships as well as making art.
Any future projects?
Lauren: At the moment we are working on an idea that would be all about an individual’s story. So it would be, “hello, my name is… and this is why I am living in the situation I am living in.” Our goal with this project is to tell their story and affect the departments in government who would be able to help them. We also understand that we can never use these stories on our showreel but that doesn’t matter to us. The only thing that matters to us is giving voice to these stories that would otherwise be unheard.
How is this related to your brand?
Lauren: I think we accidentally stumbled into this type of storytelling but we are invested in telling other peoples’ personal stories. We have developed this flavor.
Tish: Everyone at Cannes kept telling me how much this is a really niche thing. Wanting to work with non-profits, eco-friendly businesses, health-precinct stories and we are so passionate about it.
Lauren: One of my family members is quite ill and it is difficult for them because they often feel like no-one else is going through this. We would love to interview someone going through the same thing that way way no one has to feel alone. We just want to help people, and our films have a purpose beyond their own existence.
Tell me about your logo. Is that an important part of your brand?
Lauren: We did a rebrand recently with a company who helped us develop a brand that is seamless in terms of our mission and presentation. When we first started out, we did everything ourselves so our Linked-in account was a person, not a brand, and all sorts of things like that. So they helped us step up to the next level and part of that was redesigning our logo. We would come up with all these ideas like a camera made out of origami, and they would always says, “why?”
Tish: It was the most traumatizing experience.
Lauren: It was! Coming from film school where they teach you to experiment and so we wanted to try all these things because they were visually appealing, and we discovered that having that attitude is really dangerous in the real world. In the rebrand we learned that our logo, our mission, and our films themselves become so much more powerful when they have real meaning behind them.
Our logo is an L an ampersand and then another L. The ampersand is very important because in a number of years when we expand, it will be all about the collaboration that this symbol represents. Right now we are focusing on a specific type of film, but in the future it will be the collaboration of documentary and cinematic filmmaking, the collaboration of truth and fiction, and the collaboration of our artistic vision mixed with our clients’.
The style of the ampersand is also very important. We discovered that we wanted there to be space in the symbol because it creates a balance of line and shape, but we also want there to be space for different projects to come in and inhabit that space. That idea has spread to our office as well. We started with lots of clutter and stuff but we found that when we have space to move we are more focused and centered on the project. We had to learn to balance our home life and our business life.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of my interview with Lauren and Tish in which we discuss being women in the film industry, dressing the part, and a brilliant blog they have created called “Almost Corporate” in which they tell stories about their triumphs and failures as women learning to straddle the film and corporate world.