Jaffa Productions: Lights, camera and the world wide web
A Belfast media company started by Stuart Lambe
Could you describe your business?
We are a television production company supplying a range of facilities to broadcasters, advertising agencies, and corporate clients. I am a director of the company, and my day-to-day job is lighting cameraman and Steadicam operator. It takes me all over the world.
What interesting projects are you involved in at present?
We always have a number of projects running at the same time. We are currently filming a major BBC series starting in September.
We have just completed filming on a three-part documentary series dealing with the Irish economy for a client, to be aired on TG4 at the start of September, and we recently completed filming for the Channel 5 series, Don’t Stop Believing.
When and why did you set up the company?
I set up Jaffa Productions in November 2002. I already had many years of experience behind me, and I felt the time was right to set up my own company.
What were the biggest start-up challenges?
The biggest challenges in this industry are that it is a small marketplace, and competition is strong. We always try to stay one step ahead and brand a name within our industry.
What have been the greatest challenges since then?
Finance. We have needed to look at ways of diversifying and create healthy cash flow without |diluting our core skills. Over the past three years it has been tough, as in most industries. We have managed to still grow our business and invest in our people. Even now — in year three of a recession — we have exciting growth plans.
What plans are these?
We are at a crucial stage of major expansion plans, which involve significant investment.
Our new base at the Gasworks Business Park in Belfast will help grow our business further, so even in the downturn of the market we have plenty to be optimistic about.
How do you market your business?
It is a specialised industry, so mostly by word of mouth and referral.
We heavily promote the key skills of our staff as individuals — we find that people invest in people.
How do you use the internet for marketing?
The internet has been the way of the future for years, but now it’s a major part of our business. We |produce online content, which |includes everything from |broadcast to marketing.
Has the recession been a catalyst for doing things better?
Yes, absolutely. I’m a big believer in staying positive and optimistic. We chose to make an opportunity out of the recession, rather than burying our heads in the sand.
Has cash flow been an issue for the company?
Cash flow is always a major issue for any company.
But we find that if it is closely monitored and well managed, it should not be a major issue.
Have you had to adjust pricing in the recession?
We find our clients still pay for quality. We supply a bespoke service. However, we prefer to add value, which we find goes much further with our clients. We are able to offer much more in terms of specialised packages tailored specifically to each of our clients’ needs.
What is your company’s unique selling point?
I am one of a handful of Steadicam operators in the whole of Ireland. We offer this as part of our specialised services. Steadicam creates those wonderfully smooth shots that increase the value of any production.
How do you keep your staff motivated?
Our staff are key to our business. It’s an exciting and creative business where every day and location can different. We have a great bunch on our team, with ‘team’ being the key word.
Which entrepreneur do you most admire?
I admire anyone who has the will and the determination to start their own business.
What is your favourite gadget?
That’s a hard one — I love my gadgets.
At the moment it has to be my mini-high definition cameras. These allow me to capture footage in the most obscure and tightest of places, which is otherwise impossible to achieve. Who knows what it will be next month?
If you could do any job, what would it be?
I can’t imagine doing any other job. This is a high-octane, skilled, and diverse career. There are not many other jobs where you get the chance to meet interesting people and travel to obscure, and sometimes troubled, parts of the world. This has to be my dream job.
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