58 Freelance or employed

58 Freelance or employed


Oxford Digital Media
is a video production company based in Oxford,
in the UK. James Tomalin, its Managing Director,
set up the company in 2006. I’m James Tomalin
and I run a company in the centre of Oxford
called Oxford Digital Media. We’re essentially
a video production company, but we also do music
and audio as well. And the clients
we work for range from large multi-national
corporations such as The Body Shop,
NeXt, the HSBC, Tetrapack, all the way through to local
SMEs and local universities, colleges, schools,
that kind of thing. Apart from video production, we also
write music for film and television; we write music for
a range of documentaries that are shown
on the BBC and Channel 4 as well as for international
broadcasts as well. I studied music at university which is how
I kind of came into this industry. I, I did a three-year music degree and
became a classical musician essentially. And then
after that I, I did post graduate work in ethnic
musicology which is world music, and through that I became
interested in film making and ethnographic film making
and as a result of that my first job when I left university
was working for a company that actually wrote music
for film and television. And we produced music for
hundreds of wildlife documentaries, short films, feature films over the
course of the few years that I was there. But gradually I, I moved on and up
through the industry and ended up, most recently, working for a large
record company in London, where I was
the General Manager. How was the company
developed? Oxford Digital Media has been
running for about five years now, when I started it was
just me as a sole trader, which meant that I effectively
was brokering my skills with my customers and there was
no other network of support around me. As time went on, we started
employing freelancers, you know, freelance editors
and film people, but over time we decided
the best thing to do was to actually form a limited
company as a structure within which to hold
the entire business, so over the last two years
we’ve moved into the centre of Oxford; we’ve got premises;
we’ve got a small film studio here and we’ve employed three
or four people on the books, that mean that we have
a bit more support around us. What are the advantages
of working for yourself? One of the great things
about working for yourself is that you’ve got the freedom
to do whatever you want. I mean to some extent
you do exchange your boss at your old company
for your customers, so I’m not completely free,
but there’s a lot of freedom within that to do
whatever we want. So I can wake up
one morning and decide that we are going to do
a particular video project; we can be out filming it
that afternoon. Within a corporate
structure I would have had to previously
gone to my team leader, the team leader would have
had to refer it up; we would have had
to get a budget together; we would have had
to make decisions; we would have had to
book time and done it. In our company, we can just
do it at a moment’s notice, there is no, there is
no restrictions on us, so there is
a lot of freedom. There is also a lot of economic
freedom you don’t get when you’re working
for an employer. If you imagine
working for an employer, there’s a percentage of your salary that
goes towards increasing their profits, as running your own company that
percentage comes to you directly, so you may get
slightly more stress; you may get slightly more… more
headaches to actually getting that money than you would do if you were
working for an employer, but at the end of the day, it is
actually a better economic argument to be running your own business than
it is to be working for somebody else. And what about the disadvantages
of working for yourself? Well, it’s great having
a small team around you, but one of the downsides is that
you don’t have that network of support that you have
in a large company. For instance if, if I think about my role
here I’m not only doing the work, making the videos,
I’m also doing the bookkeeping; I’m doing the personnel; I’m doing
the dealing with government agencies, doing the VAT returns
and this kind of stuff, so I don’t have
a large network around me that’s supporting the actual
creative work that I’m doing, so I find myself perhaps working
for 6 hours a day on the creative side, and then 6 hours a day
actually running the business. If I was working for a large company,
you’d probably find that 8 hours a day you’d actually
be doing the creative because there’d be other
people around you who’d be supporting you doing
the photocopiers, working on the IT, doing the personnel
and that kind of thing. Would you ever consider going back
to working for a large company? There’s some great things about
working for a large company; you’ve obviously got
the comfort and security of knowing you’ve got a full-time job
and you’re going to be looked after, but there’s lots of
downsides as well and I, I don’t think that knowing
what I know now I could go back. I think if you see it from the outside,
you look back and think ‘How on earth could I
have done that for so long?’ But it’s not for everyone,
I think, you have to be
a certain kind of person to want to run your own
business in the first place. Some of it is a question of skills,
some of it is having the actual abilities to go out and sell
your services to somebody, but the biggest part of it
is actually having the need to do it, the impetus, the drive and
the desire to get out and do it, and it’s not
for everybody. I mean, some people are very
happy working as an employee, working as a cog in a wheel,
but it got to a stage in my career where I thought
it’s not for me any more; I really want to go out on my own
and see if I can do it. And I think if you want to do it,
give it six months, you know, go out there
and see if you can do it, if you can do it, you’ll know
at the end of a few months whether or not
you’ve got it in you, if you haven’t, you can go back
to your old job and no harm’s done. But I would say,
give it a go.

One thought on “58 Freelance or employed

  • Video Script

    Oxford Digital Media is a video production company based in Oxford, in the UK. James Tomalin, its Managing Director, set up the company in 2006.

    I’m James Tomalin and I run a company in the centre of Oxford called Oxford Digital Media. We’re essentially a video production company but we also do music and audio as well. And the clients we work for range from large multi-national corporations such as The Body Shop, NeXt, the HSBC, Tetrapack, all the way through to local SMEs and local universities, colleges, schools, that kind of thing.

    Apart from video production, we also write music for film and television; we write music for a range of documentaries that are shown on the BBC and Channel 4 as well as for international broadcasts as well.

    I studied music at university which is how I kind of came into this industry. I, I did a three-year music degree and became a classical musician essentially.

    And then after that I, I did post graduate work in ethnic musicology which is world music, and through that I became interested in film making and ethnographic film making and as a result of that my first job when I left university was working for a company that actually wrote music for film and television. And we produced music for hundreds of wildlife documentaries, short films, feature films over the course of the few years that I was there. But gradually I, I moved on and up through the industry and ended up, most recently, working for a large record company in London, where I was the General Manager.

    How was the company developed?

    Oxford Digital Media has been running for about five years now, when I started it was just me as a sole trader, which meant that I effectively was brokering my skills with my customers and there was no other network of support around me. As time went on, we started employing freelancers, you know, freelance editors and film people, but over time we decided the best thing to do was to actually form a limited company as a structure within which to hold the entire business, so over the last two years we’ve moved into the centre of Oxford; we’ve got premises; we’ve got a small film studio here and we’ve employed three or four people on the books, that mean that we have a bit more support around us.

    What are the advantages of working for yourself?

    One of the great things about working for yourself is that you’ve got the freedom to do whatever you want. I mean to some extent you do exchange your boss at your old company for your customers, so I’m not completely free, but there’s a lot of freedom within that to do whatever we want. So I can wake up one morning and decide that we are going to do a particular video project; we can be out filming it that afternoon. Within a corporate structure I would have had to previously gone to my team leader, the team leader would have had to referred it up; we would have had to get a budget together; we would have had to make decisions; we would have had to book time and done it. In our company, we can just do it at a moment’s notice, there is no, there is no restrictions on us, so there is a lot of freedom. There is also a lot of economic freedom you don’t get when you’re working for an employer. If you imagine working for an employer, there’s a percentage of your salary that goes towards increasing their profits, as running your own company that percentage comes to you directly, so you may get slightly more stress; you may get slightly more headaches to actually getting that money than you would do if you were working for an employer, but at the end of the day it is actually a better economic argument to be running your own business than it is to be working for somebody else.

    And what about the disadvantages of working for yourself?

    Well, it’s great having a small team around you but one of the downsides is that you don’t have that network of support that you have in a large company. For instance if, if I think about my role here I’m not only doing the work, making the videos, I’m also doing the bookkeeping; I’m doing the personnel; I’m doing the dealing with government agencies, doing the VAT returns and this kind of stuff, so I don’t have a large network around me that’s supporting the actual creative work that I’m doing, so I find myself perhaps working for 6 hours a day on the creative side, and then 6 hours a day actually running the business. If I was working for a large company you’d probably find that 8 hours a day you’d actually be doing the creative because there’d be other people around you who’d be supporting you doing the photocopiers, working on the IT, doing the personnel and that kind of thing.

    Would you ever consider going back to working for a large company?

    There’s some great things about working for a large company; you’ve obviously got the comfort and security of knowing you have a full-time job and you’re going to be looked after, but there are lots of downsides as well and I, I don’t think that knowing what I know now I could go back. I think if you see it from the outside, you look back and think ‘How on earth could I have done that for so long?’ But its not for everyone, I think, you have to be a certain kind of person to want to run your own business in the first place. Some of it is a question of skills, some of it is having the actual abilities to go out and sell
    your services to somebody, but the biggest part of it is actually having the need to do it, the impetus, the drive and the desire to get out and do it, and it’s not for everybody. I mean some people are very happy working as an employee, working as a cog in a wheel, but it got to a stage in my career where I thought its not for me any more; I really want to go out on my own and see if I can do it. And I think if you want to do it, give it six months, go out there and see if you can do it, if you can do it you’ll know
    at the end of a few months whether or not you’ve got it in you, if you haven’t you can go back to your old job and no harm’s done. But I would say, give it a go.

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