One of the things I love about my job is working with creative people. They bring a unique angle to the table, especially crucial during the planning phase. Watching them bring to life that vision one shot or frame at a time is like watching magic unfold before your eyes. One such brilliant brain is Ben Johnson, one half of Johnson Studios which he runs with his wife, Danielle. Ben and I worked together a few years ago in the tech world where he was the creative lead for the brand's photo, video, and design identity.
Ben now focuses primarily on filmmaking where his passion for biking has led him to some notable clients including Cavalier Gastown, U Sports Canada, Hulse & Durrell, BrandFX, and Vancouver Club.
His work also takes him to amazing places all over the world. He recently travelled to Thailand to film Cavalier Gastown’s video, How It’s Made, through Italy with Vancouver Club, and to Spain to meet Cima Coppi.
We had a chance to sit down recently so I could ask him a few questions about running his own filmmaking business.
What do you love about running your company?
First and foremost, I love running my company because it continually exposes me to new work, new clients, and new challenges. One day I’m filming on a remote river in Thailand, and the next day I’m preparing a script for an animation project. The variety of work we’re presented ensures we never get comfortable; and, we’re not comfortable with being comfortable anyways. These new challenges are continually raising the bar, and we are motivated by opportunities to rise above it.
What's your approach that sets you apart from other filmmakers?
Our size is what keeps us nimble. Take, for example, the difference between parallel parking a FIAT and a double-decker bus. The logistics for the FIAT are just simpler. We find this to be true for us as well - both internally and externally. The mobility and flexibility of our small but competent team has proven essential to our ability to meet a wide variety of client needs.
We are also curious people who desire to learn. These traits have inspired in us a pursuit for continual growth and development. For this reason we can say, Johnson Studios is a team of filmmakers, editors, designers, writers, artists, marketers, and scientists. The range of skills, interests, and passions we apply to every project has been key to pushing the creative limits of our work.
What one piece of wisdom would you impart to others who are starting their own creative business?
Dive in, but take one day at a time. It may seem overwhelming at first, but it’s not as daunting when you break the whole into its parts.
Also, say “yes” to everything. It’s important to be hungry and passionate. Starting your own creative business demands too much time, energy, and persistence to be anything less than hungry and passionate. Over time, you’ll learn what projects you should and shouldn’t say “no” to. It is the learning that is crucial.
Thanks for sharing, Ben!