Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do
I’m Neil, I’m 44 and three quarters, with all my own teeth and some of my own hair (although that’s mainly on my face nowadays) and I help people tell their stories using video.
I’ve been running Media Arts since I was rather rudely made redundant from a senior management role at a high street retailer almost 15 years ago.
I’m originally from Essex but have lived in the North East for 19 years now and I absolutely love it here.
Tell us about your business
There’s two parts to my business really; it’s just the way it has developed over the last couple of years.
One part is the corporate side of things, where I work with businesses of all sizes to produce video to showcase their company, a product or to train their staff. I also run training sessions with micro business owners to help them utilise the power of video themselves, via their phones and tablets. Away from video I have also worked on and published six books through Media Arts. I’ve just sent the latest one to the printers today!
The second side of what I do is documentary filmmaking via my neiljackson.net brand. This is in its infancy but I’m working on several exciting TV and film projects this year in the UK and also one in the US.
What are the most sparkly bits of what you do?
Every day I get up and get to do what I love, with some really great people. It doesn’t get any more sparkly than that!
I love following an idea from its inception through to seeing it come to life on screen. A well-produced video can make such a difference to a business in how they’re viewed by existing and potential customers. Helping clients to do this creatively is still a real buzz.
Recently, via the documentary filmmaking, I’ve been able to highlight some specific issues and push for a change that will make a positive difference to people in the future. That’s been great too.
What are the biggest challenges you face running your business?
Cash flow. Always cash flow!
I’m very fortunate that most of my customers pay on time but when they don’t it can cause real problems. I probably make matters worse too because of my phobia of overdrafts and credit!
What have been your biggest achievements and how have you celebrated them
I’m not very good at celebrating achievements. I need to get better at it!
Probably my biggest achievement to date has been the Anglo Saxon Princess exhibition in Kirkleatham. I got involved at a really early stage when the archaeologist had just uncovered some spectacular finds. I produced two films, a soundscape and helped design the overall exhibition, which went on to win some awards within the cultural sector. I still go back every year and join the archaeological team for a day or two in a field with a trowel and the camera at hand.
What are your goals – for yourself and your business?
I want to continue to develop the documentary side of things as I think there’s a real chance to make a difference there. But I’m keen to continue with my core business at Media Arts too. I don’t ever see that stopping as I enjoy working with people too much!
Ultimately, like so many of us self-employed, I want to be able to wake up every morning and not feel I have to check the bank balance. I could probably live with doing it weekly, I’m not greedy!
What is your favourite place in the North East and why?
Hard one, this. So much to choose from.
If I had to pick one it would be the Northumberland coast. It’s just stunning, unspoilt and it can be enjoyed equally on a sunny summers day as a grey, windy one! Unlike the south we have so many wild and open spaces here and I love that.
Who puts a Sparkle in your eye?!
My kids. Every day. They are what I get up each morning for and I would do anything for them.
A final Sparkly thought – what tips would you give to busy, hard-working entrepreneurs?
Keep at it. Don’t be tempted to jack it in and get a ‘proper job’. Hard work always pays off, sometimes it takes more time than you’d hoped but the reward of being self employed far outweighs the pain we sometimes go through.
Also, if many of your clients are VAT registered think about registering for VAT yourself. Even if you’re not at the threshold. Being able to claim back VAT on things I buy for the business is well worth filling in a form online every three months.
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Photography by Gavin Forster of Media Borne.