When you find your passion at a young age and turn it into your own creative business as an adult, you are one of the lucky ones. Just ask Kyle from Campfire Stories Inc. Working along side his wife Allia and their two teen aged sons, Kyle has expanded his video production company in a very creative, and expert, way. Let’s welcome Campfire Stories Inc to our TUF Local series....
Describe your business: We are a full-service video production company who take a storytelling
approach with all our clients, from Corporate video to documentary film making.
Video is shown to build consumer trust rapidly, but consumers are not concerned about stats or degrees. They want to connect with companies and organizations. We work with our clients to find the best and most effective way to tell their story and engage their target audience.
What drives you to do what you do? What motivates you? Telling stories through visual imagery has been something I’ve done since childhood. We were the first family in our town to own a camcorder. As a result, I've had a camera in my hand since I was a very young child.
What has surprised you most when owning your own business? I wouldn’t say anything has been a huge surprise; it’s been more of an affirmation of how hard it can be to be a business owner. It’s always feast or famine and a lot of forward planning to keep cash flow consistent.
What was it like when you first started? When I first began being really involved in film making in Saskatchewan the industry was thriving. In 2012 when the film tax credit was removed, things became very challenging for film makes who wanted to stay in the province.
What is something people don’t know about your business? Most people believe that video production is “pretty simple.” You just point a camera and you make a video. What they don’t know is how much work happens behind the scenes.
We generally shoot with 2-3 production cameras which means that the footage has to be reviewed and logged before it gets edited. So for every hour of capture, there is on average 2-3 hours of post-production work that takes place to deliver the final product, because every hour
of capture is per camera.
It’s VERY different than stills photography that a person can start with a very basic camera, and build a business from that. To produce broadcast-quality video we invested in production cameras (meaning they are intended for cinematography, not stills photos), audio
equipment, editing software, etc.
We also license all our music which avoids any copyright issues for our clients, allowing them to use the video on any platform they choose.
What would your customers say they love most about doing business with you? We spend time with each client to learn about their business and why their target market would choose them over competitors.
We then spin that into a story using proper lighting, professional audio and work with them to ensure a video that connects with an audience and gives them a polish that is affordable while being very high quality.
What are some odd requests you've had from clients? We captured a “surprise” wedding this last year which was an interesting challenge as the guests didn’t know a wedding was about
We’ve also captured the first meeting in person of a couple (they had connected online but had never met face to face) and made it into a video for them.
How do you motivate and encourage yourself? As a film production company, we work with contractors and not staff per se. As such my support “staff” is made up of our 14 and 16-year-old sons and my wife.
All of them are pretty food motivated.
My wife is also partial to morning staff meetings in bed with her cup of coffee, so we have both a coffee bar and whiskey bar in our bedroom.
Where do you see your business in the next years? I hope to see it grow as we continue to learn how to work outside of the traditional film model to fund our passion projects like our webisode series and documentaries.
What are your greatest challenges? Finding new clients with stories to tell. Most clients come to us wanting to talk stats and widgets. But that doesn’t necessarily translate well to video.
So we spend a lot of time educating clients about what people will connect with versus what they THINK people want to hear.
Stats and products belong on a website, not in a video necessarily. There are, of course, always exceptions.
My wife likes to say that the video doesn’t lie. It does tend to show a person, and how others relate to them, very accurately. So engaging the audience by telling a relate-able story to connect with them, can sometimes be a bit of a challenge.
What is something most people don’t know about you? I’m a pretty open book. I don’t think there is much anyone who knows me would be surprised by.
What do you love most about your town/city? Saskatoon is a giant small town which can really work in your favor, for the most part. I appreciate that rarely do we go out and not run
into someone we know. It really breeds a stronger connection and sense of community here.
Why do you think it is important for people to support local? We are all just trying to get by so supporting local is important to helping small businesses grow and thrive.
We are fortunate to be in an industry where bringing people in from other centers will be ineffective from an affordability standpoint.
That being said, we all too often see crews coming in from Toronto or Vancouver who then hire us to help crew up here in Saskatoon. As such, the local client will spend substantially more than they would have had they hired locally instead.
What are your favorite restaurants? We tend to cook primarily at home. My wife and I are low key foodies so we tend to be picky about what we love.
Both our daughters work for chain restaurants so we do go to those from time to time. But Hometown Diner is definitely our favorite local go-to breakfast place. Leopold's would also be on our list.
What are your favorite things to do locally? We love when we have clients in Northern Saskatchewan because we both love being in the forest, and the North is absolutely spectacular.