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Balancing the Grind with the Co-Founders of Melbourne Production Company, OneHouse

Finegan Sampson, Max Kearsley, Ben J. Read & Cameron Mitchell are the co-founders and owners of the up-and-coming film and video production company OneHouse.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

All four of us have grown up in different parts of Melbourne, gone to different high schools, but have shared the same love and passion for film growing up. We met each other in our first year of studying film and television at the Swinburne University.

It was very natural, we all kind of stumbled upon each other and within a few weeks were best friends. A few months later, the stars aligned and we found ourselves with a unique opportunity to shoot a dramatic short film surrounding mental health & wellbeing for R&R Corporate health.

At this point in time we hadn’t spoken about starting a production company at all so it felt as though it was meant to be. From then on it was full throttle and we’ve never looked back.

Organically we found ourselves falling into different roles within the business and since we were already very close, we knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Fin acts as the Managing Director/CEO, overseeing all of the ins and outs of the company, innovating new avenues to explore and managing client relationships.

Max acts as the company’s Secretary, organising nearly all of the projects we do, keeping the books up to date and manages everything admin. Ben is OneHouse’s Marketing Director/CMO, managing and designing our online presence, creating social media marketing campaigns and is in charge of the company’s branding and innovation.

Cameron operates as our Product/Social Media Manager/CPO, overseeing and ensuring all of our projects are completed by their deadline and to the highest standard, as well as running our social media accounts. Together we have formed a system that utilizes all of our strengths.  

 2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

The incredible thing about working in film is that no two days are ever going to be the same. Whatever it is we are shooting, it is always different and in turn allows us to learn every time we pick up the camera.

On a typical shoot day, wakeup is always before 7am. The last thing you want to do is travel out to set and realise you’ve forgotten a piece of equipment, so the first thing we do is run through our equipment list for the day and load the cars.

Once everything has been loaded, we make our way to set (with enough time for a drive through coffee of course). Catering is provided on our shoots so we eat our breakfast once we have unloaded our equipment and brief each other on how the day is going to run etc. From then on, it’s go go go.

Since we are usually running to a pretty tight schedule, a day on set goes pretty quickly and before you know it the sun is going down. Once we wrap shooting, we debrief and load everything back into the car.

By this time our energy is depleted since we’ve been heavily focused and on our feet the whole day, but the last thing we always do is backup our files and put all the equipment back on charge ready to shoot the next day. It always goes by in the blink of an eye.

However with lockdowns in place, we haven’t been able to shoot on set which has forced us to work from home and reschedule shooting dates. 

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine? 

To some degree yes. Being in and out of lockdowns for the last year and a bit, we’ve developed a system that still allows us to create videos for clients from home and plan shooting dates for when restrictions ease.

We always knew that we would have to adapt and pivot to keep growing and produce content. I’d say that spending time working from home has been beneficial in a lot of ways for both us as individuals and the company.

It has given us a good deal of time to build stronger foundations in our structures and processes and has given us the opportunity to step back and analyse where we want to go as a brand and how we are going to get there. We have all developed daily routines where we have frequent meetings, lock-in hours and brainstorming sessions.

We also individually all have a whiteboard in our room with us to keep on top of weekly tasks and goals. When we aren’t working, we are attending uni lectures, exercising or enjoying a bit of sun. 

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

Work-life balance is something that is ranked very highly in our values. Starting OneHouse whilst in our first year at uni, we knew from the start that we were signing up for a very busy lifestyle.

At the start of this year, we developed a document called “The Balance” which acts as a strategy for us to refer to, to maintain and grow our business whilst studying at uni and having an enjoyable and healthy personal life.

The document covers communication, accountability, time management, mental health, sleep and nutrition. When we started the business we threw ourselves into the deep end without being mindful of all things listed above and we found ourselves burning out very quickly.

So we identified what was wrong and created “The Balance” so that we would have something to refer to if we ever felt we were heading in that direction again. Ever since, we have been a different business and different people. 

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life? 

A habit that we had early on was committing to sleepless nights of editing, followed by more sleepless nights of editing. At the time, it was pretty easy to justify why we were doing it; we had work that needed to be delivered by a due date and we were going to make it happen no matter what.

However, although yes, especially in the film industry, it is inevitable that you are going to have some late nights editing, we weren’t helping ourselves at all. Since we would be staying up all night with our blood pumping with caffeine, we would sleep for half of the next day and wake up exhausted.

This then pretty rapidly turned into fatigue and we found ourselves having to work and focus twice as hard to achieve the same quality and efficiency as before. This wasn’t working. Having the incredible Matt Beechey from R&R Corporate Health as one of our closest partners, it was easy to seek advice and found that there was a pretty simple solution to our habit; sleep.

Ever since, we have always discussed and checked in on each other about how much sleep we were getting and the results show. Furthermore, we all started to take our diet pretty seriously as we found that when we’d be eating junk, we’d get tired quicker.

Fast forward to now, we all try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night, wake up early and eat nutritional food throughout the day. You’ll never catch us in a Zoom without a water bottle next to us. It’s no question that this has completely elevated our efficiency and quality in our work as well as our mental and physical health. 

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

We all have a couple of podcasts that we listen to when we have the time. One that we would highly recommend is The Mindset Mentor. We have taken a lot out of what Rob Dial has to say about mindset strategies and have implemented it into how we work and run the company.

We also understand how important it is to be well read, so we try to take our eyes away from screens at least a couple of times per week. One of the most influential novels we have taken from is Ed Catmull’s Creativity, Inc. Catmull talks about his journey in building a creative and thriving team that ended up being Pixar.

Something like this has given us a tonne of insight into what works when building something that you are very ambitious and the best strategies to build the right team that thrives.

It’s safe to say that we definitely have an exciting vision for what we want OneHouse to be and we can’t wait to climb that mountain together, however it’s all a process and we are enjoying every second of it. So if you’ve got a vision and are ambitious, we’d definitely recommend “Creativity Inc.”

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

The first thing that comes to mind would definitely be our shared Google Calendar. Without it, everything would be a mess. All four of us plug in everything that’s going on during each week and add times to each of the events.

It has been a lifesaver, especially when balancing our uni timetable. Tied into this is a google doc where we put our to-do’s every week under each of our names. This doc has been running for about a year now and has been a great way to break our projects up into tasks to ensure everything gets done and nothing slips through the cracks.

Another great one is Quickbooks to keep on top of all our books. In general, we have found that investing in software that has organised us and automated tedious tasks that we don’t have to spend time on has kept us in great stead and allowed us to focus on primarily growing the business. 

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?   

An interview with someone like Daniel Katz or John Hodges who founded the film company A24 would be a great read. Being one of the great new film companies, we would love to know their story more in depth and the obstacles they had to overcome along the way.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Never forget why you started doing what you’re doing and why you love doing it. 

When you are passionate and love what you are doing, there are times where you will be hard on yourself and it’s going to be challenging. However this should just be a reminder of how important it is to you and why you began in the first place. Never stop chasing and believing in your vision, it’s yours and yours only.

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.