Creative Directors / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Paris Thomson, Founder & Creative Director at SIRAP

Paris Thomson is the founder and creative director at SIRAP, an agile, content-led creative production studio working with a global portfolio of clients.

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

I am the founder and creative director of SIRAP, an agile content-led creative production studio working closely with a global portfolio of clients to develop fully integrated content-first campaigns. Some of our clients include Visit Victoria, Lexus, Food + Wine Victoria, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Grown Alchemist, Design Files, SPACE Furniture, amongst others!  

After freelancing as a videographer through Uni while working at Network Ten in Production and Staging, producing radio shows at RRR and writing for Street Press Australia, I decided to focus my energy into my love for marrying commerce and creativity through the moving image.

After graduating from RMIT in 2012 with a Bachelor of Communications in Journalism, Media and PR, I started SIRAP at age 24. We have since grown to a dynamic team of ten full-time staff; comprising cinematographers, editors and producers. When I first started the business, I was directing, shooting, editing, producing – every hat was on! 

Now my time is focused on my role as founder and creative director, spending my time between our amazing team, directing on set Australia-wide (or internationally, pre-COVID), and between meetings with new and prospective clients. 

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

I’m an early riser, and most mornings start with exercise and meditation, followed by walking through the Botanic Gardens to collect a coffee at my local. Starting the day amongst nature is so enriching. From there I’ll make a hit-list for the day and flick off any urgent emails. 

The thing I love most about my job is that every day is different! Regardless of where it takes me, my work day starts with a quick team huddle (virtual when required) – it’s so important to get together as a team, check in and step out priorities for the day.

Some days I am interstate directing a job, other days I am in the office creatively concepting with the team on a production for a client, or back-to-back with meetings – regardless of where the day takes me, staying connected to the team is very important to me.

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

Yes, I am lucky enough that my job has (mostly) allowed for remote working, however we had to be extremely innovative and flexible with how we approached projects with the COVID restrictions and Victorian lockdowns of 2020; there were many months where we were legally unable to shoot (as our industry was not deemed ‘essential work’). 

After extensive brainstorming as to how we could continue to achieve high production value work, one of our favourite innovations was the implementation of virtual directing suites (via Zoom).

We also created fully sanitised ‘COVID camera kits’ complete with cameras, tripods and framing and style guides for our clients to send out to talent’s homes for some specific projects.

With our virtual direction over Zoom and Facetime, our clients were able to set up and record the content themselves, upload it to our server where it was then edited remotely via our team’s home-studios.

We had some incredible results with productions for clients including Lexus, Melbourne Food & Wine Festival and the Victorian Government. I love evolving our approach and challenging ourselves – however it’s great to be back in the studio collaborating (physically) now!

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

For me, the work-life balance construct is something that doesn’t really exist. My work and personal lives are incredibly intertwined – and as SIRAP is my own business and I love what I do, I completely embrace it.

For me, it’s more about the concept of ‘dialling up or down’ as opposed to ‘switching on or off’. I’ll often meet with clients over dinner or drinks mid-week or at times, meet with collaborators and network over weekends. 

As I’ve grown the team to 10 full time employees, it has been much easier to find a balance between tasks as I can now share the workload as I focus my energy on the creative, and the commercial sides of the business. 

I find I am constantly thinking about new ideas, upcoming projects,new technology, and how we can do the best job possible for our clients. In saying that, travel, meditation and massages help break the circuit – it’s my creative time to think and reboot, become inspired – as do dinners out with my fiancé, friends and family (when restrictions allow!).

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

Professionally – we’ve been diligent with touching base as a team each morning (whether in the studio or working from home) – creating this structure and routine is so important with our semi-flexi working environment. I’ve also tried to minimise non-urgent zoom meetings in favour of face to face. It’s amazing how the days escape through the vortex of virtual meetings!

Pre-COVID, my fiance and I would dine out 3-4 times per week, so during the 2020 lockdown, we tried to support as many local restaurants as possible through home delivery. I’ve also embraced FaceTime to quickly touch base with family and friends, which is something I wouldn’t usually do as much pre-COVID.

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

I love the New York Times “The Daily” for my daily hit of international news as well as The Financial Review app. 

‘How I Built This’ by Guy Raz is one of my favourite podcasts – interviewing innovators, entrepreneurs, idealists, and the stories behind the movements they built. 

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

I can’t live without my Outlook diary, the Sunseeker app (for tracking light on location), the Bureau of Meteorology app (weather is crucial for our weekly production schedules) and my iPhone pocket battery. And definitely my Bose noise-cancelling headphones.

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

Ben Shewry from Attica Restaurant, a friend, collaborator and an inspirational and kind human who seems to do it all, and always has time for others. 

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

Ride the wave, be kind to yourself and prioritise your time – accept that things change (including your routines and priorities), and with that, so does your approach to your craft.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.