The Wise Why
#51 Joe Francis – Storytelling and Video
About This Episode
Joe Francis, founder of Ultraviolet Films, talks about the importance of video production in the corporate world.
Despite not having a clear plan as a child, Jo’s passion for video production led him to start his own company, which has produced videos for big names such as Microsoft, Cisco, and Accenture. He shares his experience working in the IT and Telecoms sector during the booming 90s and living in India for ten years before returning to the UK just in time for the pandemic.
In this episode, Jo emphasizes the importance of using three-point lighting on video calls to create visually stunning and professional-looking images. He also discusses the power of storytelling for businesses and how a brand story can help connect with customers and increase engagement.
Episode #51 : Full Transcription
Kirsty van den Bulk: Hello and, ah, welcome to the Wise Wide. This morning I am joined by a really good friend of mine, Joe Francis, and we have a huge amount in common, uh, starting in Its sales and now obviously working together. If you look at what his business does, uh, in the, in confidence, on camera for me, and in creating those videos for you. But as usual, The Wise Why is not about me, it is all about my guests. So, I get to shift over this week because I’m not in the hot seat and say, Joe, the floor is yours.
Joe Francis: Thank you very much, Kirsty. And it’s always nice to receive, uh, an introduction like that. Um, let me just tell you and your audience, I’m Joe Francis. I’m, ah, a video producer and director, uh, with a specific focus on uh, the corporate sector. So, I help companies with a number of their business challenges, solve those by unleashing the power of digital video, um, based in the southeast. And I’ve been at this for about, uh, ten years, although I began this business in India and um, we’ve worked across a range of companies and um, a range of styles of videos over the years. But what I wanted to do was perhaps give you a little more of a sort of background on me, uh, and my sort of journey to this position. So, I, um, grew up in a village in the southeast of the UK. I, um, had a fairly I would class as an uneventful, uh, normal kind of childhood. We just played around with cycling, playing football and cricket. And I wouldn’t say I was one of those kids that had, um, an extremely strong idea of what I wanted to do later in life, early. I, uh, wasn’t that guy, I wasn’t that guy who at the age of eight, says, I want to be an actor, or I want to be, uh, a doctor, or whatever like that. I just kind of went with the flow. And, um, I would say I was okay at school. Uh, I certainly enjoyed primary school. Uh, secondary school was, uh, a little trickier and there were some motivation issues, I think. But I kind of followed what I would class as a bit of a wave. I was being carried by a wave. So rather than very proactive thought processes about, okay, I’m going to do O levels, and then I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that. Wouldn’t say that was me. I was kind of carried along on this wave. I felt the normal thing to do would be okay after O levels, do A levels, after A levels, do a degree. And so that’s the way I went. Um, I went to the University of Leeds. Did a degree in physics, not because I was enormously interested in going into research or teaching, which uh, are the kind of areas that typically, um, people do with physics but simply that was the subject that came most naturally to me at, um, school. So, I did that, and then in the mid-nineties, I went into the workplace. So, uh, my background in getting into video production is a little different from many people in that most of them come from the broadcast and media background or advertising. Um, I came from the other side of the lens, from corporate life. I was working in sales and marketing, uh, for various companies. Worked for BT for a number of years in a number of roles as well. Project management, sales accounts, relationship management. And I learned a lot from those experiences in terms of how to manage clients and what the pain points are that could be solved. Uh, in the early two thousand s, I kind of wanted, um, to make some changes to my career. Telecoms was having a hard time because of the.com bubble and I was looking to upskill myself. So, I went and did an MBA and I, uh, was doing that at one of the top universities, uh, business schools in India, the Indian School of Business, um, which was in its infancy at the time, but had really strong support from corporates and so on. Um, and after my MBA, then I came back into the workplace, although in a different industry. I was in the consulting space for a very large, uh, multinational. But there came a point, I think in my late 30s, mid to late 30s, I’d always had an idea perhaps, that, um, I might like to start something myself, but I never knew how. I honestly had no clue how to start a business or what might be, uh, an avenue to pursue. So, I thought, all right, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m just going to take a little bit of time out and do what they called me, time. So, I did that. I had built up a little bit of a nest egg. I was married with, uh, at least one kid at that point. Um, but I had, I suppose, some degree of a safety net at that point. Um, so we moved as a family to India in the early two thousand and ten s. And um, I took basically a couple of years off just, um, figuring out what I was going to do and just resetting, um, my mind. And then after that, I decided, okay, there’s something here where I can utilize all of the skills that I’ve built up in relationship management, in understanding corporate processes, where the burgeoning field of digital, um, photography and film was becoming a lot more accessible. So, I decided to set up a business in this space and I learned documentary filmmaking. I worked with a few dots, uh, and other guys.
Kirsty van den Bulk: I’m going to call you on that. We talked about this earlier. I am going to pick you up on that because it’s interesting because obviously not obviously, I hate that word. It’s such a bad word to use. But, um, I work in the corporate space because I worked in the corporate space, so I understand. Now, I’m going to use it, the jargon, which you just did. So, what does dop mean? Right.
Joe Francis: So, yeah, sorry about that. Uh, to all of, uh, Kirsty’s audience, um, A Dop is a director of photography thank you. Takes the lead responsibility, um, along with the director for framing and lighting, um, scenes. So, when we’re working at client sites, I mean, in the early days, I used to do everything myself. Nowadays, uh, I don’t I obviously hire cameraman. I have, uh, uh, other specialists, uh, creatives in their fields for editing, motion graphics, animation, and so on. But, yes, A Dop is there to make the scene look great, light it properly, frame it properly, and, uh, carry out any kind of camera movements and so on that would be required on that scene. Is that okay?
Kirsty van den Bulk: Annette has just come in and go and thank you for clarifying. So, I would just quickly talk about lighting. We were talking about this in the studio before we came live. Lighting is really important, and people need to do this at home. People forget that actually, today your home office. Now, I earn money doing this, but let’s give some snippets of information away. It’s really useful to help people. So, your home office is now a, uh, home studio. If you were sitting where I am today, you would see I’ve got a high end microphone. It’s got gain control. I’ve got a streaming camera. I have got a light above my lens, I’ve got a light on the right of me, I’ve got a light on my wall. How important is it to get your lighting right for a video call?
Joe Francis: Well, it’s absolutely important, and the reason is, if you have the same ambient lighting hitting the subject as well as the background, then your subject won’t pop. So, really, what you want to do, it takes a little bit of understanding of how cameras work, but what you want to do is put a lot of light on your subject, and then your camera needs to have its settings for that exposure. Now, what will happen when you have your subject exposed properly is the background will become darker, and that creates separation between the subject and the background and makes your subject pop. Uh, obviously, there’s a lot more to it than that. There’s three-point lighting setups and all sorts of different types of diffusion and black flags and things like that. But essentially, the purpose of lighting is to make your subject stand out.
Kirsty van den Bulk: Love it. Thank you. And I couldn’t have said it better. Uh, and hopefully, I am popping in, standing out this morning.
Joe Francis: You are?
Kirsty van den Bulk: Very much so. I’m intrigued, because you moved to India, you went back. What was that like?
Joe Francis: Well, um, you mentioned we went back we didn’t go back.
Kirsty van den Bulk: Of course, you didn’t go back, sorry.
Joe Francis: Because I was born here in the UK. Um, so that’s why I have this strong, uh, southern accent, if you like. Um, but obviously, my parents were from India. They came, uh, to the UK in the 60s. Um, and there was a connection. We did have the odd few family holidays, uh, to India, and there was a connection there. Um, my wife is from India, and, um, she obviously has family there, as do I. So, there were some, um, benefits during this time when I was reassessing how I was going to move my career forward, um, for us being in India, not least, um, for the kids, because there were some, uh, schooling advantages for them as well. Um, so we chose to go back, and, um, I had that period of time, uh, to kind of reflect on things. Uh, I wanted to learn some of the Indian languages. I didn’t manage to do that, unfortunately, although I picked up, uh, the odd few bits and pieces while I was doing, uh, my MBA. But it was a really good experience, obviously. India is now recognized as one of the, uh, fastest growing economies globally, and is, I think, now the most populous country in the world, or about to be very, very soon overtaking China. So, um, it was relevant to get some exposure to that geography. And when I began the business, it was really, really useful as well, because I had a huge alumni network in India, and, of course, people, once they come out of their MBAs, they all end up working in large multinationals, usually. And, um, therefore, I had what I would call a warmer access to some of these, um, major companies than I would otherwise have when I’m just starting out. So, it was really useful. Um, it was a great experience. And events conspired to make us come back to the UK. My son, uh, my eldest son, who’s really into, uh, math’s and was about to go to university, he was very, very keen to, uh, study in the UK. And, um, we came back, not just for that reason. There were some families, uh, health issues that I needed to deal with as well. So, um, a number of events conspired, and I always feel that there’s a little bit of fate involved in some of these things. When the stars align in a particular way, you sometimes have to have to go with that. And, uh, we came back and, uh, we’ve been here since, uh, end, um, of 2019. And, um, it was great. And then, of course, COVID.
Kirsty van den Bulk: That was really tough. I think I’ve had a couple of guests on. We’ve talked about the challenges that COVID posed to us, um, because people say that it’s over, but it’s not over. We’re still adjusting, we’re still coming out, that you can see it in the children at school, they’re still traumatized. What was I saw yesterday that I think it was a casting director posted on, um, one of the social sites that it would been a year, it had been three years ago that the theaters were closed. That’s still got an impact.
Joe Francis: Of course, it’s all had an impact, and, of course, as you know from things like, uh, mask wearing and so on, I don’t think everyone understood the developmental ramifications that that might have had on kids who need to see people’s expressions and their mouth moving with their own language development. So that, yes, the cascading effects of this continue, I guess, to this day.
Kirsty van den Bulk: Did you find it challenging? Because obviously we all had to adjust for COVID. Mean, I closed the business. Launched and closed and went dormant for six months to nearly a year. What about you? How did you adjust to dealing with it?
Joe Francis: Because we all had to, of course. Absolutely. And moving from India back to the UK came with its own channel challenges as well, because a lot of my base, uh, was not there, so I had to kind of restart things here. And that was clearly very difficult at that time, because everything was locked down, the offices, no one was there, and they had bigger priorities to deal with. Having said that, since the communication was, um, sort of compromised, uh, because of, uh, COVID, other businesses were also thinking, well, look, we actually need to do something like this, because we can’t bring our customers in to view our sites and view our people physically. So, we at the height of the pandemic, uh, and particularly, actually, at the height of the pandemic in India. We were hired to go and, um, film a very large factory, uh, food processing site in India. And that did come with quite a lot of challenges, because, for a start, we had to take lots and lots of these COVID tests, any of which, if they’d, uh, had become positive, would have been a major problem for the whole project. We hired crew in the country, but on the way back, we successfully completed the filming of the site. But on the way back, India went onto the red list of the UK. So, we got caught in that Hotel Quarantine stuff on the way back.
Kirsty van den Bulk: Wow.
Joe Francis: And, um, yeah, that, uh, didn’t work out commercially particularly brilliantly, because obviously I couldn’t offload those costs to the client. But, um, anyway, it was a great project, and it was a good story.
Kirsty van den Bulk: I want to talk about stories, so, um, I have a structure that I use for stories, which comes from Stannis Vasquez Seven Questions. How important is storytelling in video?
Joe Francis: Yeah, narrative is everything, and I think this is why it’s so important, um, for the viewer to understand that when you hire a video production company to come in and explain your story, it’s actually the story. That’s the most important thing. A lot of people think, yeah, come in, bring your really good cameras, and we’ll have, uh, this guy here and that guy there. That’s secondary, that’s planning, that’s shoot planning and all of that stuff. But you’ve got to have a narrative, you’ve got to have an arc. And to do that, the most important thing is to understand some key factors.
Kirsty van den Bulk: I’m going to jump in again because I know what a story arc is, but again, that’s in industry. So, I’m being a bit devil’s advocate here, because we’ve got an opportunity for people to understand what the story arc is. So, we all know beginning, middle, end. But can you expand a little bit more on why the story arc is so important?
Joe Francis: Yeah, it’s all because you have to capture the engagement of the person who’s watching. And they’ve got an N number of other things that they’re interested in thinking about at that time. So, the engagement, which is ultimately what nearly all of this kind of, uh, projects are about, is what you’re ultimately aiming for. So, we need to understand what is the objective of the film, who are the target audience and how is it going to be used, what’s the distribution medium? Because the way you tell the story is going to change, dependent on all of those different things. For instance, a very young demographic, the target audience very young. Maybe your distribution medium is going to be something more suited to them, like Instagram or TikTok or whatever. For, um, uh, an older, more professional, um, demographic, we may find that YouTube websites and those kinds of things are going to be the way that, uh, the project is distributed. And that makes a difference to the kind of content that you will put into the story about how you are going to tell, um, this story. So, the model I use, um, let’s just give you an example for, say, sales and marketing. The framework I use is a thing called spin. Okay? Now, this is a technique that was used in selling, uh, account management, relationships and so on, where you have the S of spin is situation. So, you define what the current situation is, the P is problem, you expose what the problem with the current situation is. The I am impact. What is the impact that that problem causes? And that leads to the need, which is ultimately, what the solution that, uh, customer is going to be presenting. So that’s just one methodology of a story arc. Um, for a video, obviously at the end, you would usually have a call to action where you say, okay, having explained all of this, what’s stopping you? Call up or hit this, click below and let’s get a demo organized, that kind of thing.
Kirsty van den Bulk: Thank you. I really appreciate that. And honestly, I have just put out a post. It went out yesterday, um, on the social sites, and it’s gone crazy because I simplified that story arc and so many people don’t understand the importance of it. And of course, you can shoot, and I don’t know if you do this. I know you can shoot in landscape and then obviously cut it down to a box, and then you can put that on Instagram. And so actually, you can repurpose the content. Right?
Joe Francis: Absolutely. So, in general, when we go into film with a client, then we’ll look at what all the possibilities are post the shoot. So, once you’ve got the stuff in the can, um, they may say, okay, well, look, we do want, say, a two and a half minute edit for trade shows and say, face to face icebreakers, but we also want a 32nd for Instagram or something like that. Now, it is important to kind of know these things beforehand, because we will shoot with that plan in mind. Not everything can be converted, for instance, to vertical mode if you haven’t shot it that way. So, it’s important as a director to understand, um, what are the outputs, the deliverables that we’re going to use afterwards, and, um, film with that in mind.
Kirsty van den Bulk: And that’s why I like working with you. Uh, you are one of my chosen videographers. I’ve got a couple that wants three or four of you that I work with, and I put you forward to my clients. And the reason I put you forward to my clients is because I know that you’re going to come at the video from the commercial endpoint, like I do. So, you’re going to look for that end result and where we’re going to put that content, where we’re going to repurpose that content. So, we know that that cost is there at the very beginning, so there’s no hidden costs. And that’s one of the reasons I like working with you, one of the reasons I asked you on my podcast.
Joe Francis: Thank you very much. It is absolutely important that these things not be, um, sort of seen as a vanity exercise. And that’s why sometimes videos are seen as a cost rather than an investment. But if you project and frame the value of the deliverable in terms of the tangible business outcomes that can arise afterwards, then you can view it much more as an investment and have the usual ROI type metrics applied too.
Kirsty van den Bulk: And if you employ the right videography team and the right person like me behind it, who will support and guide it through, I’m, um, not blowing my own trumpet here, but what we do is we look at future proof. Now, that is another jargon word, and I learnt it when I started working with intel. But we want to future proof that video. We want to make sure that the video you shoot today is still okay to be used in ten years. So, we’re not looking at just shooting a video. We’re looking at evergreen right.
Joe Francis: Yeah. I mean, this is where, um, again, a little bit of planning is required. I would say that you can do that. Um, and there are certain elements of certain enterprises where there is longevity kind of built into the offer. But in some businesses where the strategy, the management, and even the actual applications or services are being changed very quickly, then we have to take that into account as well, because whatever we shoot now may not be relevant a year or two down the line. So, yes, we’ve got to see how fast moving, uh, the kind of industry is, what the dynamics are, and have a plan in place where we can repurpose content, certain elements of content, but keep the fundamental, um, value proposition the same.
Kirsty van den Bulk: And I should have said, because in a retail situation, you wouldn’t, um, shoot one video and then fashion industry, for instance, it’s way too fast. You wouldn’t have a video that would be there in ten years’ time. So, I should have been more specific. So great answer there. Really well done. Who’s, um, inspired you? I know you talked about your wife.
Joe Francis: Yeah, definitely. Family. Uh, I mean, they’ve been a fantastic, uh, support of my wife in particular, because it’s not, um, easy. Of course, if you’ve had your husband, since you’ve been married, in a fairly senior position, in a fairly senior company, getting a reasonable kind of, uh, wedge at the end of the month to go into a completely uncertain position. But she could see that I had this kind of yearning to do something different. And she supported me all the way. And that is absolutely important because there are times that you will even question yourself during the journey and think, was that actually the right decision? And I can say now, yes, it definitely was. And I don’t always measure my success or my position now by the metrics that I used to consider, for instance, in my 20s, what car I’m driving, and material, uh, evidence of success, holidays in the Caribbean or whatever like that. I’m much more focused, uh, these days on what value I can deliver to clients, as well as my own personal sovereignty of, uh, running my own business.
Kirsty van den Bulk: And it can be challenging, it can be lonely. I mean, that’s why we first met, for a coffee one. We were seeing how we could work together, exploring those possibilities. But also it’s really good to have a good catch up with somebody else who is a business owner who has those stresses and strains.
Joe Francis: Absolutely. I mean, uh, what is a problem shared is a problem halved. Uh, and it’s important to talk to other people in the same position because there’s any number of brilliant ideas that, uh, can come up from meetings and just extending your own network. I think it’s super important to stay, um, networked to meet other people, not only in the kind of business areas that are allied to your own, but in completely different areas as well. So, I found a lot of these networking events to be extremely useful. And obviously, meeting you was a special bonus.
Kirsty van den Bulk: So, haven’t you launched a podcast?
Joe Francis: Absolutely. Thank you for mentioning that. In fact, you were one of the key inspirations for doing that. Um, my work as a video producer brings me in touch with many different businesses. And, uh, it made sense. I felt that, okay, if I’m producing these videos for businesses and talking to business owners, uh, a lot of the time, why not bring that to a wider audience? Because there’s a lot of people, many people just don’t know what is involved in starting businesses, running businesses, and all the headaches that, uh, happen on pretty much a daily basis. So, uh, I’m not trying to portray it in a negative light. I’m just trying to unveil the realities of running businesses. And I’ve talked to people who are solopreneurs. I’ve talked to people who are, uh, heavily funded, hundreds of million-dollar worth of businesses, ah, that they’re running. But fundamentally, at the heart of this, the people are basically the same. We’re all basically the same. Some people, uh, have got really brilliant stories about their businesses. And I found that, uh, a very good, um, sort of avenue, uh, for me. So, I have started a podcast. Um, only eight episodes, so I’m away behind you, Kirsty. But, um, it’s coming along. And people, uh, do seem to be engaging. So, I’ve been really happy with that.
Kirsty van den Bulk: I’m really pleased you did it. And all for a coffee. I love it. So, I was going to ask you about moments where you uh, just felt, because we all get it. You wake up in the morning, and particularly, you and I have talked about, um, scaling up. And of course, I’ve just taken on somebody to do some of my socials and not my personal ones. It’s some of my business ones. And it’s interesting to see shout out to Zoe there. Zoe morale, um, very proud of you. Very proud of you. Um, and you’ll see more of Zoe coming forward and talking, but it does get lonely. It can be challenging. So, when you hit that moment, how do you bounce yourself back up?
Joe Francis: Well, it’s incredibly difficult. In fact, one of the first major problems I had was really early on in my business, where I realized, okay, look, I’m not a cameraman. I understand the basics of cinematography, uh, and so on, but that’s not my specialist skill set. So, I’m going to use, um, a cameraman to film this project. And this was one of my really early projects where I desperately needed portfolio. However, it turned out that the guy that, um, I thought knew his way around the, uh, camera work turned out to be an editor himself. And was passing off this stuff that he had shown me as his work. Um, and we got to the site and I only discovered this when I looked at the rushes that night and saw, hang on a minute, the white balance is off, the focus is off, no one will do that. And, uh, I thought, oh my God, we’ve got a serious problem here. Because if there’s one thing that you cannot solve post production, it is focus. Everything else can be solved. And there are some AI things now, but in those days, in 2013, you could not do anything about focus. You’ve got to get your focus pin sharp at that time. So, I’ve decided, all right, look, I’m going to have to offload this guy and I’m going to have to do this myself. So, I learned what I needed to learn and I had told you that I’d done a documentary intensive course anyway, and I’d worked with some dips directors of photography, so I did know my way around and I salvaged that thing and, um, I got to the end of it and they were very happy. But that was a bit of a tricky point right at the beginning. You don’t expect to start that way, but that’s how it goes.
Kirsty van den Bulk: But look at you bent, you moved, and you delivered. I think that’s incredible. We’ve had some brilliant, brilliant comments. I’m just going to turn to them. So, um, we have got Annette, who joined us this morning, and m she’s saying thank you for clarifying earlier. And then, as, uh, far as I know, India has now overtaken China in population. Wow. Where, um, can I find out about the seven questions, Annette? They’re on my socials at the moment and you can always drop me a DM you know that? It’s also a blog on my website, um, www dot. Oh, gosh, I’m promoting www. Dot KVDB.Co.UK and it is all about Stanislavski’s seven questions and tells you that I still drink a cup of tea with my elbow up and I still do. There’s a reason for it. Um, Jonathan joined us, and he says 100% agree on this engagement is so valuable. You’ve really touched people this morning. It’s brilliant. Um, have to shoot off now, but thank you both very informative from, uh, Jonathan and Maureen. Yes, Maureen. Networking is vital. I felt overwhelmed initially and realized there are people with similar issues. I went to one yesterday, um, and the person sitting next to me was in exactly the same place jenny, jenny Gordon been on the show. And honestly, it was like, oh, yeah, I needed that. I really needed that. So, this is where you’ve been talking and I’m so proud of you because you were like, we won’t be able to talk for half now, we have. So, you get to throw a question at me. I have no idea what it’s going to be.
Joe Francis: Fantastic. Well, you’ve been a brilliant host and yes, let, uh, me ask, uh. You one you’ve had. I suppose for most people it’s an unusual career to have been an actor and acting comes with its own prestige and a kind of social order for you to walk away from that career and begin um, as a solopreneur, which certainly in the early days is anything but kind of glamorous. How did you handle the kind of psychological roller coaster of how the world saw you as an actor versus as an entrepreneur?
Kirsty van den Bulk: So that’s generally an interesting one because I put myself through university, so I went back and did uh, a conversion course. So, I had a diploma in musical theater, which meant I could do a couple of sorry, everybody who’s done musical theater, but it meant I could do some really good pyramids. Um, and it meant I was really good at sensual auditioning for West end shows. And I’d hung up my dance shoes when I was 22 because I realized it wasn’t for me. It really wasn’t. Um, I was very much an actor who could sing, not a dancer who could act. Um, and that time it was really difficult, and I just didn’t want to be hoofing for the uh, next 20 years and that was a choice that I made. So, I went into acting and I had a lovely career. Had some great TV roles in BAFTA award winning drama. So yeah, I had a lovely career and then I found myself at, in my mid 30s, um, and I just wanted I remember waking up one morning and going this is a really hard business, really hard. You’re reliant on other people, you’re constantly pitching yourself to get work, you’re writing off letters yourself, your agent is putting you forward for work. You’re drumming and drumming and drumming and drumming and drumming and so you’re hunting, you’re farming and you’re gathering all at the same time. So that is the sales process. And actually, I was tired and I remember one morning with pure clarity, realizing that was my mid thirty s, I didn’t own a house. I was at this point doing my degree in my parents’ house, uh, writing my dissertation and I went, I don’t want this for the rest of my life if I continue on this path. And it was like three doors open up in front of me. If I continue on this path, I’m going to end up in the actor’s benevolent home run by Equity. And I just thought, I don’t want that. That isn’t the future I want. And it was a really cold m really hard decision, but also very clear. Then in my mid thirties, I had at least another 35 years of life. Um, I hadn’t got children at this point and at this point I was super independent, so I wanted to buy my own house. Hasten to add, six months later I met my husband, and we bought the house together. We now have a child, but at that point it was like, I needed to go and do something different. So I put myself through university. I completely got; I got a degree that I wanted more from. Um, there was an idea of becoming a teacher. It wasn’t for me at that point. I had supported myself and when I did Uni I was running ten jobs, genuinely. Um, so I was writing my dissertation in between, running a job for Nintendo, running a contract for intel, running another contract for Swept Freight Cart or some other Robinson Fruit shoot, and I was on the road and writing at 1.1 of the companies I worked for. Bought a copy of The Beggars Opera to me, so thank you Duncan. Um, so I could write my essay in time because he needed me to work, but I was like, I’ve got a deadline, I’ve got a deadline. So, I think Uni taught me about deadlines, but balancing and juggling was exhausting. At the end of that I graduated and then I blew my life up, completely blew my life up because I was burnt out. And I was honest about this last week. Burnt out and, um, I ended up with shingles tonsillitis and just exhausted at the end of the day after my graduation. And, um, instead of taking the time like you did to Sit, I blew it up. And then I had to start everything from scratch, and I met Dennis and then I got, um, a job with retail profiling mike Evans took a chance on me, so thank you Mike. And then I got moved to Dealing, and then from Dealing I moved to Samsung, which then later became Hanwha vision And so I learned the bit of business I didn’t have. So, I’d learnt the structure of how to write documents in my mid-30s, got diagnosed with Dyslexia and Dyspraxia in my mid-30s, so learnt the foundation of how to write because I didn’t have that skill. I was an actor, Uh, so you have to understand, I was an actor, I knew how to do a script, I didn’t know how to write, so I learned the foundations of writing, doing the degree. I then went into business and learned business skills and spent over ten years learning, but also bringing in the skills I’d got as an event M manager, as a sales trainer, as an actor. And suddenly when my husband got a job, that meant that we were going to leave the UK, which didn’t do, I could launch, didn’t quite know what I was going to do. A bit like you, I had to take some time sat and then went, oh, I’m quite good at communication. So, the original plan was communication skills. Now I actually now call myself a communication specialist, so it’s been a full 360 to get back to here, but actually I pull every single bit of experience that I have through all of those and I hasten to add those. Yeah, let’s write this. Over 40 years. Over 30 years of working in retail all the way through. And the skills I use, even down to a retail calendar, come from even a Saturday job I had at 13. So nearly 40 years, because I’m only 51. So, a lot of experience is pulled into what I do today. But it was hard and I didn’t know I was going to do it. And it wasn’t easy to walk away from being an actor because I was very entrenched in that industry. People knew me. They knew me and my partner at the time, and we were seen as an acting duo, and it was really high profile, but it didn’t fit me. Not any longer. It just didn’t fit.
Joe Francis: Was there a gut instinct part to this where you felt something just doesn’t feel right?
Kirsty van den Bulk: Yeah, I remember saying to my mom, um, I’m going to stop. And she just went, you’ve done it since you were eight. And I went, yeah. So, I’ve been an actor for 30 years. That’s what I’ve done. That’s a normal lifetime career, when you actually think about it, 30 years in an industry. And I really did do 30 years as an actor, starting as Heinz Baked Beans at eight years old. I had a career for 30 years. I made money from it. Got employed, I had a great time, but I didn’t want to do it anymore. Do. I’d still love me. Look at me. I’m a podcast host. Of course, I still perform. Um, and if Spielberg called me tomorrow, of course I’d go and do it. I’d love to, but it wasn’t going to give me a house. It wasn’t going to give me the stability that I wanted for the second part of my life, for my middle years.
Joe Francis: And it worked out well, didn’t it?
Kirsty van den Bulk: I love what I do. When I was talking for OXLEP on Tuesday and I went in and there were seven people who are learning how to pitch, and they’re doing this big workshop, and I walked in, and with my crazy energy and because I’m an actor, I could show them different ways of walking into the room. But I will say the first thing I always teach is how to walk. Which takes me back to arts ed, which takes me back to my voice class, where my voice teacher, Laura, told us off to try to sing the perfect note when we were working on voice, because there’s a difference. So, I used everything that I’ve learned all the way through my life because I was 16 for that class. So, it’s really interesting and a great question because, yeah, it didn’t just happen. There were a lot of choices that I made and a lot of impostor syndrome and a lot of, oh, my goodness, I am not intelligent enough to even get a degree. And that’s what people don’t realize I thought I was stupid. I don’t use that word lightly, but I thought I was an embarrassment. I thought I was stupid. Um, I was in my mid-30s, divorced, and I really, really felt lost. So really interesting.
Joe Francis: Yeah. I always felt that I have this thing called my Sunday evening test, which is very simply that if on Sunday evening you are not looking forward to Monday morning, you need to probably think about making a change. And, uh, I had failed a few Sunday evening tests, and I made the change brilliant.
Kirsty van den Bulk: I’m going to leave it there because a beautiful note to, uh, leave it on. I may change your tagline to my Sunday evening test because I like that very much. Thank you so much for your time. It’s been an absolute pleasure and an honor to have you on the show.
Joe Francis: Thank you very much, Kirsty. It’s, uh, also been an honor to be on your show. Thank you so much for being, uh, a great podcast host, and I wish you all the best for the podcast.
Kirsty van den Bulk: Thank you.
In this episode:
00.02 Hello and, ah, welcome to the Wise Why
01:17 Growing up average
03:32 Life in business
06:28 what is a director of photography (DOP)
07:36 Three Point Lighting
08:58 Moving to India
12:04 Covid Challenges
19:34 Future proofing
22:18 My wife, my inspiration
26:10 The Joe Francis podcast
27:39 Facing a problem
31:24 Life as an Actor
33:58 Burn out
34:18 Meeting Dennis
38:50 Sunday evening test,
Connect with Joe:
Daren Elsley talks with Kirsty van den Bulk about The Unspoken Truth of Male Cancers and how losing his best friend to cancer inspired him to launch MYBOLLOX underwear, a brand with a mission to raise awareness for men’s cancers through unique branding.
Ep 59, Paul Anderson talks about banking, acting via security, and embracing life’s twists on The Wise Why podcast with Kirsty van den Bulk.