Simon Edwards, the man who created SRE Films, has lived his life behind the lens for over 20 years.
‘I started out in the industry back in 1996, he said. ‘I began by making feature films and commercials and worked my way up to the role of director. I have always been freelance – that’s the way the film business works – and luckily I have always had good contacts.’
In 2013, the inheritance of a house in Jersey provided Simon with the perfect opportunity to escape the London rat race and head for the more tranquil existence offered by life in the Island. He believed that the move would allow him to add another string to his professional bow by bringing a greater level of technical quality in film making to his new home. It was then, however, that he made a startling discovery.
‘I found out that I could live here but I couldn’t work here,’ he revealed.
Always a welcome at Jersey Business
Fortunately, Jersey Business was on hand to guide him through the maze of regulation that would eventually lead him to his goal of setting up his own business in the Island.
‘I had to apply for a business licence and then prepare a business plan, complete with financial forecasts and cash flow predictions,’ he explained. ‘Jersey Business helped me with all of that. To be honest, I was a little naïve where such matters were concerned, but June Stead, my principal contact at Jersey Business, guided me through the unusual nature of setting up a business here, which can be something of a minefield.
‘Jersey Business made a huge difference, especially with help in putting a business proposal together. It was so useful to have experienced people to talk to; people who were always so very welcoming. I really couldn’t have done it without them.
‘I was able to show that I would not be taking away business from anyone already operating in the Island and, consequently, we were successful in our efforts to establish a business here. I still talk to the Jersey Business team, particularly with regard to marketing to local firms.’
A digital ‘brain’ for business
Taking centre stage as the pride of Simon’s armoury of professional equipment is a hi-tech movie camera called a RED. Its manufacturer was responsible for bringing out the first digital movie camera and, in the process, Simon said, changed the shape of film making for ever.
‘But it is not just a camera,’ he explained. ‘It is really a brain; a modular set up that includes lenses and screens and records onto media cards. It is almost certainly the only one of its kind in the Channel Islands.’
Armed with this technological wizardry, Simon’s work lies mainly in providing digital content for online distribution. ‘This is principally for large corporations and allows them to deliver the film content to their websites or You Tube. Not so much is made for television these days. Companies can better control how and where their material is delivered online.
‘Away from the Island, I work through a production company in London called Generator Films; I am fortunate to receive quite a lot of work through them.’
And the job certainly has its glamorous side. ‘Adverts made for screening in the summer in Britain are in fact filmed several months in advance, during the British winter. That means having to film in locations like Cape Town, which are absolutely full of film units at that time of the year.’
A thrilling experience awaits!
In addition to the corporate work, Simon is also hoping to secure funding for a film in the horror/thriller genre to be made next year. Unfortunately, though, Jersey will not feature as the film’s location.
‘It will be filmed in the UK,’ Simon confirmed. ‘The major problem here is that there are no tax benefits or local grants available to film makers. In the UK, they hand you back a credit against tax which is worth around 20 per cent.
‘Another problem with the Island is that all personnel and equipment have to be shipped in, which adds significantly to the cost of the project.’
In the future then, Simon is most likely to concentrate on the movie sector. But he is ready and willing to take on work in the Island if the demand is there.
‘People are becoming more aware of the reach that an online presence has,’ he stressed. ‘I am more than happy to talk to the local market to help them to achieve their promotional objectives if required. There are costs involved, of course, but they are going down.
‘I am open for business and happy to explore ideas with anyone.’