- Name: Darryl Ephraums
- Creative: Commercial Filmmaker
- Location: Melbourne, Australia
Darryl Ephraums talks about how his background in creative projects led him to becoming a filmmaker. As his portfolio grew as a cinematographer, so did his clientele. Eventually the constant grind to make a decent living as a filmmaker began getting in the way of time with his growing family. Looking for a way to increase his profits while reducing the number of hours he needed to work, Daryl decided to give Next Level Creators a go. Within months of joining he was able to secure $6,000 in recurring monthly income while working with just a small number of businesses.
Everyone here and today I have a special guest, Darryl with me all the way from Australia. What part of Australia are you in Melbourne? Yeah. And he's going to share his journey, which is a pretty remarkable journey so far as a video creator going from doing, you know, project to project, really building the traditional video production company which he scaled to, you know, a significant income for himself to joining the next level creators program, putting a different model in place, getting recurring revenue clients and what that's been able to do for him so far. So Daryl, thanks for joining and sharing your story. Of course. And what was life like back basically what, what got you into wanting to be a video creator and wanting to do video production for people as a job and as a career path? Well, elected. It's pretty interesting story, at least for myself. I'm the main reason why I started doing video was because I couldn't get a job. I'd had various other jobs. Um, and I've been involved in a lot of creative artistic practices and for whatever reason I ended up at a certain point turning 30 where I couldn't get a job despite having some of the best qualifications you can get and a lot of track record in jobs. So at that point someone paid me to all the camera because I knew I was handy and production and that gave me some money and I thought, Ooh, that's nice money. And they paid me again and I thought, oh that's nice again, a bit more, a bit more over here, a bit more over there. And from there, uh, I guess a video created was own and I just kept on pursuing it because at that stage it was what was helping to feed me and pay the rent and say quite contrary to getting into it for creative ideas and because you want to make, you know, I just got into it because it paid me money and I was lucky enough that allowed me to make you know, beautiful out at the same time as well. Yeah. Yeah. So that's great. You actually got into it out of necessity rather than what a lot of people do is like, Hey, this is my passion, this is my dream. And you're like, ah, it wasn't that so much that. Has it turned into that for you at this point, like doing creative work and being a video creator? Yeah, absolutely. I've always been, I think involved in, you know, the creative arts or the humanities in some respect and the principles that underpin one aspect of the arts on the pit underpinning all of them. So if you understand the composition of music, literature, etc. You understand also some of the practices that go into visual arts. So I was able to sort of sidestep around, um, but that keY factor doing it because someone was paying me with what drove me to, I guess crack it and start to make a living for how long ago was it when that first person paid you for a video? How many years now? Four years ago. And in your first year, how much did you make, would you say? Roughly out of video? Probably about 10, 15,000 fans. Sounds about right. Sounds about right. And then second, third year, fourth year, how did things start to progress? I think the next year was about $22,000 from the video. Um, I was very lucky that my partner was having a full time job at that point, which gave me the freedom to, to, to ignore the fact that it was only two. I can do this, I can do it. Come on next year I think was about 35,000 and then this current financial year it's been about 115. And I guess those first three years a slave for you're really results focused with your work. You're willing to do anything and then you can start to cash in on that fourth year. Yeah. And just to be clear with everyone who's listening here, this is a traditional video production company. You are going out, you are selling a video project, you're selling it based off of hours, right? Like ours and quality and these things that are, that. That's what you were building your selling your value off of and you were able to scale it up to 120 k a year, which is, I mean, for a lot of people, that's a ton of money, right? That's an amazing living for a lot of people. And for you getting to that point, right? What was it, what was it like when you were at that point of, you know, you had your first hundred and $20,000 a year. What was your mindset at about the business and what was going on because that was really right when you decided to engage with us. So what was happening there that, that made you look at the creators operating system and next level creators and say this might be a good idea, a really, it's a question of time and the lack of it, you know, at a certain point your goals, uh, can I be shooting five days a week, you know, how productive can I be as a video creator? And then you get there and you realize five full days of shooting means seven full days of post production as well. It meanS not beIng able to find other people that can do the work or the post production work at the level that you think it needs to be done. So you very quickly run out of time. and to give you a clear idea, I guess, of I think to summarize how I would've felt when you talk about, um, you know, selling on ours and selling on holiday. My big differentiator to competition has been lighting, cinematography. So being able to log things in a cinematic way, make images look beautiful on smaller budgets. What that essentially means though is carting around lighting equipment, going to a rental warehouse, picking up gear, taking it out to the shoe, setting it all up, packing it all down, and taking it back rental house. When time starts to run out, that backbreaking labor starts to take its toll. You know, you've got family things to worry about. You just out all the time. You come home feeling like you've aged 20 or 30 years and a day. It's hard work, it's really, really hard work and even though in the money's starting to come in, you're thinking or what happens for the next 10 to 15 years, this what I do does, how does this actually change to I just eat a plateau at $120,000, what can I double it by doubling the price, but you know, how much physical labor can I actually do here? How much are people willing to pay for this? You can't define the value because you can't see a clear return on the work you do. It's just the perception of the quality and as also just the amount of time that you put into it and, and it's interesting because when you get to that point, which I mean that's a lot of people don't make it to that point because they just, they get burnt out. Right? So I mean compliments to you, you had to hustle for it. Then when they do get to that point, it's this thing of oh, I have no time anymore because I'm always shooting. Yes, it's never ending process. Job, job, job shoot, shoot, shoot. Shoot. The referrals are coming in like you don't really have to worry about that because your quality is great, but you have no time, so how do you scale this thing and make more money while you can hire people, but then the margins go down and if you hire people to quality tends to add a little bit and then when you start putting that out there, you're selling proposition starts to get weaker and almost everyone can just walk away. These people you're hiring and then get clients too. So you have the management problem. So I see that quite often in the video production industry. And so what was it about next level creators that kind of like clicked the light bulb on your head at that point and and what was attractive to you about a commercial campaigns and running those? As far as the model that we help people put in place. What I think the reason next level creators initially appealed to me was that there was a message in it which was not just about making money but which understood where I was at and without us ever having met. It understood that when you get to that certain point of breaking six figures for a year on a pure video production model, that you're goIng to start to run into problems. You're going to start at that point. You no longer just thinking, how much money can I get your thinking? How can I make it the making of money sustainable, fulfilling? How can I get balance into my life? How can I do the things that I want to do, but do it in a way which is on my terms and not just chasing and following everyone else's demands. And so there was something about next level credits which understood that particular challenge for me and with presenting a solution that would, you know, take me out of that maelstrom and put me into a situation where od being controlled. so it wasn't something that says, hey, join something and will make you money. It was to understand the real problems of people's, you know? Yeah. In chinese them for the better. I say that all the time, right? Like if you're an entrepreneur and your goal is a video creators to make something beautiful, you're not like that. If that's all you want to do, you're not really an entrepreneur. You just someone who wants to make art, which is great. That's a. That's a great thing and some people can make money from that. I don't really know how, but if you want to be an entrepreneur, you need to be thinking about how to create an impact for your clients, for your audience, for the people you are deciding to serve with your business. And the only way to do that is to look at what everyone else is doing and say, how do I 10 x the value for my clients? Like how do you take it to the next level? And so it sounds like that was really the. The key thing that clicked in your head was, oh, if I can get these people multiple commercials or one commercial that's distributed and get results, that was what was really exciting, was creating that win win relationship with that. is that right? Absolutely. And look, I guess really driving motivation, familiar which others might be able to identify with is producing work, which other than giving the value of. So you know, as, as a creator, you're always making stuff and you might be working hand in hand with another agency or another marketing group of some kind that don't have the creative expertise in house, but as simply in control of relationships with clients. So you go ahead and you do the work which is in generating massive value for the clients and for, for the, for the, the middleman in the middle of woman. So it was also about seeing some frustration in being in that position. The lack of power of call that being a powerless creative, um, you know, you need to know your value and you need to be able to define the value in purely financial terms or you'll always be stuck in that position of being squeezed by others. They want to, you know, we don't think you need one day to do this. We think you can do this in three hours. You know, that kind of thing. If you've ever felt that before though, the, he might be listening, you'll know that that isn't really, really annoying. Like someone telling you, yeah, you can do this until I'm, and then you produce something amazing for people and I make a lot of money off of it. And then you think, well, what's stopping me being the one to control the situation? Because I migHt be a little bit presumptuous here, but I feel personally on the marketing side, you can learn the systems and you can learn the mindset. You can learn the, the approach a lot quicker than you can learn some of the aesthetic skills that go into creative practice and we're making some of those things. Might take you a lifetime, you're never going to be where you want to be with you when you started, when you were six years old and you're still going all the time, all the time thinking, how can I get better at this creative side, but other parts you can learn very quickly on the job and said, the way I rationalized it was I've been doing my 25 year apprenticeship in creative filmmaking. That's, that's the hard bit done. I need to go and learn the part that others are doing and learn it quickly and then make use of it myself to be in control, to be in control of earning the full value of all my skills can bring me. Yeah. And so since you've joined, you joined a next level creators back basically february, like the very beginning of february. So you and I have been working together for four and a half months at this point. And so what has been, what have you done so far? Like what have you accomplished since we in that Four and a half months? What's changed for your business? Um, I think it's, it's a mindset shift first and foremost. I mean, there have been some practical changes which we'll get to, but first and foremost a mindset, um, knowing that it is now okay to say no to a lot of things and to focus on one thing. BecAuse before, when you're working on project to project and based on time you were thinking, how much can I do? Because you always worried that, you know, there weren't be a project next month, you're always on the back of your mind, so you need to just do as much as you can. Anything that comes, even if it's outside of your niche, someone wants you to do something, some ridiculous video project and you just think this athlete student, but I'll do it because, you know what? I want to make sure that I'm going to break six figures. I'm going to do that. Um, I guess the point that I'm trying to make is, I think you've shared with us the story about the. Oh, the quote from steve jobs, which talks about success. Entrepreneurial ism is about saying no to a thousand ideas or bad ideas or could have been ideas to focus on one thing and what next level creators provides you is that clarity to focus on one thing because you're no longer thinking about how many products can accumulate. How many people can I meet? How many pro bono jobs could I do with people in order to create relationships which you know takes time. You know you do a pro bono thing because you think you want to foster a relationship that can end up in three or four days of work if you're not careful because you wanting to make a good impression and you want to really impress that particular potential clients. All that stuff takes a lot of time to get work moving. Next level, create as clear the desk of that gives you a simple model which essentially means predictable recurring income on a monthly basis and then how many different clients can you add to the list, you know, and comfortably and not not just to scale for scaling sake, but to scale people successfully to scale it so that you make an impact for them and very quickly I was able to take away the stress of where am I going over the next 10 years, you know, and it was more just about what are the results that I can get as soon as I can get results, the next 10, 15 years is fine. It find that that is no longer a concern for me where things are going good. Then it's flipped around. Actually I had this explanation to someone yesterday. I used to worry about where things are going, but the short term was completely fine. Now it's the other way around. It's like I'm not worried where things are going. It's the short term that I am focused on like getting the results right now that's doing what's best for the client, right. If we can help the client right now today, improve their life in and make more money, get their message out there, get more clients and grow, then we're protecting our longterm interest. Like that's gonna be just fine. Right? Yeah. And it's funny because you mentioned that quote by steve jobs, steve jobs, he was talking about it. It's moRe important to get rid of the 1000 good ideas that you have and focus on the one that's like focus really is because there's always another bus that's going to combine another opportunity and when it comes down to it, like for you, figuring out that hey, if I can deliver results to people, they're going to keep paying me. I just have to get a couple clients and deliver those results. And so right now, how many clients have you been able to add since, since you joined for commercial campaigns? So yesterday we just signed on to the next level credits client and um, look, to be honest, for the first one or two months of being in the Program, I was barely even able to look at. I was so busy with the, with the old business model, couldn't even find the time to sit down and focus on it, started to get really frustrated about the old business wanting to just slap away all those old clients and just focus on this because I was starting to get on my nerves and soon as I did manage to make that time, uh, and get into it, there was initially a, a, a period of frustration of not understanding exactly whether it was the right fit for me, even though, you know, I think I knew in my heart that it was. But still there is always resistance if you want to do things the way you've always done them and to change your mindset is such a can be such a painful thing to do when you're stuck in one way. So after that little period of adjustment, um, then yeah, it was quite able to quickly bring in three clients and uh, yeah, very happy with that. So thanks for your contribution to that. Of course, vicky, for being a hard worker, that's all it takes, right? If you're willing to put in the work, you can change, but if you're not willing to do the work, if you're not willing to look in the mirror and say, is this the right thing for me? Right? Because what I'm doing right now, it's really not what I want to. Am I willing to get uncomfortable to work that outSide of my comfort zone to grow because that's what it takes. And you did it. And now so with these three clients, how much revenue? Because basically the way a commercial campaign works for anyone who's listening, who doesn't know, you have your video production fee where you're setting up the campaign, you're, you're producing the commercials, then you have your management fee. And that's what we're really after because we want, we want the relationship, the longterm relationship where the client, as they grow, they can spend more money with us. They're actually incentivized to do that, right? I spent 2000 with you, now they make 20,000 tomorrow they spend $4,000. They make 40,000, right? This is the relationship we want to build. So for you, uh, how much revenue has this brought in for your business on a monthly basis right now with these first three clients? So I mean there will be a setup aspect of a commercial campaign and the monthly retainer on the monthly retainer slide, I think we're at about 6,000 per month and that includes capacity to a variable aspect to that depending on how far we can scale. So 6,000 would be the minimum if we use a scale, some of these businesses at anywhere from five to one, 10 to one, that figure could easily double in a month. So we're happy that we've been able to negotiate that aspect of it. Yeah. So already the minimum is $72,000 a year. That's 6,000 over 12 months if in when you get them results, that exponentially grows like massively in fast, which is the key because that's what we're excited to do because that's a good thing too because think about it. Your incentive is in the right place, right? If I'm the business owner and I hire you, daryl, I want you to be incentivized to get me results and that's what we're doing. That's what, when will this win win relationships all about is making those connections and you grow. I grow, the whole pie gets bigger, right? I'm not taking a piece of the pie. The pie's getting bigger. That's awesome. And so for you, I mean on a personal side, like what is this? Because you mentioned to me before we started the interview, you know, you were just about to have a baby. Have you had your or did you have your baby and now one year old yesterday. Happy birthday. Thank you. Um, yeah, so she was born right when things really picked up on the, on the previous model. So, you know, of course it'll have to come at once. So I was working project to project, um, ours was scarce. I had a new baby, I had a partner who was a new mother, you know, battling away with that particular challenge. I wasn't able to support her as much as I wish I could have because it was always that fear of, okay, but if I'm here just at home with you all day, I'm not making money, you know? Um, and so there was always that challenge to get back out there and work, work, work. So I guess how things have changed for me is a sense of a sense of pace. Rarely. Um, I know that that doesn't, doesn't sound like, doesn't have bills and whistles attached to it. That's, but a sense of pace allows you to focus, you know, it takes your head out of the anxiety that I think comes with being in unstable or precarious income for certain people who don't have that assurance that whether I don't work out or whether I sky with work, who cares? because at the end of the day there is still not fortnightly wages that comes in. Whereas for the flow, us on the other side of the fence, we know we can never think that way. We need to keep going all the time and money. So there isn't, there's a price to pay for that no matter whether you're earning 10 grand a year or 200 k a year, that way there's always a price to pay for that and it's the fact that you are anxious somewhere deep down inside of you, anxious about what the future holds. So the piece that it will say sort of brings that knowing where the pathway lines, it just becomes then about implementing and taking action. Yeah. Well that's a great way to put it. I've never actually, I've never articulated that way but I think you're right because I mean I went through the same thing in my business, like I was running around with a chicken with its head cut off just doing anything for everybody, the generalist entrepreneur trying to make money. And then finally I found specialization, commercial campaigns and as soon as I got my first client results and they, they reached out and said, you actually, you generated us a ton of sales and I didn't even really know how to do the tracking at that point I was just like, I don't know what I'm doing. But it worked, like I figured it. That's when I just got to take a breath in a sigh of relief. I've got something here like know I'm going to be okay. That's really good. That makes a lot of sense. And it's fUnny that you mentioned like your, your bIg leap forward, your, your increase in revenue happened right as your baby was born. I don't think I know a single person who has had a child and not because it's an uncomfortable situation. The moment you have a kid, you're like, I'm uncomfortable. I've got to figure this out. I've got to do something. So it puts you into that state where you have to grow. You've got to develop into the person who's going to be able to take care of this individual because that's your responsibility. And everyone I know you'd, you'd get in that state. They always, they more committed than anytime before ever. And that's the best time to try to make a huge leap forward in your life. So, uh, that's awesome that it happened for you. Just that. Yeah. The challenge for other people is to not wait till it becomes that, that point in their life, you know, at that point where the baby's coming and you'd thinking, I've got to change things is doable for you have a kid. I agree with that 100 percent. It's an interesting because a lot of people, like if you were to tell someone right now, um, what, what, what would you do if you wanted to recommend next level creators to have someone who's doing the traditional project to project they're making 60 to $200,000 a year. They're looking to where's the reliability? What would you say to that person who's thinking about waiting? You're thinking about putting it off and saying that now's not the right time. I don't have the resources today. Like what would you say to that individual? Um, I'd say that what you're doing by going to the next level creators is creating a type of freedom for yourself. And it's not necessarily the freedom that you understand when you're on the other side of the fence. So I guess what I mean by that is when you're doing a creative practice, you'd think what you're doing is like, I'm being free, I'm going against the men I'm not working for, you know, for the dollar stuck in a job, I'm out there doing what do I want for myself. But that is just an, it's unfortunate. It's just another type of prison is in a way like whether you in a nine to five job with one bus or your freelancing with 100 buses, all, you know, or pushing you in different directions. You've swapped what I'm swapped one prison for another far as I'm concerned. So what I looked at and what I'm looking to get out of next level creators to create freedom for myself to pursue things on my terms. Once I can set up my business to run with a model which is scalable, which does give them a predictable income, which it does create room in time in my life to pursue other things. So I don't necessarily look at next level creators as a way of, um, getting everything that I want out of video production. Like in the sense that I don't look at it and think I need like what I what I want to do, like in shooting fashion and beauty and shooting beautiful skin that's not necessarily what will get results. I need to be focused on getting results for clients. Once I get those results and once that turns into predictable income, outside of that I will have freedom and time to pursue shooting a film just because I wanted. yeah, shooting some artistic documentary or whatever, just because I want to do. I happen to think that because it's for those when I'm creating that under the under a bit more of a a free situation. That work will also be better and will also lead to pursuing that pathway a little bit more strongly. So I kind of find that instead of trying to get all of your goals out of one thing, you've got to look at the dIfferent stages you take in your life as serving different purposes. And for me personally, next level grade is about getting set up with a predictable recurring income model which delivers results, which establishes my reputation. You can give me freedom to pursue the things I want to do elsewhere. Creatively. Yeah. That's as pro. And so with where you are now, dara, you know, you've, you've, you've, you've really, you've expanded your business, your horizons are starting to open. I mean, you're still, when you think about it, you're so young into this model, you're only two and a half months in with your first three clients, which is such an exciting time. And where do you see yourself in three years? How do you see thIs changing and shaping things for you over the next, uh, next couple years? Well, not really a longterm thinking guy. Like I said earlier, the brilliance of next level creators is that it's taken away that that's stress for me. I'm looking to, as I say, bring anywhere from 10 to 20 clients. um, I have a business partner now and so our ability to sell on is a little bit more stronger than it was when it was just me. So 10 to 20 clients clients that we can deliver really strong results for, um, have that predictable model, buy a house and get that stuff sorted out and make sure that we're set up so that next 30 or 40 years that there is some stability in our life. Um, and then from there, pursued the creative projects that I want to miss you. I'm not just necessarily shooting things because people are paying me to do it, but shooting them because I believe and in the ideas and the causes and the stories that they're out of town and to do that for you, the imperative of money. So it's funny, like I want to create the basis using money in order to create the freedom to do things when money, where money is not an issue. Yeah. Yeah. That's a good plan. That's a smart way to do it. That's how I've done it. And it'll get. It'll continue to pay you dividends by focusing on what's important for you and your family. Right now I'm getting there structures in place because like you said earlier, like for as a creative, when you trade that nine to five job to work for yourself, you're responsible either way, whether you have a job, you're responsible for your income, you're responsible for the value you're providing to that employer. You're valuable for like you're responsible for making their life better because that's what a job is. The same thing when you go and work with 100 clients in video production, you're responsible for the value you provide when you did it with commercial campaigns. It's just a simpler model where things are on your side too where you have more of a predictability, more reliable things, but you're still responsible all the time. I see creative say, I'm not, I don't want to be a numbers person. I'm like, you don't need to be a numbers person, but you need to be a responsible person. Okay. Those are. Those are the same thing. Right. That very much makes a lot of sense to me and hey, I, I'm really happy that you decided to join has been an honor to work with you so far. Um, I look forwArd to doing another interview in a couple of years to let people see where you've made It and uh, and what you're doing then, but I really appreciate you sharing your story and everything. Is there anything else you'd like to share with people about yourself, whether this is someone who's a in the fashion industry and, and interested in possibly working with you or anything about where people can contact you? Um, look, I, I would say just responding to what you just mentioned earlier about the creative side that they don't want to, they didn't want to do the numbers game and they don't want to stick to it being creative. Um, to someone like that, I would say yes, I've been there, have been in that head space and the best of all intentions and sticking to those certain ideals. Whether you want to hear this and not, that grinds you down eventually that will grind you down. Unless you can create the perfect conditions to express that creativity, um, there will come a point where you will be burned out from the resistance of trying to stick on, hang onto your creativity, on your terms, and you'll only work on this, you know, something that you want to do, et cetera, et cetera. You can't maintain that forever. It's a lot easier, you know, when you're 21 and you just think if the world, whatever I'm going to pursue, this is what I want to do, but time takes its toll after a little while and you've got to then work out how to make sure that your skills can plug in to the commercial system in a way to make money. I mean, that's, that's the reality for me. It doesn't mean that I don't pursue things on a purely creative crisis. I certainly don't. I still have those projects running. Um, but I guess I've wizened up on one aspect of the way I spend my time each way. Yeah. oh, uh, I appreciate that and appreciate you sharing that because that's a, that is a, in a sense, you just had a fatherly talk with a lot of people. That's the father and you're right there in a sense. You're like, hey, listen to anybody who's listening to this, our parent you've or five seconds gimme your year. Uh, I went through this. Yeah, I looked at that. Yeah. I hope I didn't sound condescending or patronizing. I guess just my personal experience. I've been there or applied as a professional musician. Um, I've done a lot of credit practice, have always done it off my own initiative. That's probably a lot of other people listening. they can identify with that. Um, the key is to not hang onto those ideals burnout after eight years and then go and get a job. That is not an option. you have to take the skills that you have and make sure that you sustainably use them in a way which means that you can prolong life band of doing creative work, not burn out with it. Because I've seen so many people who are young, they loved their artistic practice. And then now you can earn money doing this and then it comes to hard and oh, I go get a job and get serious. But you know, now more than ever, you can take creative skills and get serious with them and make them work for you long term. That's what I'm planning with next level creator, um, clients coming on board. Is that been dying to wait to hear from someone like me? I'm like, when I was just making video for them and they loved the video, the fact that I now come up to them, say I'll make the video and I'll try to guarantee the return on investment. TheY're like, great. Why have a bunch of parties all while have a middleman agency contracting adequate a while it does get this credit person who we really love their work to help drive returns for us. They liked thAt, that I think they see this sense, the common sense and that approach of cutting out one part of the chain and just going straight to the source and yeah, that's what they want. So it was out there. Just got to go out there and do it. For us, it's about slowing down on the selling side now and focusing on the results. Um, we still have sales meetings coming up in our thinking. God, we don't want to bring onto many more clients. We need to be focusing on delivering results to change. That is right. That's awesome. Awesome. I, I love it. Oh daryl, I really appreciate you sharing your story and genuinely wants to reach out to you. Where can they find you? So they can come to our website, which is the visual economy.com. And on the they can submit a form or they can find me on facebook just under my name, which you can flash up on the screen if you like, or link between wherever. Just track me down on facebook. Send me a direct message and I'll, uh, I'll chat with you then. Awesome. Becky, darryl, much appreciated. You're welcome. Thank you.