Video Production Agency

Your Story

Colin Marshall & Braeden Fairbridge 

Colin Marshall & Braeden Fairbridge

Location: Zoom
Date: 5/1/2020
Profession: Co-founders, Your Story Agency

Q & A

Tell us about yourselves. Who are you and what do you do for a living?

Our names are Colin Marshall and Braeden Fairbridge, and we’re the co-founders of Your Story Agency.

Your Story Agency is a video production company and we specialize in helping businesses improve their marketing and communications with video.

We provide them with results-driven video and strategy to help them clarify their message and connect with their customers on a deeper level.

What are each of your backstories and what led you to video production?

Colin: I’ve been shooting photos since I was five, so it’s been a journey.

I grew up as a kid that played hockey and sports, and I used to go camping with my parents so I just fell in love with nature.

My dad was a photographer so naturally I got into it and I thought it was the coolest thing.

I got started on my Pentax camera and became in love with it. I bought my first video camera when I was 13.

I started recording BMX and skateboarding videos with my friends.

In High School, they told me not to do it, they said there was no work being a photographer and they told me to take a trade instead. 

So, I took a plumbing job and instantly hated it. That didn’t work out. I went to work at a car dealership, so I could have time to take pictures of the people there and cars and things. It basically cut my wage in half, but I was 10x happier and it was the best transition ever. 

I also had a little wedding photography company with family portraits and it was going really well until around 23 when I lost two friends back to back and that set everything back. 

From 23 to maybe 26 there was a lot of depression and it was a dark time, but the one thing that helped me was my camera. 

I was still shooting, but the business was failing, so I had to go up North to Alberta to work as an electrician. I was working in -30, -40 degree weather everyday and I felt like I was literally wasting my life away up there.  

One day, I decided to just quit and commit to making it with my passion. It’s been full video production and photos since then. I met Braeden in 2017, and it just took off from there after we connected. 

Braeden: I think a unique thing about our backgrounds is we both actually come from construction trades.

So both of us, out of high school went into the trades program and figured out that this is the exact opposite of what we wanted to do with our lives.

We were super unfulfilled, went down that path and just funneled that energy into Your Story Agency. 

Out of high school, I didn’t really have a direction of exactly what I wanted to do. I went into the construction trades program like most kids to make money.

I was working in a high rise tower as a slab electrician. I would stand on the slab and watch concrete being poured for 10 hours a day.

It got to a really dark place. There’s a negative vibe that goes on when you work in construction. It took a toll on me.

I started listening to audiobooks and my first one was the Values Factor by John Demartini. I remember placing my phone in my hardhat while I was out on the slab and trying to get as many books in as I could.

I started to ask myself questions that I never had before, started to dig into my childhood and uncover a lot of truths about why I was the way I was.

I started shooting photos with one of my good buddies I met in electrical school, I remember the first time I shot on my new Canon Rebel up in Whistler.

I don’t know what it was but it just felt right, I had some gut feeling that I hadn’t ever gotten with anything else.

The Values Factor being the first personal development book I ever read, really opened up my eyes to what I was passionate about and what made me feel good. I tied as many of those values to photography and naturally into video as well.

I’ve always had a good work ethic, so I funneled all my energy into learning how to shoot, take photos, and eventually into learning how to shoot and edit video. 

I was active on Instagram posting photos at the time, and I remember finding Colin’s Instagram page, which is where I originally met Colin a few years ago.

I saw he was living this kind of more free lifestyle after he quit his construction job and it caught my attention since he was crazy talented with his photo and video work,

I DM’d him and we went for a crazy hike in Vancouver. (Colin chuckling in the background “Yeah it was nuts”). It was a crazy adventure and then we just started hanging out from there and started shooting together.

We had some mutual interests in forex trading and both on the same personal development trajectory. It just worked out that we connected at the right time to start shooting together and start a business together.

I think such a similar upbringing and background in construction we both knew it was a really unique opportunity for us to start something.

I remember just buying all my camera gear on my credit card, I was already in debt and had never been the type of person to save money.

There was no “financial security” or logical reason for me to quit my job or buy all of that gear but I did it purely based on the feeling in my gut and that was enough.

I just took my two weeks vacation and paid for my camera gear. I had a draft resignation email saved on my phone to send to my boss, we had just started shooting and I was going to send it in like 3 or 4 months.

We were on the way to one of our very first shoots and I accidentally hit the send button, I had the volume turned up really loud and I just heard the email WHOOSH sound.

I was like, “Well, I just quit my job”, and that was the start of this crazy journey. In my mind there was no other option but to make what we were doing a success. It’s funny how it all plays out.

Braeden Fairbridge

Describe the process of launching your video agency. What was it like?

Braeden: I think for me, it was mostly a feeling. I just had so much energy that I fueled into it. I had this vision for what it would be.

I don’t think Colin or I had a step-by-step plan of what it was going to look like. I tied the business to so many other aspects of my life and personal journey that it just had so much momentum right from the start.

Colin had already been shooting for 10+ years doing weddings and portraits, so I think we just knew it was the right time to create something. 

We knew that real estate was obviously the first stepping stone for doing that since Colin already has a few connections and I had started helping out on some shoots, and it’s developed obviously a lot more since then.

I think at the beginning it was just a feeling, a lot of energy and just us knowing it was the right decision.

Colin: It’s just crazy. I had a couple websites, but never video production, so it was a whole new business to me. I was just doing referral based web themes, had a website portfolio, and I used a lot of word of mouth.

I think the best thing we did was actually just starting. We needed a website and clients, and that’s all we really thought about.

We did our partnership and all the legal stuff, but we just got clients and started calling people.

I was cold calling for the first time in my life and we were breaking through some serious barriers there.

We didn’t think about everything and what we had to get perfect, we just started shooting and getting that done. As we would go, we’d reach a hurdle and then figure it out on the fly.

We were so passionate and believed in what we did so much. We knew we could seriously help these people that we reached out to with what we had to offer..

At first it was just picking up the phone and DM’ing people on Instagram. Most of our clients were from direct contact, we were cold calling every day 20 or 30 people.

We started sending messages on Instagram and using BombBomb to send videos of us pitching people, seeing how we can help them, and seeing what their goals were.

The retention and what you get back from people when you seriously dig into their websites and make a personalized effort is amazing.

Braeden: Just like Colin said, I think people just kind of pick up on your energy.

When we were first starting, we had so much passion, and still do, but I feel like that bridged the gap on our lack of knowledge and sales ability.

It was the first time we’ve started to run an actual business like that, so our energy and passion kept us going in regards to getting clients and starting everything off.

Colin: We didn’t even take sales training until a few years into the business. The first book I read was Jordan Belofort’s Way of the Wolf. It’s a constant learning experience everyday.

Through starting your video agency, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Colin: For me, I think it’s the level of impact that you can create in someone’s life. Especially right now with COVID, you realize how important it is.

It’s unbelievably rewarding to do work that you know helps someone. That’s why I love this business.

Realizing the impact and what we’re creating in these people’s lives was a big mind shift for me. That’s when sales and clients became more like family.

We create meaningful relationships with every client we work with. Seeing the process from discovery call to final product is such an amazing experience.

Braeden: It was a big transformation in that regard. In the beginning, it was how can we make money? How can we start this successful business? 

You have to push past that discomfort you have at the beginning of not wanting to pick up the phone for a cold call.

That cold call turns into an initial conversation, that initial conversation turns into a sales meeting, that meeting turns into a really cool project, and that cool project turns into lifelong friendships. Which it has.

I'm eternally grateful for following my heart and developing these amazing relationships with our clients.

It’s really just about pushing past that discomfort of starting. Once you get momentum going it gets easier to overcome the anxiety and self doubt.

At the end of the day you can have that testimonial or that client that comes to you after you’ve worked together and says “you literally changed my life and the way I run my business”.

Those first couple comments and testimonials were really a big shift for me, when you really step past that discomfort and selfish mentality you can really focus on providing value. 

How do you differentiate yourselves from other video agencies?

Colin: I think what really makes us different is the strategy behind the videos.

We determine exactly who our clients target customers are, and we create a buyer's journey and empathy map.

We don’t want to make a video just to make a video, we want to have a clear plan on what to make and what sequence of videos to make.

It’s a whole process really, but we have so much passion and genuinely care that we overdeliver every time.

Braeden: Just like with a lot of filmmakers and agencies, there’s a creative side, but then there’s also the business side. I think we’ve put a lot of energy into both.

We have the creative side, but we also focus on coming into these businesses and really helping them figure out how they’re going to connect with their customers. 

It’s like Colin said, we’re not just coming in to shoot a video for you. We’re figuring out exactly what the video is meant to do, what emotion it’s going to evoke, and how we can implement all these strategies to help them get results from it.

We never really focus on having a mass influx of clients, but instead like to keep it as a small niche. For instance, we’ve been working with Franklin Enclosures for the past year and we’ve probably shot 10 different videos for them.

We like to keep it small, and keep it niche with the amount of clients that we have.

To what would you attribute the success of your video agency thus far?

Braeden: Persistence and consistency. We could’ve given up a hundred times, there were situations we were in where any logical person would’ve just stopped. 

Colin: Having that clear vision, and figuring that picture out of where you’re going.

I used to think, “Oh when I have X or Y I’ll be happy”, but I realized there’s never going to be that part where it’s comfortable. 

I think sometimes it would’ve been easier to listen to the noise, melt into society and just do the normal. But I love coming to the challenges that come up now.

I approach them with joy because I love what I do. Every time I get to experience these things, I become a better person.

Personally, I think meditation has been a massive change of direction for me. I’ve really gotten into it the past year and a half and it's taught me to handle situations better.

Like Braeden said, there’s been so many hurdles, but every time you deal with it, you’re a different person and those problems aren’t as hard to deal with anymore.

What’s your advice to others who are pursuing their passions, but have hit a massive wall and are about to turn the other way?

Braeden: I think it all comes back to starting internally. When we started this it was What do we want to do with our lives?

You can make money doing anything, but it’s what fulfills you, what makes you get up in the morning. 

I think at any point in time you have the choice to look at the negative things or you can look at what you’re doing and find the positive things.

Even for us right now, it would be so easy to flip the switch and say we’re not there yet but you just have to be grateful for where you are right now. Have that vision to keep improving and keep growing.

Colin: I literally have 3 cameras tattooed on me. I go shoot videos on my day off, there’s nothing that would stop me from doing this.

Like Braeden said, you can make money doing anything, but not many people think they can make money doing the things they love. You have to believe you can do this.

When I was 18, I was working at a car dealership, shooting photos of cars and family portraits. People can see we have clients, and they’re so amazing, but it didn’t just all come overnight.

I think that’s what people need to realize, you have to have a deep love for what you do.

You’re going to experience things that normal people don't get to, so enjoy the journey and challenges that come along with it because it never ends.

What's an accomplishment you’re proud of and why?

Braeden: One thing I think we can both agree on is a pretty cool moment when we had one of our videos play on the Jumbotron at the hockey arena in Vancouver. We did a Canuck’s commercial with their mascot and it was kind of a How did we get here? moment. We grew up going to Canuck’s games and watching ads on the Jumbotron, so it was a pretty crazy moment for us to watch our commercial being played up there.

Colin: How we got that client is pretty crazy.  I had a friend who was having a wedding show in Oxford at the Park Hotel, so we did a video there and it was a flow moment.

I shot it, drove home, and edited the video within like 30 minutes. He was still packing up when I sent it to him. The hotel saw it and emailed me a week later and they wanted to do 2 videos for the hotel.

We worked with them and then that led to the main Marriott reach out and we did a big conference with them. That was the best moment though, seeing our video on there. 

Every client and project we do feels like the greatest accomplishment. I love sending them their files, release the videos and watching the response. I just love it.

What's the biggest challenge you've had to overcome and how did you go about it?

Colin: For me it was my own self doubt. At an early age, I was taking cool photos and people kept telling me they like them, but I could never see it.

I think getting over my own self doubt was when I could finally see and find that clarity. 

Meditation was a big help. It was torture to start. It wasn’t fun or easy. People think meditation is peaceful, but for me it was claustrophobic, I couldn't even sit there for a minute.

Now, I’ve jumped into hour long meditations, and I told myself I’m just gonna sit through this until I change and it’s been a year of that. 

Braeden: I would have to agree, it’s not some external challenge, it’s definitely a mindset.

Colin and I are completely different people than we were 3 years ago, it's night and day, what we were doing and talking about on a daily basis. 

I think learning to love yourself is a big thing. My childhood was super negative. Not that I had a bad upbringing or bad parents, the exact opposite actually.

I just think like many kids growing up you really get inside your own head and build walls up where they don’t need to be.

I battled for years with crippling social anxiety. I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror some days, I let it hold me back for so long.

It was a really rough road for a bit there. So, I think my biggest challenge was learning to love myself and just being grateful for where I was at.

How are you guys doing today? How are you feeling about Your Story Agency and what’s your ultimate goal?

Braeden: Well I think the vision has evolved over time. When we first started, we wanted to help people but we weren’t exactly sure the medium that was going to be.

We knew we wanted to do it through filmmaking, but there are a million different avenues we could go down in that regard.

I think now more than ever, we’re clear  as we’ve ever been on what we want to do. I think this has been attributed to by COVID, and obviously it can be seen as a negative thing, but it's also a blessing for us.

We’ve been able to pour our energy into a new project which we're really excited about and do what we’ve been doing for the past couple of years but on another level by helping businesses find their message and really get that message out there.

Colin: We’re basically shifting things online to help people on a larger scale.

Right now we’re creating a course that’s going to help businesses clarify their message and unlock the full power that video has in their businesses.

A lot of cool strategies and things we’ve learned and had success with that were excited to share.

Right now people are realizing more than ever they have to pivot and push more online content and really get their presence up. We want to set people up for the future and really help them in that way.

Software & Tools:

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

BombBomb - We’ve been using this one pretty much from the beginning. It’s a video emailing software and it’s pretty much how we built our business. There were no paid ads, it was all outreach and referral, and we started that cold outreach with video emails. 

BombBomb links directly to your gmail account, you can press record in your email software and send a personalized message. We started with a whiteboard and the person’s name on it with a smiley face and we’d say “Hey, check out this video when you have a sec. 

We checked out your website.” kind of a thing. We found businesses that we actually thought were cool, had really good messages and we would just spend all day looking at Google searching. We’d go through and one by one we’d send video emails. 

PandaDoc - We’ve recently started using PandaDoc for invoicing. Our system for invoicing and onboarding delays were mayhem before figuring it out, so this has been really helpful. We use it for proposal building and invoices. We have a template that we can customize based on the client and it’s something they can sign directly online.

Zapier - We have our whole business laid out on Zapier to send email reminders, text reminders when there’s a discovery call booked in, and even linked it to our Quickbooks to generate invoices.

Pipedrive - We’ve connected Calendly and a Google spreadsheet to this. It’s great because when someone books a discovery call, it goes onto Calendly which links right to your gmail and calendar and asks like 10 different questions so we’re not going into a discovery call blind. 

We’ve really gone from no system at all to having everything automated, and constantly working on improving it.

Envato Elements - They’re the go to website for graphics or templates. From royalty free music, photoshop templates, stock video, fonts, website templates - Envato has added a lot of value to our marketing material as well as the projects that we work on with clients. It’s been great.

Google G-Suite - The google suite is a go-to for us for note taking, building out online tools for our clients, and just overall keeping things in one place. We use Google Sheets to design cool functional tools that businesses can use to find their “why”, Google Docs for scripting and on-going notes for our projects and sharing with clients, and actually have our whole Pandadoc proposal built out on Google Slides which we export as a PDF from there. It’s a really powerful and most important free tool.

Adobe Premiere Pro - Obviously a go-to for a production company. We’ve always used Premiere to edit, we’ve tried other platforms like Final Cut but it just doesn’t stack up with the features we were using and the whole Adobe suite just links together so great.

Motion Array - Motion Array is a similar service to Envato Elements but the one reason we have both is because it contains animated After Effects templates. These are essentially editable moving motion graphics that Envato doesn’t have. They have extremely high quality templates that you can download for your videos, social media stories and posts, and a wide variety of resources that have helped us tremendously.

What tools, other than software, do you use for your business?

Sony FS5 - This is our primary camera that we shoot on now, generally for all of the interviews we conduct. We named her Sally and she has her own Instagram page.

Ronin SC’s - These gimbals are one of the best things that happened to our business gear wise. The build quality is awesome and we take these to absolutely every shoot we're on. Great with our A7SII’s.

Sony A7SII - We’ve been able to produce some pretty big projects with pretty basic and affordable DSLR’s. We’ve had these right from the beginning and still shoot on them to this day. Great in low light, and overall just great cameras.

Resources:

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources you’ve learned from along your journey? Why?

Colin: I listen to more audiobooks, and I think it’s really important who you listen to. I like to keep it small. A lot of people write books and there are so many mentors out there so I think it’s important to have your own opinion and not just digest 40 different people’s opinions. I love reading and learning new things, but I really research who I listen to.

Jordan Belfort’s Way of the Wolf - This book was really helpful for us when we first started sending out proposals and booking in sales meetings. It helped us define a process so that we could close deals and get to helping out clients.

John Demartini’s Value Factor- I actually listened to this as an audio book. This is the reason I found out what I wanted to do, or solidified it really, but you can make money doing anything as long as you have your values aligned and you figure out what’s important to you. 

Joe Dispenza’s Becoming Supernatural - He breaks it down into a scientific form and it’s digestible. It’s super interesting learning about why you breathe like that, and what happens on a cellular level to your body. When I figured that out I became addicted and started learning about quantum physics and meditating became like programming

Braeden: I think it’s a good balance between the business side and personal development books, and even some on more of the spiritual side. 

Eckhart Tolle - The Power of Now: This is a really big one when I first started getting into meditation. This was definitely the first time thatI sat down, recognized that my thoughts aren’t me, that I’m the awareness behind my thoughts.

That was a big eye opener for me. It led me down this spiritual journey that just uncovered a lot about life and what were all here for. Helped a lot in defining my purpose.

This is when everything started to escalate and scale up with our business and the vision became a lot clearer. Some other good books in line with this are from Gregg Braden.

Napoleon Hill’s - The Law of Success: This is one that I’ve been reading over and over again, there’s a lot of information in there.

It’s one of the original copies from the 1925 manuscript lessons before it was edited and some of the information was taken out. One of my good friends gifted it to me which I am so grateful for, cause it’s really changed my life.

What courses have you taken that have been beneficial to you?

Braeden-    “Your Wish is Your Command” is a program I’ve listened to probably a thousand times. Like Colin said, I focus on who I listen to so I picked one mentor. Even the books I read and some that are on my shelf are recommendations from that audio that tie all the same information together.

YouTube - This has been great for learning how to film and just about any other skillset we’ve developed along the way.

Colin- I think the only course we took was the online course by Jordan Belfort - Straight Line Persuasion. We also have our friends Marcus and Nick with Video Warrior, which is a video selling program for videographers that teaches people to sell their videos and provide more value to their clients. That was a great course and a big step for us.

Where would you steer someone looking to learn more about business and video production?

Colin: You have to have the persistence to not give up, because it gets tough.

I also think you should have that deep desire, but figure out what you want to give to clients, and the impact you want to make with the videos you create. 

It’s growing at an exponential rate and there’s no shortage of work. It’s a huge industry, especially if you come at it with the care for your clients and not just trying to grow and make cool videos. 

Get a good vision of what you want to do and who you want to help and then the rest will just flow into place.

Braeden: I think for the business side of it, the first thing that comes to mind is to look internally, not external.

Before you start searching a million different business ideas, dig into some personal development and figure out what lights you up because then it doesn’t matter what you do.

If you have that guiding the whole journey then all you have to do is keep going and set a vision for yourself. 

For video production, if you’re learning, don't get caught up in the gear. Like Colin said, focus instead on figuring out how you can provide value to your clients. 

Start with contacting people and reaching out to them. People get caught up in having a website and all their social media pages up with consistent content, but they have no experience and haven’t taken the action steps yet.

It’s easy to get caught up in the comfort of having all the other stuff and expensive cameras.

What are you doing to continue learning and growing in your business as well as personally?

Braeden: I think Colin mentioned this, but we’re kind of shifting everything online which is something we’ve always wanted to do, but it’s allowing us to reach a lot more people.

I think the main thing is just remaining open to change and not getting too comfortable in what we were doing before, but instead allowing new ways of approaching it to surface.

Colin: Yeah, it’s always remaining teachable. I could’ve said I’ve been shooting for X years and I know how to do that, but I’ve learned every single shoot.

Like Braeden said, you don’t start off with all the gear. You start off with a camera and a lav mic, then you upgrade the audio to a Boom mic and then you have to learn external audio and so on.

I think it’s important to always remain neutral and always try to progress and not get caught up on how that’s going to make it better. You can get away with creating stuff with IKEA lights, but it’s having the knowledge behind it.

Final Question:

What advice would you like to share with people based on your experiences?

Colin: I’d say give yourself permission to do it. My parents were supportive of me just taking the jump, but they also said, “You should get your apprenticeship as a backup plan - a Plan B.” 

I didn’t want a Plan B. Give yourself permission to just go for it and not be so hard on yourself. I think people are so judgemental everyday of their daily actions, especially for those who are high performers. 

You’re not going to be on all the time. You have to learn to love yourself and take time for yourself, reflect, and not be so hard on yourself day to day.

I used to think, “Oh when I’m 30, I’ll have this car”  and that may work for some people, but you have to find out what’s really driving you. It’s not the car.

Braeden: I would probably just say to myself to be more present. It’s easy to look back and say I was so unhappy, depressed and this, this and this. 

What I’ve realized on this journey is that it was all just a mindset. Even on that slab as an electrician in that negative headspace, I could’ve just been right there in the moment and been happy where I was.

I spent 10 years of my life not being present and I’m grateful to have found that now, because I know that that’s the key that I have for the rest of my life.


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