Conversations with Ephraim Long

Jolie Fong and Claudia van Huizen

Ephraim is the Managing Director of Cam Rolling Studio LLP, a video production company. His portfolio includes numerous corporate and government projects. He is no stranger to the challenges of working in the media industry Ephraim started the company in 2012 when he was just 18. We spoke with Ephraim to hear his story, and gain insights from his experiences.

My company has done videos for NGOs, Charity Organisations, the Government, the Private Sector (including Multinational Companies). These videos were used during exhibitions or during outreach events. Most recently, we have done some projects for the National Day Parade 2019.

Demanding, physically and mentally – physically because of long hours, and mentally because there’s a lot of brainstorming involved. Creative, because to get ideas, you need to tap into your creativity as well. Lastly, Communication, because you need to communicate with your clients. From easy-going to demanding, there are all sorts of clients you have to learn to deal with.

As I am self-employed, I don’t usually have a fixed 8-5 schedule. Sometimes we might event have shoots that run throughout the night. So it’s Irregular hours I would say. Most of the time we are doing post-production work in our office. 

We usually have a few phases of production that I can elaborate on for context. First, pre-production when we discuss budgeting and cast actors or talents. Second, the production phase, when we do the filming of the video. The last phase is post-production, which is the most tedious because we have to piece the videos together and deliver it according to the client’s preferences. Usually, this last post-production phase is the most time consuming. There needs to be a high level of communication between our clients and us in terms of what they want in their final product. 

As the Director, you have to know what’s going on in your company. In some sense, you need to know a bit of everything. In case there’s a shortage of manpower, you will be able to manage the work.

Not really. For this industry, I don’t need that many full-time staff. Usually, if we need extra help, I have a pool of media-trained friends that I can get onboard. We can also engage freelancers or other colleagues to collaborate with us. As long as they have the relevant skills, it’s usually not difficult to work with them.

I knew that I wasn’t very interested in academic studies, so I looked into doing more hands-on work. I joined the photography CCA in secondary school, and liked the idea of being able to tell stories through visuals. 

I started my own company because I’m someone who doesn’t like to work under others. I like to have my own freedom. I also had support from my family, which was very important to me. In the end, I’m very grateful that I got the opportunity to start my own business.

When you’re young, people don’t really take you seriously. How you portray yourself to build trust with others is very important. When I first started out, there were a lot of challenges, like having to do pro bono work sometimes, in exchange for exposure. As a start-up, it was quite tough trying to get our first deal/our first project.

There were many times I felt like giving up, but what kept me going was encouragement from others. I opened up to my family and people who related and believed in what I was doing. But ultimately, overcoming these challenges boil down to your own resolve.

What are the challenges you are facing now?

We’re so technologically advanced nowadays that virtually everyone is tech-savvy, and anyone can do videography work. Some companies that work with lower budgets are more willing to hire students and freelancers. The market is getting more competitive, and it’s getting more challenging for a production house like us to get new clients. It’s just part of the business.

Our client profile is quite extensive, so we differentiate ourselves by working with companies that know us through recommendations from our existing clients.

The journey as a business owner and creative person is never-ending, so I think I still have a lot to learn. I would like to build a name for myself, maybe start doing feature films and venturing overseas.

Concurrently, I have a business in the Automotive Industry for 2 years now and would love to explore many other various forms of industries like F&B etc. 

Besides my day jobs, I see myself volunteering more and giving back to society as much as I can.

Each industry has its own dark side. If you’re in the media industry, whatever you see on screen might not be the same in reality. If you’re dealing with a prominent personality, for instance, you’re expected to keep quiet about anything that might ruin their image.

Also, don’t take what you are shown at face value. Whatever that is filmed can be altered and fixed to give a different message.

For just about any job, when you first start out, you need to be hardworking. You need to learn to accept criticism in order to improve. You need to respect your seniors and willing to learn all the skills they impart to you. 

For my industry in particular, whatever you produce or create can affect people, so we have to use this power responsibly. As content creators, we have to be responsible for what we do because it can have consequences.

Art is a very subjective thing. Videography itself is an art. Sometimes when you shoot a video, people can’t appreciate it. Sometimes, you might disagree with clients on the final product. You need to learn to communicate with them and value add the video so both parties can support each other. Sometimes, you might be taken advantage of, but when that happens, you should keep going because you can’t satisfy everyone. In life, we have to give and take sometimes. You just need to believe in yourself and continue in doing what you do.

If you like to tell stories through images and visuals, then you may want to consider this line of work. But you should consider your options carefully and try not to waste time on studying something that you might not want to do in the future. Interests in certain hobbies might not stay forever too. Ultimately, just follow your heart.