He spoke to Econsultancy about how he went from starting his first business at the age of 12 to founding a video agency that works with leading brands like Rolls Royce and Brewdog, why brands need to stop posting ‘TV-style’ video content, and his advice to marketers and creatives who are just starting out.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
Rupert Rixon: Perspective Pictures is a digital-first video agency, based in Islington, North London. We exist to make the most memorable, attention-worthy and innovative online videos for brands across the world. We’re a young team, driven by a passion for what we do.
What started as a YouTube channel I created at 16 years old has since grown into an experienced team creating digital ads, documentaries, crowdfunding films, and commercial promos across the UK, Europe, North America, Asia, and North Africa.
I launched the company more than three years ago and I’m so proud of where the team have managed to take the company in that time. To have gone from working out of a shed in my parents’ back garden to producing awesome content for world-leading brands like Rolls Royce, Deliveroo, Island Records, Huel, Time Out London, Brewdog and the RAF is incredible.
Brands need to stop posting TV-style video content online and expect people to engage with it. Instead, they need to start working to produce more narrative-driven, well optimised and creative videos. Stop over-producing, stop ignoring the platforms, and offer real value to their audience.
2019 has been an incredible year for us: we’re working with fashion retailers Topman and Coach, tech giant Deliveroo, a nutritional powdered food brand, Huel, skincare supremo BYBI, the fitness platform Hussle, and crypto company Luno to name only a few.
It was a lot of fun promoting Deliveroo’s educational programme, which celebrates a computer science course on offer to the company’s riders and drivers. We also brought Huel’s company culture to life with an online series called ‘Breakfast Battles’, which was cool.
Topman required two lookbook and style videos to promote its new line of suits, which included a quickfire interview with award-winning musician Sam Fender. All of which we shot in a single day – the content has achieved nearly half a million views to date.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
Rupert Rixon: I’m the founder of Perspective Pictures and I don’t report into anybody directly. However, I respect and listen to the needs of all our stakeholders whether that be clients or colleagues. I take guidance from my team when we’re on shoots together as well as when we look at wider aspects of the business day to day; essentially, I like to lead the team and I understand that to be an effective leader, it is important to listen.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Rupert Rixon: I think that as a founder and a business leader, you need to be able to pitch in and contribute constructively across all areas of the business. This means I find myself trying to understand a little bit of every aspect of the business. It’s a role where you end up being involved in lots of different discussions and having to make lots of different decisions.
When you start a business it’s a very steep learning curve, but as you grow, you have to bring in individuals with specialist skillsets to manage specific areas of the business. This means letting go and putting your trust in people. Once you do this, you then need to evaluate what your strengths are and where you can add value, and give your team the space to effectively carry out their work.
Tell us about a typical working day…
Rupert Rixon: There isn’t one, which is half the fun. I could be travelling, on set, in the office, going to meetings with clients, partners or suppliers. I’ve had days when I’ve worked nine to five; other days I’ll work 10 ’til eight and I’ve even done the odd 36-hour stint in the past to turn around client work when their deadlines have changed.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
Rupert Rixon: I’ve been lucky enough that video production was a passion of mine before I launched Perspective Pictures. With this in mind, I pretty much love everything about my job! I have a team of incredible people around me, many of whom I’ve known for years.
We had no money when I started the business in 2016. We had to tread carefully with every decision we made – and that was incredibly challenging. Anything that cost us money, we couldn’t do. We relied a lot on networking and attended loads of events where we could meet people and start spreading the word about what we were up to. We built the website ourselves, made promotional videos and put them up on YouTube; we were doing everything we could to promote the business without spending a penny.
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
Rupert Rixon: There is a real mix of tangible and intangible metrics for us. Intangible elements might include how interesting or innovative we feel what we’re creating is, or how challenged the team is by the projects we’re taking on. More tangible KPIs might be the success of our marketing campaigns, client campaigns, revenue and profit.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
Rupert Rixon: The Google suite is a wicked tool, as is the Adobe Creative Suite. I’d say 90% of our online time is spent within one of those two. Offline, we shoot on RED cinema cameras which are an absolute DREAM to work with. Intuitive to use and provide us with a very high-quality output.
How did you end up founding Perspective Pictures, and where might you go from here?
Rupert Rixon: At around 12 years old, I hurt my back and had a few days off school. In this time, I ended up getting really into the game Runescape and started to sell guides for it online. This was my first introduction to business and I was hooked.
A few years later, I discovered Nerf guns and spotted an opportunity to rent them out for kids’ birthday parties. My mum and I bought a load of these toy guns and to spread the word about the business, I started a YouTube channel and would make live-action videos of them to drive traffic to our website. This content-led approach to marketing the business developed steadily over time and things began to take off. After publishing the videos to YouTube they went viral, with some getting millions of views.
It was this that made me realise my passion for making films and also how lucrative video production could be as a business. I then focussed my attention on making all kinds of movies, one of which involved myself and a couple of friends longboarding across the US – from LA to New York – for two and a half months. I then took on another documentary project where myself and a friend hitchhiked from the north of India to the south of the country in just three weeks. It was the day after I got back from this trip that I decided to follow my passion for video production full-time and launched Perspective Pictures.
Which film or video has most impressed you lately?
Rupert Rixon: The Great Hack on Netflix was awesome! I’ve also been spending a lot more time on the emerging social platform TikTok recently – there’s a lot of really good content on there. Many of the memes that are published take me back to the early days of Vine.
What advice would you give a marketer or creative starting out?
Rupert Rixon: It’s important to choose a specific target market and focus on providing value to businesses or consumers in that particular area. For example, if you’re a video production company and you make it your business to produce content for the telecoms industry, you can build a strong foundation with a reputable client base and from there expand rather than trying to cover all areas at once.
Stories are impactful, so you have to make sure the narrative behind what it is you’re doing is clear, concise and accessible to those people you’re telling it to. Most of the time when you’re pitching for work – whether it be at a networking event or in another setting – you won’t necessarily be pitching directly to the decision-maker, so those representatives you’re pitching to need to be drawn in by your story and be able to relay the narrative to those above them.
In my view there isn’t any particular ‘key to success’, but ultimately, if you find something you enjoy which is also useful to wider society and work hard to become good at it and push yourself out there, then sooner or later people will pay you for it. For me, that’s always been my metric for success. If I get to enjoy my work at least 80% of the time, work with people I like and produce products that I’m proud of, then I feel like I’m on a pathway to being successful.