The path to growing your video production business is different for everyone, but there’s still some timeless advice out there from videographers who have seen it all.

We chatted with Dave Mossop, director and one of the founders of Canadian-based production company Sherpas Cinema, about how they’ve been able to scale their business to such great heights.

Beginners and burgeoning video production businesses, use Sherpas Cinemas’ journey as your guidebook as you take on bigger clients, tackle more ambitious projects, and grow as a videographer. Here are Mossop’s top tips for building a network and developing your unique POV as a production company.

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Tip 1: Start your career from a place of free creativity

When starting off in film and video, it’s important to begin your journey from a place of passion and creativity — not profit. Motivation and inspiration comes from many sources, but the majority of the film industry are driven by the art of filmmaking.

For Mossop and Sherpas Cinema, their journey has been one fueled by free creativity. Their original ski films helped them to learn their basic craft and storytelling skills which they’ve been able to apply to bigger and more diverse projects as they’ve grown.

“Growing up in Calgary and skiing at Lake Louise, we dreamed of spending every day in the mountains. We started making ski films for friends and managed to convince some initial small sponsors to fund us. We just kind of grew organically after that as we ventured into bigger projects, global campaigns and even iMax and giant screen work.”
Dave Mossop

Not every video professional or small company might start out like Mossop and the Sherpas team, but connecting with a sense of freedom and possibility will help you shape the way you approach projects for the rest of your career.

Tip 2: Decide on the right sized team (powered by the right people)

The right size for any small video production business is going to be unique to the team and the individuals. There’s no right size in this industry. And while the urge might be to always be growing your team size, that’s not always the case.

“Over the years we’ve scaled up, but while we’ve grown bigger at times, we’ve found that we’re best at our current size. Since our focus is project-by-project, our sweet spot has been to stay with our core staff then to bring in extra help as we ramp up for bigger projects.”
Dave Mossop

It takes time to strike that right balance. Your internal team must find its equilibrium with the amount of full-time staff members and freelance contributors. Sharpas includes its three founders who serve as directors and DPs along with a small number of full-time assistants who double as filmmakers and collaborators as well.

When starting off with your own production companies and partnerships, Mossop recommends taking things project- -by-project at first. When you do find yourself bringing in extra help consistently you can explore the options of adding full-time members. However, this will of course be subject to change depending on your team needs as well as what your members are interested in and looking for.

Tip 3: Develop your unique voice

As you do grow your team though, it’s helpful to think of the process as a collaborative act. The film and video world is built-up of very specific talents and skill sets which need to work together in concert. It takes a strong vision and leadership to keep everything and everyone together, but at the same time you do need to let your team’s voice develop on its own.

“For us, we really didn’t try to be like the mainstream video companies. We’ve been lucky to grow and collaborate with other artists who’ve helped us to develop our style and voice. Filmmaking is inherently a team sport, so the fun part is making friends and just creating something as a group.”
Dave Mossop

Their approach has always been to develop and hone their own unique voice. Part of that process includes building a team that you can rely on, not only to produce, but also inform your cinematic decisions.

This can be a tricky process. It takes a great deal of vision and foresight to guide a project through from start to finish.

However, if you feel good about your own strengths and abilities, it’s a sign of confidence to take other voices into consideration as you develop your own style.

Tip 4: Radically expand your network

It’s never been a better time to look for talented creatives. In a digital-first world, it’s much easier to make connections and scope out possible collaborators. Expanding your network can be as simple as pressing “send” on a LinkedIn message or Instagram DM.

“It’s such a globally connected world at this point! Vimeo has actually been a great resource for us for finding new talent and building our network. We just look at the credits of some of our favorite movies and videos to see who’s doing such great work then we look them up and send them a message.”
Dave Mossop

Mossop recommends you stay close to your roots. Regularly connect with the friends and collaborators in your network and shared circles. You’ll likely find talented creators at every turn.

Tip 5: Always be climbing

Sherpas Cinema’s journey may look, to the outsider, like a natural, easy ascent to success. But growth as a video production company doesn’t have to be a constant battle to the top. Rather, you can pick and choose the projects that’ll take you higher.

Mossop’s biggest advice is simple: prioritize creativity and uniqueness over pure quantity and output.

“My advice for anyone starting off as they look to scale their business would simply be to find their own unique voice and to try to stay true to that as they climb. There’s a certain freedom to staying true to a vision and in this industry it pays to have a unique, and hyper-creative- voice that can help you stand out from the rest.”
Dave Mossop

Remember — there’s a million video production companies and individuals looking to carve out a name for themselves in this industry. However, the ones with awareness and vision make sure they have something interesting to say with their craft.

Read more success stories from real video companies.