We had the good fortune of connecting with Mathew Young and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mathew, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Before anything else, I was trained as a musician from a very young age. In a nutshell this continued into my later life and I found myself sitting in my home music studio one day thinking to myself “hey, there’s a bunch of my actor friends who required voice demo’s for their portfolios”, and wallah, YoungOneStudio was born. How the business became what it is today, that’s a different story. Both my partner, Tamiah Bantum, and I come from an extensive acting back ground. Having both been on stage since around the age of 12 we made the natural progression into acting in front of a camera several years later. We both got representation in our late teens and began commercial work with the odd narrative tv bit here and there. The narrative side of our performance life stayed mostly stage based as screen roles are harder to find and competition is fierce, especially in Perth where we grew up. We would both take on acting roles in student short films, indie projects, low or no pay productions that turned out typically just ok, lacking in some area whether it be poor direction, cinematography, audio production etc. (During these times we were both still heavily involved in theatre companies as actors and directors, in Perth and then Melbourne when we moved in 2014. It was also at this time we began offering voice demos under the company YoungOneStudio to our local Melbournites) After several years of this, of not being overly happy with the footage we received from the projects we were in, and having to wait, sometimes months and months to receive the footage for our demo reels, we decided to get our first high quality camera and began to make our own content. (By high quality I’m talking a middling hybrid mirrorless stills camera that had some pretty good video specs! Not a fancy cinema camera, not just yet). As the business name YoungOneStudio was already formed for voice over work we figured why not, lets start offering a demo reel service as well! How hard can that be… Basically the main impetus for starting our own business, as it exists today, was a blend of us wanting high quality, fast turn around footage for our own reels as well as us knowing we had the time, skill and knowhow to create a professional product from a performance and directorial point of view. (And also because we’d already registered a business name for one service we figured why not ad another!)
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
So we are a small production company that initially started out doing voice demo’s for actors and then quickly transitioned into filming demo reel scenes for actors! Getting to where the business is now felt very organic, I have no formal training as a film maker, dp or director and only by being consistently on stage and in productions both as an actor and later in life as a musician did I realise how many connections I’d made (as well as my partner Tamiah) in the entertainment industry in Perth (Western Australia) where I grew up. From here my natural love (some may say obsession with) of technology formed my fascination with cinema cameras and the equipment needed to create a certain quality of image. I want to take a step back and explain how I got here. My want to act, to be on stage specifically, was very much a personal want, even at a young age I remember taking my self to the local community theatre company (terrifyingly, without the aid of my parents) for the first time and getting myself on stage. I was just a small kid determined to act and to make the choice myself. I think this feeling of wanting to choose an art form for myself was as much a want for the art as it was a small rebellion against my parents as they had chosen for me that, at age 5, I was going to study music. My music studies carried on for years as a hobby I just “did” because my parents thought it would be a good idea at the time. Not that I didn’t enjoy the musicians life. I was fortunate enough to receive top accolades from my high school in the music program and eventually went on to study at one of Australias most renowned conservatories for jazz. It definitely feels odd at times that that part of my life has become more of a lasting hobby than a profession. During high school and even during my music conservatory years I keep performing in local theatre productions and commercial work thanks to my agent. I could definitely feel the acting beginning to take a back seat to the acting, which I’m not sure was something I actually enjoyed being aware of at the time. Luckily however, the conservatory that I attended happened to have one of Australia’s best performance and acting courses which meant I was also surrounded by these actors who were at the top of their game being taught by some of the worlds best acting coaches. I became part of a theatre group that consisted mostly of these young performers and that helped me keep in touch with my acting chops whilst still being able to study music. I honestly think music and film making are very much the same part of one cohesive picture. The thought process, the way you sculpt and piece together your composition that in itself is very free and creative yet exists inside rules and guidelines that cannot be broken. In music you have certain rhythms and notes that you must use within a composition to keep the story coherent. Film is exactly the same. The two art forms feel very similar to me. Without a doubt the way I film, direct and write is heavily influenced by my intensive music education, especially the focus on soloing. My ears were changed dramatically in my time at the conservatory, and with that my entire mindset towards creating. I’d have to say that learning to solo and manipulate a system to make it appear entirely improvised when at its core it’s still lead by a set of guides that must be followed keeps our sets and productions running in a similar way. We are always open interpretation, from all players, whilst still existing inside a guiding frame. I think now looking at what I do, I was training to be a band leader of a jazz band that films and creates visual art instead of performing jazz standards every Saturday night. The studio was initially my concept and has my name on it but Tamiah my business partner and wife is definitely as much a founder and name holder as I am. She’s the one who actually studied film making even though now, as she’s admitted, I have more knowledge in the field. Though where one of us lacks the other definitely picks up the slack. She is a phenomenally talented performer and has a producers brain when needed. This is a skill I lack. When the structure on set breaks a little too much, she’ll try to pull the structure together where I will let the structure fall and see what new shape it takes. This dichotomy actually works extremely well. When it comes to standard set stuff, we can both run cam, direct, perform, write and even do sound! So between the two of us we’ve mostly been able to run all the small production and commercial shoots ourselves. We have around 5-6 other creatives whom we can call upon for different projects depending on the size. Ie if we need a grip/gaf, if we need a second cam operator, if we need a producer, and this is definitely my biggest advice! Build networks, not just clients but of a team who you can create with! This is an industry where everyone wants to get involved in projects. People just want to be creating their art. Bring people in to your core team, don’t do it as a one man team and always, always listen because you’re ideas aren’t “right”, they’re just an idea that was put to paper. Make sure you always leave room for other peoples opinions and creative input. Be a strong central point that listens not only to everyone but for everyone, if people know you are valuing their opinion they will give you their all.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Many of our LA adventures centre around food. We often pick a cuisine and then go exploring based on Yelp reviews and IG photos, which have taken us to some amazing places. Seafood in Malibu, gastropubs in the Arts District, enormous breakfasts at North Hollywood eateries and vegan fare in Hollywood. When we moved to LA we did all the usual touristy things – the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Santa Monica Pier, etc. but if friends or family came to visit we’d also have to include a hike in the gorgeous Angeles Forest, a sunset at El Matador beach, a trip to the Venice Canals, and if it’s Winter, a weekend at Big Bear or a mountain resort. There are so many hidden gems in LA and having only been here 2 years, we’ve barely scratched the surface. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Definitely my partner Tamiah Bantum, without her I wouldn’t have had any support during all this. Her knowledge, acting ability, intelligence and commitment has been my corner stone to achieve and succeed where I would have otherwise given in to the demands and stress of running your own arts based production service.
Mathew Young Tamiah Bantum