Cavemen of the stone age spent all day hunting mammoths for food, leaving them a paltry hour every now and then to carve BBW’s out of antler and bone (a Palaeolithic pastime, you know).
Fast forward 30,000 years: Jonathan Ley spends all day producing corporate video through his business Useful Content, leaving him very little time to conceive, script, film and edit the indie feature hes been working towards for years.
The stone age comparison highlights the timelessness of Jonathan’s predicament, shared by most filmmakers round the world: you gotta make time to do the things you like most.
He learned his trade at Glenrothes College, then Edinburgh School of Art, and all through his late teens and early 20s he dreamed of taking over from the likes of Robert Rodriguez and making that breakthrough indie film.
He accepts that making it at such a young age was a daydream, but now, at the age of 31, he’s undeterred. He’s working on a micro-budget feature and his new daydream is to have his own filmmaker’s Q&A after a festival showing of his feature!
In 2011 Jonathan developed his freelance services into a business called Useful Content. He works for organisations, businesses and marketing agencies producing video of all kinds. And it’s the very success of this project that threatens his own creative projects.
Each evening he has to make a decision: ‘Do I spend time marketing the Useful content business and find more work for the months ahead…or do I get out the screenplay?’
He’s had to overhaul his lifestyle in order to make it work. That all stats with looking after himself, so he goes to bed early, gets up early, eats properly and takes exercise. This all results in him feeling better about himself, work and life in general.
The pay off is that he’s got more energy and motivation at the end of the day, when previously the TV, junk food, booze or bed were his main choices.
I interviewed Jonathan during the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and missed out on a couple of diary dates because he was chairing some author discussions (on filmmaking subjects) at the Book Festival.
You may also have heard him on the radio – that’s that box of wires you keep in the kitchen but never turn on – where he’s been a film critic and pundit on BBC Radio Scotland’s Movie cafe.
He listens to filmmaking podcasts, reads filmmaking blogs, he’s an editor and camera operator for hire as well as all the useful Content activities listed above.
With all these activities, the pressure’s on him to get his micro-budget project underway.