Trade…

It’s a discussion that comes around every now and again and one usually born of someone else, outside the studio walls who conceives such gobshitery. Often resulting in me getting heated under the collar each time some troll jumps into the comment section of Manchester’s Twitterdome, and unilaterally asks their audience to keep it quite… Someone will inevitably fire back something to the effect of “Grow a pair and leave your real name!” and then pretty much it spirals down from there.

So to keep the fires of rumour and hearsay going just a little bit longer, but crush any un-researched and poorly connected gossip, I can officially announce today, Monday 26th November 2012 that Slaughterhouse Studios Ltd is not closing down.

When first I heard this story, it must be told, I felt rather like Morgan Freeman as he has been twice this year reported dead, both in the mainstream news and on Facebook (that well known breeding ground of the criminal and clinically insane).

All in all the only truth of the matter of major changes at the studio are that it is going to expand in the new year and may have to relocate. Still staying in the area and still delivering excellent standards of service and equipment to a growing number of national and international clients. Therefore, due to new collaborations, the growing size and scale of stills and advertising film making, it only fare to our cherished clientele and the preservation of our success that the business begin to grow after two years of finding it’s feet and looking after some huge campaign contracts throughout 2012 to grow with the demands of our clients and carry on fighting the regions corner to become as desirable as the South East as a photographic destination.

Now there are many pros and cons to having “people” out there anonymously telling stories of businesses “struggling” or “on their way out”, however, these stories are best left in the fiction department unless you hear it from the owner of said business, after all, what do you truly know?

The pros are obviously comments and even phone calls of  sensitively spoken clients and agencies that have recently heard some news. “Is it true?” “Please say it aint so..” You get the picture.

The cons are obviously detrimental to the progress of this young business, reliant on the increase of new and less established clients. Maybe this is the MO of the story teller…who can ever tell…?

So to recap. The business is growing, the clients are increasing and becoming much more regular. The links being made in overseas markets is on the up, so is the homegrown talent we have had the pleasure of seeing work here and support – it only leaves me to suggest 2013 is going to be a very fine year for Slaughterhouse Studios and one all should establish a relationship with as there is always room for more on top.

So it comes to this, is anonymity being taken too far and exploited, is this cloaking device I fully support and even make use of each month require it’s own internal guidelines – now that is Ironic.

Historically, anonymity has contributed countless biting editorials to cyberspace under millions of alias and pseudonyms. Whereas I have contributed scant few pieces using my real identity (mostly what you read on this site) instead I chose to have the freedom of expression and language – a nom de plume (which means “freedom pen” according to a kindly American Blogger).

By many estimations the internet functions as a digital mirror of the world – a microcosm comprised of pixels rather than atoms (offering much better access to boobs, waxed arses, the fabricated truth of girl/boy bands and fluffy sleeping kittens).

So fundamentally, if you wish to remain anon, then announce it virally – is what I am trying to say. Don’t tell someone in a bar or an over priced coffee shop in the Northern Quarter of Manchester only to then expect the recipient of this morsel of partial truth wrapped in an envelope of “some serious made up shit” to go no further. Gossip is a way of life for some and it’s those that often forget the route of these rumours.

And with that I shall rest and move on. I have master classes and collaborative projects to sort out for February.

Milky, milky, milky

I was happy to see the return of Miss Layla Sailor yesterday to the studio, now regularly working in collaboration with Lisa Stannard (Designer Extraordinaire!), and as has become expected over the past 2 years, she brought some excellent new ideas which included a huge white creature who goes by the name of Milky. Each creation by Layla is copyright to her so no plagiarism you lot. Alas her work does get copied almost on a monthly basis by local and national brands. I suggest it would be cheaper to hire her rather than get some ugly law suit in future.

So keep an eye out for her work on http://www.laylasailor.com/272881/home and if you need a photographer who finds that little extra and delivers more, give her a call.

Name and Shame…

© Ian F Simpson 2012

The government will name and shame big construction companies that screw subcontractors and suppliers by failing to pay their bills on time.

Business minister Michael Fallon has written to all FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 companies telling them that if they do not sign up to the Prompt Payment Code, a voluntary agreement to promote good payment practices, he will publicise their refusal in the new year.

Companies being told to sign up include: major contractors Interserve, Galliford Try, Carillion and Kier; housebuilders Barratt, Berkeley, Bovis Homes, Persimmon, Redrow and Taylor Wimpey; support service companies Capita, Mitie and WS Atkins; and materials suppliers Wolseley, Howden Joinery, SIG and Travis Perkins.

The only FTSE 250 construction company to have signed up to the code already is Balfour Beatty, which did so in July 2010. Other major construction signatories include Willmott Dixon, Skanska UK, Morgan Lovell and Miller Construction.

Mr Fallon said: “Late payment causes real cash flow problems for entrepreneurs. It stops them from growing their business – we need to change the culture.

“Too many of our biggest companies are ignoring the Prompt Payment Code. My message to them is clear – make prompt payment a priority or face the consequences of being named. I’m confident that driving up support for the common sense principles in the Code will have a very positive effect.”

Currently 1,182 companies are signed up to the Prompt Payment Code. However, only 27 FTSE 100 companies and five FTSE 250 companies are signatories.

Forum of Private Business chief executive Phil Orford welcomed the minister’s invention. He said: “All too often we see a ‘domino effect’ of late payment right down the supply chain. It decimates cash flow and forces many firms into administration – so it is important that we do whatever it takes to reverse this trend and set in motion a culture of prompt payment for small businesses and the economy as a whole.”

A debate on prompt payment issues took place in Parliament on Thursday 8 November 2012.

Businesses can sign up to the Prompt Payment Code now at http://www.promptpaymentcode.org.uk/

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

My question is, why should this be a challenge to any FTSE 250/100 company? This should be an enforced code of practice, what ever size of business you are.

Far too many SME’s and Micro Businesses are being effected in the media sector, and yes this includes studio hire facilities. Recently after a very long and protracted conversation on this very subject with a studio owner in London, I challenged him to tell me who has not agreed to pay for his services and create a growing culture of late payment this year, moving the goal posts of terms from 14, to 30, to 90 days and even paying for the whole service package he offers (this includes his own lighting hire service, catering, MUAs, Styling team and a driver for the creative team and celebrity being shot that day) to 30 days after the image went public – six months after the shoot date for those interested in when he got paid. To be honest I had heard this one earlier this year that created a wedge between a new client and obviously some one I no longer choose to do business with.

I understand that as quotes and budgets get progressively strangled, we still offer the best service in all the finer studio hire centres up and down the UK, however, if these agencies are allowed to carry on creating a delay on all payments for services rendered then what are we to do?

Personally, I would love it if there were a standard industry code of practice that anyone hiring any services in the photographic industry – all payments should be treated like a retail payment. There are 1000’s of articles that express the anger of many and use the same analogy that one would not enter a department store, pick up a pair of shoes, try them on, enjoy the view in those small angled mirrors for a while, wonder if they will go with those new jeans you bought the other week and then walk out of the store with a short conversation with the staff saying, “I will come back next month and pay for these, OK?”

The cold arm of the law and probably a night in a cell is the end of this story, so why do proportionately more and more companies out there see the service sector of studio hire a much softer side of the hard faced industry?

I have written to M. Fallon MP to forward any information on those 1182 businesses that have signed up to this code of practice, particularly ones that are outside of the construction game. I will publish this list to assist in those of you who wish to secure at least one client who has no problem paying on time and appreciates the fact that all studios are in a supply chain of paying their own 3rd party debts.

I am lucky that this has happened less and less this year in comparison to last, this is all down to the contract I have with my cherished clientele – however I know that this has alienated me and my studio from many cash opportunities, due to the arrogance of those who wished to extend the payment of a very expensive shoot.

Simple question to ask at the very top – do you have the budget in place to pay for this? In accepting this cost of my services, are you aware that you are legally obliged to pay on my terms, not yours?

For those interested, this is the construction sector list of those who agree to pay on time to their suppliers and contractors, these are the kind of people who should be encouraged as trend setters.

Organisation Region
3D Scaffolding Limited North West
A-Tech Installations West Midlands
Advanced Roofing Limited East Midlands
Archive Repair Specialist Yorkshire & The Humber
Ardent Services Ltd
Arkoni Ltd Yorkshire & The Humber
Asbestos Business Contractors Ltd North West
Aspect Building Solutions Ltd Yorkshire & The Humber
Association of Concrete Industrial Flooring Contractors (ACIFC) London
Association of Interior Specialists West Midlands
Astbury North West
Atlas Washroom Systems Ltd North East
B Mc Namee & Co Ltd Northern Ireland
Badham & Sons West Midlands
Balfour Beatty plc
Barrow & Brooks Ltd South East
Bermar Building Company Ltd Yorkshire & The Humber
Besure Building & Maintenance Services ltd South East
BHE Services (Bolton) Ltd North West
Birmingham Glass Services Ltd West Midlands
Black & Veatch South East
Boilerman Ltd South West
Bristan Group Limited West Midlands
C D Potter and Sons Limited Yorkshire & The Humber
Cirrus Trading Ltd East Midlands
Clarkes Environmental Ltd Yorkshire & The Humber
D H Crofts Limited South East
DCT Civil Engineering Ltd North West
Dufell Roofing Co. Ltd. North East
Dutton’s Electrical East Midlands
Effective Builders Company North West
EMCOR Facilities Services Limited North West
ERH Communications Ltd Wales
ERW Joinery Ltd North East
F PARKINSON LTD North East
Gary Gabriel Associates South East
George Cox & Sons Ltd North West
Goody Demolition Ltd South East
Governor Electrical & Mechanical Ltd Yorkshire & The Humber
Greendealhull.com Yorkshire & The Humber
H Clarke and Sons Ltd Yorkshire & The Humber
H&J Martin Ltd Northern Ireland
Hannafin Contractors Limited West Midlands
Harry Fairclough Construction Ltd North West
HCS (Yorkshire) Ltd Yorkshire & The Humber
Headway Contracting Services Ltd North East
Huggins Limited South East
Install Electrical Contractors Ltd East Midlands
ITT WATER&WASTEWATER UK LTD East Midlands
J Hughes Construction Limited North East
K & M Mcloughlin Decorating Ltd London
Keith Walton Brickwork Limited
L P MASON LIMITED West Midlands
Leesafe Ltd
Lewis and Lewis Ltd Wales
Lincs Joinery Services Ltd East Midlands
LJPM Ltd South East
MacConvilles South West
MacLay Civil Engineering Ltd Scotland
Main Building Maintenance Ltd South East
McLaughlin & Harvey Ltd Northern Ireland
MCP Environmental LLP Yorkshire & The Humber
MIDLAND FIRE PROTECTION LTD East Midlands
Miller Construction Scotland
Minshull Windows Ltd Wales
Morgan Lovell London
Moss Construction (NI) Ltd Northern Ireland
Mott MacDonald Limited London
Mulcair Limited Wales
Multispace Systems Ltd Yorkshire & The Humber
MURRAY & WILLIS LTD West Midlands
Mwt Civil Engineering Ltd Wales
Oddy Builders Ltd Yorkshire & The Humber
Olivison Ltd South West
One Stop Maintenance OSM Ltd West Midlands
Overbury Plc London
PAW Structures Ltd North West
Paynters Flooring Yorkshire & The Humber
PGR Innovations Limited Yorkshire & The Humber
Professional Electrical Solutions Limited South West
Providence Maintenance & Electrical Services Ltd Yorkshire & The Humber
Pyramid Builders Limited London
RDA Limited North East
Reddish Vale Insulations Ltd North West
RESIBLOCK LIMITED South East
RI Construction North East
Rok Plc South East
roofclad profiles ltd Northern Ireland
Roy Hankinson Limited North West
Rule & Parker Ltd East of England
S. Peake & Son Ltd West Midlands
sanmet Yorkshire & The Humber
sedgemoor heating South West
Skanska Construction UK South West
SM ELECTRICAL SUPPLIES LTD Scotland
SOFT SURFACES LIMITED North West
Specpro Ltd Scotland
T&B (Contractors) Limited South East
TECHRETE (UK) LIMITED East Midlands
TECL
Thompsons Fencing Ltd North East
Universal Carpentry & Joinery Ltd East of England
V&T(Plumbing Central Heating & Bathrooms) Ltd t/a Aqua Interiors Yorkshire & The Humber
Vivid Interiors London
Wayman Fabrications Ltd North West
Wellington UK Ltd South East
Wharton Construction North East
William Doherty Northern Ireland
Willmott Dixon Holdings Limited
WJM BUILDING SERVICES LIMITED Northern Ireland
Woodhouse-Barry (Construction)Limited North East

(source – the construction index Nov. 2012)

Lead by example…..

I am getting an alarming number of people in the studio this year that have no time, understanding of the importance of, or interest in the writing of a basic call sheet. Well allow me to – without any note of patronising anyone – expand on why it is just as important that everyone gets on board and understands the need for a call sheet with any size of shoot.

Different people like different levels of information, I require lots of information prior too, during and after any shoot here at the studio. A royal pain in the arse, maybe. Important to secure and preserve all aspects of safety on the studio floor, absolutely. In short, a Call Sheet should be no less than 2 pages long for every day you are shooting, ignoring this simple request raises real issues in your ability to understand that a call sheet and risk assessment is just as important as an equipment list and making sure all the relevant kit and/or wardrobe gets delivered to the correct address.

So rather than rant on and on (as I do from time to time) about the importance of entering into any shoot into any studio with a call sheet, I offer you all a pro-forma to copy and paste onto any number of A4 sheets or email.

“What’s the point?” “I know who is here and that’s all I have to say on the matter”, “I am far too busy”. “I have been working in this business for 14 years and never been asked by a studio for a call sheet”…

All quotes from recent “anonymous” clients.

Thankfully I managed to get my point across to some, but not all.  I also hear with great disappointment that all graduate students leaving the nation’s Universities this year will yet again be left without the basic tools to enter any studio environment, so I implore, please copy this – free – document and have a copy of it on your Phone/laptop ready for printing and emailing out to any studio or location shoot you may be employed to work on in future and when your boss asks you where you got that from, just say you heard it from me.

Remember, you must have this in the building and copy of it must go to the studio owner prior to arrival. Worst case scenario, you have not told them that you have 22 people in today who are having their photograph taken with your celebrity asset for a Rotary Fund Raiser this Christmas, the place goes up in smoke and fearsome flame and the owner of the studio has only the people he/she saw on arrival that morning. Who would be to blame and who would have to go up in front of a Judge for Manslaughter?

Certainly not I.

Call Sheets are an invaluable method of reference for keeping tabs on who you worked with this time last year and on what jobs.

You have no excuses.

Take a look at the pro-forma I have drafted for the studio website, its a pdf, so I expect to see many more detailed shoot schedules and call sheets in the future. It is your responsibility as the principle on any shoot to have this sent to all relevant people linked to your shoot, it speeds up progress of the shoot and slows down the chances of any horrible surprises on the chosen dates.

Call Sheet [Pro-forma]

Regards,

Papa