M3 Creative is three men, being creative.
The M stands for media and the men are Craig Forster, Clinton Lloyd and Mark Marchand, friends who joined forces in October 2012 to create video and still photography for businesses and individuals.
They have 15 years' industry experience among them and had been working independently when they realised they could be more effective as a team.
"It's a break from the industry norm", Lloyd says.
"But by pooling our expertise, clients, resources and gear, we're more credible, and it's easier to grow as a business."
Working together enables the trio, who are equal shareholders, to balance each other technically and professionally. Forster and Marchand are videographers, while Lloyd is a photographer.
All are self-taught. Lloyd, 30, and Forster, 37, prefer building relationships with clients and being on the job, whereas Marchand, 25, prefers editing and handles M3's marketing and design. Forster handles the accounts and bookings.
"As a team, we can cover one person's weakness with another person's strengths", Lloyd says.
The trio say turning their passion into their main source of income has been satisfying but tricky.
"We've had to try and find new hobbies", Lloyd says.
"It's not like, ‘hurrah, we're living the dream' every day - it's still work. The creative industry is seen as having a low barrier to entry, but people often don't consider the costs."
Marchand, who asked Lloyd to be a groomsman at his wedding, says they are aware of the "horror stories" of friends going into business but he was not surprised by the ease of the transition.
"We don't have a rank", Lloyd adds.
"It's not like Mark is the god of M3, and Craig is the demigod."
The collaborative approach enables M3 to take on large projects that would otherwise be impossible, including a nationwide television ad for David Reid Homes, a series of promotional videos for Canterbury University, and a promotional video for Westland Milk that has screened at trade shows around the world.
So far, the approach has paid off. M3 exceeded its first six-month target by 80 per cent. But the trio are conscious of maintaining a sustainable workload. Marchand says it is challenging keeping work evenly spread across the year, because warmer months were taken up with weddings.
"We might have a huge job worth $70,000, but only one or two a year," he says.
The team initially worked part-time from their homes but are now fulltime at their new premises next to The Tannery.
The shared space allows for immediate feedback and a better work-life balance. Forster, who has a 5-year-old son, says working from home was awesome in theory.
"But it's dispelled when you have children."
M3's work has come via word of mouth, and 80 per cent of its commercial commissions are referred from advertising agencies.
Quotes are based on a daily rate for filming, how many crew, how long it will take to edit, music costs and where their product will be viewed.
Relationships have been key to M3's success. "You realise Christchurch and New Zealand are tiny", Marchand says.
"If you're a dick, you're not going to last long in this industry," he added.
- The Press
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